News | February 11, 2009

Philips' Chief Medical Officer Calls for Healthcare Reform

February 11, 2009 - The chief medical officer of Philips Healthcare, Eric Silfen M.D., addressing key national Healthcare experts at the “State of the Union for Healthcare” Conference, in which he encouraged access to healthcare from anywhere, pay-for-performance, the patient to drive the best clinical outcomes and support for basic biomedical research.

Dr. Silfen is calling for reform both within the U.S. Healthcare industry and abroad, and a reaffirmation of a commitment to patients. With a focus on ensuring high-quality, accessible care and a renewed commitment to patients, the key to change is through meaningful innovation which encompasses both technology and Healthcare delivery, Dr. Silfen noted.

“We’re living in uncertain times. While the economic downturn remains first and foremost, as a physician, I believe that our Healthcare system should provide peace of mind for all Americans,” Dr. Silfen said. “I rightly believe that people have an expectation that if in need, they will receive the quality care they require. There is much work ahead of us as clinicians, product and service suppliers, health policymakers and public opinion leaders to fundamentally strengthen our Healthcare system and make it sustainable.”

Dr. Silfen suggested four key elements that should be considered in the plans of the Obama Administration as it prepares to tackle the daunting, but achievable, challenge of Healthcare reform:

Healthcare must move away from a facility-centric approach to one that provides care wherever patients prefer it. Innovation enables the treatment of more patients in the physician’s office or the patient’s home, which helps to lower costs, while providing care in a place of comfort and convenience.

P4P The Healthcare system must move away from paying doctors and hospitals for services and interventions, and, instead, move towards a payment system that reflects the overall manner in which patient care is delivered today. By shifting payment towards those services needed to get a patient healthy, care providers have the incentive to work together, use diagnostic and treatment tools in a cost-effective fashion, and focus on the one measure of quality that matters most: Did the patient get better?
It is the relationship with the patient that will drive the best clinical outcomes. Physicians and nurses must remain at the center of the delivery system and reform must assure they have the authority and ability to leverage their extensive training. At times, the number and variety of Healthcare providers that augment the relationship will need to expand. Continued technological advancements that equip clinicians with real-time information and guidelines, coupled with a deepening understanding of medicine, should enable health systems to better deploy the skills of physician assistants, nurse practitioners, community health workers and other highly-trained care providers.
Healthcare should recognize and support innovation that emanates from a robust biomedical research and development infrastructure. Patients need novel screening, diagnosis, therapeutic and monitoring systems that are preventative, life-saving or life-enhancing. Continued support for basic biomedical research is vital to meet these demands, and the public and private sector have an obligation to resist the temptation to cut R&D investment.
Reform should provide specific incentives for innovation that disrupts the old ways of doing things, innovation that creates new opportunities for patients to care for themselves, and innovation that enables physicians and nurses to help deliver the right care at the right time in the right setting using the right information, Silfen concluded.

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