Shaheen Floor Statement on Health Care Innovation in New Hampshire, October 28, 2009

October 28, 2009

Mr. President, I am pleased to, once again, join my freshman Democratic colleagues to make the case for health care reform. I wish to recognize and thank Senator Begich for his leadership and coordination of this effort this morning.

   

Today, as you have heard, I will discuss three exciting initiatives in New Hampshire that are transforming our health care system. These innovative ideas are shaping the debate and are changing the way we think about health care. They are revolutionizing how we deliver necessary health care services, and they are transforming our payment mechanisms. Most importantly, these initiatives go to the heart of this debate. They focus on the needs of patients, they make the system more efficient, and they use our dollars more wisely.

   

The Center for Informed Choice at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice is dedicated to one simple idea: that patients deserve to be equal partners in making choices about their health care.

   

We know when patients and their families have good information about procedures, treatments, and therapies, they make good decisions. The researchers at Dartmouth found that 40 percent of the time, patients who are fully involved in the decisionmaking process during the course of their medical care choose the less invasive and lower cost medical procedures. Forty percent of the time, patients choose the less invasive, lower cost procedures.

   

More importantly, their research shows these patients have better clinical outcomes and higher rates of satisfaction as the result of their treatment. The providers at Dartmouth put this research into practice. They recognized it can be hard to decide whether to have surgery, to have a test, or to continue with a treatment. So they offer patients a variety of resources to help. Patients can talk to a counselor. They can do research in the library or talk to medical professionals. They can find out all their treatment options. They can learn what other people have done and fully understand recovery time and the impact on their quality of life. And they can do all of this online.

   

I have been to the center. It is very impressive what they do. Soon this information is going to be available to the public online.

   

Armed with information, these patients become empowered and equal partners in their health care. This is the direction that health care reform must take.

   

Another exciting initiative in New Hampshire is our medical home pilot program. With close to 40,000 patients involved, the medical home is changing the way health care is delivered in New Hampshire. You see, a medical home is about collaboration. It is about a team of health professionals who are working together to provide individualized care for each patient.

   

In New Hampshire, our medical home pilot has integrated the use of electronic medical records that import hospital, radiology, and laboratory tests directly into the patient's record. New Hampshire medical home model offers two important services to patients, including same-day scheduling and secure e-mail communications with their doctors. Unquestionably, the pilot is changing the way health care is delivered in New Hampshire.

   

My third initiative I wish to talk about deals with changes that are happening at the local level to improve health in New Hampshire. In the western part of New Hampshire is a small city called Keene that has set its goal on becoming the healthiest community in America by 2020. So for all my freshman colleagues, they have to share this with the cities in their States and let them know we plan to be first in Keene, NH.

   

The citizens of Keene took a look at the data and found out that our State's leading cause of death is heart disease related to tobacco use, poor diet, and physical inactivity. The folks in Keene realized that we spend a disproportionately high amount of money on our medical costs instead of focusing on prevention and wellness.

   

The citizens of Keene took action. Led by a local hospital, Keene established a coalition of partners from all sectors of the community, including education, private business, nonprofit organizations, and municipal and State government. This coalition, which is called Keene Vision 2020, has made it a priority to engage citizens in healthy lifestyles. They have sponsored educational briefings, screenings, health clinics, health fairs, and Keene's Vision 2020 promotes the local farmer's market, and it has established a local walking group. All of this is done with one goal in mind: to be healthy.

   

I have no doubt that Keene will be a healthier community in 2020, and I have no doubt that the preventive measures in which citizens have become engaged will lower our health care costs well into the future. We should all applaud and encourage this sort of community-wide commitment to prevention and wellness and to public health.

   

This is an exciting time. Congress is closer than ever before to passing comprehensive health reform. Time and time again we have heard we cannot continue on the present trajectory. I am pleased to point out these exciting initiatives underway in New Hampshire that demonstrate we can improve the quality of care and lower our health care costs.

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