Expanding Health Coverage May Not Improve Access

To improve access without boosting the cost of care, some health-care organizations across the country are experimenting with different models of care, the report finds. One is the use of online consultations for patients who don't require a face-to-face visit.

"Many insurers now are, in fact, engaged in pilots to pay for electronic visits," Chin said.

Another is the growing use of mobile electronic devices to monitor, say, a patient's blood sugar or blood pressure and transmit the results by cell phone to the patient's doctor.

The report also spotlights growth in retail and work-site clinics and notes that some health organizations are exploring a model of care in which a team of health-care providers works collaboratively to address a patient's health-care needs.

But creating a system of care that encourages coordination-of-care will require a shift away from the traditional fee-for-service method of reimbursement, Cassil noted. "How we address payment reform will have everything to do with how the delivery system becomes more efficient."

More information

Read the PricewaterhouseCooper report.

SOURCES: Alwyn Cassil, director, public affairs, Center for Studying Health System Change, Washington, D.C.; Jeffrey Bauer, Ph.D., management consulting partner, Affiliated Computer Services Inc., and leader, health futures practice, ACS Healthcare Solutions, Chicago; David Chin, M.D., principal and leader, Health Research Institute, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Boston; Kaiser Family Foundation, March 2009, Trends in Health Care Costs and Spending; Merritt, Hawkins & Associates, 2009 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times; PWC, Jammed access: Widening the front door to healthcare

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