Defining Health and Discovering Progress
The United States of America spends 16% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare, equaling more than $7,000 per person annually. Despite this, the United States consistently has lower health outcomes (such as infant survival and life expectancy) than other Western countries. The disconnect between the amount spent and performance could be a function of how the system is designed. Many systems make up the “healthcare system,” and these component parts are not integrated. Instead, the multiple parts work separately, with different foci and different incentives. Personal choices and the community environment also effect healthcare, and often in ways that are not intuitive. Helms proposes to explain how these different parts of the healthcare system function, how they should be integrated with one another, and what tools (such as medical homes, electronic medical records, and e-prescribing) can facilitate that integration for a more functional system. Through these discussions, Helms hopes to stimulate dialogue that improves the understanding of the system and initiates discussions about healthcare reform.