The Future of Healthcare

There is a reason why US healthcare has become the focal point of most political campaigns across the nation, it’s a mess. We have eaten through our federal reserve with military operations that have brought us to the brink of a financial meltdown. Our current budgeted estimate of healthcare spending is close to $2.8 trillion with an annual growth rate of 5.7%. This means that the figure will rise to $4.8 trillion by 2021. Yes, our current healthcare spending profile could indefinitely lead us towards bankruptcy. (fig. Reuters)

Our current government may be frantically trying to salvage the situation, but it is interesting to point out that while we might be spending the most; our average life expectancy is lower than most underdeveloped nations. Ranked at 34th on infant mortality and 50th on life expectancy worldwide, our average health expenditure per person is $5,746 a year. With nearly 98000 deaths being reported each year due to negligence and malpractice, our system is not only inefficient but ineffective.

We stand at the precipice and we must succeed with our current reforms to establish a base for an efficient, affordable and effective healthcare system. With reforms such as the Affordable Care Act resting on hinges in lieu of the Supreme Court ruling later this month, this may be the most crucial phase of a possible recovery yet. While I may have my reservations regarding Obama Care, it could definitely prove to become a lever for change. If President Obama’s reform does take effect, it will provide coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans.

I personally believe that the future is dependent on the progression of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) and the abolition of the fee-for-service method, the root cause. The fee-for-service (FFS) compensation enforces the culture of working more and charging more. Hence, physicians have often been blamed for creating their own volume of work. The government identifies the FFS as the main perpetrator in the increased level of medical costs, which are most likely to augment irrespective of evidence based documentation.

This is one of the key reasons that EMR adoption carries importance. The concept of ACOs is to make way for clinical integration and connected care. With the use of interoperable EMR solutions and HIEs, we can create a more efficient and effective care system that will promote evidence based practice and performance based compensation. Quality healthcare should be the right of every US citizen and whether this will happen during our lifetime remains to be seen.