The key word in the title is change. The most frightening number that proves change has to happen is that in 50 years healthcare expenditures will consume 50% of our nation's GDP. No way that can be sustained.
The three legs of the stool to manage HM economics include 1) cost of healthcare, 2) quality of healthcare, and 3) access to healthcare.
Dr. Robert Bessler, a former economics graduate, kept the talk interesting and simple enough even for a non-financial physician like myself. As everyone knows the cost of healthcare is rapidly rising and thus unsustainable, measures to improve quality and improve patient safety form one of the legs of the healthcare economics stool.
Two important occurrences that complicate quality are the aging baby boomers and the obesity epidemic hitting Americans. Access represents the second leg which is extremely shaky. In the near future, demand will exceed the number of professionals to provide care, as more patients become insured. Some hospitals will go bankrupt; estimates are 15% by 2020.
The last leg is cost, an area in which hospitalists will have a major role in the future, as they become more a part of the financial health of medical institutions. Dr. Bessler called hospitalists the "pit crew leaders," and said our turf is the "accountable," acute-care episode.
- Cost of healthcare is unsustainable.
- Quality will provide key role in decreasing costs.
- Access to healthcare will be constrained.
- Accountable acute care episodes is HM's turf.
Dr. Holder is medical director of hospitalist services and chief medical information officer, Decatur Memorial Hospital, Decatur, Ill. He is also chairman of the SHM IT Quality Committee.