..but in case you weren’t paying attention to President Obama’s address to the AMA, you had better be getting thee hence to an EHR system.
This is no longer a matter of electronic records being an interesting but problematic alternative to paper charting. That hasn’t been the case for some time, by the way.
The President of These United States has laid it out, repeatedly and often:
- Change is coming
- Beans will be counted
- Incentives will be aligned with desired outcomes
The federal government is setting the stage to make it so, and everything else is going to follow from there. “Lesser” entities, like insurance companies, are taking note.
So should you.
What He Said (Italics Mine)
1. We can’t keep going on like this, and we won’t:
Make no mistake: the cost of our health care is a threat to our economy. It is an escalating burden on our families and businesses. It is a ticking time-bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America…When it comes to the cost of our health care, then, the status quo is unsustainable. Reform is not a luxury, but a necessity.
2. We kinda oughta be ashamed of ourselves:
Today, we are spending over $2 trillion a year on health care – almost 50 percent more per person than the next most costly nation. And yet, for all this spending, more of our citizens are uninsured; the quality of our care is often lower; and we aren’t any healthier. In fact, citizens in some countries that spend less than we do are actually living longer than we do.
3. Health care reform is the NUMERO UNO domestic priority:
To say it as plainly as I can, health care reform is the single most important thing we can do for America’s long-term fiscal health. That is a fact.
How It’s Going To Go Down
Step 1: ELECTRONIC RECORDS!!!
First, we need to upgrade our medical records by switching from a paper to an electronic system of record keeping. And we have already begun to do this with an investment we made as part of our Recovery Act.
Step 2: Re-focus on preventive care, and personal responsibility:
The second step that we can all agree on is to invest more in preventive care so that we can avoid illness and disease in the first place…Building a health care system that promotes prevention rather than just managing diseases will require all of us to do our part…Our federal government also has to step up its efforts to advance the cause of healthy living…with an investment we are making in prevention and wellness programs.
Step 3: Reward different types of care:
That starts with reforming the way we compensate our doctors and hospitals. We need to bundle payments so you aren’t paid for every single treatment you offer a patient with a chronic condition like diabetes, but instead are paid for how you treat the overall disease. We need to create incentives for physicians to team up – because we know that when that happens, it results in a healthier patient. We need to give doctors bonuses for good health outcomes – so that we are not promoting just more treatment, but better care.
Step 4: Study what truly works, and pass it around, quickly:
Less than one percent of our health care spending goes to examining what treatments are most effective… we need to do is figure out what works, and encourage rapid implementation of what works into your practices. That’s why we are making a major investment in research to identify the best treatments for a variety of ailments and conditions.
Translation: Kick The Tire And Light The Fire, Already
If you’ve been paying attention to this blog, none of this will really be news. What’s newsworthy — and a trifle scary — is hearing the most powerful man on earth say pretty much the same thing.
- electronic records
- preventive care
- successful, not costly care
- EFFECTIVE treatments
Sift through this and you’ll see the underlying thread — quantify, compare and measure, then pilot into the uncertain future based on the facts. Not fuzzy theories, wishful thinking, or old time inertia. What really works, bottom line? Because that’s going to form the basis for who gets paid.
And for you to figure that out — “you” meaning you the provider, the federal government, and the entire healthcare edifice — you need an infrastructure that measures outcomes, specifically and precisely, then compares them. With the ultimate goal of choosing between them, or those who provide them.
Do you see why electronic records were mentioned as item #1?
If you’re still resisting this trend, you are no longer bucking tech vendors, trying to sell you their high falutin’ records systems. You won’t be up against vendors, or hospital administrators, or IPA’s, or insurance companies, or the AMA.
The entire healthcare field is being redirected, like the biggest ocean liner ever built, into a digital direction — and a digital direction with lots and lots of critical, staring eyes.
And the President, the government, and pretty much everyone else — the ocean, if you will — is singing the same tune.
We’re no longer just talking about EHR adoption, here. That’s now an absolute given, if you want to play in this space. If you want to be ahead of the curve, you’ve already adopted, and are practicing your own data mining and comparing your numbers to everyone else’s.
You’re getting adept at running reports on your own patients, and seeing how many of them meet the national or local guidelines for quality care. You’re seeing how at first, your numbers really suck, but you know that’s OK, so do everyone else’s. You’re ahead of the game because pretty much no one else knows how important it is just to be looking.
When the rest of the pack gets around to figuring out what data mining means, you’ll be way down the road, having already improved your numbers 2 standard deviations beyond anyone else’s.
It’s not too late, if you haven’t taken the EHR plunge. But it almost is.
That faint, high pitched train whistle isn’t the digital revolution coming. It’s the sound of the locomotive, far down the tracks, pulling away from you.