Thanksgiving is a great occasion for learning what people think about the future of the US healthcare system.* This year, I’m going to find out what people are thinking about some of the coming health delivery system changes – particularly Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMH).
I’ve conducted this two-question informal survey with handfuls of people and found their level of knowledge and positive reactions equivalent to Congress’s approval rating, i.e. 9%. This is worrisome, since if transforming the US healthcare system to increase value and quality will be partially based on ACOs’ and PCMHs’ superior care coordinating abilities, it will be hard to improve cost, quality, and access at the local level if the average person/patient doesn’t know what these organization are, there is inherent aversion to their names, or there is resistant to unexplained “changes.” (For example, several people I’ve talked to have thought Accountable Care Organizations seem like HMOs, and Patient-Centered Medical Homes are home care, nursing homes or hospice.)
So fair readers of this blog, let me know what you hear at your Turkey dinners and associated holiday events – and I’ll post back next week what I heard from my disparate and decidedly unrestrained friends and relatives.
*Unlike most meals and gathering of family and friends, Thanksgiving dinner goes on for a long time, there are no ceremonial interludes, and it is generally a sit-down affair so you can’t move on to someone else — or out the door. This means “Aunt Sally” can pull your ear or kick your leg (either figuratively or literally) for upwards of 2 hours about what’s wrong with the US healthcare system and what how to fix it. My advice is to ask questions to find out root concerns and to gauge people’s understanding of the coming ACA changes in both healthcare delivery and insurance coverage. Also, if you find yourself referring to a recent study from Commonwealth or Kaiser Family Foundation, (or a similar organization or government group), STOP, put food in your mouth and nod encouragement for them to keep talking, because quoting the best studies to someone impassioned about their healthcare will be about as successful as convincing your 7-year-old cousin that 3.14159 is a great dessert.