A Practical Approach
America's medical care system is a work in progress. Historically, it has been characterized by little information about what worked and what did not, uninformed consumers, the delivery of much inappropriate care, and a lack of preventive care. But the system has undergone dramatic change in just a decade, driven in part by efforts to improve delivery systems and in response to rapid growth of costs. Change was needed to ensure that average people could continue to afford quality medical care and that government health care programs would not collapse.
With the growth of managed care, Americans have begun to experience the benefits of coordinated care. By integrating the financing and delivery of care, health plans are bringing together on the patient's behalf the frequently uncoordinated activities of a whole set of caregivers. Wellness and prevention have become priorities. There is recognition that higher quality can also mean reduced costs, and a questioning of the assumption that more care is always better. These changes have resulted in the provision of quality affordable care, the development of best practices, and the dissemination of unprecedented amounts of information to consumers.
However, such significant change inevitably is associated with public concern and anxiety. Managed care imposes a new approach on