MANAGED CARE March 2011. ©MediMedia USA
Industrious human beings love to tinker to figure out better ways to do things. Probably one of the beauties of living in the United States is that such tinkering is not discouraged because entire financial empires have sprung up from somebody just trying to work it a little differently. We’ve taken tinkering and commoditized it.
Even science, with its strict procedures and close attention to cause and effect, bows to this idea. You never know what can come from blue-sky research, or from just getting out of your office and walking about.
As our cover story  relates, one day Ken Kim, MD, a hospitalist and CMO at CareMore, was making the rounds. CareMore serves Medicare patients, and on that particular day Kim was horrified to find that 10 foot amputations were needed. Something needed to be done so the plan created a wound-care program that Kim describes as very unusual. CareMore also describes it as very successful, with the result being a reduction in diabetic amputations of more than 50 percent, according to CareMore CEO Leeba Lessin.
The point for me, at least, is that we can be dazzled by new technology — pharmaceuticals, surgeries, devices, whatever — but process improvement often pays bigger dividends. The story looks at two other health plans and their efforts to improve processes. The problems those plans — HealthPartners Medical Group, and Kaiser Permanente — faced did not present themselves in such a dramatic fashion. Still, the medical directors and others couldn’t leave well enough alone. They thought that there must be a better way to ensure appropriate use of imaging (HealthPartners), and that variation in quality across facilities and regions might be eliminated (Kaiser).
They came up with better ideas. It’s a challenge all of our readers face every day. Hopefully, these success stories will inspire more success.