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Don't Fear the Future of Healthcare - It's Working

William "Kip" Schumacher, MD, for HealthLeaders Media, March 3, 2011

But as care delivery becomes more complex, and as communications systems improve, there is a chance for both parties to reach across the aisle. Indeed, managed care organizations and other payers already are sharing data with providers that are leading to quality and cost improvements.    

Clinicians in the emergency department today are educated using evidence-based drug data supplied by managed care organizations and are recommending drugs that are both effective and budget-conscious.    These data resources are expanding into areas such as high-cost imaging, allowing clinicians to confidently pursue treatment options that may be more appropriate for the patient and more financially sustainable than high-dollar pictures.

In addition, information technology now employed in medical home pilot projects (some of them sponsored by insurers) features search engines that can scan a patient's medical records to identify tests or processes that are missing or late. Information systems now prompt physicians to ask for particular procedures or tests when a patient presents with an abnormal lab result or other anomalous condition.   Unlike the last go-around of health reform, quality measures now can be tracked and an appropriate balance between cost and quality can be achieved.     

As a physician, I am excited about the new analytic, evidence-based tools now at my disposal because they allow me to exercise my training and judgment to make better decisions on behalf of my patients.   Particularly exciting is the ability to track treatment patterns of high-risk patients -- cases in which outcomes and costs often are problematic – and to modify treatment when necessary.   Improved technology, and enhanced cooperation between providers and payers, allows for closer tracking of these patients once they leave the hospital, reducing the need for readmissions that cost the system and demoralize the patient.

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4 comments on "Don't Fear the Future of Healthcare - It's Working"


liberalrebel (3/6/2011 at 2:41 PM)
Yes, President Obama has introduced reform here in the U.S. but how do you explain similar intiatives being implemented in other countries? Is this also communist plot to take away individual liberties? The World Economic Forum is driving a health data initiative for the member nations to develop a Health IT (HIT)program similar to the program in the health reform initiatives here in the U.S. for its member natios. This is a simplistic response and of course you will find snarky responses to support your opinions so have at it.

Bob Dimick (3/5/2011 at 8:18 PM)
So very good to hear positive commentary from Dr. Schumacher! Medicine has overcome a great many challenges over the past 100 years - we can keep going strong! The heart of Medicine is compassion for our fellow humans. As physicians we all try to alleviate suffering. Kris Johnson in the first comment to this article: calm down, stop shouting, and try to care about someone else besides yourself.

Kris Johnson (3/4/2011 at 4:40 AM)
It's all part of putting all Americans on a network containing our medical records. (That's one of the things the National Socialists (Nazis) did first, collect medical records, did you know that?) So much for having any reasonable expectation of privacy, as Americans have a right to. So much for states rights. So much for control of our lives. When the government has a say-so about our medical condition, what DON'T they have a say-so about? How long before they tell us what to eat, when to die? But the fools who don't understand individual liberty, who are uneducated in WHY our Constitution says what it says, will have us all living in tyranny. It's only a matter of time. NOT TO MENTION, OBAMACARE HAS BEEN RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL, AND JUDGE VINCENT HAS TOLD OBAMA AND FRIENDS TO CEASE AND DESIST ALL PREPARATION!!