Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 27, 2009

Host: Ted Simons

Healthcare Reform

  • The president and CEO of Scottsdale Healthcare talks about health care reform and Health for Life.
  • Tom Sadvary - President and C.E.O., Scottsdale Healthcare

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
President Barack Obama wants to reform our nation's healthcare system to make healthcare more affordable and make sure everyone is insured. Next week those issues will be addressed at a forum sponsored by the Arizona hospital and healthcare association. Here to tell us more, Tom Sadvary, president and C.E.O. of Scottsdale healthcare, thanks for joining us on Horizon.

Tom Sadvary:
Thanks, Ted. Happy to be here.

Ted Simons:
Healthcare must be reformed. Does everyone agree on that?

Tom Sadvary:
I think there's general consensus, Ted, that healthcare does need reform but there's obviously varied opinions as to how it happens. Healthcare reform discussions actually started many years ago as far back as Harry Truman's presidency. And I think the fact is that there's a lot of good things going on in healthcare right now, relative to excellent care givers, improvements in technology, quality of care is improving, life expectancy is improving, but there are obviously some major issues. Primarily in the area of costs that keep going up, the fact that there's over 40 million people in the country that have no health insurance, and the fact that there's some outcomes that are not what they should be in this system.

Ted Simons:
So how do you ensure quality in a reformed system? Another way of putting this is how do you make sure you do no harm?

Tom Sadvary:
Well, the first thing to do is to make sure that we have a great educational system, because it ultimately ends up as being one patient at a time. So whether it's a nurse, a phlebotomist, physician, or any other care giver we have to make sure we're training the best people in the best way. Secondly I think we have to hold all the care givers accountable for results, and to try to get towards evidence based practice as much as possible, realizing that it's difficult to do a one size fits all when you're caring for patients. And lastly I think we have to be transparent. I think every care giver needs to be very transparent to the individual patient and to show the results and to get the consumer involved in his or her own healthcare as well.

Ted Simons:
You mention training people in the best way possible. Is that happening now?

Tom Sadvary:
I think for the most part yes. I'm very proud of the medical schools, the nursing programs that we have both in Arizona as well as nationwide. The issue is that there are not enough of them. And the bottleneck, for example, in the state of Arizona where we have about 1500 men and women who have taken the prerequisites for nursing school is in the number of faculty. And the hospitals have worked in a collaborative manner with the community colleges as well as state universities but funding is an issue, so we need to understand that this is all about talent and quality of care is based on what's happening at the bedside with individual poem.

Ted Simons:
You also mentioned increasingly uninsured folks out there, how big of a problem is that?

Tom Sadvary:
It's a huge problem, Ted, there's over a million people in this state that are uninsured and over 40 million in the country. And that's a problem because it often denies access to healthcare services for these people or they often wait until they're so sick that they need an emergency department and that's not good for anybody at that point, if they are not taking care of themselves and not seeing the doctor when they need to.

Ted Simons:
Your other concern that you mentioned was rising healthcare costs. Again, how big of a problem is that, and in this economy especially, talk about that particular dynamic.

Tom Sadvary:
Sure. Well, the issue of the economy has hit all of us in many ways and with patients having to pay more money out of pocket because of high deductibles or co-payments; it often provides a barrier to access for care. So, for example, when the economy was going well and a patient has to pay several hundred dollars or a thousand dollars out of pocket for a healthcare service, that was not a big of a deal as much as it is now, and people are worried about every penny, and we understand that some patients are delaying elective care, but some patients are delaying the care they really need.

Ted Simons:
All that put together, does reform need to be radical? Does it need to be quick? How's the best way to reform?

Tom Sadvary:
Well, that's actually the $64,000 question, because I've heard that the incremental way of reforming healthcare is what was tried in the past and did not work. So it seems to me that the Obama administration and Congress is looking more at a big bang theory of healthcare reform and frankly I think the healthcare systems and with the forum that we're sponsoring next week with the American hospital association, sets out a platform of five reform initiatives that I think if implemented will really help and we call it not necessarily transforming care but or not reforming care but transforming the healthcare delivery system we provide throughout the country.

Ted Simons:
We have the website information for more information on the forum next week, which should be very informative. I want to get back to the first do no harm business. It seems as if radical change is needed, a lot of the players are on board, how do you make sure what comes out the reform is better? Is an improvement?

Tom Sadvary:
That's an excellent question, and I think part of it is for whatever reform system happens, to continue to focus on the individual patient as well as systems of care to give the care givers the best workplace for them to do their work. And I think part of the reform, Ted, has to be in making sure that individual patients understand the need for -- to take care of themselves and to have some incentives for wellness and to make sure that our primary care givers primarily our family doctors are first of all sufficient supply and making sure that there's a direct connection between those physicians and the individual patient. We also have to make sure that we are all transparent in terms of what we do on a quality basis and that we work together. We often see how doctors and hospitals compete. We talked about the medical arms race, but we believe there are also ways we can collaborate on safety initiatives and quality initiatives so that we can learn together and produce a better outcome for all of our patients.

Ted Simons:
It's interesting you bring that up because some folks see that competition as one of the reasons why America develops so many promising drugs and promising treatments and the more collaboration you get, the less invention you get. Is that a viable argument do you think?

Tom Sadvary:
I don't think so. I think collaboration is generally very, very good between hospitals, between research entities and it's interesting because innovation is so critical and it really starts at the bench research and translating that into clinical research as well, and I think frankly if you look at the results of what has happened in terms of patient outcomes, just look at cancer, for example, many forms of cancer that 10 or 15 years ago were fatal 80% of the time, now can be cured 80 to 100% of the time if they're treated in the right way.

Ted Simons:
All right. Very good. Thank you so much for joining us, again that forum will be Monday and again we had the website up there so folks who want more information on that are encouraged to look it up themselves.

Tom Sadvary:
Great, thank you very much.

Ted Simons:
Thank you.

Tom Sadvary:

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