IBM recently did a survey about how people think about primary care. As a nurse, IBM consultant and mother, I think about the survey results and wonder if healthcare information technology was leading the way, and the patient was following, would topics such as prevention, wellness, quality, chronic disease, and primary care still be highly debated?
I think so, as we look more intensely into the thought of forming a more expansive primary care/ medical home approach. However, there are several cornerstones of success that will need to be identified and normalized to change the overall perception and understanding of health care:
- - Society must shift direction and place the utmost importance on preventative measures and wellness. Addressing barriers related to annual wellness visits, compliance and medication will ultimately support healthy behaviors thus reducing overall costs.
- - We must identify and ultimately understand the causes of emergency department overuse.
- - We must strengthen the primary care system, promoting policies and procedures that are centered on evidence-based care, clinical innovation, and information technology.
- - We must start thinking in new ways about participating and driving our own health, and we must tackle tough topics head on such as disinterest, waste and fraud.
Prevention is supposed to help people stay healthier. If it costs money, so be it. Blending varying preventative measures (vaccinations, diagnostic testing, disease management, dietary counseling, etc) across all degrees of disease states (varying incidence and prevalence) and coming to the conclusion that some are found as not cost-effective measures should come as no surprise and is a disservice to everyone. All of us should demand the same understanding and performance around healthcare that we expect of any enterprise.
If one in four Americans do not receive a yearly wellness check-up, as the survey discovered – and despite the mounting evidence that 40 percent of deaths are due to preventable causes – cost and the inherent value of wellness visits may remain illusive to many people.
Consider this: what are the relative statistics for an oil change, given the simplicity of comparison? Most Americans understand that an oil change is instrumental to the proper functioning and a vital part of the preventative maintenance required when owning and operating a car. Without proper preventative care the automobile will shut down or be damaged beyond repair. Do the above same statistics apply? Do 93% of Americans refrain from having their oil changed in their car because of cost and unworthiness?
Brandy Killion is an IBM a healthcare business development consultant based in Bethesda, MD and a registered nurse.