Thursday, November 18, 2010

4 healthcare innovations for a post-reform world

Achieving a political consensus on healthcare reform is not a prerequisite to instituting far-reaching institutional changes.

This viewpoint was expressed by Jill E. Sackman, PhD, senior consultant at Numerof & Associates in St. Louis, writing in a recent issue of BioPharm International.

Dr. Sackman notes that the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues to take action to achieve fiscal and quality objectives. The outline of where policy is headed is clearly discernable in the grants and pilot programs now being funded.

At Stinson Brand Innovation, we’re always on the lookout for opportunities for innovation in health, science, and technology – even those beyond the molecules and drug delivery systems.

So, I appreciate Dr. Sackman’s outline of steps being pursued to achieve better quality and reduce cost through:
  1. Aggressively implementing electronic medical records (EMR);
  2. Conducting comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) to improve outcomes;
  3. Promoting more patient-centered primary healthcare delivery, particularly for disadvantaged populations; and
  4. Understanding the organizational and infrastructure changes needed to support improving quality and reducing costs.
Health IT programs are focused on ensuring that physicians are meaningful users of EMR —effectively engaging CER and established care paths to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare delivery. What many in the industry may not realize is that “meaningful use” is really a code for making decisions based on CER data that will improve quality and reduce costs.

The industry should be looking for ways to:
  • link physician payment to high-quality care at lower cost,
  • connect payment bonuses to hospitals that improve patient results, and 
  • impose penalties on institutions that don't meet the mark.
There are likely to be rewards to hospitals for efficiency in their spending. Engaging a dramatic change in the formula for medicare reimbursement that links payment to a value index, up to one-half of a hospital's budget may be linked to efficiency of care.

Dr. Sackman concludes her article with a call to action, “Leaders in the healthcare industry must think about the impact of these sweeping changes on their business now, and plan ways to assess risk and strengthen the economic and clinical value of their products in ways that ensure demand and optimal pricing.“

“Are you ready for life in a post–reform world?” she asks.

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