By: 18 June 2012

New healthcare research has shown that greater investment in ICT and diagnostic technologies would save money and directly improve patients’ health.

The research, led by Professor Walter Van Dyck of Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School and European think-tank Science, consisted of a series of small-scale trials using new technologies across the UK, Belgium and Germany and focused on exactly where and how money could be saved.

The study concluded that using ICT to create a personalised approach to diagnosis and treatment in the UK could deliver a potential saving of more than 35% over current practices.

Through investment in central, electronic patient records and genetic testing, healthcare workers were able to identify “high risk” and “low risk” patients when diagnosing common health conditions. These categories were then used to tailor the level of treatment specifically to the patient’s needs, resulting in medical appointments only being made for those patients who required them.

Results also showed that adopting this approach when conducting breast cancer screenings could lead to the average cost per patient falling by 37%, when compared to the current system of screening all women aged over 50. It also provided health benefits as “high risk” patients were monitored more closely, meaning it was possible to detect cancer earlier, treat it effectively and therefore reduce the need for expensive later-stage treatments.

Similarly in detecting cardiovascular diseases, the research showed that providing “high risk” patients with better access to preventative screenings would see the cost of treating heart problems decrease by up to 46%. By equipping GP’s with point-of-care technologies, they were able to perform necessary tests quickly and cheaply. Additionally, technology that allows cardiovascular patients to be responsible for electronically monitoring their own vitals (such as blood pressure and temperature) before sending them into a central nursing unit electronically, resulted in patient adherence to prescribed treatment increasing from 30% to an impressive 92%.