DMC Live: Fostering Innovation in Healthcare

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Guest Blogger: Patricia Donovan

Note: This week, HIN reports live from the Disease Management Congress in Orlando, Florida.

Orlando — With more than 8 million members, Kaiser Permanente has been lauded for raising the bar of excellence in care management. But these days, Paul Wallace, MD, the executive director of Kaiser’s Care Management Institute, is thinking a lot about Kaiser’s own employees and the type of healthcare they receive. Respecting the different perspectives of value of each healthcare stakeholder—patients, providers and payors—and finding common ground is key to improving the overall healthcare experience, he says.

Dr. Wallace offered a three-part strategy for “Encouraging the Spread of Innovation to Make the Right Thing Easier to Do,” which formally opened the 10th annual Disease Management Congress. His presentation underscored the theme of this year’s congress, “Innovation – Driving Change to Achieve Sustainable Outcomes.” In addition to respecting stakeholders’ definitions of value, Dr. Wallace recommended making the right things easier to do by focusing on service delivery and information technology. “And if you make something easier to do,” he said, “Make sure it is the right thing to do.” It’s easier to identify the “right thing” when you employ evidence-based clinical practices, identify successful practices, and offer member-centered and culturally competent care.

“The patient should be at the center of care, with the patient’s home as the hub,” he continued. “We need to make the best use of the patient’s time.” He called upon providers to re-think traditional physician-patient contact. Instead of scheduling a finite number of 15-minute patient visits each day, he suggested increasing the number of daily “patient contacts” by utilizing U.S. mail, email, phone contact, and group visits. “By thinking outside the box, this might enable a provider to schedule several 45-minute office visits a day for needier patients,” he said.

The United States needs to move the focus from “sick care” to “health care.” Employers, too, are in a prime position to improve workers’ health while they are at the office. “The average patient spends about two hours annually with their doctor, 2,000 hours in the workplace and the rest of the time at home. We are betting everything on this two hours in the healthcare system, when we really need to do more in the workplace.”

DM Outcomes: Is That Your Final Answer?

It was billed as the “DM Reality Show,” but was actually an exercise in behavior modification. This entertaining session used technology—web-based surveys and electronic voting tools—to gauge and then sway public opinion. Attendees were asked to electronically respond to questions on disease management—its economic value, future, validity of ROI measurements, and whether improved DM outcomes are due to changes in clinical practices or in patients’ own behavior. As they entered responses on individual electronic keypads to the strains of the Jeopardy theme song, real-time results were displayed on conference screens.

After two industry experts debated the pros and cons of each issue, audience members were asked to vote again. In several cases, the results showed that debaters managed to influence a sizeable percentage of neutral responses. While primarily entertaining in nature, the session afforded a lively discussion of a hot industry topic and left no doubt about the role of IT in the healthcare marketplace.

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