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Health, Science & Tech

Medical Professionals from Around the World Discuss Efficiencies in Health Care Systems

Health care costs continue to rise in the US and part of the reason is inefficiencies throughout the system. That’s according to Everette James, J.D., M.D., director of the Pitt Health Policy Institute and former Pennsylvania Secretary of Health. One of the main topics of discussion at the “All Together Better Health VII” Conference in Pittsburgh is how to increase efficiencies in health care.

“By trying to focus on the patient and try to deliver health care at a lower cost of labor by using interprofessional teams, by allowing practitioners to practice to the fullest extent of their training and education,” said James.

Interprofessional practice is an evolving concept in health care that uses a team approach. Currently, a patient could have someone at a high level delivering services that are within the training and scope of someone else such as a nurse, physical therapist or even pharmacist, according to James. But, he said there are several justifications, including legacy reasons, the most efficient “teams” are not deployed. Ensuring the right person is delivering care at the lowest possible expenditure will be key in bringing down health care costs, said James. He said in the US, the health care system is about 18 percent (and rising) of the gross national product, compared to other countries in which health care is between 6 and 9 percent of GDP; and he said those countries have better health outcomes.

This gathering will give health professionals an opportunity to talk with and learn from health professionals from around the globe.

“There are good components to every system and there are things we can learn from each other whether it be a single-payer system like they have in Canada or over in Europe or our system that we have here, I think there’s a lot of learning that can go on between different countries in how they’re delivering care and how their professionals are being deployed,” said James.

About 27 countries are represented at the conference, which is held every two years.

“It’s been held in Sydney, Austraila; London; Vancouver; Kobe, Japan most recently, this is the first time it’s ever been held in the United States,” said James.

Speakers include Sir David Nicholson, England’s recent former CEO of its National Health Service which is the world’s largest single-payer health system, as well as health policy leaders from the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. The conference started Friday and will run through the weekend at UPMC facilities in Oakland.