Social Media Cuts Healthcare Costs

Health 2.0 initiatives reduce medical expenses while improving the quality of care, finds Healthcare Performance Management Institute study.
Slideshow: Who's Who In Healthcare IT
Slideshow: Who's Who In Healthcare IT
Sharing medical information in a web-based healthcare IT model has also helped the Toms River School District in New Jersey, which opened an employee health clinic in October 2009.

According to the report, in the first three months of operation, the average healthcare cost per employee dropped by $1,950 -- a premium reduction of 19%. At that rate, the school system is poised to save $2 million in the first year.

A big part of the Toms River clinic's success has been creating a health performance management system to deliver metrics to the clinic's primary care physicians. By using that data, leaders were able to create incentives to increase the average clinic visit time from seven-and-a-half minutes to 20 minutes.

An additional benefit has been to decrease the Tom River clinic's referral rate to specialists, which is between 10% and 11%, versus the standard 25% to 30% referral rate.

The report describes how patients at the clinic who are likely to develop an acute condition over the course of a year are paired up with a doctor who is instructed to do whatever is necessary to diagnose the patient and prevent a major -- and expensive -- healthcare crisis. Web-based technology enables the consolidation of analytics with claims data, electronic health records, and drug and lab data to deliver a comprehensive, actionable picture of what's going on with each individual patient.

"The bottom line is that when patient information is more transparent, it enhances the delivery of healthcare, reduces costs, and improves quality," Cha said. "The information also is valuable for measuring what forms of treatment work well and achieve the most successful outcomes."