Uti­liz­ing tech­nol­ogy to im­prove healthcare

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS -

Tablets, lap­tops, cell phones, and watches. In­te­grated tech­nol­ogy is a cen­tral part of our lives. In ad­di­tion to watch­ing our lo­cal news, we now re­ceive health alerts on our phones. We fill pre­scrip­tions with the click of a mouse. We even keep tabs on crit­i­cal wellness sta­tis­tics, such as the num­ber of steps we walk. In the age of Fit­bit and Health Apps, we find our­selves not just with an abun­dance of data and ways to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion in­stantly, but also an op­por­tu­nity to upgrade our healthcare sys­tem.

As a Mem­ber of Congress, I be­lieve we should seize this op­por­tu­nity and ad­vance poli­cies that in­te­grate ev­ery­day tech­nol­ogy to im­prove health out­comes. The more we are able to ef­fec­tively uti­lize this data, the bet­ter our healthcare sys­tem will de­liver ef­fi­cient and ac­ces­si­ble care. Congress can help by en­abling col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the tech­nol­ogy and healthcare sec­tors. Such col­lab­o­ra­tion will en­sure more pre­cise care for pa­tients, im­me­di­ate ac­cess for pa­tients out­side of a healthcare set­ting, and greater pro­tec­tions for your per­sonal med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion.

Har­ness­ing tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs to de­liver bet­ter, more per­son­al­ized care for pa­tients and ac­cess to qual­ity treat­ments should be com­mon prac­tice – and Congress can do its part to roll­back bur­den­some reg­u­la­tions and al­low for these op­por­tu­ni­ties to come to fruition. Healthcare and tech­nol­ogy lead­ers are uti­liz­ing cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies, and Congress can en­cour­age the use of ex­ist­ing meth­ods that have proven to be suc­cess­ful for pa­tients in the pri­vate sec­tor. We must up­date poli­cies of the past to al­low for these im­por­tant part­ner­ships to de­velop in the first place. That is why I cospon­sored and voted in fa­vor of leg­is­la­tion called the 21st Cen­tury Cures Act. In ad­di­tion to its pri­mary goal of ex­pe­dit­ing the dis­cov­ery, devel­op­ment, and de­liv­ery of new treat­ments for dis­eases with no known cure, this ground­break­ing ini­tia­tive en­cour­ages greater stake­holder col­lab­o­ra­tion and re­moves the reg­u­la­tory walls that have thwarted con­struc­tive in­ter­ac­tion and data shar­ing among pa­tients, re­searchers, providers, and in­no­va­tors.

In­no­va­tion in healthcare is also im­prov­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tive side of care, which di­rectly af­fects pa­tients. Some hos­pi­tals are us­ing pro­grams that alert nurses when a room is avail­able for a new pa­tient, or when a pa­tient needs to be seen by a doc­tor. In this way, tech­nol­ogy is stream­lin­ing care within hos­pi­tals, but there are also ways tech­nol­ogy is pos­i­tively in­flu­enc­ing pa­tients who are not at the hos­pi­tal. I re­cently vis­ited Wel­lS­pan Good Sa­mar­i­tan Hos­pi­tal in Le­banon, Pennsylvania to learn first­hand how tele­health tools al­low doc­tors to make im­por­tant de­ci­sions and treat stroke pa­tients faster. With these tools, pa­tients have an in­creased chance of re­cov­er­ing quickly and, as a re­sult, can leave the hos­pi­tal ear­lier with a cheaper bill.

The abil­ity to ac­cess pa­tients im­me­di­ately is another way tech­nol­ogy can im­prove the de­liv­ery of healthcare. In Congress, I sup­port two bills that would use “tele­health” tech­nol­ogy to en­able re­mote med­i­cal ac­cess in the Medi­care pro­gram. The Fur­ther­ing Ac­cess to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act would, as the name sug­gests, in­crease pa­tient ac­cess to stroke tele­health tech­nol­ogy ser­vices. The Cre­at­ing Op­por­tu­ni­ties Now for Nec­es­sary and Ef­fec­tive Care Tech­nolo­gies (CON­NECT) for Health Act would more broadly al­low for the use of tele­health and re­mote pa­tient ser­vices. Both the FAST Act and CON­NECT for Health Act aim to in­crease a pa­tient’s ac­cess to treat­ment when time is of the essence and will be es­pe­cially help­ful to se­niors and Medi­care ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

Fi­nally, tech­nol­ogy has pro­vided for ad­vances in cre­at­ing ways to en­sure your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is se­cure. With nearly 55 mil­lion Amer­i­cans en­rolled in Medi­care, the Medi­care Com­mon Ac­cess Card Act would help pro­tect se­niors’ from iden­tity theft by us­ing modern “smart card” fraud-re­sis­tant tech­nol­ogy on Medi­care ID cards. Medi­care fraud costs tax­pay­ers nearly $60 bil­lion each year, and it is es­ti­mated that the use of smart cards could have helped pre­vent fraud schemes in more than 1 in 5 cases. A sim­ple, tech­no­log­i­cal up­date can trans­form Medi­care’s pay­ment sys­tem to en­hance the de­liv­ery of these es­sen­tial ser­vices.

Tech­nol­ogy has proven to be an ef­fec­tive part­ner with healthcare, yet con­tin­ues to ad­vance at a rapid pace. Congress should take ad­van­tage of this part­ner­ship and pro­mote poli­cies that al­low in­no­va­tion in this in­ter­sec­tion to pro­vide bet­ter, more ef­fi­cient, and qual­ity healthcare to all Amer­i­cans.

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