Through blogs and comments, patients and experts explore what it takes to find good health care and make the most of it.
We Can Overcome Chronic Disease Disparities
| March 17, 2011
According to American Medical News, the U.S. health system is demonstrating better performance on most measures of health care quality, but it's failing to improve access to care or cut racial and ethnic health disparities, according to two reports released in February by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. "Quality of care continues to improve, but at a slow rate," said Ernest Moy, MD, leader of the team at AHRQ that produced the reports. "In contrast to that, focusing on issues of access to care, not much has changed. Focusing on disparities in care, not much has changed. Those are bigger problem areas than overall quality of care." Measures related to hospital quality are showing the most improvement. For example, in 2005, just 42% of patients with heart attacks received angioplasties within the recommended 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital. That figure improved to 81% by 2008.
While the quality improvement indicators are encouraging, the disappointing access and disparities numbers are not very surprising.
The US health care system is still largely focused on acute hospital based care. It says we are doing better at what we are doing. But an unbalanced focus on acute disease treatment is also a major part of the problem. The major causes of sickness, lost productivity at work and missed days at school are not acute illnesses but chronic diseases. In fact, according to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, chronic disease causes 6 out of every 10 deaths worldwide. It is what happens outside the hospital that is the largest determinant of what needs to happen when someone is a patient inside a hospital.
If we do little to nothing about this problem, we fail as a nation and a world to achieve the health goals we have set and believe possible. This is why global business leaders meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland recently made addressing the problem of chronic diseases a priority. In fact, Paul E. Jacobs, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, suggests that one exciting development is in the field of telehealth and mobile medicine, where high mobile telephone penetration, particularly in the developing world, can be used for prevention and health promotion. Indeed, this is already happening for treatment of diabetes and detecting cardiac arrhythmia it is not a pipe dream.
Those in America who would continue to resist reforming our health care system do so to their own peril and that of their children and grandchildren. Rather, the US should lead the world in global health and health care innovation to address challenging chronic disease concerns and disparities. If we can put a man on the moon and eradicate small pox from the face of the earth, there is no doubt we can overcome chronic disease disparities, should we decide we simply must.
More Blog Posts by Chris Gibbons
Chris Gibbons, MD, MPH, is the associate director of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Community Health, and holds faculty appointments at the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Gibbons is the Chair of CFAH's Board of Trustees. He blogs on the Healthcare Disparities Solutions Blog, a blog about healthIT innovation for disparities solutions. Want to read more from Dr. Gibbons? Subscribe to the RSS feed.
Comments on this post
Please note: CFAH reserves the right to moderate all comments posted to the Prepared Patient Blog. Any inappropriate postings will be removed.
No comments have been entered yet.
Add Your Comment
|The Great Canadian Experiment to House the Homeless
Trudy Lieberman | November 13, 2013
|This Doctor Treats Poverty Like a Disease
Trudy Lieberman | November 6, 2013
Chris Gibbons | October 1, 2010
|The Person Responsible for Your Health Is...
CFAH Staff | February 27, 2014
Blacks and Latinos Seek Mental Health Care Less Often
Despite Challenges, Health Centers Have High Satisfaction Rates
Minorities More Likely to View Generic Drugs as Inferior
Bilingual Immigrants Report Better Health Than Speakers of One Language