In only a single week, I have had the opportunity to meet many amazing healthcare leaders in New Jersey ranging from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Senator Robert Gordon. Although I may not yet completely understand the whole healthcare maze or have found a solution to our nation’s problem, this experience was unbelievably rewarding.
Before the trip, I knew absolutely nothing about our healthcare system. I have heard of ObamaCare, but I have never heard of anything called an Affordable Care Act (ACA)! I had no clue that compared to other nations, the United States spent the most money on healthcare and the outcomes were not even good! Our whole healthcare system was in need of drastic changes in order to restabilize the resources that were continuously going to waste! Hundreds of billions of dollars were going into unnecessary procedures. Patients were being recklessly paired up with the wrong employee (physician, nurse, surgeon, etc.) that would minimize wasted time and money. Financial incentives between hospitals and physicians were in conflict as physicians would want patients to remain in hospitals longer while hospitals would want them out as quickly as possible. Millions of Americans were uninsured and health insurance was becoming more expensive each year: Analysts expected the cost of health insurance for a typical family of four to be approximately $40,000 a year in 2020! The United States was dealing with a huge crisis and I had no idea!
BUT THEN, IN ONLY ONE WEEK, I FOUND THE SOLUTION! GIVE EVERY AMERICAN TWO MILLION DOLLARS AND EVERYTHING IS SOLVED! (Just kidding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkCf3MCuOLk)
Surely finding a solution to this whole thing is not easy. However, I have learned about the many organizations that are all working in their own way to improve healthcare. The Camden Coalition minimizes wasted healthcare money by working to keep the highest utilizers (the sickest patients who are repeatedly at the Emergency Room) out of the hospitals. DevCo takes a step back and brings a fresh grocer and fitness centers to the city of New Brunswick in order to prevent citizens from becoming patients by keeping them healthy and fit. The Trenton Health Team provides food and shelter to the homeless in Trenton, serving as a hotspot for the homeless. This also helps keep them out of hospitals by keeping them healthy and away from the unhealthy food or environments that would make them sick. These and other organizations are helping to fund (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) and counsel (Schaffer Consulting) hospitals, insurance companies, and other organizations. The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute helps to provide hospitals with the reputational incentives to provide the safest care as possible: LeapFrog is an online grader system that grades hospitals based on safety. We noticed the effectiveness of LeapFrog when Dr. Sue Walsh of the Jersey City Medical Center could immediately recall her hospital’s last four scores on LeapFrog! She was surely following up with the grader in order to keep their reputation up.
All in all, there may be many problems with the healthcare system, but many individuals and organizations are all improving the system and giving hope to many Americans for a brighter future for health!