SOURCE: Medline Industries, Inc.

Medline

August 17, 2010 17:12 ET

U.S. Healthcare System Viable for the Long Term... If We 'Get Control of Costs:' Mark Chassin, President, The Joint Commission

Speaking Before U.S Hospital Executives, Chassin Outlines Health Reform Strategies

MUNDELEIN, IL--(Marketwire - August 17, 2010) -  Speaking yesterday in New York City before more than 150 U.S. hospital executives, Dr. Mark Chassin, president of The Joint Commission, expressed an optimistic view for the U.S. healthcare system long term and outlined a "quality driven strategy" to rein in costs and improve efficiency. At the same time, he cautioned that if both society as a whole and individual health care systems do not "get control" of healthcare costs, the country could face the consequences of greater payment cuts and "big" benefit reductions. The Joint Commission is the country's predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare.

Chassin made these comments as the keynote speaker at the third annual "Prevention Above All" conference hosted by Medline Industries, Inc. The conference brings together hospital executives from around the country to discuss practical solutions to improving patient safety and delivering cost-effective quality care.  

Chassin identified three broad ways to improve U.S. healthcare. The first is to eliminate the overuse of health services. He cited several examples, including excess use of imaging services and prescribing antibiotics for the common cold. The second issue is reducing the waste and inefficiencies created by the growing complexity for routine health care processes. Studies have indicated, he said, that as much as 25-30 percent of nursing time is wasted (and could be recovered for patient care) if we simplify our processes for everyday care such as dressing changes and medication delivery. Finally, Chassin identified the chronic problem of our inability to eliminate preventable complications such as healthcare associated infections.

"If we can achieve these three solutions, we can save money and improve quality," he said, "and we would be able to solve the basic conundrum of how to pay for effective care for everyone in this country without having to go to severe restrictions on benefits and payments."

Chassin did offer one sobering warning if we fail to reduce spending. "As a last resort, due to federal deficits and out of control healthcare costs, we could face real rationing, which means the active denial of effective care," said Chassin. "Every other developed country does a pretty good job of delivering quality healthcare and spends far less, often less than half of what we do on a per capita basis. I think we can get there." 

In addition to Chassin, the conference also included prominent international healthcare leaders Atul Gawande, surgeon and best-selling author; John Nance, contributor to ABC News and best-selling author; Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.; Andrew Cuomo, New York State Attorney General; Trent Haywood, senior vice president of clinical performance and chief medical officer for VHA, Inc.; Didier Pittet, a member of the advisory board of the WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety; Linda Groah executive director and CEO of the Association of Perioperative Operating Room Nurses (AORN).

About Medline Industries, Inc. 

Medline, the nation's largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of healthcare products, manufactures and distributes more than 100,000 products to extended care facilities, hospitals, surgery centers, home care dealers and agencies and other markets. Headquartered in Mundelein, Ill., Medline has more than 900 dedicated sales representatives nationwide to support its broad product line and cost management services. 

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