The Commonwealth Fund released its annual report comparing healthcare markets in 11 industrialized countries – Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States – with the U.S. coming in dead last for the fifth time in the report’s 10-year history.
Based on data from 2011, the report found that the U.S. healthcare market ranked last, despite the fact that we spend more money on healthcare per person – $8,508 on average in 2011 – than any other country on the list. We spent nearly $3,000 more per person than the next highest spender on the list, Norway, which spent $5,669 per person, on average, in the same year.
Despite high spending rates, the U.S. performed poorly on most of the performance indicators covered in the report, including:
Access: The U.S. ranked last on every single measure of cost-related access, with more than 1/3 of adults reporting that they have forgone medical due to cost.
Efficiency: The U.S. ranked last on efficiency, thanks in part to cumbersome administrative processes, repetitive / duplicate medical testing, and unnecessary / avoidable ER visits.
Equity: The U.S. ranked last on equity, as the report found that low-wage-earning Americans were significantly less likely to seek out medical care than their counterparts in other countries. Again, this is correlated with higher-than-average healthcare costs.
Healthy Lives: The U.S. ranked last again due to poor scores on infant mortality, healthy life expectancy at age 60, mortality due to medical care.
Quality: The U.S. managed to climb to fifth place for “Quality Care” measures, which included effective care, safe care, coordinated care, and patient-centered care.
While these findings are disappointing, experts are hopeful that next year’s report will find the U.S. climbing higher on the list, due to the reforms implemented by the Affordable Care Act, which went into effect in 2012, and will be included in the 2015 report.
Improvements in healthcare IT adoption, reductions in cost, increased efficiency, and expanded access to care are all positive changes that should help improve the U.S. healthcare market’s performance in the coming years.
Products like BedWatch Bed Control, BedWatch Transport Control, and BedWatch Admit Control (launching in October), help hospitals objectively assess throughput performance data and identify processes that need improvement. They are designed to break down communication silos in order to increase both the accuracy and comprehensiveness of available data, as well as the efficiency of communication across a single hospital building or an entire system. Ultimately, they help hospitals better manage their resources, while helping patients get the care they need, faster.
The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults.