Charting new courses here

Could high-quality health care be provided to all U.S. citizens, without an increase in health-care spending?

Yes, according to a new PBS documentary, “U.S. Health Care: The Good News.” The trick is eliminating unnecessary health-care spending.

It’s a trick that’s being performed right here in Snohomish County and elsewhere in our region, where the documentary focuses much of its attention. Innovations at The Everett Clinic, Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, Group Health and Mountlake Terrace-based Premera Blue Cross are held up as national models for delivering high-quality care at a reasonable cost.

The Everett Clinic’s efforts to eliminate unnecessary, expensive tests are highlighted, as is its model of coordinated care, which reduces hospital stays and thus lowers costs while improving outcomes.

The Everett Clinic’s industry-leading moves to reduce patients’ prescription-drug costs also earn attention, and insurance-provider Premera gets a deserved nod for its role in mining the data that showed the savings to be gained by encouraging generic drugs over expensive name-brands that work no better.

Providence, regularly recognized as one of the nation’s leading centers for cardiac care, is singled out for its innovative work on avoiding unnecessary blood transfusions for patients undergoing open-heart surgery.

Group Health has long been an innovator in patient-centered care. The documentary shows it at work, detailing how physicians and other care-givers work as teams on patient care and how email is used to enhance communication between patients and their physician.

The Puget Sound region has long been recognized as a leader in health-care innovation and cost control. As cost challenges have become ever more acute, organizations here have stepped up to them, finding solutions that are making real inroads in cost containment.

The “good news” for the nation, the PBS documentary reports, is that experts believe these successes can be replicated across the country.

The great news for our area is that we’re already served by forward-looking organizations dedicated to saving patients money while improving care.

It’s working.

“U.S. Health Care: The Good News,” an hour-long PBS documentary featuring several local health-care organizations, airs at noon today and 3 p.m. Sunday on KCTS, Channel 9.

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