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Social Media Cuts Healthcare Costs

Health 2.0 initiatives reduce medical expenses while improving the quality of care, finds Healthcare Performance Management Institute study.

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Social media initiatives that help physicians, patients, and the medical research community share patient information will drive down healthcare-related costs while improving the quality of care, a report concludes.

The report, "Healthcare Performance Management in the Era of 'Twitter,'" was published this week by the Healthcare Performance Management Institute. Drawing on a number of case studies across the country, the report gives examples of how social media and other Health 2.0 initiatives are transforming the healthcare marketplace to promote a cost-efficient interactive healthcare system that provides better patient outcomes.

Among the cases cited in the report are the Point to Point (P2P) healthcare solutions offered by Healthcare Interactive and WellNet Healthcare, which combines a repository for storing and analyzing medical and pharmacy data with an online social network that links a company's employees with all of their care providers.

The goal is to promote employee wellness while eliminating waste and reducing excessive medical costs. The technology enables plan sponsors to receive and evaluate medical and pharmacy claims data in a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant manner, allowing companies to forecast and manage risk.

Another example is the Department of Veterans Affairs' VistA healthcare system, which enables all its doctors to communicate online to coordinate care for the plan's 3 million members. Use of VistA, VA officials say, has cut per-patient healthcare costs by 30% because patients are more engaged, care is provided in a timely manner, and unnecessary tests and procedures are avoided.

"From a social media perspective, doctors are able to have direct interactions with patients about medication experiences, for example," said Henry Cha, CEO of Healthcare Interactive. "Their responses can then be used to better understand what medicines and treatment protocols are working and which aren't. Then this kind of collaboration can be used to improve outcomes."

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