"An Ounce of Prevention....

...is worth a pound of cure." - Benjamin Franklin.

As we remember the now famous quote from Benjamin Franklin its clear to see that the idea of “Prevention” is not new. It’s an excellent idea and always has been. 

“He who cures disease may be the skillfulest, but he who prevents it is the safest physician.” -Thomas Fuller

The CDC has a National Prevention Strategy posted on its website: America's Plan for Better Health and Wellness (http://www.cdc.gov/features/preventionstrategy/). As the strategy states, it’s an effort to move the nation away from a healthcare system focused on sickness and disease to a system now focusing on wellness and prevention. Don’t get me wrong, the advances in medicine, treatment options and medical devices have been nothing short of amazing. But the questions still remains: How can we achieve better outcomes and reduce the overall healthcare cost? The answer may be as simple as one word…Prevention. 

“If people are constantly falling off a cliff, you could place ambulances under the cliff or build a fence on the top of the cliff. We are placing too many ambulances under the cliff.” - Denis Burkitt 

In healthcare today we are witnessing a shift towards preventive medicine as the reimbursement structure is changing. Healthcare providers are now incentivized to keep patients healthier – out of their offices and hospitals. This is evident by the lack of hospital reimbursement for readmissions within 30 days for the same condition and payment for managing diseases and/or conditions a patient may acquire while in the hospital.

We are moving towards accountable health care. Prevention. Communication. Collaboration. Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are a joining of payers, providers and health systems all working together for the patient. The focus of ACOs sure does make sense when you think about it…reduce costs, improve quality outcomes and to better both patient and physician satisfaction. Sounds good to me!

The patients are also an important piece of the accountable health care model. Patients are tasked with working more closely with their health care providers to manage their care. And, today more than ever before, it’s easier for the patients to get involved in their care. Patient portals and wearable medical devices are just two recent advancements gaining a lot of traction aimed at getting the patient involved.

In the end, a team approach (payers, providers, health systems and patients) focusing on prevention may be the simplest and most effective way to improve outcomes and reduce costs in todays healthcare environment. Again, it’s not that these are new ideas and haven’t been thought of before – it’s that our current model can clearly be improved upon.

John Jahrstorfer
John Jahrstorfer