Healthy Shelby Joins the Revolution

By Lachina, Michael | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), February 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Healthy Shelby Joins the Revolution


Lachina, Michael, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)


The decision to undertake the Healthy Shelby initiative is timely but long overdue, given the rapid changes unfolding in health care since the passage of the federal government's reform legislation in 2010.

Kudos to Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, business and health care industry leaders, and Memphis Fast Forward for launching the Healthy Shelby initiative in collaboration with the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement and multiple local hospitals, community agencies and faith-based organizations. The project is daunting in scope, considering the number of participants and the seemingly endless "opportunities" to improve the health of our county residents, but Healthy Shelby fits in nicely with the spirit of the national health care reform law.

By shifting more patient care toward primary-care physicians and away from emergency rooms, Healthy Shelby aims to reduce the cost of medical care locally while working toward three main goals: improved management of chronic diseases such as diabetes, coordinated "end of life" care and reduced rates of infant mortality.

A revolution has started, and we will all be affected by the final outcome.

Although many physicians, politicians and policymakers very visibly opposed the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health care reform now is happening all around us. Patients, physicians, hospitals, health systems and insurers are all beginning to sense the changes "blowing in the wind."

No doubt, there are abundant opportunities in the United States to improve the quality, efficiencies and patient experience in health care.

This decade will define and reveal the staggering effects of the Affordable Care Act. Many provisions of the plan have already been implemented, and unless the U.S. Supreme Court repeals the law, other elements will unfold incrementally over the next eight years. The way health care is delivered is changing. The way health care is paid for is changing. How much health care you receive, and where and when you receive it, are changing. The type of caregiver who will provide your care is changing.

The focus of medicine is shifting in this decade to management of health rather than treatment of illness, a change that is long overdue. …

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