From CBS News' Andante Higgins:
John McCain visited Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania, today, where doctors and nurses showed him how they've used technological advances to deliver a higher quality of care while bringing costs down.
McCain heard stories from a cancer survivor and woman whose difficult pregnancy was successfully treated by specialists here. On a stage filled with electronic equipment including displaying patient's records, x-rays and monitoring devices, doctors explained to McCain how technology has helped their patients and provided more time for nurses to spend with families.
Lehigh Valley Hospital puts all records online, including x-rays, which become available to everyone in the hospital, saving time and increasing accuracy. The hospital also uses teleconferencing and other technology to monitor patients and deliver services to people who can't travel to their facility. With this equipment, the hospital can have three doctors monitoring up to 140 patients. Hospital representatives said these tools have decreased their errors by 80 percent, as well as a significant decrease in costs.
John McCain's healthcare proposal pushes innovation and technology like this, citing online records, electronic x-rays, and other technologies that can increase efficiency. "The ideas is that quality will be improved while costs are decreased," McCain said. "We can make tremendous improvements in chronic disease by simply documenting and disseminating information on the best practices." He said coordinated care can also lower costs.
McCain's plan also strives for medical malpractice reform. "I don't have to ask any physician in this room exactly how many procedures or tests that may not be absolutely necessary that are administered to patients that are good to know the results but perhaps the primary reason is the fear for concern about finding themselves in court," he said. "I think clinical guidelines are very, very important. And I believe that any physician who could prove to anybody's satisfaction that they adhere to those guidelines, then they should have some protection from frivolous lawsuits."
McCain also spoke on what he would do to fund drug and alcohol programs. He said there is a range of ways to address it, from stopping drugs from coming into the country, to education and creating jobs so people don't feel the desperation that leads them to the use of drugs. "I would do everything in my power to address the issue of methamphetamines, which is a serious problem in America," he said. "I don't think that there is really one answer but it does come back to giving Americans hope and optimism that they will inherit a better country."