Washington and the nation are struggling right now to improve the efficiency, quality, cost, and outcomes of healthcare. There are a multitude of interrelated issues and challenges, and many valid priorities to acknowledge and balance as the overall approach evolves, but the bottom line is that reforming healthcare is about improving healthcare outcomes for patients, one at a time. This can and must enable more efficient and effective use of our limited healthcare funding.
Chronic conditions such as diabetes are the largest drivers of our healthcare costs. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 23.6 million children and adults (or 8% of the U.S. population) have diabetes. While treatment guidelines and goals are relatively standardized, the most effective way to reach those goals can vary, and multi-modal treatment approaches may be most effective. Health IT can assist in personalizing treatment in a way that is both high tech and high touch, ideally leading to both improved outcomes and savings down the road.
This premise is being put to the test right now in Overtown, Florida, right outside Miami, where a population of diabetic citizens is being enrolled in a pilot that will combine traditional primary care with newer monitoring and communications technologies. The pilot is being conducted by the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, with the assistance of the City of Miami. Software and solution development support is from Resolute Solutions Corporation and Microsoft.
The city has donated refurbished computers for patients to upload data and maintain contact with their primary care team outside of regular office visits. Patient training is also available to show how to utilize the software as well as how to become more actively involved in the process of managing their condition and treatment.
Hopefully, the Overtown pilot will be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of further integrating technology into the care process at the patient level. If so, these insights into effectively managing chronic conditions at the population level can help providers, policy-makers, and patients achieve the best outcomes possible, laying the groundwork for truly effective health reform.