Initiative Aims to Reform Health Care in 2 Counties - The Patriot-News

Friday, June 06, 2008 BY DAVID WENNER Of The Patriot-News

Residents of York and Adams counties might soon notice big changes when they visit their family doctors, and it could be a glimpse of the future of health care.

They might spend less time waiting and more time discussing their conditions with medical professionals. They might, for the first time, receive regular telephone calls and e-mails from their doctors' offices.

Those are among the goals of a major health care initiative that will involve York-Adams and 13 other communities across the U.S.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation plans to spend $300 million on the effort to create a national model for improving health care.

"I think this will receive national attention, and we're looking forward to working with the other 13 communities to transform the delivery of health care in our communities," said Dr. Charles Chodroff, a senior vice president for WellSpan Health, which owns York and Gettysburg hospitals.

The effort will focus on:

  • Helping doctors improve quality of care.
  • Giving patients information to help them work better with their doctors, take better care of themselves and make better health care decisions.
  • Improving hospital care.
  • And reducing racial and ethnic inequalities in health care.

"Across America, there are serious gaps between the health care that people should receive and the care they actually receive," Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey of the foundation said in a news release. "Despite having the most expensive health care system in the world, patients are subject to too many mistakes, too much miscommunication and too much inequity."

One focus will involve changing the basic model family doctors use to provide care.

Because of the way health care is financed, family doctors are paid based on volume of patients and procedures rather than the health of their patients. Many doctors are critical of the situation, saying it limits their ability to teach their patients how to stay healthy and manage their medical conditions.

The York-Adams effort will use nurses and assistants to counsel patients, allowing doctors to devote more time to patients with serious illnesses.

The effort also will involve other aspects of medical care, including hospital care.

Chodroff said hospitals will work more closely with the doctors to make sure discharged patients get effective follow-up.

The effort will involve all four hospitals serving York and Adams: York, Gettysburg, Hanover and York Memorial.

It also will involve more than half of the primary doctors serving the two counties, said Barry Sparks, a spokesman for WellSpan.

The foundation will provide $1 million, much of it for training doctors and for educational materials.

Another aspect will involve persuading health insurers and the state to change reimbursement methods so providers are paid based on quality and outcomes rather than volume.

Providers will also make more treatment decisions, especially for serious but widespread conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, based on "best practices" supported by research.

That approach is similar to the "chronic care model" for treating such illnesses being promoted by the Rendell administration. The effort was recently launched in the Philadelphia area, and will expand across the state.

The goal is to give people the most effective treatments and care intended to keep them healthy, based on the belief this will keep people out of the hospital and reduce the state's health care bill.

Full Article

More information about the health care initiative in York and Adams counties is available at www.rwjf.org/qualityequality.

 

Join the I Can! Challenge

Have diabetes or heart disease? Join the 12-week, step-by-step program to help you learn how to set goals, partner with your doctor, and incorporate healthy eating and exercise into your life. Like I Can! on Facebook!