Washington Community

Employer-Shaped Medical System Leads To Better Health, Happier Patients

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
12/18/14  9:55 PM PST
Health care employer

Employer-Shaped Medical System Leads To Better Health, Happier Patients – By Noam N. Levey for The News Tribune

 — Forty miles north of Seattle, in the largest building in the world, Boeing assembles its biggest commercial airliners.

Thousands of workers on a 98-acre factory floor piece together hulking wings and fuselage pieces, miles of electrical wiring and millions of rivets on a production line so precisely choreographed that Boeing can roll out a new jet every other day. The largest plane built here, the 747, has about 6 million parts.

With similar attention to detail, Boeing has helped shape medical care in and around Seattle, one of the healthiest regions of the country.

Employer-provided coverage is the backbone of the U.S. health system, with more than half of Americans getting insurance through work. Most businesses, however, are reluctant to manage medical providers as they might other key suppliers.

It’s different on Puget Sound. Boeing and other major employers here, including Starbucks and Costco, have pushed local hospitals and doctors to meet the kinds of rigorous standards they use to build airplanes or brew coffee.

That has nurtured an unusual relationship between employers and medical centers that has affected how patients are treated for back pain, how they are counseled for depression, and even how they schedule doctors’ appointments.

Read the Full Article at The News Tribune.