Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Penny of Prevention.....

As we move forward at the Neuro Vitality Center with expansion of health services to enwrap other neurological disorders into the chronic care model that we have found to be effective for Stroke and TBI survivors, we continue to see the same long term rehabilitation issues confronting those who suffer similar problems (Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease) that we have seen for so many years with our Stroke and TBI patients. At the heart of the problem is a healthcare system that focuses on episodic care to the detriment of long term or longitudinal care for chronic conditions – care that takes place over the entire life of the disease or the disorder as opposed to treating each disease as an episode of care.

In a recent Wonkblog article, “The two most important numbers in American healthcare” by Ezra Klein, The Washington Post quantified the financial burden the problem puts on the nation as a whole. From the starting point that 5% of people account for 50% of healthcare spending, he extrapolates that, since healthcare accounts for 20% of our economy, 15 million Americans are consuming 1/10th of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) – almost $1.5 trillion. The conclusion, he states is simple – we have to help that 5%. However, not only is that 5% a difficult population to serve, the assumption made in the United States is that we need more costly or better medical care to best serve episodic and chronic conditions   instead of social services that are more prevalent in other developed countries.

A study by Yale School of Public Health, professor Elizabeth H. Bradley, PhD, looked at health outcomes internationally ( OECD – Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development –countries) only to show the United States is far behind in social service spending while total health expenditures exceed most of the 18 other OECD countries. This spending pattern does not translate to better outcomes in the United States.

We see the benefit of social service therapeutic programs every day at our community-based Neuro Vitality Center, not only in positive outcomes but in the saving of dollars spent on expensive clinical services in expensive clinical settings, and yet we struggle to find the dollars to keep the Center going. Please take these thoughts to the ballot box – together we can make change happen.