Cutler: 'Saving money while improving quality of care' should be at forefront

SAN DIEGO Comparing the situation with a hypothetical B-movie about a whale eating New York, Harvard University economics professor David Cutler showed a chart describing the fiscal collision course the United States could be on if it doesn’t successfully tackle healthcare costs.


Cutler, an economic adviser to the Clinton administration and to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, appeared Tuesday at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ 2010 Pharmacy and Technology Conference in San Diego to talk about healthcare reform and what it means for the healthcare industry.



While he mostly focused on the clinical side of care, Cutler did discuss the importance of making health care cost less while making it more effective. “It’s not just saving money,” Cutler said. “It’s saving money while improving the quality of care that people get.”



Managing and using healthcare information also will be important, Cutler said, saying that health care had more information than any other industry. Using companies that analyze stock data and suggest where investors should put their money as an example, he said there probably would be a need for similar companies in health care, which could suggest what kinds of care patients should receive based on such factors as whether they have spouses at home, the climates in which they live and so forth.



Providers will need to communicate with patients. Cutler cited a statistic that 3% of doctors regularly e-mail their patients. “That’s less than the percentage of priests who e-mail their parishioners,” he said.


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