cbcHealth reform is law. The hard work of fixing our health system begins now. That’s the message of  Campaign for Better Care, a recently-launched effort to improve health care coordination and quality for people across the country. (Here’s the ad (pdf) that ran in Politico.)

The Campaign, a joint effort of the National Partnership for Women & Families, Community Catalyst and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), is working to ensure that we realize the promise of health reform by improving health care quality, coordination and communication for older patients with multiple health problems and their family caregivers.

A newly released national survey of Americans 50+ tells the story.

  • Something to talk about. Nearly three-quarters have wished that their doctors would talk and share information with each other.
  • People who take the most meds need to hear more about medication interactions from their doctor. Forty percent of people who take five or more medications say their doctors do not talk to them about potential interactions with other drugs or over-the-counter medications when prescribing new medications.
  • Different info from different doctors. More than one third of people who use the health care system most say they’ve received conflicting information from different doctors.
  • Taking the test over—and not because they failed. One in eight (13 percent) has had to redo a test or procedure because the doctor or hospital did not have the earlier results.
  • Do you have any questions? Yes. Three-quarters of those who use the health care system most have left a doctor’s office or hospital confused about what to do at home.

But the real story is told by people like Joann, whose life was turned upside down last summer when her 79-year-old mother fell and broke her hip. Because her mother also suffers from osteoporosis and dementia, Joann stayed overnight in the hospital for two weeks to help her navigate the system.  She was physically and emotionally exhausted in this solo effort to make sure her mother was safe and well-cared for once she returned home from the hospital.

The new health reform bill is full of programs that could help people like Joann and her mother by providing the comprehensive, coordinated, patient-centered care they need.  And, the Campaign is committed to taking the essential next step: ensuring that these programs are designed and implemented with the needs of patients and their family caregivers front and center.  Because if we can make the system work for people with the most challenging health care needs, we can make it work for everyone.

To support the national Campaign, Community Catalyst is also working in six states to build support for these kind of programs:

Maine (Consumers for Affordable Health Care)

Massachusetts (Health Care for All)

Ohio (UHCAN Ohio)

North Carolina (NC Justice Center)

Pennsylvania (Consumer Health Coalition)

Wisconsin (Coalition of WI Aging Groups)

Check out the state campaign websites to learn more about what they’re doing to promote better care in their states.  And be sure to visit the national campaign website www.CampaignforBetterCare.org to learn more about the campaign and how to get involved.

-Renee Markus Hodin, project director