By now, there is little debate about the dysfunction in the US Healthcare system. There is a lot of debate about the causes of the dysfunction, with everyone pointing to everyone else as a culprit. Everything from stark political agendas to the lack of patient responsibility is put on display as public enemy numero uno. However, very few sustainable solutions to this value deficit emerge in the midst of all the “chatter”.
You’ve no doubt heard a lot about the cost and availability of Healthcare in the US. While it arguably captures the spirit of “headed in the right direction” for many people, recent healthcare legislation has not been able to satisfy the growing culture shift in the average American’s desire to be more in control of their own health.
Unraveling the exact areas for change in Healthcare Value means confronting an angry Hydra of “who will be impacted” by any change being considered. Meanwhile, the patient continues to suffer misdiagnoses, unnecessary procedures and treatments, poor outcomes, and unsustainable financial costs.
Several of the most recognized components needing change in Healthcare can be condensed into Information and Sustainability. Proper care requires good health information, but the vast majority of healthcare information is designed to satisfy the Payor as the primary customer, not the patient. The patient and providers spend more because the information systems tend to consider the patient’s health story as an afterthought. This is unsustainable for healthcare providers, who are starved for a viable way to improve patient health without going broke in the process. Under the current system, healthcare providers see many of their patients get sicker regardless of how much they spend, compounding the value deficit. The impact on the patient is obvious.
True change in Healthcare Value can only be accomplished by changing the current misalignment of incentives and technology. Practically speaking, this means the patient has to be the center of the universe. Healthcare delivery needs to change from “fees for services” to an outcomes based model. People need to be differently incented to participate in their own health, whether they are sick or well. Coordinated Care needs to involve unfettered access to one’s own health information and a team approach – not only to get you well, but to invest in your ability to stay well.
Finally, each of us – we non-complying, guiltily lazy individual “bad patients” – has to not only demand the healthcare we each deserve, but participate as an invested member of our own care team.