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Journalist Phil Longman at the New American Foundation is the author of the book “Best Care Anywhere,” which documents the 1990s rejuvenation of the Veterans Administration’s health care system. He has recently updated the book. In recent interviews, including one on CSPAN and Medcity News, he has offered his thoughts on the current state of the system, and the lessons its transformation holds for other delivery systems in the U.S.
He lauds the VA for its leadership in medical research, patient safety & satisfaction, cost effectiveness of care and the fact that the VA's medical records are completely computerized.
The "quality revolution" that the VA undertook in the 1990s, says Longman, has created a system that emphasizes what works rather than paying doctors and hospitals for procedures.
According to Longman, too, the recently passed health care reform bill can conceivably lead to a civilian version of the system. He notes, "There is at least $12 billion available for anyone who wants to set up what the bill calls an “Accountable Health Care Organization.” That means an organization that is willing to accept getting paid for keeping its patients well, and that is willing to adapt and integrate health care information technologies of the kind the VA has pioneered. The barriers to entry are remarkably low. The VA’s software, for example, is free to any health care provider who wants to use it, because was written by VA doctors on government time. It’s also “open source,” which means that health care providers outside the VA can modify it to meet their particular needs."
EXPERTS: ExpertSource can offer several highly qualified experts to comment on this story:
Rick Jung , Medsphere Systems Corporation
Expertise: Electronic Health Records; Healthcare and Technology
Richard G. (Rick) Jung has two decades of experience in healthcare and information technology (IT), including sales and executive management positions in traditional healthcare corporations and leadership positions with healthcare IT startups. From 2006 to the present Rick operated an independent consultancy advising private equity firms, hedge funds, and their prospective healthcare IT investment partners on strategy, operations, and business development for the Web 2.0 market. From 2003 to 2006, he served as senior vice president for sales and marketing at MDeverywhere, Inc., a startup providing web-based, automated reimbursement services for physician offices. From 1999 to 2002 Rick was a member of the strategic leadership team and worked as the chief revenue officer for Athenahealth, a provider of automated, web-based healthcare revenue cycle management solutions. Prior to that, he served as interim president and CEO of The Care Group, where he directed turnaround activities for the troubled company. Rick's early years in healthcare were spent learning the business on the payer side from a sales and marketing perspective and as vice president and general manager for U.S. Healthcare, since acquired by Aetna. He is a graduate of the State College of New York, Cortland, where he earned a degree in mathematics and education.
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Dr. John Toussaint , ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value
Expertise: Lean healthcare, hospitals, quality healthcare, costs
John Toussaint, MD, is founder and president of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value. From 2000 to 2008, Dr. Toussaint served as president and chief executive officer of ThedaCare, Inc., a community-owned, four-hospital health system including 21 physician clinics, hospices and other facilities. During his tenure as president and CEO, Dr. Toussaint introduced the ThedaCare Improvement System (TIS), which is derived from the Toyota Production system. This model of continuous improvement helped save more than $27 million dollars in healthcare costs by reducing errors, improving outcomes, and delivering better quality care. Under Dr. Toussaint’s watch, ThedaCare’s revenue grew two and a half times. The organization received multiple quality awards including the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s No. 1 ranking for HEDIS® measures two years in a row.
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