As you know, I am on a long rant about bringing down the cost of health care at the point of care rather than focusing on the healthcare insurance companies. The for-profit insurance companies are driven by profits. They have no particular incentive to bring down the overall cost of healthcare. Efficiencies they realize will lead to greater profits not lower rates. I am not arguing against the right of insurance companies to make money just their relevance in the discussion about how to reduce costs.
#1. Medicare's willingness to pay for innovations that lead to lower costs. As goes Medicare so goes the general trend in healthcare cost management. Proven cost reduction measures that don't compromise patient care are rare but Medicare needs to be ready to offer rewards for these innovations. If Medicare does this, it will quickly be adopted by private healthcare insurance companies. Did I mention that Medicare is driving this bus?
#2.Tracking doctor behavior that leads to better care and lower costs, and feeding that back into the system. Simple stuff, right? Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation sees promise in the efforts of Kaiser-Permanente and the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania to track data on what doctors are actually doing and the kind of outcomes they are having. Doctors tend to lean heavily on the information they receive from colleagues. If other physicians are saying something works, most other doctors will fall in line.
#3. The rise of social media in evaluating healthcare options. The American public, most of whom are on Facebook, now uses social media to talk about healthcare. If I were running a hospital or healthcare plan, I would have a full-time staff monitoring these discussions, offering expert advice and taking the criticism that is being dished out on Facebook. If you are in on the discussion you at least have a chance to become part of the solution.