Team Health Care

On August 4, 2009, FOX News Greta Van Susteren toured the world renowned Cleveland Clinic Medical Facility where the CEO discussed how issues like obesity and smoking end up costing more than we can possibly take on. I mean, Physical Education is all but non-existent in schools these days. Remember the President’s Challenge? I always got the top honors.

Back in February, Nicholas Wolter, MD, CEO, the Billings Clinic gave a presentation and discussion on the McKinsey Global Institute Report, “Accounting for the Cost of US Health Care: A New Look at Why Americans Spend More.”

And on Wednesday, August 12, on News Hour with Jim Lehrer, they featured a special report on what is known as team health care. People are having some frank discussions about health care reform and I’m interested in what they have to say (and so should you). The main philosophy has been toward a switch to Team Health Care. Basically, by having the doctors on a salary through a collective (like a clinic) you allow for more collaboration and lower costs. This does not mean that the doctors are paid less, rather they not only receive a salary but are rewarded for innovation and for quality improvement. These clinics provide and integrated system whereby doctor visits, tests, surgery, hospital care, etc., are all done under one roof.

We drive higher quality and reduced health care costs through integration. Forming a clinic which functions much like a hospital allows for doctors to work together for diagnosis and treatment. We are seeing an increasing number of doctors in group practice. They are being driven in this direction for many reasons but most importantly for the collaborative effort available through this effort. This allows for a sort of one-stop-shopping for the patient. Doctors are no longer paid for the tests they order or where they do their surgeries but rather on salary. They are not being paid less but rather being paid differently.

As much as this health care debate is on the forefront right now I really think that you should watch the episode online and see what you think about this idea. I do not agree with socialized medicine, per se, but I am all for the ideas used in the Mayo Clinic, the Billings Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, etc. One of the most startling figures from the News Hour report claims that while Medicare annual patient averages are $8,304, at the Billings Clinic, they are $6,332. U.S. News & World Reportconsistently lists these hospitals in their reports. Not only are they able to reduce costs but they provide an increased level of service. To me, this is a no brainer, but check it out for yourself!