A Medicare program that began on April 1 requires about 800 hospitals to “bundle” payments for knee and hip replacements. Long in the making, this effort should point the way to more coordinated, comprehensive care for patients and save money in the process.
Hospitals and other health care organizations work together much like the digital technology of yesterday — not very well. A decade ago, you probably had an armful of digital devices: a mobile phone, camera, contact organizer, game system, computer, and the like. It took a good deal of specialized knowledge to get these devices to work together as a seamless system, if it could be done at all. Today’s smartphones bundle these functions and more into a single, compact device.
In health care, there are multitudes of providers, care settings, prescription drug plans, and complicated rules for insurance authorization and benefits authorization. Many consumers feel like they need an advanced degree to understand how the different components of health care work together.