Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Preventing Deaths From Treatable and Preventable conditions

May_30_Health_Care_Rally_NP (547)Image by seiuhealthcare775nw via Flickr

The health care debate rages on and most of the discourse seems to be full of opinions that are bereft of data. A recent NYTimes editorial notes that an Urban Institute study shows that American health care does somethings right and others wrong. The Times editorial highlights the fact that American health care seems to fail at preventing deaths from treatable and preventable diseases.
While the most jingoistic Americans are blind to the quality problems in our health care system, the recognition that the American health care system could do better has been known for a long time. One of the most through studies about quality of American health care was published by the Institute of Medicine over a decade ago.
Crossing the Quality Chasm: The IOM Health Care Quality Initiative

The IOM Definition of Quality is one I think everyone should keep in mind:
The degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge.
With so many people complaining that they don't want the government to decide on health care decisions, I wonder why we have assumed that insurance companies, for whom less payments to health care providers means more profit, are some how better than the government without profit motive would do. Whether it is the government or a for profit company making decisions on what health care interventions are appropriate and should be paid for, it would be nice if this definition of quality were foremost in everyone's mind.

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