In the conclusion of his new book, Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Toby Cosgrove, M.D., proclaims that he is "powerfully and enthusiastically optimistic about the future of health care" even as questions about finance, regulation and the organization of medical services continue to shape our national debate.
Cosgrove's book, The Cleveland Clinic Way, examines eight trends that will define the future of medicine and provides what he calls "lessons in excellence."
Perhaps the most powerful trend — and one we've examined and continue to examine in-depth in Hospitals & Health Networks — is the aging of the American population. As Cosgrove points out, 40 million Americans are now 65 or older and, by 2030, that number will more than double, accounting for 20 percent of the population. Most older adults have at least one chronic disease and one in four have two or more. And although advances in medicine are helping Americans to live longer, "the bad news is our bodies are outliving our brains," increasing the incidence of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Even as health care providers try to cope with what Cosgrove calls a "pandemic of chronic disease," government and private insurers "are going to reward those providers who are able to achieve the right balance among quality, outcomes and cost, and they will penalize those who are unable to align their costs better with the health care outcomes they produce."
So, why in the world is Cosgrove so hopeful about health care's future? He lists four reasons, which I'll summarize and about which you can read in his book.
• More attention is being paid to wellness and prevention.
• The digital revolution is giving patients access to their own records and data on hospital quality measures, and is allowing physicians to do their work better and easier.
• The rise of evidence-based medicine.
• The consolidation of health care providers, which he maintains "will make medicine more efficient, effective and accessible to all."
Consgrove says he wrote the book "in the hope of creating a movement of individuals who realize what is at stake and what is possible and who are committed to leading the way." For more information, click here.