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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The quality of your care

One of the least mentioned aspects of the health reform law are measures that will improve the quality of health care. Although the benefits were not scored by the Congressional Budget Office, these measures are intended to positively change care, in both patient and doctor satisfaction and costs.

According to David Brown of Washington Post,

In many respects, American doctors today labor much the way their counterparts did 50 years ago. Most are in practices with five or fewer other physicians. They keep their records on paper in longhand. When they need to consult a colleague, they reach for the telephone. They bill for each visit. They have little idea about how their skills compare to those of fellow practitioners, nor do most know what their patients really think about the care they give. …The new health-care law aims to change most of that.

The bill appropriates a large amount of funding to improve care, which many hope will lower costs over time. According to Brown,

Key to the new law's goals is primary care. Through many routes, the law provides a total of $26.4 billion over 10 years to support this broad field of medicine, which, dozens of studies have shown, improves health and controls costs.

The increased focus on primary care aims to prevent or treat diseases or conditions before they become more severe. Not only will this be better for the patient, it will also reduce cost for everyone in the system.

Furthermore, additional funds have been allocated for better coordination of information and care between doctors and patients. Electronic medical records will ensure that each doctor who treats a patient will have access to the same information, which will help in streamlining diagnoses and treatment. In the past, the lack of coordination between specialists and primary care doctors for Medicare patients has not only led to escalating health care costs, but to higher hospital readmission rates as well.

These new initiatives aim to improve the quality of health care, which will in turn lower costs and improve the lives of both patients and the doctors that treat them.