Employers and health care providers are talking – finally. By communicating directly in a series of dialogues, these two groups are discovering common goals and new potential solutions to improve health care quality, the consumer experience, and affordability of services.
These insights were shared at the keynote discussion, “Leveraging Employer-Provider Partnerships to Curb Rising Health Care Costs and Improve Outcomes” at the World Health Care Congress (WHCC). WHCC panelists were Stephen Parodi, M.D. Chair, Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP) and Associate Executive Director, The Permanente Medical Group; Michael Thompson, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, and Andrea Cockrell, Administrative Services Manager, City of Plano, Texas.
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“Our talks have already identified several common goals to pursue together,” said Dr. Parodi. “Primary care must be supported as the hub of integrated service delivery, with an emphasis on delivering preventive care and coordinating services through the various settings and specializations. Having person-centered metrics versus tracking activity-centered tasks will tell us that we are delivering true quality of care. And we are in agreement that we must change financial incentives. Paying for services piecemeal means higher costs and fragmented care, while payment for value rewards providers for their ability to care for the patient holistically and for innovative approaches like virtual care, telehealth and hospital-in-the-home. We are ready to move beyond ACOs and bundled payments in the journey to value-based care.”
Employers recognize that there is a difference between high value services that produce good outcomes versus low value services that are often repetitive or unnecessary. Providers are demonstrating that high value care results from integrated, physician-led systems with the right financial incentives that align to drive care delivery. Providing the right care for a patient while reducing duplicative and unnecessary services has the potential to achieve significant savings for employers and to bend the national health care cost curve.
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Another area of high importance is the growing demand for mental health care and the need to integrate these services with primary care.
“The trauma that many people experienced during the pandemic, plus the number of patients experiencing long-term COVID complications, has only increased the demand for mental health care,” noted Parodi. “Many of the CAPP groups already offer integrated models that couple primary care with behavioral health specialists, and most are also delivering mental health services via virtual models that overcome lack of access to these vital services. Here again is an example of how paying for the care of the person versus the service creates the incentives necessary for delivering the right care.”
The ability to see and monitor patients virtually using digital technology also creates convenience, greater coordination, and has the potential to lower costs. The hospital-in-the-home gained traction during the pandemic and will continue to expand, as will end-to-end virtual care. As Parodi noted, “We may be moving back to the doctor with the black bag making house calls, except now everything in the bag is digital.”
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