A panel of health policy leaders pitched Senate leaders on a number of different approaches to improve healthcare quality while lowering its costs.
We need to pursue many approaches simultaneously, both to compromise different ideologies but also to protect against some of them not meeting our objectives, Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, told members of the Senate Finance Committee. While no single approach will work entirely, Ginsburg said that a system of clinical-effectiveness research, provider payment reforms aimed at the treatment of the chronically ill and an overall improvement of personal health habits could lay the groundwork for a better, more effective healthcare platform.
The U.S. spent $2.1 trillion on healthcare in 2006, or 16% of GDP, a much larger percentage than other developed countries, even though the quality of care it saw in return proved middling at best, Ginsburg said.
Elizabeth McGlynn, an associate director at RAND Health, has studied that quality gap and in 2003 reported that only 55% of American adults received the recommended course of care for some of the most lethal diseasesa percentage that falls to 47% for children. A starting point for tackling the quality gap, she said, is with the widespread implementation of health information technology. Its not a panacea, but its hard to see how we make progress without it, McGlynn said. -- by Matthew DoBias