Brace for Change
Date: March 1, 2010
While the debate over health care reform rages (and alternately sputters) in Washington, D.C., we in the medical field are doing what we always have: caring for patients and researching the most promising and effective ways to help them. But once our health care system actually does change, the ways in which we fulfill that job may change as well.
Though the minute details and specifics of what a reformed health care system might look like remain unclear and controversial, new health care policies would most certainly mean new ways of deciding which treatments are covered by insurance and which are not, and, consequently, potential limits on which ones physicians can recommend. Facing such change and boundaries, we need to be armed with a complete knowledge of which therapies and procedures most benefit our patients so that when the time comes and questions arise, we can answer with certainty that our methods and recommendations ring of authority and credibility.
In short, clinical outcomes will be more important than ever. With health care reform positioned amid the Beltway’s top priorities, that kind of data offers evidence of what works, validates the decisions we make and affirms the importance of what we do.
Clinical outcomes have long been valued in the Department of Surgery. Of course, the best way to monitor and record them is through clinical trials, which is why we have established the Center for Surgical Trials and Outcomes Research, headed by Timothy Pawlik and Adil Haider.
More than anything, monitoring the long-term results of our work plays a key role in determining whether we use best practices and whether our patients truly reap the benefits. Politics aside, in the medical field, outcomes equal the kind of knowledge that saves lives, not to mention valuable time and resources, both for us and our patients. Simply put, outcomes are everything.