Skip to content

Ways and Means Looks to Bring Outdated Health Care System into 21st Century

September 14, 2016

Today, the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), held a hearing to discuss how technology can cut costs, increase efficiency and access, and improve the quality and delivery of care for Americans. Members heard from health care innovators about what they are doing in the private sector and how those lessons could be applied to federal programs such as Medicare to better ensure taxpayer dollars are effectively serving beneficiaries.

As Chairman Tiberi said at the start of the hearing: 

“There are a myriad of companies out there inventing and developing groundbreaking products that we do not yet see in federal health care programs like Medicare. The commercial sector of health care is utilizing many of these new innovations on a yearly basis to improve systems, medical facilities, beneficiary care, and collaborative care efforts. To date Medicare has fallen significantly behind.

“We are here today to kick off discussions about the innovative and technological aspects of health care, and explore how we can use already available and burgeoning technologies to increase efficiency, reduce waste, improve outcomes, and create greater access to care for beneficiaries in the Medicare space.”

Ranking Member Jm McDermott (D-WA) echoed the Chairman’s sentiments, adding:

“In my opinion, this could be one of the more important hearings we’ve held during my time as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee. Innovation will be central to our efforts to address rising health care costs.” 

Members on both sides of the aisle expressed frustration with the inefficiencies in our nation’s health care system. As Michael Gallup, president of TeleTracking Technologies, said during his testimony, the United States spends more than any other country on health care per capita, but ranks 44th out of 55 similar countries based on the performance of our health care system.

As Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) lamented:

“It’s not about the money that we spend, it’s about the money that we spend inefficiently and ineffectively … It is hard for me to sit here and look at who we are and where we have been. We can put a guy on the moon but we can’t get him through the emergency room. We can invent the Internet but we can’t get people through the hospital system. What is wrong with us? Look at the spending. It isn’t for lack of investment.”

When Rep. Kelly asked how the government can learn from the private sector to improve health care without adding to the deficit, Mr. Gallup responded:

“There’s enough money in the system to get the patients through and give them the care that they need if we cut out the inefficiencies … We have a doctor shortage, a nurse shortage, we have all these shortages out there. How do we fix that? Well, let’s make them more productive … If we can take labor and help them get more productive, we can get more patients through at the same price … If we can get more [patients] through at the same price, we can solve many of our problems.”

TeleTracking is helping hospitals across the country maximize their existing resources rather than build more facilities, procure more equipment, or hire more staff. With its “air traffic control” technology, the company empowers medical providers to focus on patients, reducing wait times, improving the quality of care, and treating (and in many cases, curing) more patients than ever before.

As a former emergency room nurse, Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) explained how this technology would have helped her during her nursing career. She said:

“I’m an emergency room nurse who would call the floor and say, ‘I have a patient ready for you’ and they’d say, ‘that bed’s not ready yet’ and you would call an hour later and they would say, ‘That bed’s still not ready yet.’ Boy, the thought that I could look on some screen and say, ‘Wait a minute, there is a green light there, so I’m bringing the patient to you’ is exciting.”

Another witness, Cambia Health Solutions chief operating officer Jared Short, explained how emerging technologies are making health care more accessible and personalized for individual patients. As Short described:

“With our tools, people can search for the treatment they need, find out how much it will cost them, schedule an appointment, and have drugs or a medical device delivered to their home—all in one place … Cambia’s platform is about making it easier for consumers to learn, decide, and pay for health care without intruding on the important relationships with trusted providers.” 

Discussing the importance of Cambia’s telehealth platform called Carena that enables patients to access care through virtual clinics 24/7, Short continued:

“I wish we had Carena 20 years ago because my grandfather wouldn’t have had to lay awake wondering is his 16-year-old grandson was going to show up or not. He could’ve done everything on his iPad … His chronic conditions, which are prevalent in the senior population, he didn’t have to go in and be seen first hand.” 

As House Republicans wrote in our plan to deliver affordable, patient-centered health care to all Americans, existing policies may stand in the way of leveraging the power of technology in our nation’s health care programs. As Chairman Tiberi concluded:

“There are better ways to deliver care if we can lift barriers and incentivize greater efficiencies amongst all providers … Rather than create more bureaucratic layers, Congress should continue to remove some of the regulatory burdens and barriers constricting advanced partnerships between technology and health care.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about today’s hearing.