Dr. Mark McClellan helped shape the nation's healthcare system, having served as the former administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and as former commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Today, he continues to work on improving healthcare for all Americans at the AEI-Brookings Joint Center, a bipartisan think tank in Washington, D.C. Dr. Oz talks to Dr. McClellan about some of the obstacles facing healthcare reform and some of the progress being made.
According to Dr. McClellen, one of the major challenges facing healthcare reform has to do with the way individuals pay for services. "Doctors and hospitals get paid when you get sick—they get paid more when you have more complications," he says. As a result, Dr. McClellan says a shift needs to happen so that extending the best possible care to patients is also profitable for healthcare service providers.
Dr. McClellan says many strides are being made in this arena, including efforts by certain insurance companies to extend coverage for keeping patients healthy, rather than simply covering the costs of treatments. In this way, he says both patients and doctors can come out ahead. "When doctors have good ideas about keeping people healthy and keeping costs down—even if it's not the traditional way that healthcare has been done—they can make those changes and not lose money in the process," Dr. McClellan says.
The integration of the latest information technologies, such as electronic medical records, also has great potential to improve healthcare, Dr. McClellan says. "There's no question that information technology in healthcare can make a huge difference in costs, and more importantly, a huge difference in helping you get the best treatment for your needs and avoiding unnecessary treatments and inappropriate treatments," he says.
Dr. McClellan says the focus in healthcare is gradually shifting from how we treat health problems to how we can prevent them. This monumental shift, he says, may have the greatest impact on improving healthcare for the future. "That's the most important set of changes we can make to keep our healthcare costs down and have a sustainable system," he says.
Published on July 04, 2007