What’s Needed to Make Healthcare More Efficient and Effective in NJ?

From NJ Spotlight, October 29, 2015:

Improving diet and encouraging exercise. Relying on primary care more than hospital-based care. Making sure healthcare providers communicate effectively with each other and with patients.

These are among the major ways to improve New Jersey residents’ health, say healthcare leaders.

New Jersey Policy Perspective senior policy analyst Raymond J. Castro said that the benefits of OMNIA – particularly the potential to better manage patients’ healthcare – are difficult to convey to consumers. He noted that the federal health insurance marketplace focuses consumers’ attention on the price of health plans, with little information on the quality of coverage.

Castro raised a broader point about the significance of the changes rippling through New Jersey healthcare, from the expansion of tiered insurance plans to hospital consolidation. He said state government should be playing a bigger role.

During a recent state Senate hearing on OMNIA, Castro noted, state officials cited statutory limitations in their approach to the proposed plans, and there didn’t appear to be coordination across the three departments of state government that could be affected by the plans: the Health, Human Services, and Banking and Insurance departments.

“I don’t get the impression that all three of them are working together on a lot of the issues that were raised at the hearing,” Castro said, noting that state officials have said they’re limited in the amount of information that they can collect from insurers.

“I feel that we need much more state involvement. We need a lot more requirements in terms of transparency,” Castro said.

Castro also called on hospital systems to embrace his think tank’s agenda to decrease poverty in the state. He emphasized that poverty is an underlying factor in poor health outcomes.