Challenges, opportunities remain with or without health reform law

After months of speculation, the U.S. Supreme Court has finally weighed in on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the 2010 legislation more widely known as health care reform.

The Court’s opinion – to uphold the law – certainly affects all Americans.  Although personal opinions differ greatly on this decision, it’s clear our nation needs to address its health care challenges. ECU has recognized for some time the need to change the way we all think about health care in our region. We believe in transforming the health care landscape by focusing on the “Triple Aim.” This approach includes three essential components: quality improvement, cost reduction and increased access to care.

We know that our growing and aging population, the prevalence of chronic diseases and conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity, as well as disparate access to quality care makes caring for patients more challenging than ever. And, because ECU’s mission includes improving health care in eastern North Carolina, as well as educating future primary care health professionals in the region and state, we are already undertaking a number of exciting, transformational projects.

Health provider collaboration will be essential in the future.  In our simulation labs, students, physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals collaboratively learn and train to provide coordinated, effective and high-quality care as teams. Projects in Telemedicine connect patients in underserved areas to specialists and diagnostic tools – providing access to the care often reserved for urban medical centers. And, we continue to convene the brightest minds in our region and state to help tackle the issues we face in delivering quality care, containing costs and increasing access to health care.

We see this journey as just beginning, and as an opportunity rather than only a challenge. We look forward to continuing our work and helping to shape a health care climate that improves the health of our state.

–Dr. Phyllis N. Horns
Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences