Today's standard of care has morphed from comprehensive to catastrophic care. As the number of uninsured Americans has increased, so has the percentage of emergency room cases that aren't emergencies. As many as one-half of ER patients are there for routine treatment because they have nowhere else to go.
Hospitals & Providers Strategy
SACRAMENTO—California's six largest preferred provider organizations (PPOs) have agreed to initiate quality-of-care measures to create a Health Insurance Report Card for the state, the first in the nation for PPOs.
Hospitals have made strides during the past decade to increase their inpatient survival rates. This is being accomplished at the same time that inpatient acuity (the severity of illness) has been steadily increasing.
The goals of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) are hard to argue with. The coalition of employers and physician groups hopes to transform how primary care is organized and financed. It says patients will get better treatment, physician payments will be improved and value will be added for purchasers and consumers by allowing patients' family doctors to coordinate care. That coordination will depend on technology.
For years, surgeons and other specialists working at hospitals were at the financial mercy of administrators. While it was true that these physicians were the ultimate authority on clinical care, the decisions about equipment, more staff and other important aspects of treating patients were often out of their hands. With departments wrestling each other for precious few dollars, their requests were frequently denied.
As far as Michael Howe is concerned, the healthcare community should no longer question whether retail clinics are here for the long haul. The way he sees it, the criticisms about quality and continuity remain theoretical and spoken by a vocal minority. But even more so, the millions of consumers who are driving demand for retail-clinic services seem to have answered the question already.
A joint collaboration between a small hospital in Indiana and an Indianapolis-based picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) and complete radiology provider enabled the small hospital round-the-clock access to radiologist services. Upon its opening in October 2006, the Monroe Hospital in Bloomington, Ind., joined forces with the PACS and radiology provider to supply the facility with radiologists to cover all of the hospital's general and subspecialty radiology services through both on-site and remote radiologists.
Virtually everyone agrees that properly incentivizing physicians—particularly rewarding the high-level performers—is critical to changing the direction of the U.S. healthcare industry. No single stakeholder can effect much of a change alone, however; if the industry is going to change, it will be with help from every direction and demographic.