Quality vs Quantity

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act promises to bring millions of new patients into our healthcare system. This is an exciting outcome that will eliminate the estimated 45,000 deaths per year caused by lack of healthcare insurance.

Currently, we spend approximately $8,000 per person and devote more than 18 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to healthcare.  As more individuals become health care recipients we will need to do something to reign in cost or an already overloaded system will completely unravel and bankrupt our country.

One of the aims of the ACA is to move our current system of fee for service to pay for performance.  The current reimbursement system in health care rewards technical activity more than cognitive activity which encourages physicians to utilize tests to diagnose as opposed to medical deduction and reasoning.

Over testing and over treating are a signature of the current system and new technology and lack of tort reform often require physicians to behave in such a manner.

Everything I’ve stated above is related to “quantity”.  The ACA is supposed to drive more “quality” and shift reimbursement to those providers who are efficient, limit errors and have good outcomes. 

Health care will need to become more efficient over the next few years to survive let alone thrive.  Physicians and hospitals will need to align forces to provide efficient care and waste will need to be eliminated.  I am confident anyone who works in health care can name at least 5 inefficient processes.  Many of the processes are considered part of doing business but when you step back to evaluate the process it’s easy to see that it’s inefficient. 

Real efficiency is gained when those people who treat patients every day and people who are involved in processes are empowered to make suggestions about how to improve processes.  People like me who spend 80% of their time tied to a desk dealing with the “emergency of the minute” are not going to be able to determine a solution and to be honest, we are the last people who should try.

I’d like to encourage all GVMH staff who read this blog and have ever scratched their head and said to themselves “why do we do it this way, it’s stupid” – to let me know.  My commitment to you is that I’ll listen to your suggestion for improvement and help you implement it.

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Operating Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. These are challenging and exciting times in healthcare and my blog will focus on healthcare, raising boys or being raised by boys, and living in mid America.
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