Think Obamacare, and health insurance comes to mind. But the Affordable Care Act is about more than that. The overall goal is to improve the efficiency of the system—and at Independence Blue Cross, that responsibility falls on its senior vice president and chief medical officer, Dr. Richard Snyder.
In our region, where hospitals have the fifth highest costs in the nation, “we’ve generated only average-quality care and less than average satisfaction with the quality of care people receive,” says Snyder, who will be the keynote speaker at Main Line Today’s Health Care Heroes Luncheon on May 8 at Neumann University. “That’s due to fragmentation in the way care is delivered.”
Case in point: The National Committee for Quality Assurance had Independence Blue Cross audit primary-care physicians, nursing homes and other facilities to see if discharge summaries made it back to PCPs. Results show that it was happening just 40 percent of the time. “If an ER or hospital changed a patient’s medication, the primary-care physician didn’t know that, and could prescribe additional or conflicting medication,” says Snyder. “Primary-care physicians didn’t know who was taking care of their patients.”
Improved communication is one way to combat the fragmentation Snyder describes. To that end, Snyder has helped spearhead HealthShare Exchange, a system that allows patients’ medical records to be shared electronically across health systems. Another initiative is patient-centered in-home medical care to make PCPs more accessible by using open-access scheduling and patient-care coordinators while promoting self-management skills to monitor care between visits. Funding for these programs is provided, in part, by the Affordable Care Act.
Changing the status quo is never easy. But it’s absolutely necessary, says Snyder, who points to Main Line Today’s Health Care Heroes as prime examples of those willing to swim upstream for a worthy goal. “[They have] a tenacious desire to improve on what doesn’t feel right,” he says. “But there is enormous inertia in the system. It’s easier to do what you’ve always done than to pursue change and keep pushing for it. Change will come, but it’s not easy. “
Main Line Today’s 2014 Health Care Heroes Luncheon takes place on May 8 at Neumann University. Click here for tickets and more information.