The future of health care is here (in time and space)

Sometimes it’s nice to hear what you already know.

One of those times was this morning when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius came to Cincinnati Children’s to learn about some of our work and to talk about what’s next for health care reform.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius learns how the Internet helps patients and parents (like Samatha Jones and her mom) stay connected to doctors like Maria Britto, MD

“This is the future,” she said after touring our clinics and intensive care units.

On the heels of passage of what some are calling the most significant social legislation since the creation of Medicare 40-plus years ago, Sebelius and other Obama Administration people are traveling the country to promote health care reform. But with an audience of doctors and nurses at this leading pediatric medical center, the former Kansas governor knew she needed to focus on more than the insurance reform addressed in the massive legislation.

Sebelius said health care reform needs to be about the underlying health care system, from payment for services (she called Medicaid payments to providers “woefully short”) to quality improvement fueled by health care information technology (she announced millions in newly-released funding for work with electronic medical records.)

The secretary met with doctors and finance people, teen-age patients with chronic conditions and no insurance, and young parents of a baby born two months ago who has already undergone four surgeries. She saw how technology helps ensure that the right medicine is given to the right patient at the right time in the right dose. She was shown how parents can access our medical records databases at all hours of the day and night to share responsibility for care with the doctors and nurses.

“Wow,” she said. “What a huge step.”

The Secretary warned us that she was going to be dropping our name as she visited with other providers all across the country. She wants people to know that improving quality, improving outcomes and improving patient experiences is not something we just talk about. We do it.

We’re glad the health care reform discussion is taking a turn toward the quality movement. We’ve been saying that’s the way it should be for some time.

It’s nice someone else is saying it, too.

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