Reforming the American health care system is a front-burner topic for many policymakers. One main reason is the desire to extend coverage to some if not all of the more than 45 million uninsured in this country. But there is an emerging consensus that reform must also encompass ways to improve quality and value in the system, and one of the prime targets for reform is the way care is delivered. Advocates, analysts, policymakers, consumers and the business and labor communities are all looking for ways to get more value for their health care dollar – delivering better care at lower cost.
Some health care organizations have combined thoughtful use of technology and better use of personnel to improve preventive care and treatment of chronic disease, obtain better outcomes, and offer additional job satisfaction to their health care workforce. For example, the Colorado unit of Kaiser Permanente reduced the mortality associated by cardiac care by 76 percent, in part through a coordinated and multi-disciplinary team using electronic medical records.
Is this model applicable to other organizations? How can health systems restructure their work force to improve productivity and quality? Who needs to be on the care team? How important is health information technology to the success of the team approach? Is the infrastructure ready?
To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform, Kaiser Permanente and the AFL-CIO sponsored a March 27 briefing. Panelists were: George Halvorson, president of Kaiser Permanente; Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Susan Kuca, cardiac care coordinator for Kaiser Permanente Colorado; Jon Rasmussen, chief of clinical pharmacy cardiovascular services at Kaiser Permanente Colorado; Rohit Bhalla, director of performance and quality improvement at Montefiore Medical Center; and union representative Maria Castaneda, secretary-treasurer of 1199SEIU. Ed Howard of the Alliance and John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO and a member of the Alliance board, co-moderated.
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