Health care consumers in the United States are not getting enough bang for their buck, said Eve Higginbotham, S.M., M.D., senior vice president and executive dean for health sciences at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Higginbotham was the featured speaker at the annual Dr. Reaner and Mr. Henry Shannon Lectureship in Minority Health Friday afternoon, Feb. 25, at the UMKC School of Medicine.
Higginbotham acknowledged that the rapidly rising cost of health care in this country was a major factor in spurring the health care reform legislation that President Obama recently signed into law. But, she added, it will take continued conversation among the health care community and others in order to reduce the spiraling growth.
“We’re spending lots of dollars but the quality isn’t where it needs to be. And that’s the disconnect,” Higginbotham said. “We need to write our federal government, write our congressmen, write our representatives and let them know the time is now to do something about the amount of dollars that we’re spending versus the quality.”
Higginbotham joined Howard University just more than a year ago to oversee the university hospital and the colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, and the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library. Before that, she served as dean and senior vice president for academic affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
She became the first woman to lead a university-based ophthalmology department in 1994 when she became the chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Higginbotham said health care professionals need to discuss and find ways to reduce cost and improve quality of care in their own way before the federal government mandates it. She also talked about the need to look at disparities in health care, reflect on what is being done to address those issues, and what can be done to more effectively address them.
Higginbotham cited a recent report on health disparities by the Centers for Disease Control, which show the large disparities in infant mortality rates among African American women, adolescent pregnancy among Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks, and preventable hospitalizations among blacks. In a country with a large per capita expenditure on health care, the difference of as much as 13 percent in overall life expectancy from one group to another, she said.