Grant Should Spark Health Care Network
The system would give providers information about their patients, even if they'd been treated elsewhere in the area, and it would give patients information about the quality of care from providers.
"From the patient point of view, it improves the probability the patient is going to get the right care, at the right time, in the right place," said Metro Health Executive Vice President Bob Smedes, a member of the
"If you think about the banking industry and the bazillion transactions they handle every day … It's been decades since I got an error on my checking account statement. Health care has to do something (similar)."
The Robert Wood
The goals of the grant, explained Dr. Frank Marre, associate medical director for clinical programs at Priority Health, are to measure quality, share best practices, and improve communication about cost and quality performance for the entire
Smedes said the grant will help
But the system also would track treatments in doctors' offices, hospitals and other providers, measuring those results against standards for quality of care, then making that information available to the public, said Lody Zwarensteyn, president of
Smedes said he expects the plan that is to be completed by the end of the grant will include such specifics as options for vendors, reviews of available systems and which health care standards should be measured. But the current grant does not cover such purchases. The committees involved will be coordinated by
Creating connectivity is an expensive venture, Smedes added. But he said he thinks the return is worth it.
"If we improve patient care, particularly if we employ good, solid systems, you will get better health, and the side effect, if you will, will be lower costs. That saves money," Smedes said.
Marre said the medical literature documents the link between health care costs and quality efforts. For example, he said, Priority Health made an effort to improve the use of medication among its asthma patients and found that emergency room usage rates for asthma dropped dramatically. Priority Health is owned by Spectrum Health, the largest hospital system in
"The name of the game nationwide has shifted from 'bang everybody over the head and try to get discounts in your favor.' Those are past games, and they haven't worked," Zwarensteyn said. "The true gains are going to come in quality; that's really the important message: the right care for the right person at the right time in the right place."