What I’ve Learned in Heath Policy

I realized I haven’t written all that much about medicine lately. It’s probably because, honestly, I haven’t been doing a lot of medicine. This month has been pretty chill and I’ve spent most of my time working on The Jubilee Project, traveling to DC and NYC, and hanging out with my classmates.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the subject we’re learning. This block we’re taking Clinical Epidemiology and Health Policy. I started getting more into health policy after I graduated from college and realized that I lacked a more macro view of health care, given my anthropological, microlevel training. My three takeaways so far from what I’ve learned are:

1. The health care system is in terrible shape. Of course that’s pretty apparent given that the quality of care per capita spent in the United States is dismal, not to mention a growing number of the uninsured and health disparities around the nation.

2. The main focus is improving quality while decreasing cost. Not as easy as it sounds. There seem to be solutions tossed around, such as bundled payments, accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes, but in reality we’re still testing them out. What will really help all of these efforts out is if we can find an effective way to measure performance outcomes and value, which may or may not ever be satisfactorily possible.

3. What about the health care reform? Sure the mandate part may anger certain groups of people who don’t think it’s constitutional, but I think the reform does more good than harm and is a step in the right direction. Getting more people covered is huge, but we can’t stop there. The next step of implementation is even more important if we ever want to fix this health care system.

Also check out Atul Gawande’s recent and timely article in the New Yorker on this topic, called The Hot Spotters. It’s an insightful read about focusing on helping the sickest to reduce cost in our health care system

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Comments
One Response to “What I’ve Learned in Heath Policy”
  1. And—what I personally have learned from parent care is that physicians need to be schooled in the kind of patient relationship values and interrelationships that you espoused in a former post. Doctors need to communicate with patients (even if that takes time), communicate with designated representatives and with other doctors. Emphasis on the human and the personal. Emphasis on patient dignity. Emphasis on communication. Healthcare reform will not change basic orientations or human nature. That will come with learning, training and maybe performance and outcomes measurements that include patient feedback. (with appropriate incentives and penalties).

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