An Accenture on Health IT

NEW YORK — Accenture  demonstrated how technologies
currently available on the market can be stitched together to improve the
quality of health care while driving down costs.

Peter Glaser, an executive with Accenture’s
technology labs, showed how commonly used biometric devices like blood-pressure cuffs, heart-rate monitors, and weight scales can gather patient
information and send data wirelessly on a continuous basis to a remote
analytic engine that aggregates, filters, extracts and displays high-level
trends about the patient’s current condition.

The trends can be monitored by nurses or other remote practitioners whenever
alerts show that the patient’s personalized thresholds have been exceeded.

The personalization is important because different people have different
thresholds. If trends indicate than a particular patient may be headed
towards trouble, the center can contact a physician or specialist via VoiP
 or webcast and deliver current trends as well as any
relevant history the caregiver needs.

Doctors can review the information and decide whether follow-up care is
needed, if a prescription needs adjusting or whether the trends are not
alarming. The keys here are that caregivers can be alerted to potential
problems more quickly and can react more quickly — which reduces expenses.

Continuous monitoring and virtual care “is a model that is inherently more
efficient than the episodic model,” Glaser told

Glaser said that Accenture is working to “integrate multiple emerging
technologies and to propose new used that the original technology makers may
have never even thought of.”

The global consulting and integrated services vendor is also trying to
encourage industry and government to settle on standards so that networks
such as the one Glaser demonstrated can connect across the country and,
eventually, around the world.

Currently, the information contained in his home network in Chicago would be
unavailable to doctors if he got sick here in New York, he said. But an
increasing number of hospitals and other medical providers are using
standards-based technology. “I’m more optimistic than I’ve been in the past”
about the creation of interconnected networks,” he said.

Those hopes got a significant boost today during hearings held by the
subcommittee on regulations, health care and trade of the House Committee on
Small Business.

Testifying at the hearing, Roger Cochetti, group director of U.S. public
policy for the Computing Technology Industry Association, urged Congress to
adopt incentives “that would aid and assist small health care providers to
purchase, install and maintain hardware and software,” including tax
incentives and accelerated deduction of health IT costs.

“Without added incentives, we fear that the costs of acquiring and operating
[health care IT] systems would prevent many small practitioners from
participating in this important and vital advancement for health care in the
United States,” he said in his prepared remarks.

The prospects for these tax and accounting incentives are good, given that
this is one issue on which the Democratic-controlled Congress and the
Republican-held White House agree. Heath and Human Services secretary Mike
Leavitt has been crisscrossing the country giving stump speeches to
business leaders to garner support for increased use of IT in the country’s health care system.

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