Transforming Our Health Care Delivery System to Achieve Great Health Care Value

Transforming Our Health Care Delivery System to Achieve Great Health Care Value

Radio interview with Dr. Timothy Harrington by Carol Koby of All About Living, Oct 26, 2019.

In their recently-released book, Great Health Care Value: Chronic Diseases, Practice Teams, and Population Management, Timothy Harrington, MD and his co-author Andrew Johnson, MS, MBA, provide their perspectives on how the American Health Care System is failing to serve the needs of many patients, the healthcare providers who care for them, and the American people. They then share how health care delivery can be improved and value optimized through redesigning practices that serve those with chronic diseases – which account for most of our health care costs.

On tomorrow’s program, Dr. Harrington, a rheumatologist and a retired Professor of Medicine from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, describes the bottlenecks of care that exist in traditional practices and how better coordinated care for larger numbers of patients can be achieved at a lower cost per patient. At a time when physician burnout is at an all-time high, health care costs continue to rapidly escalate, and even the insured are faced with increasingly long wait times to get an appointment, Dr. Harrington advocates for a fundamental change to effective team care and population management for chronic diseases and describes what that looks like.

Dr. Harrington also breaks down the current health care debate and shares why he prefers adding the “Public Option” to the Affordable Care Act as a first step toward creating high-value, affordable, universal health care.

Listen to the interview here:

Dr. Timothy Harrington: Dane County has a Health Care Access Problem

Dr. Timothy Harrington: Dane County has a Health Care Access Problem

By Dr. Timothy Harrington, The Capitol Times guest columnist, Oct 12, 2019

As a retired Madison rheumatologist, I hear from my physician and nurse colleagues, and many others, about the increasing problems that Dane County residents face every day in accessing necessary health care.

People who have developed new chronic disease problems are waiting three to six months, or even longer, to see the medical specialists who can best diagnose and treat them, while established patients cannot be seen when necessary. I recently spoke to a UW diabetes specialist whose next available new patient appointment is in one year, which means that her scheduled new patients are already waiting that long. As a result, patients who should be receiving outpatient medical specialty care clog up our equally overloaded primary physicians’ practices, urgent care centers and emergency rooms, as they get sicker and may eventually require more costly hospital stays.

A business executive new to Madison described to me how he waited three months to establish a primary physician relationship, and how his partner has maintained her health care elsewhere because she fears not being able access specialty care for her chronic disease in Madison. These people, like most Dane County residents, are well-insured, and yet they are unable to obtain necessary, timely care in a community that has more physicians per capita than almost anywhere else in the United States.

Our city and county governments project Dane County’s population will grow by 80,000 in the next decade, and they are beginning to address the unmet affordable housing and transportation needs of current and future residents. I suggest that accessible health care is as critical, and that our hospitals and large medical groups need to admit to and address this problem. Doing nothing or more of the same will not solve this problem.

To begin, UW Health, SSM Health and the Veterans Health System should publish their new and established patient wait times each month for their outpatient medical clinics. Then they need to redesign how their existing work force is organized, staffed and functioning. Exceptional health systems in other cities have done this after they learned that hiring more health professionals to practice the same way was not only difficult and expensive, but also failed to improve access or control costs.

— Dr. Timothy Harrington is a physician and health care consultant from Madison.

Link to article on Cap Times
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