REPOST: Health-care consumers need to take the lead, so get smart

Is diversity the key to improving the healthcare industry? David Russian shares his views on this subject, and more, through HeraldNet.com:

Our health care system is a Rube Goldberg machine: Complicated, with lots of parts moving in different directions, producing unpredictable, frustrating results.

Some of the parts are well-designed and produce great outcomes. We have amazing medical research in our universities and hospitals. The Puget Sound region is a leader in discovering new drugs, treatments and devices that save lives. We must preserve the environment that makes the area an innovator in health care.

This is also a healthy place to live. Compared to the rest of America, we eat better, exercise more, and weigh less.

So we’re healthier, and our health care costs are lower than the rest of the country.

Our community has seen consolidation of big players, and the entry of large corporations.

Providence assumed control of Swedish — it’s one big system. DaVita, a for-profit company, purchased The Everett Clinic. Kaiser Permanente took control of Group Health. Consolidation can lead to efficiencies of scale. Elsewhere in the country, consolidation has led to increased costs and decreased choice. We need to guard against that.

Medical informatics is a disaster. Electronic medical records (EMRs) are a part of doing business. They are clunky, time-consuming and do not talk to each other. They keep doctors and nurses away from their patients. They are expensive. They don’t transfer data from one EMR to another. Despite the cost, time and frustration, EMRs do not improve health outcomes. The Steve Jobs of EMRs has not yet been born.

The payment system is broken. Reimbursement to hospitals and providers has not kept pace with inflation. But pharmacy and device costs have skyrocketed. We’ve allowed health care costs to be corrupted by lobbyists. There have been a few big winners, but increased costs for all.

Continue reading HERE.

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