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    Health Resource and Policy Analysis

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    1. What do you consider the most important trends in medical practice in the U.S.? Discuss at least three major trends, and provide your assessment as to whether these are positive or negative trends for medical care in our country.

    2. Much of the surgery once performed at American hospitals is now done at ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) across the country. This trend has certainly made hospital CEOs unhappy. Surgery has historically been one of the most important revenue drivers for hospitals, and that revenue is now going to the owners of the ASCs. Why are patients in favor of ASCs for surgical patient care? Are they good for patients, or should surgery still be done in the hospital where full emergency services are available in the event that something untoward happens to the patient on the surgery table?

    3. All over America today we find medical professionals who are busy; in fact, they are increasingly busy as the Baby Boomers are reaching Medicare age and finally getting their health problems addressed. Sometimes these are health problems that really should have been addressed a few years back, but evaluation and care were delayed due to lack of coverage.

    Meanwhile, even though caregivers are busier than ever, most hospitals have empty beds—sometimes lots of empty beds. Why is that? What are the key factors that have driven U.S. health care outside of the inpatient hospital into ambulatory care settings? If the inpatient hospital is empty, where do we find our patients these days? What specific types of facilities are providing more care than our hospitals are providing today?

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    Solution Preview

    Some major differences in medicine now are the choices and involvement in the consumer. Patients have always needed care and there has always been an ebb and flow of prosperity and scarcity of funds. However, in earlier decades there was more loyalty to the provider than there perhaps is today. In the 50's women, for example, would go to deliver a baby and be detached from the process, allowing the doctor to be the do all and know all. Now, women have more options, make more personal choices and some don't even go to the hospital at all. According to the American Medical Association, (Trends in physician office visits shift as money worries affect behavior, Victoria Staff Elliott, 3-5-12) patients are delaying care seeking, doing self-care and self-medicating. The piece offers speculation that even with some of the worst of the recession likely past, the trends of choices for medical care will probably continue.

    Due to financial concerns, more patients have delayed service and some issues could have had better outcomes with prevention. Also, more patients are going to urgent care facilities, primary doctors and bypassing the emergency room. In some ways this is good for the consumer and forces providers to be more competitive, efficient and skilled at what they do. However, the trend of self-care could have more expensive and deadly outcomes, along with more luck from patients that eliminated costly and ...

    Solution Summary

    Hospitals and the future of patient care is discussed.