Several of us from New America spent some time at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s big annual conference this week, its first since health care reform with all its potential for primary care was enacted. It’s a bit hard to sum up (keynote speaker Atul Gawande called it being "in the trenches with the data") so I’ll jump off from the opening plenary -- "21st Century Health Care: What Does it Mean to Achieve Success in Quality, Value, and Access to Care."
AHRQ director Carolyn Clancy (we had a chance to talk to her this summer here) moderated, and the panelists were Maulik Joshi, president of the Health Research & Educational Trust and senior vice president for Research at the American Hospital Association, James Mold, professor and director of research in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and Debra Ness, president, National Partnership for Women and Families (and the fact that Ness was there, keeping the focus on what patients/consumers/families want, was itself telling).
The discussion started with the observation that "patient-centeredness" is a bit of a Rorschach test, but panelists agreed (more or less) that people want coordinated care from someone who knows them, and can treat the whole person, not just an organ or a condition. They want to be engaged, and share in the decision-making. And getting there is tough.