Is our healthcare system a threat to national security? | TechQuest at SXSW 2018

By | 2018-04-25T16:49:28+00:00 March 11, 2018|Digital Strategy, Healthcare Trends, SXSW, TechQuest, Viewpoints|

Let’s take a step back for a moment and think about the implications of not focusing on value-based care? What are some new warning signs? On the bright side, we look at one example where asking how can we do a better job of helping patients get better has made a difference.


CHRIS REESE: Hi, I’m Chris Reese from JUICE Pharma Worldwide and I’ve got a provocative question for you guys. Is our healthcare system a threat to national security?

So is our healthcare system a threat to national security? Again, this is a pretty dramatic question but this has been bubbling up through various speakers and sessions at South By this year for a couple of reasons. One is we’ve experienced a decline in life expectancy for two years in a row. Now that hasn’t happened for nearly 55 years.

Secondly, we are spending a tremendous amount of money on healthcare. Most of us know that but when you look at some of the numbers, it’s astounding. We’re getting close to 20% of gross domestic product on healthcare. We spend about three times as much money as other First World countries do per person on healthcare.

So you have to ask yourself where is this going. Are we going to bankrupt ourselves on a system that’s not working as it should? And what does that mean? Does that make us a less educated society? Does that make us a less competitive society? And ultimately, does that make us a less secure society?

So what’s wrong with our healthcare system? Tough questions. But most people would agree that one of the primary reasons our healthcare system has been failing us is that we haven’t been focused on results. We haven’t been really asking ourselves is the patient getting better. We are much better in the United States at generating costs, generating procedures focused on volume versus value. Right? We’re really good at, hey, you can get an x-ray, an MRI, a scan, a surgery, but not looking at a patient comprehensively and seeing if that is actually helping them get better.
And even how we use technology, we’ve been really good recently at using artificial intelligence and algorithms to increase the efficiency of the billing system, again to generate costs and revenue, but not using technology to see if the patient is actually getting better.

So how do we fix this system? Well, let’s take a look at one group in particular — and there are many, many working on this problem across the country that ask themselves how do we do a better job at getting people healthier. So the Musculoskeletal Institute at University of Texas in Austin, which is focused on joint pain, asked themselves how do we build a better product. So they started by creating a comprehensive care team for each patient, so that consisted of a dietitian, a physical therapist, associate provider, all being led by an orthopedic surgeon that provided comprehensive but individualized care for each patient.

And they did this by using patient-reported outcomes as one of their primary measuring sticks. So again, they went and asked the patient, the customer, “Hey, what is most important for you? How would you define success in treating your joint pain?” So it’s exciting because they’ve been able to experience and deliver on better patient outcomes all being able to do this at lower cost.

So again, this is one small, localized effort but it’s exciting to see this happen. And then you start to ask, hey, how is some program like this, how is it scalable? How can it be replicated? And how can we initiate it across the country?

About the Author:

Chris Reese
SVP, Group Creative Director

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