All the pundits seem to be focused on the fate of the Affordable Care Act under a new presidency. Whether and what exactly and the impact thereof, republican president elect and the congress will repeal, is a matter of speculation. And 12.7 million Americans, who have bought their insurance through the Affordable Care Act's online exchange are waiting to see how things will unfold.
No idea is perfect to start with - over the years, Apollo lunar module underwent major design changes to improve safety and reduce weight. The initial design had three landing legs, it became five to handle the instability and finally designers agreed on four legs to reduce module weight.
This year, we are celebrating 200th anniversary of arguably the most iconic diagnostic tool in medicine, the Stethoscope. From the very first stethoscope that was just a 24 sheets of rolled paper to miniaturized, palm-sized ultrasound devices, we have come a long way. But fundamentals of listening to patient's heart and lungs haven't changed much.
While we can differ on policy positions on how to fix the US healthcare, what is paramount is that, the fundamentals of a "patient-centered" healthcare system are maintained. We believe, healthcare is not just an industry, it is a cause!
Here are some thoughts on how healthcare with better outcomes can thrive amidst change:
- Value based Healthcare (Innovation): The Institute of Medicine's defining 1999 patient safety report entitled "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System", was based on data that is three decades old. According to the 2013 Journal of Patient Safety report, latest estimates are that every year around 210K-440K people die from preventable medical errors in US which is the 3rd leading cause of death beside heart disease and cancer. This epidemic needs to be eradicated. Policies that promoted engaging patients, transparent accountability, innovation driven outcome-based healthcare economy need to unleashed.
- Affordability and Choice: Market based solutions (tax-free Health Savings Accounts, value based insurance designs) are sound ideas but need to be socially responsible, given the diversity of our country. We need to bring consumer choice back into healthcare where providers compete on the price and quality and while consumers can make choices, that will put them in charge of their own healthcare. We believe this will drive affordable premiums and bring health care costs substantially down.
- Catalyze Connected Health Investments: Billions of dollars on digitizing health records and health information exchanges. The next wave should be to catalyze data insights and data science to improve quality, reduce cost and usher an era of modern and innovative "anytime, anywhere" healthcare models, cutting edge scientific research and technologies and discover ways to fundamentally transform the way, medicine is practiced.
Finally, as US Healthcare continues its slow march, we hope that above policies will spur innovative approaches to transform how healthcare is delivered, managed and financed and drive collaboration across stakeholders - patients, providers, payers, employers, pharmas, devices and healthcare agencies and enable meaningful connected health.
We as a country are on a mission to fix our Healthcare system that is of the people, for the people and by the people and we owe it to ourselves and the future generations by keep trying bold and new ideas, as captain Kirk used to say "to boldly go where no man has gone before".