Pilot Projects Can Show Promise, But Often Come up Short

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , January 20, 2010

Goodroe agrees that keeping demonstration and pilot programs in check is a challenging task. A common thread for these projects, especially in pilot and demonstration studies, is ensuring that data is foolproof, she says. It is important to accurately assemble data "to determine areas for waste reduction and improve the quality of patient outcomes."

In a white paper, entitled "Keys to Successful Health Care Reform," Goodroe wrote it's necessary for healthcare leaders to "review the success of various health care reform efforts in the past, learn from these models and employ the key components required for success." Goodroe wrote the paper for Goodroe Health Solutions, which is a part of VHA.

But it's not an easy task with the existing healthcare structures, including the fact that there is a "lack of existing national data systems with reliable utilization," she says. "This is a matter of vendors, hospitals, and physicians realizing that most existing systems need to be retooled to meet these needs, one service line at a time."

"Significant barriers exist in the structure of our current health system and the laws that govern it," she says. "These barriers prevent us from transitioning to a focused re-engineering effort that other industries normally employ."

Operating effectively, pilot studies and demonstration projects can shed light on the myriad ways the health care system can improve itself. But if they are not carried out successfully, they are just another dust-collector, another part of what Goodroe calls the "hidden cost of health care."

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.

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