Medicare chief Dr. Donald Berwick counseled the medical technology industry’s leaders today to remain optimistic as the healthcare reform act plays out.
"The resource we need more than any other is optimism. At this time of fretfulness about our economy and the state of healthcare in the country, no leadership is more important than leadership that says we can do this, that we can invent our way into the healthcare system that we want and need for ourselves and our loved ones," Berwick said in a speech at AdvaMed’s annual MedTech conference in Washington, D.C.
But that goal can’t be accomplished without the commitment of the medical device industry, Berwick said, recalling his father’s general practice in a small town in Connecticut. That kind of practice is becoming increasingly harder in today’s healthcare system, he said, noting the growing chasm between the quality of care delivered and what’s possible. CMS, Berwick said, is trying to shrink that chasm.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are responsible for implementing about 70 percent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to Berwick. The agency has $10 billion to invest over the next 10 years in finding and supporting innovation in healthcare delivery.
Berwick’s “triple aim:” Better care, better health for populations and lower costs. Asked how to reconcile the legislation’s lofty goals with the need to spur innovation, Berwick said healthcare reform will provide new opportunities for innovative devices.
"If we can migrate the payment systems toward serious investments in seamlessness, continuity and improvement in care, with the patient at the absolute center, you will find customers in that,” he said. “There will be people who will turn to you to help invent and create new possibilities that fit into the idea that we’re now going to help people through their journeys through care and life.
"We must maintain the ability and your ability to invest. Your side of the coin is to become authentic participants in the pursuit of what I’m calling the triple aim,” Berwick told the audience. “It will not be a sustainable answer for our country simply to assume that you have the luxury of picking just your element, without respect to the overall social need. If you do your part, I think you’ll find a healthcare system ready to help invest in discovering the future."
Turning to a question about comparative effectiveness research, Berwick said he has a “strong commitment” to knowledge.
"I believe that turning the lights on is important — that the more we know, the more science we have, the more data we have on the performance characteristics of the care that’s given, the wiser we can be about investments and choices and, even more importantly, helping guide patients into the kinds of choices they want to make for themselves,” he said. “Patient-centered outcome research means we’re turning the lights on and understanding what happens when we try to take steps on behalf of patients. I think it’s a great treasure, a great asset. We should be investing heavily in it."