The U.S. health care system is the most expensive in the world. Yet it is clear that by many measures, Americans are not receiving commensurate value for the health care dollars they spend.
Is it possible to simultaneously improve health coverage and quality, while generating savings for health care consumers, employers, government and health care providers? What are the characteristics of a high performance health system? What realistic steps does the private sector need to take, contrasted with government bodies, to move the U.S. toward such a system? What policy changes would be most helpful to the most vulnerable populations – the uninsured, and those facing disparities in care or coverage due to income, race/ethnicity, health or age?
To help answer these questions and more, the Alliance for Health Reform and The Commonwealth Fund co-sponsored an October 3 luncheon briefing. The briefing opened with remarks from Stephen C. Schoenbaum, executive vice president for programs at The Commonwealth Fund, who will outline some of the challenges confronting providers and policymakers as they attempt to improve the quality, access, and reliability of health care services for millions of Americans. James Mongan, CEO of Partners HealthCare System (Massachusetts) and Gary Yates, chief medical officer of Sentara Health (Virginia, North Carolina) described how these systems are improving efficiency, including automated inpatient drug ordering and more rigorous review of outpatient drug use; better disease management of very sick patients; and tracking of health care outcomes in critical areas such as heart attack, congestive heart failure, and diabetes. Mongan is also chairman of the new Commission on a High Performance Health System, sponsored by The Commonwealth Fund. Madeleine Smith of the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee and Dora Hughes, health policy advisor for Sen. Barack Obama, then provided a bipartisan congressional perspective on leading policy initiatives that aim to boost health system performance and access to services with various incentives in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Commonwealth’s Stephen Schoenbaum and the Alliance’s Ed Howard co-moderated this session.
A new Commonwealth Fund publication was released at the briefing, A Need to Transform the U.S. Health Care System: Improving Access, Quality, and Efficiency. The chartbook details where gaps exist in coverage, quality, and efficiency, and suggests opportunities for system transformation.
Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)