Americans Not Happy About Health Care
Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht,
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
October 28, 2004 -- A very important report has been
released today by the Commonwealth Fund concerning primary health care and the news is not good for
the United States. Americans are most unhappy about the care they receive.
Primary care is at the center of medical care
systems. It provides an entry point to health care, delivers core medical and
preventive care, and helps patients coordinate and integrate care. Ready access
to effective primary care also offers the potential to reduce disparities in
care, increasing people's opportunities to live healthy, productive lives. The challenge is how to
redesign primary care to make care more accessible, continuous, coordinated,
patient-centered and engage patients in their own care
A survey was done by the Commonwealth Fund of primary care experiences in 5
industrialized countries -- Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and US.
Shortfalls were found in the delivery of safe, effective, timely, and
patient-centered care. Delays in lab test results and test errors raise safety
concerns. Failures to communicate, to engage patients, and to promote health are
widespread. Aside from clinical preventive care, the US performed poorly on most
care dimensions, with notable cost-related access concerns and short-term
Quote from the Report
"Across multiple dimensions of care,
the US stands out for its relatively poor performance," according to the study.
"With the exception of preventive measures, the US primary care system ranked
either last or significantly lower than the leaders on almost all dimensions of
patient-centered care: access, coordination, and physician-patient experiences.
These findings stand in stark contrast to US spending rates that outstrip those
of the rest of the world."
"The performance in other countries indicates that it is possible to do
better," continues the report. "However, moving to a higher-performing health
care system is likely to require system redesign and innovative policies. "
This report is food for thought. It
is put on the table less than a week before
the US presidential election. In the current issue of The New England Journal
President Bush and Senator Kerry speak out on "Health Care Coverage and Drug
Costs." The outcome of the election may well affect health
care in the US.
Reference Source: Press release, New Commonwealth Fund Survey
For more on health concerns in the United States, please visit the Healthcare Issues Center.
Last Editorial Review: 10/28/2004