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Siemens' Sorensen: Diagnostics save beaucoup bucks

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In the age of healthcare reform, with increasing pressure to cut medical costs, diagnostics have become a trendy way to save money, says Gregory Sorensen, CEO of Siemens Healthcare ($SI) in North America.

The reason, Sorensen told The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog: Providers are starting to subscribe to the argument that diagnostics, when used properly, can help keep healthcare costs lower.

"We're beginning to see [a] resurgence in diagnostics as a way to save costs," Sorensen is quoted as saying. The reason? Healthcare costs rise when providers miss a diagnosis, Sorensen argues. That element can cost valuable time and lead to treatment that isn't effective or is not even appropriate for what a patient may actually have, he said in the WSJ Health Blog article.

Sorensen noted to the blog, for example, that recent studies have shown that as many as 20% of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's were shown, following an autopsy after their deaths, to have had a different ailment or disease. His argument suggests then that the treatment regimens wasted time and valuable healthcare dollars that a correct diagnosis would have addressed. The flip side here, as the WSJ notes, is that others have argued that medical tests are often used unnecessarily. Sorensen acknowledged this, but said it is more crucial to make sure patients receive the correct diagnostic tests.

Of course, Siemens is in the diagnostics space (among others) so the company has everything to gain if providers use the tests more often, and plenty to lose if they don't.

- here's the WSJ Health Blog story

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