January 20, 2018

Healthcare Today

The Current Healthcare Crisis

America has the best healthcare system in the world. At the dawn of the 21st century, medical discovery is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Unfortunately, America’s healthcare delivery system, and consumers of healthcare have not kept pace by adopting practices that promote longer, healthier lives.

For example, America’s healthcare delivery system lags behind the largest industrialized nations in the health of its population, as measured by the leading indicators of life span and infant mortality rate. America also pays much more per capita for healthcare than any other country in the world, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development[14].

Besides the obvious issues of double-digit healthcare inflation, a lack of affordability and equitable access to basic health care and insurance, concerns regarding the quality of health care service delivery abound, and reports of widespread medical errors are becoming increasingly common.

Medical science and technology have advanced at an unprecedented rate during the past 50 years… Faced with such rapid changes, the nation’s health care delivery system has fallen far short in its ability to translate knowledge into practice and to apply new technology safely and appropriately.[15] – Institute of Medicine

These issues, combined with severe economic troubles have left policy makers and healthcare providers with few incentives or remedies for treating the challenges facing America’s healthcare system. Why? Because many do not receive higher payments for improved quality, regardless of the cost associated with quality improvement efforts, making it a costly and thankless proposition.

 

Opportunity Is Knocking

Consumers have long been insulated from the “true” costs and value of healthcare, which has made it difficult to motivate changes in behavior. As cliché as it may sound, “educated patients heal faster and better” because they can make better informed decisions as they relate to their most desired medical outcomes.

Instead of helping people learn how to stay healthy, we wait for people to get sick and then spend billions every year trying to make them healthy again[16]. – US Surgeon General

To improve medical outcomes, patients and their families must learn to exercise good judgment when selecting a health plan, hospital, or clinical practice, and when choosing among alternative treatments.  They should also understand the differences between treatments options, as well as the associated cost, benefits, and ways in which outcomes will vary depending on the treatment chosen. Although patients should be able to make informed choices according to their own treatment preferences, most are not.

The Need for Change

Current efforts to improve the American healthcare system appear to do little to improve health and instead further increase the fragmentation and complexity of the system. For this reason, new solutions to old problems are needed that connect patients to the right information when they need it, allowing them to participate fully in managing their health, treatment and recovery.

In the US where chronic disease has become a major cause of sickness and death, and the location of care is shifting to outpatient settings, health education and health promotion have an increasingly important function. – Healthy People 2010, 2000

Until patients play a more active role in managing their health and a more responsible role when accessing the services of the health care system, conflicts will persist and unnecessary medical expenditures will continue to burden our already overburdened and struggling healthcare system.


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