CLEVELAND, Oct. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A year and a half into healthcare reform, a pivotal question remains: Can the law achieve genuine, sustainable reform? Medco Chairman and CEO David B. Snow Jr. offered an answer today in an address at the Cleveland Clinic: "The law as written," he said, lays solid groundwork toward expanded healthcare access. "But it must be augmented by an intensive commitment to improving quality, and controlling escalating costs."
Building the "three legged stool" of sustainable healthcare – one in which access, cost and quality are in equal balance – requires the concerted and comprehensive implementation of innovative tools and approaches, the foundational element of which, Snow stressed, "will be innovative systems that allow healthcare providers to convert the huge amount of health data we have at our disposal into actionable patient-care information."
Snow pointed out a number of promising measures that have taken shape over the last few years. These include provisions supporting the development of comparative effectiveness research, Accountable Care Organizations, the establishment of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and the $19.2 billion allocated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to develop standards on which to establish a nationwide Healthcare Information Technology platform.Sustainable healthcare, Snow maintained, depends on the extent to which we follow through on the promise of these measures and implement a truly "wired" system - networks and processes that can integrate healthcare data across all major institutions. Pharmacy, which is already fully wired, provides an instructive example of the way in which technology can reduce waste and create efficiencies that drive out costs while significantly improving the clinical quality of patient care. Placing his vision within the context of strained budgets nationwide, Snow pointed out that annual national health expenditures are about $2.5 trillion and account for more than 17.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The model of wired pharmacy, he emphasized, offers solutions for the healthcare system as a whole, beginning with the simple ability to access and apply the extraordinary patient and scientific data that is now available. "There's been an explosive increase in the availability of patient data and medical knowledge over the past two decades," he said. "Unfortunately, outside of the realm of pharmacy, the current level of success in converting these tremendous amounts of data into meaningful and actionable healthcare information is unsatisfactory. Wiring the system throughout presents the possibility of dramatic advances in medicine and human health."