The holiday season is a time when we count our blessings and shower gifts on those we love. It's also the time when we vow to do better in the coming year.
Alas, when it comes to gift giving, there's not much Modern Healthcare's editorial team can deliver to the major players in healthcare except to rededicate ourselves to the core principles of fairness and accuracy, even as we strive to make our magazine and online news, information and research services more relevant to your core mission of improving the health of the American people. That is our pledge to you.
There are some gifts the healthcare system could use in the year ahead, however. Here's my list (What? Another listicle?) of gift suggestions for those with the power to fill someone else's holiday stocking:
1. For the nation's primary-care physicians, may the specialists who dominate the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (better known as the RUC) give you a hefty raise by trimming their own take from the physician-payment pie.
2. For the nation's physicians as a group, may Congress finally ditch the “sustainable growth-rate” formula for setting physician pay in a way that sets the table for a better allocation of resources among specialists.
3. For the nation's hospital C-suites, may the leaders of the major electronic health-record systems show up on your doorstep with a solution that makes all your electronic records seamless and interoperable.
4. For the nation's healthcare consumers and patients, may those C-suite leaders look beyond their proprietary concerns to rapidly adopt those interoperable standards and allow patients downloadable access to their own records.
5. For the nation's insurers, may you rapidly adopt some of the transparency tools being developed by innovative startup companies to make comparative data on prices and hospital and physician quality easily available online, even if it requires revealing your competitive position.
6. For the nation's uninsured, may the Supreme Court realize that playing politics by making a literal interpretation of an Affordable Care Act drafting error will be interpreted by future historians as the equivalent of healthcare's Dred Scott decision.
7. For the nation's Medicaid directors, may the managed-care companies that are increasingly running your systems develop successful strategies for holding costs in check while delivering better population-health management and better outcomes for the nation's poorest citizens.
8. For accountable care organizations run by hospitals, physicians or insurers, may you discover how to walk the walk as well as talk the talk about how to maintain margins while reducing healthcare costs and delivering better care.
9. For hospital safety and quality officials, may you get the support from leadership you need to substantially reduce the unnecessary harm that is taking place in almost every healthcare facility.
10. For the National Institutes of Health and the nation's health research scientists, may Congress give you a substantial boost in your appropriation, which has been stagnant for far too long.
11. For officials at the CMS, may Congress give you the authority, and may you find within yourselves the courage, to more rapidly move the nation's providers from fee-for-service to pay-for-value medicine.
12. For pharmacy benefit managers, drug-formulary and device-utilization committees and patient co-payers, may drug and device companies gather and make public the clinical trial and outcomes data you need to make better informed purchasing decisions.
13. For drug and device companies, may you discover a business model that doesn't require price levels on new products that threaten to bankrupt the healthcare system.
14. For the nation's long-term-care providers and the families of loved ones in those facilities, may someone give you a copy of Dr. Atul Gawande's book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.
I could go on, but I've reached the end of my space. Happy holidays everyone! See you in 2015.