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January 13, 2013

A better way for medical care

(Continued)

Already, the Medical Home family practice/hospital collaboration is gaining national recognition for its focus on the optimal provider of each procedure. Ours may not share the advantages that the Native Alaskan Southcentral Foundation have garnered. After all, the Alaskan provider is often the only medical facility in a town or village. Such co-location of services improves communications and fosters teamwork. And, their system is large, serving almost 50,000 enrollees. The various specialists and providers all work for the foundation, so the foundation has every incentive to use its team effectively, keep its clients healthy and reduce its costs against the fixed revenues it earns for each enrollee.

The greater independence and lack of consolidation among providers in other areas of this country make more elusive some of these synergies. However, our Medical Home model is moving us in the right direction, just as is the agreement for CVPH and its parent corporation, Community Providers Inc., to work with Fletcher-Allen across the lake.

Our commissioner understands that the future of medical care is in cooperation and synergies, not in competition and independence. Dr. Shah furthers cooperation to both increase the quality of health care and stretch dollars. Examples right here show our health-care providers are willing to stretch to the very frontier of the provision of high-quality health care.

This approach makes sense. After all, progress is made not by languishing in the middle, but instead by stretching to just beyond our reach. Now, if only we can fix the rest of the system. More on that later.

Colin Read contributes to Bloomberg.com, has published eight books with MacMillan Palgrave Press and chairs the Department of Finance and Economics at SUNY Plattsburgh.

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