SAN JOSE: Health Care System A ‘Role Model’
Health care in San Jose "provides a role model for a nation seeking an efficient, yet safe, medical system," according to the new Dartmouth Atlas of Health, a study of 306 regional markets. The study found that the area "ranks far below the national average in number of hospital beds, health care workers, procedures, prices and other measures of health care," the San Jose Mercury News reports. San Jose has 1.7 acute care beds per 1,000 people, while the national average is 3, giving the area the third lowest rate in the nation. San Jose has 2.3 registered nurses and 8.7 hospital employees per 1,000 people, while the national averages are 3.4 and 13.7, respectively. And the cost of the average hospital procedure in San Jose is $300 less than the national average. Experts say the reason for San Jose's efficiency is that the area came of age in the managed care era so it avoided the hospital overconstruction that plagued the East Cost. In addition, it has a younger-than-average population. However, some "[c]ritics warn that San Jose's system deprives people of care, attention and adequate medical resources in the event of an emergency." Rose Ann DeMore, executive director of the California Nurses Association, which has been an outspoken critic of hospital downsizing, said, "These figures document the way in which Californians have been systematically deprived of the care they pay for, need and deserve." University of California-San Francisco health economist Dr. Hal Luft commented, "(San Jose's) is a leaner form of medical care delivery. It doesn't seem to make a lot of difference in measurable patient outcome -- but it may make a difference in how patients perceive how they're cared for" (Krieger, 8/23). A summary of the Dartmouth Atlas can be viewed at www.dartmouth.edu/~atlas/toc98.html.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.