Burwell: Accountable Care to Stop Costs from Outpacing Progress | EHRintelligence.com | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Accountable care, value-based reimbursement, and a concerted effort to raise quality are the building blocks of healthcare reform, Burwell says.
Providing more patient-centered, value-based accountable care is the only way to stop the rampant costs of the healthcare industry from continuing to vastly outpace its progress towards better health for all Americans, said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell during remarks at the CMS Quality Conference this week.  While the hospital quality improvement report released concurrently with the forum shows a significant advancement in the way healthcare providers focus on patient safety, the system as a whole continues to require a great deal more work before it can achieve its ultimate goals.
“For all the differences of opinion about how to move forward as a country when it comes to our health care, there is one area for which we have near unanimity – and that is in the sentiment that the health delivery system that’s been in place for the last 50 years has under-delivered on affordability, access, and quality,” Burwell said.  “You could almost sum up the past half century in a sentence: The prices we paid far outpaced the progress we made. Not only did we pay more, in some cases we also got more, too, but sometimes we got more of the wrong things: more unnecessary tests, more preventable read missions, more health care acquired infections.”
“Surely, we’d all agree that parts of our system simply did not make sense. We waited until patients got sick in order to treat them, rather than focusing on prevention,” she added. “Our payment models incentivized volume rather than value. It used to be that all too often government was over here, business was over there, nonprofits were someplace else. Today, we’re working together like never before, and we have some historic progress to show for it.”
Burwell noted that the 17% reduction in patient deaths due to preventable hospital-acquired conditions represents a significant leap forward in the way healthcare organizations have been working together to achieve quality improvements.  Along with approximately 50,000 fewer deaths since 2010, the industry has garnered around $12 billion in savings from more robust patient safety programs and data-driven accountable care.
“If you consider the progress we’ve made – and the progress we’re on the verge of making – the evidence suggests we could be at an important moment when it comes to the way we deliver health care in this country,” Burwell said. “But to get there, we need to make an even bigger push.”
HHS envisions a continued march towards value-based reimbursements that reward better patient outcomes and care coordination, and hopes that this accountable care ecosystem will supported by an infrastructure of health information exchange, analytics, and evidence-based clinical decision making.  HHS is taking the lead in policymaking and leadership, Burwell said, by fostering research, innovation, and grant opportunities.
Burwell concluded by asking healthcare stakeholders to continue driving the industry towards greater progress by thinking creatively and engaging in the development and deployment of best practices across the healthcare spectrum.  “As we move forward, I hope to continue our work together,” she said. “Together, let’s take this to the next level. Let’s improve quality. Let’s spend our dollars more wisely. Let’s save lives.”