This report addresses a deceptively simple question: How can the productivity of American health care be substantially improved? Productivity, in lay terms, is the ratio of output to inputs. A more colloquial rendition of the question might be: how can we get a lot more bang for our health care buck? By design, we have brought together a varied assortment of ideas and suggestions, illustrating the messy, grab-bag nature that effective changes often need to take. Yet our proposals do fall (albeit with some overlap) into four broad categories, which structure the recommendations section of this report. Harnessing information: how systematically gathering and sharing data can unlock knowledge that produces systematically better choices. The key here is to incentivize a new corps of data entrepreneurs to collect and analyze existing medical data to discover and then disseminate the use of new therapies. Improving research: encouraging more collaboration across institutions and funding more translational research (aimed at “translating” basic scientific discoveries into medicines and therapies). Legal and regulatory reform: modernizing medical malpractice systems, removing counter-productive restrictions on health insurance premiums, and streamlining new drug approvals. Empowering patients: there are large benefits of giving more power to the people who matter most — patients — to make informed decisions about their own care. The ideas here are not new, though many of them are familiar only to the cognoscenti. To the contrary, we have sought ideas that have showed promise in the field, and then attempted to set them in a context that exploits the adjacent possible. If this report can focus more minds in the health policy community and general public on finding and implementing those changes, in everything from clinical practices to regulatory structures, it will have succeeded. From the Kauffman Task Force on Cost-Effective Health Care Innovation.
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