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Advocate for Quality and Safety to Lead Medicare and Medicaid

Posted Oct 11 2010 8:55pm

Pending Congressional approval, Don Berwick, MD, will soon be running the Medicare and Medicaid programs and I count myself among the many people who think this is an inspired appointment. For those of you who don’t know Don, he is a pediatrician by training and a crusader by calling. He is the founder and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), a nonprofit he founded almost two decades ago, which has become a formidable force for improved quality and safety across the entire U.S. health care system.

The IHI and the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center are kindred spirits, with complementary missions: a big piece of the quality puzzle is improving caregiver-caregiver communication – an area the Schwartz Center dedicates much time and effort to. Don is also a huge proponent of patient-centered care and he spoke a lot about that when he headlined the Schwartz Center’s Speaker’s Series last spring. Like many reformers, Don is sometimes accused of taking things too far – in particular his notions of patient-centeredness. In a Health Affairs article “What ’Patient-Centered’ Should Mean: Confessions of an Extremist,” he envisions health care systems where patients, not physicians, call the shots. Decision-making would truly be a joint venture between patients and caregivers and medical records would belong to the patient: no more asking permission to access them or calling the doctor’s office for lab results. And the word “compliance” would be banned from the health care lexicon.

With Berwick at the helm of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, you can be sure that the emphasis will be on delivering safe and effective care in the most efficient way possible - with you-know-who at the center.
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