Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Vision for the Future

George Halvorson Chairman and CEO Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, joined healthcare executives, legislators, and business leaders at the Fourth Annual World Healthcare Innovation & Technology Congress on December 8th, 2008 in Washington D.C. He said “the vision for the future is to provide all of the information about all of the patients, all of the time, anywhere.

Halverson reported that right now KP produces 30,000 lab reports for patients every day, and patients can use their computers to set up their office visit appointments, physicians can look at digital x-rays, e-prescribing is available, and electronic care counseling is provided daily.

Halvorson envisions a new model for healthcare where:

  • Data and connectivity will enable patient-centered care and make it easier for caregivers to deliver the best evidence-based care to every individual, and at the same time, manage serious illnesses and chronic conditions more efficiently and effectively
  • Systems will link patients to doctors, doctors, to doctors, doctors to nurses, doctors/nurses and patients to care team members, and laboratories and imaging centers to data bases
  • Patients will be able to do e-scheduling, e-visits, e-referrals, e-test results, and do secure electronic messaging with their care givers
  • Home bound patients will be able to have telemedicine consults and have instant responses to in-home crisis situations and potential problems

Halvorson went on to explain that the big spenders in healthcare are not acute care, cancer treatments, broken limbs, or births. Today, the major cost driver for healthcare is for chronic care. Eighty percent of costs treating chronic care deal with co-morbidities which also means that more than one doctor may be needed to treat to treat each patient.

Today, the reason that doctors tend not to coordinate care for patients with multiple diseases is simply because they are not reimbursed for linking care. Chronic care will not get better until the care is linked and to create the linkage, Halvorson stressed that chronic care needs to operate as a team sport. Operating as a team means that we need to put in place devices, mechanisms, financial incentives, and financial penalties so that a cooperative team is created involving caregivers.