How to Produce Quality Health Care, Not More Medical Bills

Norman Chenven, M.D., Acting Chair, Council of Accountable Physician Practices

The nation’s political landscape is in full bloom with politicians lining up to share their vision of healthcare reform. Regardless of the outcome of the repeal-and-replace attempts in Congress, we encourage those in or running for office to remain focused on several critical issues as they address the difficult task of improving our nation’s health care system.

To help foster this critical debate, the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP) is developing several primers on evolving the current system to a truly effective healthcare model. The first primer, “What Every Candidate Should Know About Healthcare,” was released earlier this year and is a must-read for all politicians — and indeed for all Americans — concerned about how healthcare is delivered, managed and paid for. Here’s why.

While expanding healthcare access for all Americans is critical, it does little to improve the performance and efficiency of the delivery system that provides that care. Any coverage system — whether private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or health care exchanges — must reinforce a better, safer, care delivery system that is more efficient, seamless, convenient, and affordable than what most Americans experience today. CAPP believes that three key areas should be the next focus of reform:

  • To achieve high-value, high-quality healthcare we must continue to move away from the wasteful volume-based model that encourages utilization of services, and towards value-based payment models.
  • We must also work to optimize health information technology (HIT) to put an end to the fragmented, disorganized state of our current health care system. The movement towards electronic medical records has increased efficiency and productivity as well as providing better patient care. Easier access to clinical data across care settings would produce fewer medical errors, better clinical decision-making and improved patient safety. And HIT must be more than just a shared electronic medical record. HIT must also allow patients and providers to connect with each other in more efficient ways, such as through secure email messaging and telephone and video visits.
  • Current efforts to measure quality are highly fragmented, leaving healthcare providers to produce hundreds, if not thousands, of largely duplicative measures that may address similar issues, using slightly different — and time consuming — methodologies. We should encourage efforts to standardize quality measures across payors, including Medicare, so that meaningful data is used to improve patient outcomes.

Our recommendations come from a wealth of hands-on experience. CAPP, as a coalition of physicians leading high-performing medical groups and health systems, understands the power of clinicians working together, backed by integrated and sophisticated services, systems, data, and technology. As advocates for our patients, we must push ourselves to do more, and we are committed to helping the entire American healthcare delivery system move down a path that is more sustainable and rational. Any health care reform attempts should produce better health outcomes instead of higher medical bills.

CAPP will be issuing our next few primers soon to help inform and guide policymakers and other healthcare organizations as the nation tackles the next iteration of health care reform. Stay tuned.

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Doctor looking happily at results on clipboard with hand on the shoulder of his female patient