Three Ways Diagnostics Can Cut Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes

$750 billion in healthcare spending was wasted in 2009. Opportunities abound for companies with new products and services that can improve patient outcomes and trim costs. Here are three ways actionable diagnostics can improve treatments and reduce costs.
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According to the Institute of Medicine, $750 billion in healthcare spending was wasted in 2009. And while its rate of growth has slowed, healthcare spending remains a major concern. That's why opportunities abound for companies with new products and services that can improve patient outcomes and trim costs.

One emerging technology is actionable diagnostics, an innovative new approach to medicine. Actionable diagnostics use new technologies to help doctors more accurately diagnose patients so they can prescribe therapies that are better tuned to a patient's unique, individual biology.

More precise diagnoses and customized treatments eliminate wasteful spending and improve patient outcomes at all stages of the therapeutic process. Here are three ways actionable diagnostics are improving treatments and reducing the cost of healthcare:

1. More accurate diagnoses. By measuring a number of biomarkers, including proteins, gene expressions, hormones and enzymes, actionable diagnostics are better able to dissect an ailment and identify its root causes. Molecular or genetic analysis reduces healthcare costs and improves patient outcomes by avoiding a misdiagnosis or the prescription of an ineffective remedy. For example, our partner company Crescendo Bioscience's Vectra DA offers an objective measure of rheumatoid arthritis to help doctors choose the best therapy from among the multiple options available.

2. More efficient treatment. The Institute of Medicine report on healthcare costs showed that $340 billion of the wasted spending -- nearly half -- was due to unnecessary or inefficient services. But actionable diagnostics can help streamline the road to recovery by helping doctors more quickly identify effective therapies that will improve a patient's condition. After providing an in-depth look at an ailment, actionable diagnostics enable doctors to tailor treatments to individual patients' biology, identifying the most effective medicine, strength and dosage.

3. Greater quality of care. In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed Medicare reforms, noting that "medical bills shouldn't be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital -- they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive." So while reimbursements could dry up for dubious tests and ineffective therapies, they're likely to increase for innovations such as actionable diagnostics that can help doctors prescribe more effective treatments.

Actionable diagnostics are well-positioned in the healthcare landscape to not only fulfill an unmet need and dramatically improve patient care, but to create a more efficient system that trims out the cost of ineffective therapies and promotes more personal -- and better -- care based on a fundamental understanding of the disease and the patient.

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