Aspen Institute Publications
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While some hospitals and physician practices struggle to incorporate health information technology into their operations, a number of institutions have begun to reap significant benefits from their early investment in this technology. This paper profiles six such organizations, including a medical system in the Midwest that uses a population health dashboard to track, improve, and report on patient outcomes; a regional health information exchange that has found ways for community organizations—including those without electronic health records—to share data; an academic medical center in New England that uses patient-reported data to determine the most effective treatment regimens; a pilot of health information exchange that has enabled patient data to be shared among clinicians in two of the largest health care systems in Southern California; an urban pediatric hospital that uses iPhones for clinician communication; and finally an integrated delivery system in the Northwest that engages members in their health care through an online patient portal.
Advancements in biomedical science and technology have led to the development of many new diagnostic tests, drugs and devices—greatly expanding the treatment options available to patients. Less has been done to directly compare the effectiveness of such treatments, making it increasingly difficult for physicians and other providers to determine which therapeutic approaches will work best for which patients. Comparative effectiveness research, an endeavor that is supported by substantial funding from the federal government, aims to do just that. Applied appropriately, it could improve quality of care and health outcomes. However, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, as well as some physician and patient groups, have expressed concerns that such research might focus on the best clinical approach for populations and thus not benefit individual patients with unique health needs, and that it might restrict the treatment options available to patients. Further, there are fears that it could stifle medical innovation. But both international experience with comparative effectiveness research and the more limited experience with it here in the United States suggest that the benefits of more information about the relative clinical benefits of various drugs, devices and treatments outweighs its potential for harm, especially if such evaluations of medical processes and procedures are fair, accurate and transparent.
"The U.S. continues to make remarkable advances in medical science and technology. However, financial incentives within the health care delivery system can hinder consistent, affordable patient access to these advances,” said Sam Nussbaum, M.D., WellPoint's Chief Medical Officer. “WellPoint is pleased to collaborate with the Aspen Health Innovation Project to address critical barriers to innovation in care delivery. We believe the report issued today will serve as an important roadmap to advance novel approaches such as incenting providers for innovative payment models based on quality and outcomes and for health IT implementation.”
“Health Stewardship: The Responsible Path to a Healthier Nation” expands on the Aspen Health Stewardship principles to help chart the wisest course to health reform and calls for “all Americans to value and manage our nation’s shared health resources in the same sense that we seek to be good stewards of the environment.”
A new Aspen Institute/Zogby interactive survey indicates that most Americans believe increased access to health care is not enough to improve health outcomes. The results of this poll show that almost half of all respondents (45%) believe universal health insurance would not improve Americans’ health and 48% reported having suffered or know someone who has suffered an illness, injury or death that they believe could have been prevented by better health care. The rate is highest among African-Americans (63%) and those with incomes below $25,000 (56%). Further, a majority of those surveyed (58%) agree that Americans with unhealthy lifestyles should pay more for health care and almost half of all respondents cite either providing preventative health care to all Americans (48%) or having access to more affordable health insurance (47%) as the top mark for a successful reform proposal. Americans overwhelmingly support rewarding those who make healthy lifestyle choices. In addition to strong support for making healthy lifestyle choices more personally rewarding, more than three in four Americans (78%) said they believe those who make poor health choices should be held responsible for them.