Surgeon General urges all Americans to take control of their care
U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, an advocate for the use of electronic health records, touted preventive care and the benefits of health reform when she spoke in Maine on Monday on the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
“I’ve been a long-term champion of the power of prevention because health doesn’t occur just here in the hospital or in a doctor’s office,” she told a small audience gathered in a conference room at Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) in Lewiston, Maine. “It occurs where we live, where we learn, where we work, where we play and where we pray.”
Benjamin spoke briefly about the millions of dollars the state of Maine has received because of the ACA but kept her focus on the prevention aspects of the law. Through the ACA, she said, patient access to preventive services, such as cancer screenings, routine vaccinations and cholesterol tests, has steadily expanded.
“Our vision is to move our healthcare system from a focus on sickness and disease to a focus on wellness and prevention,” she said. To truly reform the healthcare system, she emphasized, illness and disease must be stopped before they start.
Transforming our healthcare system from one focused on sickness to one focused on wellness has financial implications for healthcare systems, such as CMMC, but Benjamin explained that rather than flattening these businesses bottom lines, prevention will afford them opportunities to target their patient care.
“The hospital business model can be more specialized,” she said.
Prevention means that hospital emergency rooms can attend to emergencies rather than handling primary care services, she explained, which frees up resources in terms of time, workforce and finances. It also means that hospitals can refocus from handling primary care services to more specialized work, such as advanced cancer care, that, by its nature, would bring more financial resources into facilities.
Through the prevention model of care, she said, health systems will also save money because processes will be much more streamlined and efficient.
“There will always be a need of good hospital care,” she said.
The transformation of the healthcare system is not wholly in the hands of those employed in the healthcare system or those engaged in creating healthcare policy, she noted. “All Americans need to take control of their own health and learn as much as they can to make good decisions.”
Follow HFN associate editor Stephanie Bouchard on Twitter @SBouchardHFN.