Doctor’s Corner – Straight Talk

Allen Weiss MD, MBA, FACP, FACR President CEO, NCH Healthcare System

For the twelfth consecutive year, I have shared thoughts about the future of healthcare in the year’s first Straight Talk and reviewed these predictions in the last.

Needless to say, we live in rapidly changing times with increased innovation, decreased resources, and intensified transparency.

Here were 2018’s three predictions with comments.

Objective quality transparency will grow.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) is committed to quality, with a focus on fifty-seven, well-defined criteria in seven categories (mortality, safety, readmission, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care, and imaging).

Where you get care matters. We follow our CMS metrics carefully, noting the current ratings are based on reports that are at least nine months old, with most measures being longer trailing averages.

NCH’s overall ranking has improved over the past three years from three to five star, the highest possible. However, our scores on patient experience are challenging. We know we are right at the border between four and five star, with our greatest opportunity in the patient experience metric.

All our other metrics range from greatly better than average to excellent.

Prevention will accelerate.

Arguably, more important than being a repair shop, alert healthcare systems should be focused outside the four walls of their institutions.

NCH is the sponsor of the very successful Blue Zones Project for Southwest Florida. We have been recognized as the healthiest and happiest community in the nation for the third consecutive year, uniquely adding 0.2 years of life-expectancy to reach six years longer than America’s average.

Sadly, for the first time since 1963, the nation’s overall life-expectancy has decreased for the past two years.

The following paragraph was sent to me from Deb Logan, Director of Southwest’s Blue Zones Project: As we close 2018, I want to thankyou and NCH’s board for your community well-being vision and support of the Blue Zones Project—SWFL. As you are aware, we have had another wildly successful year. We are on target to meet our goals throughout Collier County, Bonita, and Estero and will begin our official work on Marco Island in 2019. Although we were pleasantly buoyed by the 2017 Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being data comparison to our 2015 baseline, we are anticipating seeing even more robustly positive four-year comparison data in July 2019.

With more than 550 organizations now participating and an estimated 165,000 individuals touched by the project, we are confident healthy choices are getting easier in SWFL.

Please enjoy a year-in-review video.

Single-Payer Insurance will gain acceptance.

Even though nonindividual or system alone can determine changes in healthcare policy, what we have now is clearly not working as well as it should. Interestingly, Medicare, although not perfect, has an 80% approval rating from those covered. An efficient single-payer system focused on prevention and employing behavioral economics to motivate citizens would improve health, lower costs, cover everyone, shrink waste, and better utilize limited resources.

Many definitions/models of single-payer are being discussed as this subject was and continues to be top of mind for our nation.

We are always focused on quality for patients and prevention for the community we serve, while being completely cognizant that our model of care is ripe for change. This past year’s three predictions are effective ways of helping everyone live a longer, happier, and healthier life.

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