Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Senate Finance Committee: Health Care Incentives and IT

Last Tuesday, a Senate Finance Committee hearing saw health care experts calling for adoption of health IT, an overall increase in transparency and pay-for-performance programs to improve care and reduce costs.

These are two issues that we have returned to over and over during the course of this blog. The current incentive system in place is, as George C. Halvorson put it in Health Care Reform Now!, perverse. A move towards performance-based metrics and payments is something that could go a long way towards re-aligning the cumbersome and costly approach used today. Health care IT is well known as a means of not only trimming down administrative costs but also as a way to increase efficiency and eliminate a majority of duplicate testing and paperwork-driven errors.

Via Healthcare IT News:

"We believe that aligning financial incentives is the right approach to pushing quality to a higher level," [Greg] Schoen [MD, regional medical director of Fairview Northland Medical Center in Princeton, Minn.] said. "By creating a positive incentive to improve quality, pay-for-performance is an engine for improvement and can be a framework for fundamental transformation."
He is far from the only one bringing these views to the Senate. Samuel R. Nussbaum, MD, executive vice president of clinical health policy and chief medical officer at WellPoint, Inc., was also present and vocal as was Peter V. Lee, executive director of the National Health Policy at the Pacific Business Group on Health.

Also via Healthcare IT News:

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said he would hold two more healthcare reform hearings this year.

With healthcare spending outpacing the overall economy and inflation, "we simply cannot afford to continue paying for inappropriate or inadequate medical care," he said.

The time is right for change. We have labored too long under the non-system that currently holds sway. All of the differing elements needed are aligning to make this the perfect time to implement true reform of American health care. Now.

SOURCE: "Experts push transparency, P4P, and healthcare IT for healthcare reform" 09/10/08
photo courtesy of Marion Doss used under its Creative Commons license

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