Many people may find it strange to see the term ‘VIP’ in reference to the chronically and mentally ill, but when Ezekiel Emanuel refers to it he is simply being practical.VIP care for the chronically and mentally ill is second on his list of the major trends driving change in health care.
He goes on to explain what he means, first focusing on people who live with chronic disease. Paying special attention to keeping such people healthy makes all kinds of sense, because when those of us living with a disease are not well cared for, we frequently end up in the Emergency Room or being admitted to the hospital. The key word in that sentence, of course, is frequently.
The expense associated with this is insupportable, and of course no one wants to deal with frequent hospital stays and health crises. As medical science advances, more of us are living with chronic diseases and so it’s becoming a more important common experience.
The simplest and best way to reduce the suffering and the expense is to keep people healthier, and ‘VIP care’ is one way of describing the extra effort needed with those who live with a disease. Dr. Emanuel doesn’t focus on why change is needed: as a veteran policy advisor he knows the cost savings alone will make these changes likely.
Dr. Emanuel also suggests that in the future special efforts will be made to identify and support those with mental illness. He predicts that screening will become routine and that rapid, standardized interventions will be available for those living with depression or other mental illnesses. This is good news and is already underway in the medical practices of our partners as we work to integrate physical and behavioral health.
Changing the health care system is not a simple process, but there is something very clear and understandable at work here: we can support one another better while reducing expenses if we combine compassion and common sense. Special care for those who most need it is a fine example of that.