Healthcare Cost Relief is Hiding in Plain Sight

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , April 13, 2011

I am beginning to agree with Berwick that we are looking in all the wrong places for healthcare cost relief. Our politicians seem to focus on a quick fix that can be touted in a media sound bite along the lines of "implementing these changes will save the American taxpayer money without affecting the delivery of healthcare services."

Wouldn't it be better to take a longer view and resolve the problems that send a patient to a doctor or a SNF in the first place? If reducing surgical site infections or central line-associated bloodstream infections or ventilator-associated pneumonia will mean fewer trips to a doctor or lower readmission rates at a hospital then those are probably the areas where we should be focusing our collective medical expertise and political clout.

Resolving these medical concerns will take time. The Partnership for Patients is looking at a three-year window to implement process changes that will reduce costs and save lives. That's a long-time in the world of politics, but it's a short time for hospitals to put in place policies that will have such a far reaching effect on healthcare costs.

Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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3 comments on "Healthcare Cost Relief is Hiding in Plain Sight"

jerry_scherer (4/23/2011 at 11:21 AM)
It is common knowledge among healthcare industry experts that that the answer to the health quality, cost, and access conundrum involves consumer engagement and a shift in focus from healthcare to health and wellness (prevention). Health and wellness initiative supported by consumer education and technology, have demonstrated far more beneficial impact on quality and cost. Why is it that articles and actions continue to focus on traditional healthcare (treatment)?

Jaded (4/14/2011 at 10:03 AM)
Whether you are correct depends on how you define "health care costs." Improving health, reducing hospital harm and delivering better quality care might - - might - - reduce overall demand. But unless providers are willing to concede top line revenue reductions it simply means they are going to raise their unit prices to offset the decreased demand.* For the occasional health care service consumer, that means more pain, not less. Secondarily, this piece begs the question of whether a billion dollar government-industry "partnership" is really the appropriate vehicle for developing what should be basic, fundamental safety (read consumer-centric) facets of care delivery. It bodes ill that 20% of our national economy rides on an industry that is so innovation-inhibited that government cash and oversight are essential to any [INVALID]really, any[INVALID] significant developments in care delivery or finance. We are a hair's-breadth away from a directed economy, whether we want to admit it or not. * I have already heard this song from providers negotiating value-based reimbursement where demand reductions are anticipated.

Barbara Duck (4/13/2011 at 2:14 PM)
The answer lies in greater use of digital literacy a there's no great white hope with budgets, it takes collaboration and Congress becoming participants in what information can be gained. In the meantime, the technology moves to Wall Street who sees value and like I said we might as well start writing chapter 2 of Inside Job. We won't get anywhere until such methodologies occur sadly. Grassley bill is a real good example of him wanting to spend when everyone else is cutting, not a clue that IT infrastructure doesn't grow on trees.




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