February 12, 2014

Integrated Care: Improving Patient Outcomes and Lowering Cost

By Robert Nesse, M.D.

Dr. Robert NesseIt’s often said that you get what you pay for. But when it comes to health care costs, most people would agree we’re paying far too much.

This is not a small problem. Health care costs are the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the United States, and the majority of those are among people who have health insurance.

Something has to change in our country’s health care system. The challenge is that unlike many industries, you have to account for limitless inputs and outputs that vary by individual, yet you’re still targeting a certain outcome…all while trying to do it faster and for less money.

Mayo Clinic is a leader in the effort to change the health care system and improve the value of the care we deliver to you and your family.  One way we’re changing is by applying the best practice to the care we provide at all of our locations. That means you’ll receive the same high level of care whether you’re in Fairmont, Minn., Waycross, Ga., or another health system location in between. Behind the scenes, we’re working to integrate and standardize our practices. Standardization does more than improve care and efficiency — it also saves money, which means lower health care costs.

Additionally, all the players are beginning to recognize the issue and their role in it.  For example, as providers and insurance carriers look at new models, they’re finding ways to help each other deliver higher value health care.  We’re seeing that within our own system as we work with insurers.  They have helpful information on total cost of care and we have the treatment guidelines and processes to help influence that cost.  When we partner and share information we can deliver better care, and do it for less money.

The changes we’re making are designed to improve the care you receive while lowering the cost of delivering that care. We’re excited to be starting this challenging but essential work because we believe it will lead to a better health care system — and better health — for us all.

Editor’s note: Robert Nesse, M.D., is a vice-president of Mayo Clinic.

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