Wednesday, February 08, 2012

WIHI on Better Care and Lower Costs

The Social Imperative to Demonstrate That Better Care = Lower Costs
February 9, 2012, 2:00 - 3:00 PM Eastern Time

Donald Berwick, MD, MPP, Former Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Former President and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)

Gerard M. Shea,
Assistant to the President for External Affairs, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

Imagine this. You’re driving or walking or maybe even bicycling by your local hospital and you notice a big sign over the entrance that you’ve never seen before. Here’s what it says: “This hospital saved 5 Million Dollars in 2011 by improving patient care and reducing unnecessary procedures. We have returned the money to local employers, local unions, and the state.” Sound preposterous? Hopefully not, because this is the kind of bold commitment and public declaration that Don Berwick and Gerry Shea would like everyone in health care to start thinking about, seriously. It’s just that urgent, they say, and they’ll explain why on the February 9 WIHI.

Host Madge Kaplan is pleased to welcome Berwick and Shea to the program, fresh off Dr. Berwick’s 18 months overseeing change at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and building on Gerry Shea’s extensive knowledge of quality improvement and the promise of better care and lower health care costs for working Americans. The problem is, we’re nowhere near there yet, especially where costs are concerned, and both Berwick and Shea believe one of the reasons is that there’s still too much of a disconnect between what better use of health care services and improvement initiatives can achieve, and what health care payers (Medicare and Medicaid, employers, individuals, etc.) are able to reap in return. As Berwick puts it, “Payers aren’t seeing it yet,” and this means that anyone footing the bill, and that’s pretty much all of us, continues to be squeezed in ways that society can’t afford.

So, what can dedicated legions of health professionals, already deeply immersed in improvement work, do differently or better? Berwick started to lay this out on December 7, 2011, at IHI’s National Forum; if you missed or would like to be reminded of his speech, you can find it here. Berwick and Shea both say that one area ripe for review is the conceptual and often actual way in which health care organizations separate their quality and “lean” strategies, when these should be one and the same. Implementing greater efficiencies has everything to do with safety and better care, the two say. Getting this right would speed things up and generate greater savings. The question then becomes, where should the money go?
Don Berwick and Gerry Shea are eager to continue this conversation with all of you. Come join this most timely discussion on the February 9 WIHI! 

To enroll, please click here.


Unknown said...

Hi Paul. Unfortunately I will not be able to tune in, hopefully the debate will be accessible on the web later? I would be interested to know if Don really thinks lean is good enough to help make the system wide shifts that are actually needed? Here in England my experiments are revealing that much of what we do in the name of improvement actually creates cost or simply shifts it. You might be interested in this insight It seems that a lot of time is spent repositioning pieces of the cake, when we need to bake a new one altogether. Enjoy the session tomorrow.

Paul Levy said...

It is available afterwards. If you check this link Friday morning, you’ll find a download on or you can head over to Itunes and grab as a podcast. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Paul, completely off-topic, but something that I've been wondering about lately and I haven't seen you directly address before (forgive me if I've missed it).

In Mass, (generally speaking) how do avg hospital rates compare under the Commonwealth Care subsidized plans, Comm Choice plans, MassHealth and the commercial products?
Generally I understand that MassHealth pays maybe 70% of a Medicare-type rate for example, but how to the other rates compare? Are the CommCare and CommChoice rates generally just as low as MassHealth, or can they be as high as some of the rate the private insurance plans pay?

Sorry for the off-topic question, but being outside of Mass I couldn't think of anyone more qualified to ask!

Paul Levy said...

I don't know. The folks at the MA Connector Authority should be able to answer that: