Like many in our community, I read the recent op-ed from The Queen’s Medical Center and HMSA with great interest ("Queen’s and HMSA working to improve quality, lower costs," Star-Advertiser, June 13). I applaud all sincere efforts to create a more sustainable health care system in Hawaii—one that transitions from fee-for-service reimbursements to payments based on quality. Everyone will win when this occurs.
Despite the fact that health care is complex, it really should be simple. Treating illness and injury, preventing illness and promoting wellness—these are the basic tenets of treating a patient and the population we serve. Yet the dollars and cents must also make sense in order for the business side to work.
There’s much talk in the news today about sustainable health care models and about changing how we deliver care. But in many places around the country, it’s still just talk. Few hospitals or health plans have invested the resources to make fundamental changes. HMSA and Queen’s have started to and will take the next year to work out details of how they will transform health care.
But Hawaii can’t continue to wait for meaningful change. It is needed now. At Hawaii Pacific Health hospitals and clinics—Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, Pali Momi, Straub Clinic & Hospital and Wilcox Health—change is already happening.
We’ve spent seven years and invested $57 million into our electronic medical record system which allows instant communication and record sharing between four hospitals and 44 clinics, and even patients who are online. This level of communication is unprecedented in Hawaii health care, and is the foundation for all the exciting progress we’re starting to make to reduce chronic illness, improve wellness and avoid unnecessary surgeries and hospitalizations. We have advanced past the conceptual stage and are already using this system to produce better care, reduce medical errors, improve patient health and slow cost increases.
Using EMR as a foundation, we launched HealthAdvantage in August 2009, a new model for health-care delivery. It uses data from our EMR system to measure quality of care to ensure that each person receives every necessary treatment. Our Health Advantage staffers contact patients to arrange preventive tests and visits. HealthAdvantage creates a Patient Centered Medical Home that makes health care easier, faster and more convenient using new methods like secure e-mail communication with your own physician. Today, more than 10,000 Straub and Wilcox Health patients are using the patient online portal, MyHealthAdvantage.
This proactive approach places Hawaii Pacific Health among the most innovative health systems in the country; in less than a year, we’ve demonstrated that this improved partnership between physician and patient leads to better care when treating chronic illness. For instance, we have doubled the number of diabetes patients receiving all recommended evidence-based medicine, or "ideal care." With chronic diseases representing more than 75 percent of health care costs, the potential health improvement and savings are tremendous. Already, initial data shows that diabetic patients participating in HealthAdvantage are above national targets for managing their condition, and we have been able to improve key indicators of health for diabetic patients by up to 20 percent.
Creating a sustainable health care system for Hawaii is everyone’s goal, but it will require commitment from everyone—providers, insurers and the community. As a partner in HealthAdvantage, we have started to collaborate with HMSA on efforts that recognize and reward physicians for quality and efficiency, but there is still a long way to go.
Change in Hawaii health care is here. Hawaii Pacific Health is proud to be leading a collaborative effort that brings health care stakeholders together. The result will be greater efficiency, reduced health care costs and healthier patients.