Today, we’re kicking off a series of blogs that examine the intersection between health and technology. Why? In many ways, the U.S. health care system has been remarkably conservative when it comes to technology. We know that the health care field is often quick to adopt innovative treatments for disease and illness.
There is a growing childhood epidemic in this country: Tooth decay is now the most common chronic illness among children. The effects of this epidemic are wide-ranging. Children lose 51 million school hours each year due to dental-related illness. And a study in southern California found that untreated dental disease may also interfere with children’s ability to learn: The study found that children with reported tooth pain were four times more likely than their peers to have lower than average grades.
We asked our policy experts to share their picks for 2014’s must-read—or, in some cases, must-see—articles, reports, videos, and more. Today, Caitlin Morris of our Health System Transformation team kicks off the series. See more best of” lists from our teams working on marketplace health insurance and enrollment.
In large part, 2014 was about demonstrating that a commitment to transparency and good medical evidence can improve health care. Part of that involves acknowledging our own shortcomings as we seek to transform the health care system.
Getting the Right Care at the Right Time: Why Consumers Should Care About Health System Transformation
Consumers rely on doctors to employ best practices in the delivery of health care. Whether it’s offering advice on which preventive screenings are necessary or diagnosing a life-threatening illness, we trust that our physicians base the way they deliver care on evidence.
That’s why many are surprised to learn that medicine is more an art than a science. As one frequently cited study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found, evidenced-based care is delivered only half of the time.
Health information technology (HealthIT) offers many powerful tools in the fight to eliminate disparities in the delivery of care and health outcomes. From identifying variation in care delivery and outcomes by demographic group to harnessing the power of mobile devices to collect and share health data, the opportunities to leverage HealthIT in the promotion of health equity are plentiful.
Today, we’re kicking off an occasional series of posts that will focus on the intersection of health and technology. Over the coming months, we’ll explore ways in which technology is helping to improve the way that doctors and other providers deliver health care to their patients.
In this first post, we’re going to explore how telemedicine can be used to increase access to specialist care. In future posts, we’ll explore topics that range from pills with sensors that track when they have been swallowed to electronic health records.
In sectors from banking to car maintenance, immediate electronic access to data is the industry standard. The health care sector is different. Old-fashioned paper records are still the norm in most doctors’ practices across the country, and the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) has been slow even in hospitals.
The health care sector’s reliance on paper charts makes it difficult for health care providers to track patient information over time and share this information with other providers. It also makes administrative tasks such as billing more challenging. As a result, the system isn’t as safe, efficient, or effective as it could be.
Effective medical treatment requires that physicians apply the best available evidence, rely on their clinical expertise, and consider individual patient preferences and values to make decisions about patient care. Yet across most areas of medicine, practice consistently lags behind evidence. Even when physicians have access to evidence in usable formats, like clinical practice guidelines, it can take more than five years for them to adopt these guidelines into routine clinical practice.
In health care, one of the most common questions asked by doctors, researchers, policymakers, and even patients is, “What works?” The answer lies in measuring and quantifying the quality of the different types of health care services that patients receive. To do this, quality measures are developed, typically through evidence-based research that points to a specific treatment, procedure, or drug as the clinical standard of care for a disease or condition. This research (often in the form of clinical trials) underpins much of what is practiced in medicine, providing critical information that helps the field determine the most effective treatments and approaches to helping patients.
Our infographic shows how a consumer’s costs vary depending on the provider he or she chooses for a sample medical procedure that is subject to reference pricing.