Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Summit Tackles Issues

According to Darrell G. Kirch, President and CEO, Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), we need to embrace a new culture in healthcare and we can only do this by changing our traditional thinking. He expressed his views at the “Collaborative Communications Summit” held May 5-6 in Washington D.C.

The present healthcare system was built on individualism that is competitive, focused, and scholarly. What we now need is a system that is collaborative, transparent, focuses on outcomes, and uses evidence-based medicine. The ideal situation would be to create a culture where teaching and learning produces an integrated world of education resulting in collaborations that will put the patient at the center.

Collaborating on ideas and information in today’s world are needed to use technology to the fullest extent possible. Dr. Kirch reported that a recent collaborative effort just undertaken by AAMC and the American Dental Education Association (AEDA) shows for the first time how academic medicine and dentistry can come together to share teaching resources across universities.

He continued to say that since AAMC launched MEDEdPORTAL in 2006, it has been a source for free, high quality educational resources, and a place for educators to receive recognition for their scholarly work. MEDEdPORTAL along with this new partnership will help AAMC and ADEA obtain a higher degree of collaboration and integration between medicine and dentistry. This partnership will enable medical and dental faculties to benefit from one another’s knowledge, expertise, and excellence to improve medical and dental education.

One of the many panel discussions held at the Summit examined how disruptive innovation can help in healthcare. David Kibbee, MD, AAFP, defined disruptive innovation as some product or service that enables a large portion of the population consisting of less wealthy people to receive care in a lower cost setting. Disruptive technology is now providing healthcare in a less traditional way and combines new business and clinical models with technology.

The reason that delivering healthcare in this way is becoming popular is that consumers can obtain their healthcare in more convenient settings such as in the workplace, retail centers, or at home. A prime example is the “Minute Clinic” concept. The Clinics bring healthcare to the consumer with no appointment necessary, prices are announced beforehand, sites are located in a retail location such as a drugstore where consumers can also shop for other items, and the Clinics provide continuity of care by sending a summary of the visit to the patient’s doctor.

Another speaker on the panel, Majad Alwan, PhD, Director, Center for Aging Services Technologies, pointed out how important it is to provide care to the growing aging population. Seniors very often have multiple diseases, a decline in cognitive abilities, receive care in multiple care settings, and have six to nine prescriptions filled by different doctors. With the future trends, seniors including baby boomers will turn to disruptive innovation as they are very willing to use technology to provide convenience and to save money. As a result, seniors will become increasingly more vocal for the need for low cost behaviorial monitoring systems to be used in the home.

At another panel discussion, several leaders in the field discussed healthcare from the perspective of the hospital. Steve Messinger, a hospital strategist with ECG Management Consultants, pointed out that the gap between the demand for physicians and the supply is catching up.

Doctors are attracted to working for hospitals because of changing regulatory requirements, malpractice issues, opportunity for financial security, and the ability to balance their family life with their work at the hospital. This massive integration of doctors into hospital settings will continue to create a wave of culture change in the years to come along with the development of an integrated delivery system.

Gina Cameron, Director, Physician Billing, Mercy Health System in Conshohocken, PA., explained that in order for hospitals to move to technology, culture change will require perseverance. She pointed out that Mercy Health Care is moving forward in the use of technology, but does not yet have an electronic medical record in place in the acute areas. However, the hospital has rolled out Electronic Medical Records and e-prescribing in a limited way, and lessons have been learned that will be helpful in incorporating subsequent roll outs.

Carolyn Clancy, MD, Director, AHRQ speaking at a session concerning the consumer and the use of technology, reported that her agency is very involved in patient engagement and the use of HIT. For example, AHRQ awarded a grant for approximately one million to Temple University to advance the treatment for hypertension.

The grant funds are supporting telemedicine technologies to be used to promote patient care for hypertension among the underserved African Americans in the North Philadelphia community. The funding will provide treatment guidelines, quality measurements, automatic reminders, and feedback for both patients and healthcare providers.

For more information on the Collaborative Communications Summit, call +1 648 502 7563 or go to www.collaborativecommunicationssummit.org. The next Collaborative Communication Summit will be held October 27-29, 2008 in Beverly Hills California