This Year’s Health Care Transformation Oscar Goes To…

Jun 17, 2013, 3:55 PM, Posted by Mike Painter

A doctor reviews information with a patient.

For an actor—let’s call her Jennifer for discussion purposes—who suddenly has a big award-winning breakthrough—there is nothing sudden about her success.  Jennifer’s accolades come to her not by accident but rather after years of below-the-radar hard work, striving and struggle.  That same principle applies to seeming sudden success in other fields—say, health care.  In fact, today let’s go crazy and salute some breakthrough health care actors.  Health care is transforming before our very eyes. 

Hang onto your hats, because it’s changing from one predominantly focused on churning out more services and procedures to one relentlessly driving the right care at the right time at the best price. 

That’s not happening all by itself. That slowly accelerating transformation could seem sudden—or spontaneous.  It might seem like it’s happening effortlessly—almost by magic.  Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.  Trust me— there is a bunch of struggling, starving transformation artists who have been working years for this moment—like the great people at the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project.

Since 2003 the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project has been helping, prompting and grooming the national consumer and purchaser voice to become a powerful, impactful demander of high value care.  During that entire time, RWJF has been the sole major supporter and funder—sort of a benevolent Harvey Weinstein—for this movie.  The Disclosure Project works to bring the patient, consumer, employer and purchaser voices to important national conversations—to demand increased transparency and accountability in health care.  RWJF recently paused to reflect on the great work of the Disclosure Project, releasing a new program results report about it called, “If Consumers and Purchasers Could Compare Health Care Quality, What Would It Do to Health Care?” Check it out.

In the report, one of the early leaders of this project, Peter Lee, JD, notes that currently in health care, “We have wildly inconsistent and often poor quality care and costs that are unaffordable to families, individuals, employers, and government.”  If health care is indeed going to provide that sustainable high value that we so desperately need, consumers and purchasers must be able to make informed choices.   Without transparent information and accountability, consumers and purchasers cannot make those informed choices.  Their demands would be ineffectual and drowned by other powerful, sophisticated players.  Lee adds that the goal is “making sure that consumers, or patients, really do get the right care, at the right time, every time in a way that reduces costs for everyone.”  Sounds like a good plan to me.

The project has honed its capabilities over the years by combining the clout of leading employer, consumer, and labor organizations to ensure their point of view is heard in critical national conversations about health care transformation.  They do that by supporting advocates on decision-making committees; influencing public policy through comments on proposed regulations; educating partners and the public through forums, briefings, and educational materials; and bringing together consumers and purchasers to find and amplify their common voice.

The project also works with measure developers and experts pressing for performance  measures that meet the needs of patients and families.  They are especially focused on measures of care outcomes.  Another long-term co-lead for the project, Debra Ness of the National Partnership for Women & Families observes, “It is important to identify the end goal of what we are trying to achieve.”  Read—great health care results time after time after time for patients and families.

If I were accepting an Oscar on behalf of this awesome group, I’d say that making the changes necessary to improve quality, provide efficient care, and lower costs is a team sport. “No one stakeholder can do that on its own—not the doctors, not the hospitals, not the health plans.  It is really important that the consumers and purchasers on the demand side have a credible voice.”  Without the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project those vital voices would likely be disorganized, soft-spoken and unfocused.  Thank goodness that’s not the case.

If you’d like to learn more about this winner—you’ll find the Disclosure trailer here.

[Cue music…a statuesque, well-dressed model appears and gently grabs my elbow, leading me bewildered, smiling awkwardly offstage—yelling something about thanking my mom.]