Saturday, March 08, 2008

International Health Care

American healthcare is sophisticated in that we have the latest technology, a variety of new drugs, and medical professionals that are dedicated, highly trained, and respected all over the world. However, our total healthcare system, in terms of outcomes, is not ranked as the world's best. In fact, some say it is rated as about the 25th best in the world.

We have the technology and the people that could make us the best in the world, but the system, when all the pieces of the puzzle are put together to show the big picture, doesn't produce the best outcomes for the people who seek care from the American health care system.

We have nearly 50 million people who, for one reason or another, can't afford, can't get, or just don't have health insurance. Having some kind of insurance, whether it is commercial, Medicare, Medicaid, military, veterans, or something else, is the golden key that opens the door to preventive care, procedures on demand, being able to see a primary care or specialty physician on demand, and getting needed medications and durable medical equipment.

Anyone, whether a citizen, resident or visitor in the USA, can get seen for care to stabilize health problems at any hospital emergency department, regardless of whether the person has insurance or cash to pay for the service. That doesn't mean they won't be billed for the service. It does mean that they will get the immediate care they need to stop the bleeding, mend the bones, or otherwise intervene when a health problem arises.

If you ask people in the US which country has the best health care, most are likely to say that country is the USA. However, when we look at infant mortality rates and other indicators of health care quality, the USA is not the best in the world. And, the USA is one of the highest cost systems. We spend more than other countries on health care, but don't get the best outcomes.

That's why many are looking at other national health care programs, such as those of France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and our neighbor to the north, Canada, where we see higher levels of preventive care, lower expenditure on health care per capita, and more access for everyone to the total healthcare system. What we also see are best practices that we can import to the USA.

That's why I am starting a wiki on international healthcare, based on the Joint Commission web called WikiHealthCare. The address of the international healthcare wiki is at The wiki is in its infancy, basically many pages that are awaiting contributors to fill in the blanks. I'm inviting contributors to report on any country in the world to provide information on what the country's healthcare system is like and what best practices and quality indicators there are in that system. Best practices can be in clinical services as well as in support services, such as marketing, public relations, planning and administration.

Anyone can read the wiki web site and anyone who registers can contribute information to the site. You can contribute.


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