While most of the health reform debate has focused on expanding coverage, eliminating pre-existing conditions exclusions, or reducing costs, there are myriad ways that health reform will also improve the quality of your care. It will do this through rewarding quality of care over quantity, promoting better information-sharing, and investing in preventive 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,
Not a week goes by without another report reminding us that the United States spends more on health care than any other country in the world, yet has worse health outcomes than most. How do we solve this problem and get more for our money? We need to focus on getting each person the right care at the right time.
If you have reliable health insurance, you may not think of sports arenas as typical health care venues. But for the millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans, free health clinics, such as the one held last week by Care Harbor LA at L.A. Sports Arena, are often the only option. Thousands of L.A.-area residents waited in line overnight last Monday to receive one of the 4,800 wristbands for Care Harbor’s 5th annual free health care clinic, held Thursday to Sunday.
Is newer always better? Not in the case of a pricey new cancer drug, according to clinical trial data and experts around the nation. The drug, Zaltrap, is getting lots of media attention not because it is novel for a new drug to be twice as expensive as its competitor and no more effective (the FDA doesn't require new medicines to be either more effective or less costly than existing drugs), but because Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center—one of the nation's premier cancer treatment centers—has decided that it won't offer Zaltrap to its patients.
Have you ever gone to the doctor and had to repeat a test because they didn't have the results on hand? Do you ever feel that your doctors don't talk to each other? Or that no one doctor knows all of the medications you're taking and why? These kinds of things happen frequently. And they not only lead to higher costs: They can also be dangerous.
When student volunteers at the Baltimore Rescue Mission—a free clinic in East Baltimore that serves low-income and homeless individuals—recognized that the clinic was providing a lot of duplicated, unnecessary, and costly services to its patients, they took action. Part of the problem, they recognized, was that it was challenging to keep up-to-date records on such a transient population and that there was little to no record sharing between clinics similar to the Mission.
When Avandia entered the market, it was touted as one of the best medicines available to help people with type 2 diabetes. The great potential of this new diabetes wonder drug was proclaimed in an article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, and Avandia was quickly adopted as the standard of care. Sadly, an important piece of information came out much later. Avandia has an unfortunate and dangerous side effect: It increases the risk of heart attack. A lot.
This piece by Ezekiel J. Emanuel was originally posted in The New York Times Opininoater section.
It is conventional wisdom that end-of-life care is an increasingly huge proportion of health care spending. I’ve often heard it said that people spend more on health care in the year before they die than they do in the entire rest of their lives. If we don’t address these costs, the story goes, we can never control health care inflation.
A recent New York Times editorial explored the exciting potential of allowing alternative health providers give patients routine care. This step could help meet the growing demand for primary care services as we face a shortage of primary care physicians in many areas. And, it could save both consumers and the health system money.