Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America

Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America

“If home building were like health care, carpenters, electricians, and plumbers each would work with different blueprints, with very little coordination.”

“If airline travel were like health care, each pilot would be free to design his or her own preflight safety check, or not to perform one at all.”

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has just released this latest “state of our health care” report which is well worth reading. [1]  We have a long ways to go before we have a health system. The report, released September 6, 2012, concludes that our dysfunctional health care system wastes about $760 billion each year. Much of the waste is due to inefficiencies and administrative duplications, but $210 billion of the waste is due to unnecessary services (e.g., overuse, unnecessary choice of higher cost services) and $55 billion is wasted on missed primary, secondary and tertiary prevention opportunities.

Here are just a few of the interesting points and recommendations the 18 authors make:

  • The volume of the biomedical and clinical knowledge base has rapidly expanded, with research publications having risen from more than 200,000 a year in 1970 to more than 750,000 in 2010;
  • We can achieve striking improvements in safety, quality, reliability, and value through the use of systematic evidence-based process improvement methods;
  • We need digital platforms supporting real-time access to knowledge;
  • We need to  engage empowered patients;
  • We need full transparency in all we do;
  • We need improved decision support; improved patient-centered care through tools that deliver reliable, current clinical knowledge to the point of care; and, organizations’ support for, and adoption of, incentives that encourage the use of these tools.

The pre-publication issue of this IOM report is currently available free of charge at this URL.[2]

[1] Smith M, Cassell G, Ferguson B, Jones C, Redberg R; Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Best care at lower cost: the path to continuously learning health care in America. SEP-06.aspx.

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