Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Healthcare Model?

From Inside a U.S. healthcare "island of excellence" by Jon Hurdle:

In his healthcare speech to Congress on September 9, President Barack Obama cited Geisinger as a possible model for national reform. Based in central Pennsylvania, a rural region once dominated by coal mining, the system has recently earned a reputation for high-quality care at a lower-than-average cost. The White House refers to it as an "island of excellence" in the nation's murky healthcare waters.
Medical authorities inside and outside Geisinger credit the system's performance to three factors: its salary-based compensation for physicians; an electronic medical records system that reduces the likelihood of treatment duplication by integrating the services of doctors, nurses and administrators; and best-practice protocols that require doctors to follow accepted standards for certain kinds of treatment.
Larry McNeely, a healthcare advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which campaigns for citizens' rights, said national health reform should and could follow the Geisinger example.

"I think it's a model that makes a lot of sense all over the country," he said.

Like others, McNeely argues that the key to reforming the U.S. health system is to change the way doctors are paid. The point would be to reward the quality of care, as Geisinger does, rather than the quantity of procedures, drugs or consultations.

"The real barrier is the current payment system," McNeely said. "If you do what Geisinger does -- provide better quality -- you are not rewarded, you are punished. The reward goes to the doctors who order the most care."
Read more here.

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