Adding a fourth aim to health care: The well-being of medical professionals
by Ted J. Clarke, MD, Chairman & CEO, COPIC Insurance Company
What will the future of health care look like in Colorado? That is a question many of us ponder and struggle to answer. According to a 2012 survey by The Physicians Foundation1, approximately 92 percent of physicians are unsure where the health system will be or how they will fit into it in three to five years. While there are certain trends we know will influence medicine, from digital technology to an aging population, there is still uncertainty as to how our industry will change as a result. This is an area where COPIC and the Colorado Medical Society (CMS) see an opportunity to help define the path, offer trusted guidance, and try and make sense of it all.
“Looking Forward” is a new article series that explores how the COPIC/CMS relationship supports and benefits medical professionals and patients. From education to legislative advocacy, there are many ways we collaborate and complement each other to improve the future of health care. Sometimes these are joint efforts that are highly visible, while other times they are independent projects. Our initiatives share a common goal: to generate awareness and involvement that reinforces our connection to those we represent in the medical community.
A current joint initiative is promoting the care of health professionals so that they can better serve their patients. Many of us are familiar with Don Berwick’s “Triple Aim” in health care, which refers to improving the experience of care and the health of populations, while reducing the overall costs of health care. In simple terms, we often look at issues in a similar context through the perspectives of access, quality and cost. These areas are interconnected and influence each other – an important fact to remember as we make decisions. But there is a fourth aim that we also see as essential: the well-being of medical professionals.
This concept was recently highlighted in an article (Berwick et al.) titled “From Triple to Quadruple Aim: Care of the Patient Requires Care of the Provider” in the November/December 2014 issue of the Annals of Family Medicine: “Leaders and providers of health care should consider adding a fourth dimension – improving the work life of those who deliver care – to the compass points of better care, better health, and lower costs.”
Sizeable demands are placed on physicians, allied health professionals and health care providers, and they cannot face these alone. COPIC and CMS work to provide resources that are timely, relevant and enable those in health care to address ever-changing challenges. This includes support designed to improve the day-to-day elements of medical practices and broader advocacy that helps protect the practice of good medicine. As medical professionals focus on patients, there must be a sense of confidence that others are focusing on their well-being.
COPIC and CMS recognize the importance of taking care of physicians so they can take care of patients. A 2013 study2 by the RAND Corporation stated that “…our finding that physicians are more satisfied when they perceive that they are meeting their patients’ needs by delivering high-quality care – and dissatisfied when they perceive barriers to delivering high-quality care – suggests an additional way of thinking about the relationship between physician professional satisfaction and the quality of care that patients receive.”
COPIC and CMS are committed to working together to advance the goals of the triple aim while keeping the well-being of medical professionals in the forefront of our minds as we continue our efforts.
Posted in: Colorado Medicine | Health System Reform