Nearly one third of America’s healthcare spending in 2009 – roughly $750 billion – was wasted on unnecessary services, excessive administrative costs, and fraud, among other problems, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Such inefficiencies are hindering progress and threatening the nation’s economic stability and global competitiveness, said the IOM.
But, the knowledge and tools exist to put the healthcare system on the right course in order to reduce health costs and improve patient care, the report states.
Roughly 75,000 deaths might have been averted in 2005 if every state had delivered care at the quality level of the best performing state. What the United States needs to do to improve its systems includes the following:
- Become a “learning” system that continuously improves by learning from every care experience and new research discovery;
- Embrace new technologies to collect and tap clinical data at the point of care;
- Engage patients and their families as partners;
- Establish greater teamwork and transparency within healthcare organizations.
- Provide incentives and payment systems that emphasize the value and outcomes of care.
Better use of data is key to a continuously improving health system, the report says. About 75 million Americans have more than one chronic condition, requiring coordination among multiple specialists and therapies, which can increase the potential for miscommunication, misdiagnosis, potentially conflicting interventions, and dangerous drug interactions. Health professionals and patients frequently lack relevant and useful information at the point of care where decisions are made.
Another report recommendation: mobile technologies and EHRs can help professionals to capture and share health data better.
Most payment systems emphasize volume over quality and value, the report notes. It calls on health economists, researchers, professional societies, and insurance providers to work together on ways to measure quality performance and design new payment models and incentives that reward high-value care.
Patient engagement, also key to improved health outcomes, is limited overall, the committee finds. To facilitate these interactions, healthcare organizations need to embrace new tools to gather and assess patients’ perspectives and use the information to improve delivery of care. Healthcare product developers should create tools that assist people in managing their health and communicating with their providers.
Increased transparency about the costs and outcomes of care should also be a priority, the committee says. Linking providers’ performance to patient outcomes and measuring performance against internal and external benchmarks allows organizations to enhance their quality and become better stewards of limited resources, the report says. In addition, managers should ensure that their institutions foster teamwork, staff empowerment, and open communication.
Source: National Academies of Science, September 6, 2012
In 46 Healthcare Metrics to Boost Profitability: Charting 2012 Trends a graphic compendium of performance benchmarks in key areas of healthcare activity and growth, makes it easy for the healthcare C-suite to stay current, distilling the latest trends into a series of easy-to-digest charts and tables.