Navigating the healthcare labyrinth while youre sick is like trying to traverse Bostons streets when youre late for a meetingan exercise rife with frustration and roadblocks.
With its lack of street signs, numerous one-way streets and constant construction, driving in Beantown can be extremely stressful for the uninitiated. And its no wonder. Rather than being designed to accomplish the smooth flow of traffic, many of the citys streets are simply paved 17th-century cattle trails.
Healthcare suffers from the same problem. No goal. No plan. No path.
Instead we have myriad professionals and organizations providing healthcare, but no vision of what we should collectively accomplish. In discussing this problem with colleagues across the country, one physician remarked, Healthcare is a loose collection of independent services with specific vested interests. These groups come at the customer only with their little piece of the pie.
We must abandon this cobbled approach and begin to design an effective healthcare system for the citizens of the U.S. Our vision is that all U.S. citizens will have access to high-value healthcare through a dynamic learning system in which teams of professionals use information technology and systems engineering to learn from each other and quickly disseminate and assimilate new evidence that can benefit individual patients. The core elements include:
- Individualized medicine/focus on the individual patient: The needs of the patient must come first. The science of individualized medicine, which helps providers tailor therapies to a persons genetic composition, will reinforce the need to build a healthcare system that is patient-centered.
- Teams of professionals: Clinicians who have mastered a basic body of knowledge should expand their knowledge through continuing education; pass on knowledge through teaching or mentoring; and add to the body of knowledge through basic, clinical or health sciences research. Professionals must work as teams to serve the needs of patients.
- Information technology to coordinate evidence-based care: Individual medical records, medication lists and the most up-to-date clinical trial information must be available at the touch of a computer key, allowing all types of providers over vast geographic spans to collaborate and coordinate evidence-based care for patients.
- Systems engineering/science of healthcare delivery: The healthcare industry must commit to using systems engineering principles to analyze outcomes and processes of carea key step to improving healthcare quality; identifying innovative ways to care for patients; and reducing waste and inefficiencies.
- High-value healthcare: Healthcare professionals must work diligently to provide patients with high-value healthcarea quality outcome and a satisfied patient at the lowest possible cost.
Denis Cortese, M.D.President and chief executive officerMayo Clinic
Robert SmoldtExecutive directorHealth Policy CenterMayo ClinicRochester, Minn.