As this issue goes to press here at the beginning of May, the Affordable Care Act remains in place. Whether that will be a true a year from now is tough to forecast. What we do know is that there is concern that we may return to a day where many patients are either uninsured or underinsured, thereby significantly hindering their ability to receive optimal health care.
When people lack primary care coverage and access to specialists, they turn to Emergency Departments as their provider of choice, lacking better options, which puts significant pressure on health care delivery systems otherwise doing everything possible to encourage the appropriate use of hospital-based settings. While we continue to wait and see, we must keep driving innovation and discovery forward to accelerate our efforts to meet our missions to the communities we serve.
Take our cover story, on new service lines being created by the Office of Integrated Health Care Delivery. Through this effort, we’re orienting health care services around the patient in an organized fashion. As we are an academic medical center, this approach to health care delivery is a natural fit. Following a patient across the spectrum, from his or her early interventions with a primary care physician through specialty care and back, provides excellent learning opportunities for our trainees as well as easier research projects conducted across disciplines.
Another example of our commitment to innovation is the recent hire of Craig Williams as the new vice president for health innovation and management solutions. Among other tasks, Craig will look to take the best evidence-based medicine we’re developing at Johns Hopkins, determine how to commercialize those solutions and push them out beyond our walls.
In a similar fashion, the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, thanks to funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, will share its protocols for enhanced recovery after surgery with hospitals nationwide. Both stories exemplify our mission: to take tested processes or strategies that we develop in-house and that we learn from, then share that knowledge with the world.
Imparting knowledge also applies to Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Blood Management Team, which created novel methods of tracking blood product usage through Epic, our electronic medical record system. Representatives presented their work at Epic’s headquarters last fall, and I hope that other medical centers were inspired to adopt similar measures.
While we can’t necessarily control what happens in Washington or with health care at large, we can continue to ensure we meet our mission to improve the health of the local and global community by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research and clinical care. Through this commitment, we can weather any storm!