Triple Aim: Improving The Care Experience

In yesterday’s blog post I introduced Triple Aim, an approach designed by the Institute of Healthcare Improvement to fix healthcare in America. I want to spend the next couple of days focusing on each of the Triple Aim’s main goals, in order for us to develop a clearer understanding of what they truly encompass. What does our healthcare system look like today? In the past couple years, the United States ranked has ranked 31st among the nations for life expectancy, 36th for infant mortality, 28th for male healthy life expectancy and 29th for female healthy life expectancy.

In 2008, 40% of patients with congestive heart failure were readmitted to the hospital within 90 day. We had access to treatments that reduced and controlled this condition more than 80% of the time! These patients were not getting appropriate follow-up and coordinated care. A Health Affairs article stated that our healthcare system lacks memory and this has led us to significant spending in the midst of poor care.

We pay twice as much per individual, than any other industrialized country, yet our healthcare system received a 66% by the Commonwealth Fund Commission. It’s unfortunate that while we pay this much for healthcare, it is much worse than many other countries in the world by comparison. We are the only industrialized country that does not guarantee universal health insurance. We claim that we cannot afford it, yet we spend an exorbitant amount of money on healthcare that doesn’t achieve the quality that it should.

How will Triple Aim help our healthcare system? The first goal of the Triple Aim is better care for individuals. In other words, the care experience will produce better outcomes. One way is through payment reform. We will discuss more about payment reform on Monday.

Currently, if a patient goes to the emergency room for pneumonia, they will receive the appropriate treatment and medication during that visit. Once the patient leaves, they are on their own.

Improved care must have improved coordination. The new experience of care that the Triple Aim is offering will extend beyond the initial visit for an acute or chronic symptom. Not only will a patient receive the appropriate treatment and medication at the time of their visit, a primary care physician will follow-up with them a few days later.

By operating this way, patients will avoid repeat emergency room visits and hospital admissions because they have a primary care physician managing their health and treating them if their conditions worsen. This new experience of care happens over time involving different locations, hence better coordinated care leads to better care.