This demonstration project is a preview of what is to come. In the future, hospitals and physicians will be compensated for how well we keep patients healthy — not just by how many times the patient receives care. Our network of caregivers will be fully "accountable" for the overall health of the patient with a fixed amount of money — a "global" payment — from the insurance company, Medicare or Medicaid.
Caregivers from NSMC and other Partners hospitals are also applying science to standardize the best clinical practices for patients with common high-risk illnesses like colon cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. By bringing together the best minds from NSMC, Brigham and Women's, Massachusetts General, McLean, Newton-Wellesley, and Spaulding hospitals, we are pooling our expertise to deliver consistently high-quality care across our system.
Wise use of technology can contribute to health care affordability, too. By implementing an advanced voice-recognition system, NSMC's Department of Radiology has dramatically reduced the turnaround time for dictated diagnostic reports. That means specialists can diagnose and treat patients sooner. That's better care. And, with that one change, NSMC is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical transcription costs that are being reinvested in health care right here on the North Shore. That's more efficient care.
NSMC and Partners share an important mission to provide the highest-quality care to our community that is also affordable to society. Our mission won't change, but our internal culture is changing so we can continue to improve the care we deliver. We are confident that this kind of investment has the best return imaginable.
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Robert G. Norton is president and CEO of the North Shore Medical Center in Salem. Gary L. Gottlieb, M.D., MBA, is president and CEO of Partners HealthCare. To learn more, visit www.connectwithpartners.org.