I am in San Francisco today and speaking about the state of cardiovascular medicine at the CRF's TCT 2011 conference. Here is a snapshot of what I will be discussing:
Dynamic Changes in Health Care Resource Allocation
The trend in U.S. health care is simple: spending is drastically rising. U.S. health care expenditures total more than $2.5 trillion. In the past few decades, hospital, physician and prescription drug expenditures have also been steady to rise. Medicare spending for cancer and heart disease varies greatly – with heart disease still almost double cancer spending even though new hope to someday become take second place in morbidity, mortality and spending. Heart disease spending Medicare alone is projected at about $220 billion in 2011 and will rise to well over $300 billion or more by 2020. Health care spending in the U.S. is more than double that of other developed nations – and health care is the primary driver of future federal spending and the accumulating deficit. With more than 35 million U.S. citizens and 15 million non-citizens uninsured, 50 million on Medicare and 40 million on Medicaid, it is clear that the spending incurred by the American health system is a heavy burden to the nation unless the profession moves in to reduce unnecessary spending.
Impact of Changing Demographics of Physician Practice
Baseline demand of physicians is sharply outpacing the baseline supply as medical school enrollment and choice to practice a medical specialty decline. Practices are changing as more than 38 percent surveyed by the ACC in 2010 are either already integrated or considering hospital integration and 14 percent are merged or considering a merger with another practice. Well over 50 percent of CV private practices have sold to hospitals or other employment venue and the trend continues. It is clear that this is a time of change for CV medicine and health care at large. Practice transformation will be affected by the bullish forces promoting integration, payment reforms, delivery system reform that requires team practice and advanced health information technologies, more informed patients who will engage in shared decision making, public reporting on quality and efficiency, and pressures to use clinical data and feedback to systematically improve quality and value, and to reduce variation and disparities.
Socioeconomic Trends and Imperatives
Stunning technology and infrastructure, a superbly trained workforce, excellent academic institutions, leading innovation – these are hallmarks of the U.S. health care system which currently covers more than 84 percent of Americans with private or public health insurance. Unfortunately, that also means that 16 percent of Americans are uninsured, and the nation is saddled with skyrocketing costs, great variation in quality of care and lack of needed care coordination. Clearly our non-system is in great need of mending. While the embattled Affordable Care Act offers new opportunities to promote access, insurance reform, and prevention, while also adding new funding to stimulate innovation, research, public health and work force development, it’s fate is uncertain. In this chaotic environment, CV medicine faces major uncertainties in terms of the impacts of system reform and deficit reduction on the future attractiveness and viability of CV physician practice, the availability of primary care, and the affects of delivery system reforms and funding changes on patient care.
While uncertainties abound, the future of health care and CV medicine can be positive influenced by the use of registry data and quality improvement programs which more consistently deliver best evidence at the point of care. ACC’s NCDR® and PINNACLE registries; Hospital to Home, Door-to-Balloon, and Imaging in FOCUS initiatives, and other quality improvement programs will greatly improve outcomes and reduce unnecessary spending if they can diffused more widely and include primary care. The ACC is poised to help the nation solve the problems of uneven quality, poor care coordination, and skyrocketing costs in health care through these and other efforts and partnerships.
To emulate management guru Peter Drucker, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Let’s get on with it.
For more information on ACC’s quality initiatives, visit http://www.cardiosource.org/qualityprograms.