Gawande: Hospitals Need To Increase Quality, Lower Costs

Improving the quality of health care while controlling costs is the "fundamental issue for our generation," author and surgeon Atul Gawande, M.D., told hospital leaders at the AHA and Health Forum Leadership Summit in San Diego. Gawande, a general and endocrine surgeon and an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, gave the keynote address as the 2011 recipient of the Health Research & Educational Trust's Trust Award, which recognizes individuals who exhibit visionary leadership in the health care field and use research and education to improve health care policy and practice.

He said hospital leaders need five "skills" to tackle the cost issue: they need to collect data to recognize failure and success; develop solutions to problems based on that data; implement solutions effectively; identify the most important projects; and lead the community or organization through the process. Gawande also called on hospital leaders to develop plans to treat patients whose care costs the most, including patients with co-morbidities, terminal diagnoses and catastrophic procedures.

07-20-2011 10:59 (EDT)