How to Use Information to Improve Health Outcomes
There is no doubt that access to information is at an all-time high. Instead of having to open an encyclopedia or go to a library, we can ask Siri what the weather is like in another country, crowdsource a good restaurant on social media, or google the latest news and politics.
In addition to the speed with which we can get information, the amount of material that exists for our perusal is both constant and seemingly endless. Who hasn’t googled one topic only to find themselves completely distracted by something else that caught their attention?
One of the goals of information is to use it to make knowledgeable decisions. The more we know, the better our potential to make good choices. And that is exactly what FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, MD, wants the health system to focus on.
Califf spoke with Joyce Frieden of MedPage Today to share his thoughts on how to improve health outcomes for individuals and for the public. In his opinion, the technology, and the information to do so already exist, but it is essential to makes changes to the ways in which humans interact in order to use these resources for good.
Califf identified two major problems that need to be addressed to improve health outcomes:
Despite the public relations departments that market the supposed high quality of care their institutions provide, the fact remains that “the U.S. is now losing ground ‘in all measures of health outcomes as a country.’” As an example, Califf shared that life expectancy in the United States is almost five years shorter than other high-income countries.
The current health system is inequitable. In other words, it serves some people well but not others. In the case of life expectancy, for instance, the statistics vary noticeably by ethnic group. Califf believes that with better “alignment to support decision making,” more people would receive better care.
Califf identified six ways to improve health outcomes:
- Make decisions based on high quality evidence.
We have the information, but according to Califf, “’less than 20% of clinical practice guideline recommendations are based on high-quality evidence.’” It is essential to overhaul the way evidence is generated, so that medical practitioners can use good evidence to make good decisions that will, indeed, improve health outcomes.
- Use the information we must provide public health information
The current technology provides an incredible amount of information. Unfortunately, health decisions often only consider a small bit of that data. Califf believes that “’we can solve the human problems about how to share data and protect people’s data for needs that they have’” if we can renovate the public health information system. As an example of the potential, Califf shared with Frieden that “’a COVID tracker for all diseases is totally within reach now.’”
- Coordinate a smoother rollout of FDA-approved products
Califf explains that there is a gap “’between the time when FDA says there’s a product where the benefits outweigh the risks for an intended use in a given population, and when that product is deployed with payment across the entire United States.’” Comparing the rollout of new products to a relay race, Califf believes that the key is to build more seamless handoffs between the FDA and the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).
- Consolidate information in ways that support patients
Califf wants information to be truly patient-centered. Currently, when it comes to providing information, “’the patient is actually the last person involved,’” Califf claims. He knows collaboration is possible and points to “’amazing examples’” in improving life expectancies and care for patients with cystic fibrosis, multiple myeloma, and type 1 diabetes.
- Improve focus on groups who are left out of the system
Our healthcare system needs to serve all people, not just the populations who can afford the care. Discrepancies should not exist between urban and rural health outcomes, between different genders, or between different racial or ethnic groups. Califf realizes that policy changes are necessary to “’make it so that it’s good business to take care of people who are now left out of the system.’”
- Combat misinformation
Califf recalls times when there was a very straightforward progression for getting a product approved that involved completing studies and presenting information. Once approved, health care professionals would be introduced to the product and then use it at their discretion when treating patients. Now, however, “’facts don’t matter,’” according to Califf, who cites the public reaction to the COVID 19 vaccine as an example. This free product “’reduces the risk of death by 80% to 90%’” and “’yet a very large part of our population is not taking advantage of it.’” Finding a solution to the problems that arise from misinformation will require the concerted effort of “’every part of the ecosystem,’” states Califf.
Improving patient outcomes is the most important role of healthcare. Making sure that patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information and the products that can help patients and the public is critical. Califf’s recommendations, if put into effect, have the potential to make healthcare safer and better.
The Eisen Law Firm and Improving Health Outcomes
We all want safe and improved health outcomes. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. When procedures go badly or medical errors occur, lives are sometimes changed forever. These errors are called medical malpractice, and The Eisen Law Firm has been handling Medical Malpractice cases for years. We have seen terrible outcomes that can happen when patients do have full information available to them to make the best medical decisions for themselves. And we have been advocating for change to help improve health outcomes.
The Eisen Law Firm has had several cases where changes in hospital policies or procedures were incorporated into the resolution of the case. The idea is to improve patient safety, so that the same medical error does not happen again (or at least to ensure that there is a written procedure in place to avoid it). We did not just settle those cases and move on; we ensured that policy changed to prevent future medical errors. Additionally, Brian Eisen, Managing Partner of The Eisen Law Firm, is a Board-Certified Patient Advocate. He is one of a few lawyers in Ohio who has taken the required classes and passed the required exam to gain this certification. He did so because of the role he can play in improving patient safety and health outcomes. Having this certification demonstrates to clients that The Eisen Law Firm stands behind this commitment.
If you believe you were not given complete and accurate information about a medical procedure or treatment, and as a result, you have been harmed, please contact our experienced Cleveland malpractice lawyers to discuss your options for legal recourse and for obtaining the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call 216-287-0900 or contact us online today.