Good News

IN THE STATES: Comparative Effectiveness in Minnesota

What is comparative effectiveness research? If you need a reminder: comparative effectiveness means comparing two or more treatments for the same health problem to see which one works best for patients. The question has popped up quite a bit since comparative effectiveness research showed up in the economic stimulus package alongside other common sense health reforms, such as health IT adoption. Comparative effectiveness is about giving doctors and patients more information and facts for decision-making, not about taking away their autonomy.

WHAT WORKS: Highlighting Health Care Success Stories

Want to learn more about how innovators are leading the way toward a higher quality, lower cost health care system? See our updated What Works page, where we feature health care success stories from across the nation.

What Works showcases both big initiatives and small success stories. Check back often for the latest analysis and news.

QUALITY: The Right Stuff, From Coast to Coast

Newspapers are abuzz with the daily drama of health politics. But we're also seeing good news -- stories highlighting health care success stories. High performing health systems across the U.S. show us that our goals for health reform -- high quality, low cost, and coverage for all Americans -- are possible. And in a reformed health care system with better and more sensible incentives and payment systems, we'll see even more innovation. These health systems might not be launching anyone into space, but they are caring for people, a job that requires just as much precision and thoughtfulness. They've got "the right stuff.'

Group Health Cooperative and Kaiser Permanente Northwest. Both health systems drew attention recently when Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) proposed co-ops as an alternative to a public health insurance option. The key to their success is spending more money up front on primary and preventative care, rather than waiting for health problems to become more serious and more costly, reports The Portland Oregonian. (We at New America have also worked with Group Health on Health Care CEOs for Health Care Reform.)

HEALTH CARE: What Grand Junction Colorado Can Teach the Rest of Us (Part 2)

Grand Junction, CO, is the high-quality, low-cost flip side of McAllen, Texas in Atul Gawande's recent New Yorker article. New America's health policy team just published a case study on how Grand Junction's health care system evolved (full paper here, summary here), and what the rest of our country can learn from it. We gave you an overview on our blog Thursday. Now we're going to look at how the community uses health IT to create quality and value.

We all know that health IT in and of itself isn't a cure-all. But it's hard to fix health care without smart use of health IT across the community.

One of the unusual features about the Colorado community is that the main health plan (Rocky Mountain Health Plans) pays a "blended rate" to physicians. That means it's a similar rate for private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Doctors thus don't have any incentive to cherry-pick better paying privately insured patients, and shun the poor. Everybody gets care. The community benefits.

HEALTH CARE: What Grand Junction Colorado Can Teach the Rest of Us (Part 1)

McAllen, Texas, became a buzzword for high health care spending after Atul Gawande's recent New Yorker article. Less attention was paid to Grand Junction, Colorado, which that same article held out as a model of high-quality, low-cost care. President Obama plans to visit Grand Junction and see for himself this weekend.

How did Grand Junction become one of the nation's highest performing health care communities? We had heard about Grand Junction months ago, and began wondering about that ourselves. So for the last few months some of the New America health team has been studying the data, and talking to participants. We just released the case study: "Grand Junction, Colorado: A Health Community that Works."

You can read a summary here or the full paper here. Today and tomorrow on the blog, we'll l share some of the highlights.

QUALITY: Baylor Best at Heart Failure -- By a Mile

Thanks to a new commitment to transparency by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this week was a giant leap forward for health care consumerism. We learned exactly which hospitals have very good, so-so, and very bad rates for three clinical conditions in terms of deaths and readmissions: heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia.  For anyone reading this new to health policy research, let me tell you: this is huge. 

In fact, USA Today boldly states: "The analysis represents the most statistically powerful portrait of hospital performance... in the history of U.S. medicine."  The national daily has put together a great interactive tool with Google Maps so that you can easily (and I mean easily!) compare these indicators for the hospitals near your house... or your parents' house... or anywhere in the United States. 

GOOD NEWS: How the Baylor Health Care System Disseminates Quality Improvement (Part III)

(This is the sixth and final installment of our blog series on our recent papers on health care quality published by The Commonwealth Fund. Last week we focused on the Hill Physicians Medical Group. This week we look at Baylor Health Care System, a nonprofit integrated delivery system based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.)

We've already learned about Baylor's Best Care Committee and its physician champions. Now let's wrap up with a look at Baylor's innovative training program and the exportable lessons.  

ABC-Baylor

GOOD NEWS: How the Baylor Health Care System Disseminates Quality Improvement (Part II)

(This continues our blog series on our recent papers on health care quality published by the Commonwealth Fund.  Last week we focused on the Hill Physicians Medical Group. This week we look at Baylor Health Care System, a nonprofit integrated delivery system based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.)

Yesterday we looked at Baylor's Best Care Committee's role in quality. Today we'll turn to physician leadership.  

Physician Champions

GOOD NEWS: How the Baylor Health Care System Disseminates Quality Improvement (Part I)

(This continues our blog series on our recent papers on health care quality published by the Commonwealth Fund. Last week we focused on the Hill Physicians Medical Group. Now we turn to Baylor.)

Baylor Health Care System (BHCS) is a nonprofit integrated delivery system based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Len Nichols and I have profiled their work improving quality through a multitude of initiatives in a just-released case study published by The Commonwealth Fund.

GOOD NEWS: How Hill Physicians Medical Group Partners With Physicians (Part II)

(This continues our blog series on our recent papers on health care quality published by the Commonwealth Fund.)

Hill Physicians Medical Group is an independent practice association in northern California; Len Nichols and I have profiled their work partnering with physicians and improving quality in a just-released case study published by The Commonwealth Fund.

Yesterday, I introduced Hill and the IPA concept, and I talked about how Hill's health educators were able to make quality "stick."  Today I'll discuss their compensation strategy.