Healthcare, Hospitals of the Future: Reviewing Blueprints for Reform

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

This week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update focuses on far-reaching blueprints for reform — for the healthcare industry in general and hospitals in particular.

We’ve been following the generally positive reception of Senator Max Baucus’s healthcare reform proposal a little over a week ago. Its goal is to make affordable healthcare available to all adults and children, after which it becomes the individual’s responsibility to have coverage. The Senate Finance Committee chairman’s Call to Action envisions an industry with prevention “as a cornerstone of the healthcare system, rather than an afterthought,” which translates into an investment in primary care access and delivery. In his 98-page policy paper, which received a thumbs-up from the AMA, Sen. Baucus calls current payments for primary care “undervalued, particularly compared to procedures and services furnished by specialists.” He also devotes a fair amount of ink to the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model, calling for additional PCMH testing and implementation and extending its designation to community health centers and rural health clinics, who can fulfill this role for underserved populations. Where medical home construction costs prove prohibitive, “community health teams that include nurses, nutritionists, and social and mental health workers” are capable replacements, he suggests, pointing to the success of this approach in North Carolina, which saved $231 million in healthcare costs in 2005 and 2006.

We learned about North Carolina’s success earlier this year when we talked with a Community Care Plan of Eastern North Carolina case manager about their medical homes for patients with diabetes. Get details here.

Also this week, the Joint Commission issued its Healthcare at the Crossroads: Guiding Principles for the Development of the Hospital of the Future report. The five-pronged plan calls for improvements in five core areas: economic viability, health IT, patient-centered care, staffing and hospital design.

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