Improving access to care seen as great opportunity to improve patient health
07.30.13 | By John Castellani
Every person is unique, and so are the challenges they face when it comes to their health. However, there are some core opportunities to improve care across wide swaths of the population, and that’s why we asked last week’s Conversations question: “What are the biggest challenges and opportunities when it comes to improving patient health?”
The Colon Cancer Alliance and the Obesity Society provided interesting contributions that addressed improving access to care. As a cancer survivor and an advocate, Crawford Clay, the patient advocacy coordinator at Colon Cancer Alliance, discussed the significant challenges faced at both the individual and macro levels. With colon cancer the second-leading cause of death among all cancers, he indicated an increasing need for better access to preventative care, while also noting that from his experience, beating the disease was as much of a mental challenge as a physical one.
As Adam Gilden Tsai, advocacy chair at the Obesity Society noted, treating obesity is also a complex challenge for the health care industry. Despite affecting more than one in three Americans, treatment is not always reimbursed by health insurers, which leads to gaps that only exacerbate the problem. Ensuring consistent and coordinated care through initiatives like Accountable Care Organizations could improve health results throughout the country - not just for obese individuals.
I also want to highlight a comment from Ho Luong Tran, the president and CEO of the National Council of Asian & Pacific Islander Physicians. She shared her thoughts on the Conversations question through Facebook, and emphasized the importance of culturally competent and linguistically appropriate care.
From these responses, it is obvious that improving access to care is top-of-mind when discussing how to better address patients’ health needs. According to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Development, more than a quarter of Americans face barriers restricting access to necessary health care. For our part, PhRMA has made it a point to emphasize the importance of access to medications that improve people’s lives, and support programs like Medicare Part D that remove barriers to care.
As our health care system continues to evolve, so will the challenges patients face. To tackle these issues will require sharing ideas and working together, and that’s why we feel the Conversations forum is so important.