13th Jul, 2009 | Source : Jack Lewin, MD, CEO, American College of Cardiology
Health care reform is imminent. The U.S. health care system is unsustainable if not reformed to improve quality, reduce unnecessary spending, and focus more effectively on prevention and management of chronic disease. Combine these opportunities with the ethical and practical need to get access to care for 47 million uninsured Americans, and you have a system primed for reform.
With 43 percent of Medicare dollars spent on heart disease—our nation’s #1 killer—the American College of Cardiology (ACC) is taking an active role in reform efforts and working to engage patients, lawmakers, and the medical community in discussions around a new standard of health care delivery centered on increasing access to care and ensuring patient value.
Through its “Quality First” campaign, the ACC is encouraging health care providers to act to “transform health care from the inside out.” Physicians, nurses and other care providers are on the front lines of care delivery and can best ferret out waste and unnecessary or inappropriate care and focus instead on continuous quality and outcomes improvement.
The ACC is already hard at work to transform care through innovation. Among the pilots underway, ACC’s Hospital to Home (H2H) initiative works to improve transitions from the hospital to the “home” for patients with heart failure. It aims to reduce preventable re-admissions for patients with heart failure through better patient education, medication adherence and coordination of care with the patient's primary care physician.
The College also is focused on improving the accuracy of medical imaging use — using the right test at the right time — through the use of appropriate use criteria. The ACC believes that imaging quality and cost effectiveness can best be improved by the systematic application of these criteria. On other fronts, the ACC is working with lawmakers and key health care stakeholders to develop and test different incentives for providers to work together to deliver cost-effective, efficient and quality care. These innovative programs are part of an overarching effort by the ACC to transform health care.
Over the last 60 years, the ACC has invested many millions of dollars to support education, guidelines, and quality improvement tools and programs. We are considered a leader in creating clinical guidelines that are grounded in information collection and professional consensus. In addition, the ACC has the largest national cardiovascular data registry in the world, the NCDR. It collects and reports data back to hospitals and, more recently, individual practices to promote quality improvement.
Because of these successful efforts, the College has much to bring to the health care reform discussion. Moving forward, we are committed to working with physicians, lawmakers, patients and other stakeholders to take quality care to the next level. When it comes to the health care system, quality cannot be an afterthought, but rather it must be embedded in everything we do. We have a responsibility and an opportunity to provide care that is more patient-centered, evidence-based and cost-effective. While not an easy task, it is one that is necessary for the optimal future of health care in America.