Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thoughts On Transforming Health Care In West Virginia

Included in the handout materials at last week's WVHIN board meeting was a copy of a article appearing in Health Care's Most Wired Magazine by fellow board member, Sarah Chouinard, M.D.

The article, Transforming Health Care In West Virginia, provides a glimpse of the efforts to improve the health status of rural West Virginia residents in Clay County, West Virginia (on West Virginia's poorest counties) where Dr. Chouinard practices. The article mentions the West Virginia Medicaid Redesign Program, which builds on a 2005 demo project based on a modified version of the Chronic Care Model developed by Ed Wagner, M.D. Dr. Chouindard was involved in the 2005 demo project at her facility, Primary Care Systems in Clay, West Virginia.

The article provides a "real life" example of what one physician (here in West Virginia) is doing to create and change the focus of health care to a preventative model with a patient-centered focus and incorporating technology in the process.

Dr. Chouinard and I had some initial discussion after the board meeting about the project and I'm interested to learn more. I'm also interested to explore with Dr. Chouinard and others how we can team up with resources like those of U.S. Preventive Medicine and Revolution Health to offer even more to those who are most disadvantaged in a health system that fails to focus on prevention and maintenance of chronic conditions.

As Nick Jacobs says, "we are spending 2.2 trillion dollars this year on health care in the United States and only about 4% of those monies are being spent on preventative medicine." I don't know the "chance of diabetes" stats for West Virginia (or Clay County) but I suspect they are much higher than those cited by Nick.

The article is a must read for those interested in seeing a change in the approach we take to health care in the United States and a need to refocus the system to pay for prevention.

(Photo above, courtesy of Flickr, shows a rustic (rusting) bridge leading into Clay WV. Seemed like an appropriate visual analogy since we are talking about prevention)

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