Post-Reform Jitters: Opportunities for Positive Change in the Healthcare Industry

Industry Insights from Paul Meade,  M. Sc, MPH

With all the players in the healthcare field scrambling to understand just how the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is going to impact their livelihood, it is no wonder everyone has “Post-Reform Jitters.” A new report has just been published by PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute titled, “Health Reform: Prospering in a Post-Reform World,” which suggests that everyone is going to have to work together nicely and all get along.  This is, undoubtedly, an interesting concept, since the healthcare industry has spent the last hundred years fragmenting and segmenting care delivery. In fact, health care in the United States has become a system of silos and fiefdoms with so many intermediary players all attempting to “carve out” their respective niches and take their fair share of the profits that healthcare costs have become the proverbial runaway train. So why are we so worried?

We can sum up the impact of this new healthcare reform in two words: accountability and transparency. To effectively integrate healthcare back into a manageable, efficient system, the players are certainly going to have to get along and play nicely, as suggested by the PWC report. But more importantly, those who play in the healthcare game are going to have to be more accountable to those receiving the care, namely the consumers. This means paying more attention to quality care delivery at an affordable price. Evidence-based outcomes will drive both cost and quality in a competitive marketplace, and those delivering the care, or participating in the delivery of that care, will need to be more accountable to the public. And with accountability comes transparency.

The “art” of medicine is quickly giving way to the “science” of medicine. The explosion of knowledge in basic biology and medicine brought about by a greater understanding of genetics is changing the playing field. No longer will a “good educated guess” be good enough for an educated and knowledgeable public. We will have to substantiate our approaches to managing illnesses with sound scientific evidence demonstrated to yield optimal results in a cost beneficial manner. The players will need to be transparent and withstand public scrutiny. Ethics will be the sentinel of accountability and transparency in a reformed healthcare environment.

It is time to do the right thing for the right reason with the right quality and right cost, so that every citizen in this country can regain a foothold on managing their health. Should we have post-reform jitters? Yes, if it shakes us from complacency and makes us all focus on the right things: accountability and transparency. The world of healthcare is about to change forever, and it’s about time.

Paul Meade is the president and founder of Thought Leader Select.  In the spring of 2010, Paul earned a Master of Public Health degree from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Meade also earned a certificate in ethics from the school’s Public Health Leadership Program.

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