Dream Team Hunts For Best Health Care Treatments

Organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic and Intermountain Healthcare, provide the best quality health care at the lowest cost. America’s health-care problems could be eased and even solved if high-quality, low cost medical care was universal.Unfortunately, providing the best health care services is not contagious, like a virus. There is a wide variation in quality and cost, even with examples of providers who work hard at providing the best quality and lowest cost. Culture, economics, and commitment are a few of the reasons for the wide variety in health care.Six of the best healthcare organizations are researching the best strategies for the most common and costly medical conditions. They are working together to compile data on the best strategies, then will share that information and encourage other providers to adopt the best strategies system.James Weinstein, director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice is heading the new project. The project participants are Mayo, Intermountain, Cleveland Clinic, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Geisinger Health System and Denver Health. Weinstein states, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. That’s not very good and we can’t afford to do it any more.”The six organizations involved in the project serve over 10 million people and are sharing data on the medical conditions they are researching. The data involves clinical protocols which will help in determining the treatment strategies that are the most cost-effective. These organizations will then send their findings to other health care systems throughout the U.S. There are other organizations who are considering joining in the research.The first of eight medical condition treatments to be studied is total knee replacement surgery. There are approximately 300,000 knee replacements done each year. The cost of this surgery can range from $16,000 to $24,000. There is a wide variety in the rates of the number of people who have the procedure, in complications and readmissions. The data on total knee replacements is expected to be ready in February 2011.Diabetes, heart failure, asthma, weight loss surgery, labor and delivery, spine surgery and depression are the other seven to be studied after knee replacement.The cost and results of treatment for the medical conditions is not the only information that will be gathered. The project is also looking at patient preference regarding the different treatment optionsThe Dartmouth Atlas is a collection of data that has been compiled from Medicare claims which document the variation in cost and delivery of care. This data was collected from every region in the U.S. Regarding the current project data, Weinstein stated, “We’ll collect the data at Dartmouth and we can benchmark it against the Dartmouth Atlas. We’ll look at what the best outcomes are at the lowest cost. We’ll share that data with each other and publish the recommendations for others around the country to consider.”The new health care law combined with the interest from employers in controlling health costs should increase the interest in and use of the recommendations created by this project. Weinstein says, “The more we make this public and share this, the better off we’ll be as a nation.”