Leaders in healthcare are committed to a healthcare system that is focused on meeting the needs of consumers. Information will empower patients and consumers to make sound healthcare and lifestyle choices, leading to cost-effective healthcare and significantly reduced incidences of chronic disease.
Individuals and families will have a wide array of choices in how they receive their healthcare, which will allow them to select the type of coverage that best suits their needs. Care will be individually focused on providing the right treatment at the right time in the right place to each patient. Consumers will have information at their fingertips that is easy to understand, including data on the quality and cost of care, as well as consumer satisfaction. Healthcare providers and health plans will have the information they need on quality and medical outcomes to address the individual needs of each patient, and to ensure continuous quality improvement.
The optimal healthcare system will compete on the basis of providing long-term value, replacing the current emphasis on cutting short-term costs. Value means providing the highest level of quality at the best possible cost. Value will be achieved in all major aspects of customer service, including health plan and benefits administration, and medical care services. In this new system, costs will be reasonable, standard and easily compared by consumers. Quality measures will help consumers identify value in healthcare, and guide continuous quality improvement efforts. A key component of ensuring long-term value will be an emphasis on prevention, patient safety and maintaining wellness, which is the best way to keep health status high and medical care costs down.
The U.S. healthcare system must be a full participant in and major beneficiary of the Information Age. While protecting the confidentiality of patients’ medical records, information systems will drive the delivery of care. All elements of the new system will be linked, providing timely and crucial channels of communication to aid providers and patients, thereby improving the quality of care.
Investment in research, development and education is the driving force in creating the excellence of the U.S. healthcare system. For progress in our healthcare system to take place, breakthroughs and discoveries in drugs and technologies must make available new treatments for chronic and as well as currently untreatable diseases. Private sector R&D of new drugs, devices and procedures will be necessary to realize this vision, as will public sector support for research and training of the next generation of healthcare providers.
Lastly, in the future American healthcare leaders are building, the healthcare system will complete its transition from being a cottage industry of often isolated component parts to integrated systems for providing care. New partnerships and linkages among purchasers and providers will promote a continuum of care, which is the best way to make sure that people receive the right care in the right place at the right time. Additionally, with an integrated system, care coordination teams will be better able to deliver patient centered, evidence-based care that focuses on prevention of and intervention with chronic diseases.