IOM rails on healthcare system

September 14, 2012

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has once again issued a lengthy report indicting the US healthcare system as falling abysmally short, using just about any means of measure. The report says that based on 2009 figures, the United States is wasting approximately $750 billion per year on the care of its people.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has once again issued a lengthy report indicting the US healthcare system as falling abysmally short, using just about any means of measure. The report says that based on 2009 figures, the United States is wasting approximately $750 billion per year on the care of its people.

The report, “Better Care at Lower Cost: The Path to a Continuously Learning Healthcare in America,” comes in the midst of a presidential election in which healthcare is at the forefront. 

The IOM says that at the heart of the problems are the ever-increasing “complexity of the science of healthcare” and the “ever-escalating cost of care.”

The report calls for a “continuously learning healthcare system,” one that immediately updates patient records and makes them available to all team players in real time, is completely cost-transparent for all participants, that rewards outcomes and value rather than volume, and that promptly identifies and corrects errors and routinely captures results to be used for continuous improvement.

The report also says that we already have the tools necessary to make such a system a reality. Our vast and growing computational power, information technology, connectivity, and managerial/organizational capabilities, combined with greater empowerment of patients, could create such a system today.

In developing the report, the 18-member panel solicited the views of more than 200 clinicians, patients, healthcare delivery leaders, clinical researchers, professional societies, life science industries, information technology developers, and government agencies.

The committee concluded that such a learning system is the only way to provide “best care at a lower cost.” And that development of such a system is of paramount importance not only to the future of healthcare, but also to the “physical and financial health of the nation” as a whole.

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