“Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system,” asserts Maggie Fox of Reuters, citing a 2010 report released by the Commonwealth Fund that ranked the United States last based on measures of quality and equity of care against 6 other developed nations.
This year, stacked up against 10 other developed nations, the U.S. still ranked last in The Commonwealth Fund’s health care report, according to Dan Munro, a Forbes contributor. Munro states that although the U.S. ranked best in some measures of quality, namely “provision and receipt of preventative and patient-centered care,” the United States fare poorly in the areas of access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives, which Munro defines as “mortality amenable to medical care, infant mortality, and healthy life expectancy at age 60.”
Though we in the health care industry must examine ways to improve quality in light of these metrics and in light of studies such as the 2013 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, whose subtitle states “Nearly 90% of Workers Satisfied With Their Own Health Plan, But 55% Give Low Ratings to Health Care System,” others, such as Dr. Scott W. Atlas, M.D. assert that our health care quality is excellent and that the Affordable Care Act could pose a threat to our quality, implying that it is an inhibitor to innovation. Dr. Atlas counters The Commonwealth Fund’s claims that our nation’s outcomes are worse than our European counterparts due to poor quality of care, attributing poor treatment outcomes to significantly higher rates of obesity and historical cigarette use in the United States.
Lifestyle appears to be the hidden variable in these international studies. Dr. Atlas goes on to provide evidence that treatment for heart disease, cancer, and chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes is superior in the United States when compared to Western European nations.
Whom do you believe? Or is there truth to both sides? Either way, we as health care professionals have a duty to continually raise the bar higher, excel in innovation, and provide personalized, compassionate care to our patients.