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Welcome to The Medical Professionalism Blog
Introducing… the first post of “The Medical Professionalism Blog.”
There is an increasing focus on the sustainability of the U.S. health care system based on current cost trends. Predictions are for the health care system to consume 19% of the GDP by 2019. How did we get here?
Some point to the overuse and misuse of health care services, inefficiencies and lack of care coordination. Others blame the lack of clinical evidence, primary care workforce and the external threats to good decision-making, such as a toxic payment system and the influence of pharmaceutical and device companies.
While there are many different ideas about what got us here and what should be done, there is wide consensus that physicians and other stakeholders must begin to develop new more effective and efficient systems of care and make wise choices that preserve our health care system’s sustainability.
I think it’s helpful to frame this issue in the context of Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter. The Physician Charter calls for the medical profession to promote justice in the health care system, including the fair distribution of health care resources. It articulates the commitment to meet the needs of individual patients while providing health care that is based on the wise and cost-effective management of limited health care resources.
The tension between the principles of putting the needs of the patient first and social justice raises the following questions:
- What is the appropriate role of physicians and other stakeholders in preserving these resources?
- What behaviors foster and which threaten wise choices in medical decision-making?
- How can waste be removed from the system without sacrificing quality or safety?
- What system changes are needed to achieve better health care outcomes, reduce costs and improve the patient experience?
- What effect do the nature and performance of partnerships – clinician-patient, clinician-organization and clinician-society — have on professional behaviors and resource use?
What we’re hearing from folks is the need to “show me how” to answer these questions. Through analysis of promising practices, we hope to provide examples of what works – and what doesn’t.
Advancing professionalism in the 21st century requires people of varying perspectives — physicians, patients, health care leaders, policymakers, payers, purchasers and researchers — to come together and discuss the needs of a system that better supports patients and clinicians in the pursuit of quality, safety and affordability. I believe this conversation can help lead the changes that are coming in the health care system. But what do you think?
Let’s begin the conversation.
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