There is some good news about the overly costly, underperforming American health care system. A growing number of hospitals, doctors, employers and health insurers are finding ways to reduce the cost of delivering medical care while maintaining or improving quality. If enough providers adopt their already proven techniques, this grass-roots movement could transform the entire system in ways that will benefit all Americans.
It is a measure of how dysfunctional the system has become that these successful experiments — based on medical sense, sound research and efficiencies — seem so revolutionary. Here are some that deserve a close look from the rest of the industry and from
Virginia Mason also collaborated with
Premier reported in January that over a three-year period, 157 of its hospitals in 31 states saved almost 25,000 lives and reduced health care spending by nearly
Various health insurers are making constructive changes as well. These include assigning case managers to coordinate care for the chronically ill; basing payments to providers on quality and efficiency, not the volume of care; collaborating with providers to set up new models of coordinated care; and working to simplify insurance forms to reduce the stupefying amount of paperwork that must be filled out by doctors and their patients — a move than could save the health care system many billions of dollars a year.
Some of the most creative approaches being tried in the country are described in a recent book published by the
While all of this has been going on, the debate in
There are many reasons to support reform, including the fact that it will give an important boost to improving the system through pilot programs and incentives and penalties, designed to lower costs and improve care. This process is already under way. But it will have a much better chance of succeeding with the right help from
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