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Benchmarks of Value – October 16, 2013

October 16, 2013

Hello everybody:

Recent discussions in health education and health care circles have focused on what steps must be taken to make a fundamental change in the health care system, transitioning it from a supply/provider-oriented system to a patient-focused system based on value.

In an upcoming Harvard Business Review article, “The Strategy That Will Fix Health Care,” Dr. Thomas Lee, chief medical officer for health care improvement firm Press Ganey, and Professor Michael Porter, of the Harvard Business School, argue that the goal of health care must be delivering high and improving value, which they define as outcomes per dollar spent. Value, they say, is the only goal that will unite the interests of all health system participants, and is the only viable solution to a long-term problem that has previously been addressed by restricting services, cost shifting, or other means – all with limited or little success.

Lee and Porter propose a six-part plan to create a value-based health delivery system that, among other things, measures outcomes that matter to patients, and costs, over a complete cycle of care, as opposed to following fee-for-service or global capitation models. It also emphasizes integration of care delivery systems, as well as reorganizing care into Integrated Practice Units that focus on patient medical conditions and deliver treatment using multidisciplinary teams.

If much of this approach sounds familiar, it should. WesternU has at its foundation a philosophy of patient-driven care. While the free-market approach to providing that care has not necessarily jibed with our philosophy, it has endured nonetheless – to the point where it now is viewed as part of the cure to what ails the health care system. The world has caught up with WesternU, it seems.

The discussion of integrated care based around medical conditions, which our University rightly predicted would become the norm, also is heartening to see. The creation of our Patient Care Center, and the promise it holds of a true collaborative care environment, was based on this prediction, as was the establishment of our Interprofessional Education program, and our Western Diabetes Institute, which are teaching tomorrow’s health providers the most effective ways to work together in improving the patient care experience – and its value.

Transforming health care is an imperative not only for practicing providers, but for health professions schools like ours. Much of the “new thinking” needed to make this change happen will not come from entrenched health care interests. Rather, it will be new generations of providers – and the institutions that guide their learning while keeping eyes cast toward the horizon – that will be the change we all seek. And it is in our strategic planning process that we can see our direction for the future.

Western University of Health Sciences embraces this responsibility, its challenges, and its rewards.

As always, I welcome your feedback on this topic and any others as we discuss WesternU’s Benchmarks of Value, and our plans. Please e-mail me with your thoughts at ppumerantz@westernu.edu, and feel free to share this message with your family and friends.

My best to you all,