Tuesday, June 06, 2006

U.S. healthcare: A broken system lacking proper focus

All this talk about Health Saving Accounts and High Deductible Health Plans as a means to help solve the healthcare crisis is dangerous! This is because:
  • Our country continues to focus on fiscal maneuvering, which is little more than playing with the numbers to find a short-term fix for escalating insurance costs for certain segments of the population (i.e., the healthy and wealthy) and increased liability for other segments.
  • We continually fail to address key underlying problems: We don’t focus adequately on learning how to keep healthy and at-risk people well, and on discovering the safest and most cost-effective ways to treat ill patients. There is not enough investment in gaining and implementing the necessary knowledge through clinical research, evidence-based decision-support, and financial incentives.
Reasons given for our fixation on short-term fiscal quick-fixes in lieu of focusing on the other underlying problems are multifaceted and complex. They include capitalism run amuck, corruption of the political process, accountability avoidance, inertia, ignorance, fear, self-deception, ego, and the lack of socially responsible leaders.
I contend that it is impossible for any fiscal policy to improve the healthcare system long-term until we broaden our collective focus and start concentrating on doing what’s necessary to transform the system. This transformation should focus on bringing sustained improvements in healthcare safety, effectiveness, efficiency, affordability, timeliness, and availability – which is how I define high-quality care.
In addition to reforming current economic models, the transforming steps should include:
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