What Have I Said So Far? Spring 2007 Part 3
Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE
The following are additional solutions necessary for the Repair of the Healthcare System
• Develop Centers of Excellence and Focused Factories in both hospital based clinics and physician outpatient clinics to treat chronic diseases by a team of multi disciplinary experts using systems of care based on evidenced based medicine. Disease management systems can be developed in primary care physicians’ offices because there are not enough specialists to take care of all the patients with chronic disease. Treating chronic diseases this way should lower the complication rate for chronic diseases. The result should be a reduction in the cost of healthcare by at least 45%.
• Emphasis should be place on teaching the patient how to be the “professor of his disease”. Payment should be available to the Center of Excellence for this education.
• Promotion of and payment for early evaluation and recognition of chronic disease. It is essential to detect and prevent these chronic diseases early to prevent costly complications of these diseases.
• A sophisticated information system connecting medical care with financial outcomes. An ideal EHR should be made available to physicians on a per use basis so that the investment cost is not a burden to the physician. The information technology should be used as a learning tool for the physician to continually improve the quality of care and not as a weapon to penalize the physician. .
• Quality of care should be defined as whom to evaluate, how to evaluate, whom to treat, how to treat, how long to treat, how often the patient should be seen, how often the patient should be retested, and the measurement of adherence to medication. Measurement of quality should be all of the above. However, the key measurement of quality is the medical outcome as it relates to the financial outcome. If you prevent a $50,000 complication utilizing $1,000 of treatment you have a leveraged financial outcome as well as an excellent medical outcome. The main question is, “was the complication of the chronic disease avoided?” We are misguided when we start believing that measuring the percentage of our patients we measure cholesterol on, or the percentage of patients on whom we do colonoscopies or bone densities is a measure of quality of care. It is simply one element of quality medical care and it should not be rewarded as the Pay 4 Performance advocates are suggesting. This thinking makes us vulnerable to another false hope of reducing complications of chronic diseases.
• Increasing obesity in our population is a huge health risk. The government should declare war on obesity. It should strive to eliminate the many stimuli we are exposed to. It should institute a gigantic public media campaign to explain the health risks and the stimuli to overeat.
The most important need is to put the patient in charge of his disease management. The patient must be responsible for his care and in control of his health care dollar. We do not need more schemes destined to fail such as the California and Massachusetts mandates. We do not need the Pay 4 Performance scheme that will distort the healthcare system even further. We need some common sense infused into the development of a system that is driven by the patients and not the facilitator stakeholder for the purpose of the facilitator stakeholders’ bottom line.
If patients do not want to take care of themselves they will suffer medically and financially.
These are some of the solutions I have proposed. We need the political will and leadership to institute and execute these solutions. Responsibility for follow up care and compliance must be the patient. The physicians are the teachers educating patients to be experts in their disease self- management. In the present system the penalty to the patient is bad health. The new system should have a clear message of good health and financial reward. It is much cheaper for all the stakeholders in the long run.
The patient has to;
• Be responsible for the purchase of care.
• Have ready access to care.
• Be responsible for the appropriate adherence to care and medication regime given by the physicians.
• Be rewarded for excellent lifestyle changes and avoidance of complications of disease.
If this is accomplished, and it can be with appropriate leadership and the demand by the consumer, we can repair the healthcare system.