Panel presses for health information superhighway

By Bernie Monegain
10:38 AM

A commission of national healthcare experts convened by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC) has unveiled a roadmap for better healthcare that calls for a "health information superhighway."

The commission presented the report Wednesday at the National Press Club in the nation's capital.

"Just as President Eisenhower built a Federal Interstate Highway System to connect communities, boost the economy and protect national security, so must we construct a health information superhighway system in the 21st century," said Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, MD (ret), co-chair of the Commission on U.S. Federal Leadership in Health and Medicine: Charting Future Directions.

Another commission recommendation facilitated by health IT includes the establishment of a center analogous to the Federal Aviation Administration, to report, monitor and reduce the more than 1.6 million injuries and 100,000 deaths that occur annually due to medical errors.

The report, A 21st Century Roadmap for Advancing America's Health: The Path from Peril to Progress, is the panel's second report, and it sets forth actions for building a 21st century system.

Commission co-chairs, Blumenthal and Denis Cortese, MD, say that, despite passage of historic healthcare reform legislation, no one has fully focused on the next steps necessary to ensure that all Americans gain maximum value from the current healthcare system, nor have all of the key elements necessary to improve the health of the nation been addressed.

"Healthcare delivery in the U.S. remains in crisis," said Cortese, emeritus president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic and director of the Healthcare Delivery and Policy Program, Arizona State University. "Americans are paying far too much on health care delivery, especially when compared to the outcomes, safety, service and access we obtain in return. Simply put, low value healthcare in the U.S. is the result of the lack of a national and rational system for delivery of reliable high quality care. In order to enable the evolution of such a system we need to find ways to consistently pay for value."
The report proposes:

  • Re-engineering America's healthcare system
  • Advancing public health and prevention in the United States
  • Promoting global health and health diplomacy
  • Strengthening U.S. medical and public health research

"To really improve health and health delivery in the U.S., we must make value be the cornerstone of a re-engineered system to improve quality, minimize waste and lower costs," said Cortese. He also underscored that the keys to accomplishing this transformation include the adoption of new value-based payment methods, promoting team-based medicine, strengthening primary care, and conducting comparative effectiveness and health systems research.

The commission also called for a focus on prevention.

"Public health and prevention are also essential elements of healthcare reform, with more than 75 percent of healthcare costs in the U.S. resulting from chronic diseases that are linked to preventable factors, yet only three to five percent of the nation's health budget is spent on prevention," the report notes.

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