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Lenovo Moves to Address US Healthcare Cost Problem

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United States Healthcare is a mess. The U.S. pays nearly $11K a year per citizen for healthcare while most countries are closer to $4K. Even though we massively overpay for healthcare in one study, we are ranked 37th for the best healthcare in the world in another study. In yet another study covering the ten best-developed nations, we ranked 11th or off the chart. 

So, paying more and getting less isn’t something anyone is proud of. But Lenovo, seeing an opportunity, has come up with a way to improve healthcare performance while significantly reducing healthcare costs. Not only U.S. hospitals but also healthcare organizations all over the world are showing interest.

Let’s talk about Lenovo Health this week.

Cost overruns sources

At the heart of the cost problem is chronic illness. These illnesses represent 70-80% of the costs in the U.S., contributing to the massive $3.6T annual healthcare cost. Other contributing factors are longer lifespans (now over 80 years), an aging population (16% are over 65), a health professional shortage (of 4.3M practitioners), a growing population, and an increasing level of chronic disease.  

Several studies have indicated that a great deal of chronic illness cost is due to patients not following doctors’ orders, such as not behaving correctly, not avoiding things that will make them sick, missing medications, not drinking enough water, etc.  

With COVID-19, things have become significantly worse. Hospitals have had to cut back on the elective surgeries that pay the bills and accept large numbers of uninsured people who otherwise might die. The limited number of healthcare workers are burning out or getting sick themselves. Things aren’t looking good. I know my local hospital is on life support, and the virus hasn’t hit here yet.  

Against this pending disaster, Lenovo has rolled out a series of programs, each drawing on Lenovo’s data access and security skills.  Let’s take each in turn.

Lenovo virtual care

Lenovo partnered with Vianova Health to create a HIPAA compliant remote monitoring end-to-end solution. It consists of an integrated patient kit that focuses on ease of use and is combined with specialized biometric sensors depending on the need. The solution has a web-based software component that not only provides a suite of capabilities to assist and drive outcomes, but it also integrates with the EHR where providers want the data to reside. 

This effort provides a full-service solution for remote monitoring of a patient, including monitoring the patient’s vitals while helping to modify their behavior to comply with the doctor’s orders. This solution limits the need for in-person visits and can assure the behaviors that cause patients to relapse, decline, or simply not progress are addressed programmatically.  

Lenovo virtual rounding

Virtual Rounding means providers are going on rounds—visiting patients in hospitals and other care facilities—virtually rather than physically. This offering is perhaps the most interesting because the hardware is the Lenovo ThinkSmart View, a small dedicated Digital Assistant tied to the healthcare provider. Think of it as an Amazon Echo, but rather than connecting to the web, it connects to your only healthcare provider. This service is being used to address the problems with the COVID-19 event. It allows people to interact with doctors, limits infection spread, and can be used both remote and in hospitals, substantially reducing the need for PPE (Personal Protection Equipment).  

The device can be used to connect the patient with friends and family to participate in visits. However, it’s controlled by the hospital, so the patient isn’t disturbed when sleeping or overly stressed out by the number, type, or duration of the calls. The solution is configured to the needs of the healthcare organization. That organization then configures the service to the unique needs of their patients.  

 The key to this solution is Microsoft Teams, which forms the backdrop for patient communications.  Microsoft Teams is quickly becoming the standard for rich communication and collaboration in healthcare organizations.  

Virtualized desktop/thin clients

For data access in hospitals, Lenovo is working with VXL and DCG to provide a terminal-like thin client experience. The lack of complexity and appliance-like reliability of the hardware requires little to no on-site maintenance, protecting both the hospital and repair staff from the potential spread of pathogens.  

Remote read

Working with Barco, Lenovo is deploying Remote Read—a secure solution providing the remote clinical and diagnostic reading of images and diagnostic reports needed to determine the nature and cause of illnesses. Doctors can keep their patients informed and collaborate with peers on critical cases while remaining HIPAA compliant.  

ThinkPad T14 secure access

Finally, Lenovo has rolled out a unique T series laptop for highly-secured environments like hospitals.  Working with Imprivata, they have created a PC like no other. While adding anti-microbial and quick-clean laptop features for additional safety, it’s security forward and compliant with security regulations in government and financial markets.

Wrapping up 

Healthcare costs are unsustainable, and the pandemic has only made things worse. According to Accenture, 70% of patients are interested in virtual care—I expect this is closer to 100% for healthcare workers—and this interest is driving a bit of a revolution. Lenovo is using their unique skills and those of its partners to address this emerging need and help bring healthcare costs down to more manageable levels and satisfaction with healthcare services up to more acceptable levels.  

Thanks to Lenovo, your next hospital visit and home recovery could be less expensive, more effective, and, most important, better able to keep you from coming back for another visit.

 

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