SEATTLE, Oct. 14, 2010 – Fixing the nation’s health-care crisis is not just about insurance reform and it will not come from Washington (D.C.) - that was a key takeaway at a recent symposium, 'Innovation in the Age of Reform,' hosted by Swedish, Seattle’s largest nonprofit health system.
Swedish brought together more than 44 speakers from around the country this week to discuss remedies for the country’s ailing health system. The event concluded with 12 key steps that individual communities can take to improve the way health care is delivered at the local level.
“The new health-care law calls for local solutions to the problem, and over the course of the two-day symposium, there was productive and thought provoking dialogue about what those solutions need to be,” said Swedish CEO Rod Hochman, M.D.
”We hope the symposium triggered a greater sense of urgency about this critical issue. We also hope it provided a clear sense of direction about what individual communities and providers can do at the local level to affect change,” Dr. Hochman said.
Twelve Ways to Fix Health Care
1. Be Transparent: Organizations must make a commitment to information sharing and transparency; this means working with other health systems and insurance companies to share pricing information, technology and other information to provide more standardized and equitable access to quality health-care.
2. Collaborate Across a Community: The health-care industry cannot do it alone; it must engage all stakeholders (providers, patients, payors, communities, schools, labor, etc.) because all health- care is local, every community has its unique challenges and opportunities, so this must be a community-based effort.
3. Make the Consumer/Patient the Priority: The industry must refocus on this simple fact. Patients approach health care in vastly different ways, in addition there needs to be better access to evidence-based information, so that patients can make informed health-care decisions based on outcomes and cost.
4. Incentives, Incentives, Incentives: Incentive can change behaviors. Identify meaningful ways to incent all stakeholders to make good health-care decisions, move away from a fee-for-service payment structure and create incentives for collaboration within industry (e.g., technology, pharma, etc.).
5. Economic and Educational Advancement Improve Health: There is a strong correlation between earning, education and health; health cannot be addressed without addressing the others.
6. It’s Not Only about the Hospital: It used to be that the hospital was the center of the health-care system, although hospitals will continue to be needed for acute care, the hospital-centric model is not the model for the future.
7. Focus on Wellness, Prevention and Chronic Disease Management: There is an opportunity for cost savings by focusing on prevention and wellness before disease onset. In addition, focus on better management of chronic diseases as there is tremendous opportunity for cost savings by managing these conditions more effectively.
8. Collaborative, Connected Electronic Health Records: None of this can be done without inter-connected Electronic Health Records; industry needs to be incented to collaborate to ensure a robust, national system that works for the benefit of the patient.
9. Make Payment Reform a Priority: Physicians, hospitals and insurers are paid by volume not value. Payment structures must be reformed to reward for desired health outcomes.
10. Eliminate Variation and Promote Communication: Need to implement more standards to eliminate variation in treatment and outcomes and encourage communication among treatment teams to ensure a more collaborative, patient-centered treatment environment.
11. Practice Reverse Innovation: Learn from what we are already doing. For example, the new Global to Local initiative in South King County is a model where tools used successfully in the developing world will be implemented to improve health in areas with a similar disease rate in this country.
12. Focus on the Science of Health-care Delivery: Do all of the above within the framework of a rigorous science of health-care delivery by reshaping the patient experience.
Swedish will be working on these 12 items within its own organization and in partnership with others in the Seattle community and will be checking in with others who participated in this week’s symposium to see what successes they are experiencing in their local communities. Look for ongoing updates from Swedish about each of the 12 items mentioned above.
Established in 1910, Swedish has grown over the last 100 years to become the largest, most comprehensive non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area. It is comprised of four hospital campuses – First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard and Edmonds – a freestanding emergency department and ambulatory care center in Issaquah, Swedish Visiting Nurse Services, and the Swedish Physician Division – a network of more than 40 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area. In fall 2009, Swedish broke ground on a new medical office building and hospital in the Issaquah Highlands, as well as an emergency department and medical office building in Ballard. More recently, Swedish announced plans to open freestanding emergency department and ambulatory care center facilities in Mill Creek and Redmond. In addition to general medical and surgical care, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org and www.swedish100.org.