Bad News on Today's Quality, Good News on Tomorrow's

John Marcille

Qualilty — by which we really mean "high quality" — is something that we all pay lip service to. I mean, you arrange for really good care for your beneficiaries, don't you, just as I arrange for useful articles on cutting-edge topics. And so on.

From time to time, however, we have to face reality. Nobody's perfect, and that goes for the health care delivery system. I'm not even going to mention that article in the March 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the one titled "Who is at Greatest Risk for Receiving Poor-Quality Health Care?" by Stephen M. Asch, MD, MPH, et al, that found that "participants received 54.9 percent of recommended care," and that pretty much went for all sociodemographic groups.

I am going to mention a survey taken by about 550 physicians, health plan leaders, employers, and government officials at recent "State of Our Health" forums sponsored by AstraZeneca, and about 350 purchasers who read Employee Benefit News.

This survey (of the understanding and attitudes) of these leaders reports that "Almost uniformly, respondents stated that they did not believe the health care system is driven by quality." Employers were more emphatic, but even three-fourths of the providers and others attending the forums felt that way.

It's important that we know this, but we must also recognize that many or most of us are truly eager to engage in programs that will improve quality. We have loads of P4P programs being tried out across the land, for example, and we have pretty common agreement that "best practices" offer a solid route toward better care, and better value as well. Also wellness and consumer programs.

Our hearts are in the right place. Now we need to perfect the systems and, oh yes, make the economics work.

Career Opportunities

HAP, a subsidiary of Henry Ford Health System, is a nonprofit health plan providing coverage to individuals, companies and organizations. This executive develops strategies to meet membership and revenue targets through products, pricing, market segmentation and advertising.  Aligns business among Business Development, Commercial Sales, Medicare and Public Sector Programs and Product Development. Seeks to enhance and be responsible for business development and expansion through the development of an effective product portfolio, strong interpersonal relationships and service excellence.

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