MONDAY MARCH 1, 2010
I watched with great interest last week as President Obama and congressional representatives met in a bipartisan summit on healthcare reform. One of the lead discussion points was the need to find innovative ways to eliminate wasteful spending and consumption of healthcare services. One promising strategy is already underway here in New Jersey, where NJHA and 12 of its member hospitals and their participating physicians have received approval from the federal government to test an innovative new incentive method called “gain-sharing,” which aims to reduce healthcare costs while improving quality of care.
The three-year trial program could provide hospitals with an effective tool to align physician and hospital priorities, essentially making them partners in an effort to reduce the cost of healthcare. The strategies are endless, but one specific example could be a new timetable for physician rounds. By simply moving patient rounds to the morning and discharging patients early in the day, hospital expenses are reduced and patients are allowed to continue recovering in the comfort of their homes. This is one of many common sense approaches that could lead to significant cost savings.
Clearly, there is much work to be done to reform our healthcare system, reduce costs and extend health coverage to more Americans. Hospitals are ready to be part of the solution – as evidenced by this promising pilot project. We encourage Congress to continue examining such innovative ideas and lead us in the search for viable solutions to our healthcare system’s growing problems.