Report Calls for National Strategy on Primary Care to Cut Costs, Improve Patient Outcomes, Advance Economic Opp.

Friday, December 10th, 2010


A report released today by the Hope Street Group calls for a national strategy on primary care, the health care that patients receive on first contact with the medical system. The report calls on health care deliverers and stakeholders to adopt five strategic recommendations to reinvent this critical piece of the health care puzzle, fundamentally reorienting it toward prevention, wellness and active disease-management.

“Today we offer a collective call to action to the entire health care ecosystem to embrace the mandate for system-wide transformation, and it starts with primary care,” said Monique Nadaeu, president and CEO of the Hope Street Group.  “We have found vast common ground in the belief that primary care is the most powerful lever with which to slash health care costs while improving health outcomes and thus economic opportunity for all Americans.  This is the best and most consensus-based thinking to date on how to pull that lever.”

The report, titled Policy 2.0: Using Open Innovation to Reinvent Primary Care, names primary care as the often overlooked but richest opportunity to make actionable, on-the-ground progress against what ails the nation’s health care system.  The recommendations, some of which are disruptive, are actionable by collaborative effort across the universe of health care stakeholders. Many of these recommendations are already in action today.

The recommendations were derived through a highly regimented process involving more than 100 leading clinicians, medical practitioners, policy makers, health services researchers, economists, business professionals, entrepreneurs, insurance industry representatives and health care leaders.  Leading project advisors included respected thinkers such as John Podesta (chief executive officer of Center for American Progress) and Drew Altman (president and CEO, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation).

The process was facilitated by the nonpartisan Hope Street Group – an organization increasingly noted for its innovative “Policy 2.0” process of addressing policy issues that have direct impact on individual economic opportunity, particularly ones around which consensus has proven elusive.  The Hope Street Group brings together highly diverse stakeholders to uncover broad areas of concurrence and forge creative, pragmatic policy solutions.

The report comes as the nation looks to implementation of the landmark health care reform legislation of 2009. While those reforms focused primarily on improving access, the Hope Street Group reports provides a framework for embracing advancement now through innovation in primary care, calling for collective action from the entire ecosystem of health care practitioners, hospitals, insurers, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers, as well as state, local and national governments.

The policy recommendations are:

Foster an environment in which innovative practice models, payment structures, and advances in technology can tested, measured and diffused more rapidly. (Example: Create a “Race to the Top”-style program to enable HHS to fund states, on a competitive basis, to test pilots for developing more efficient and creative method to serve their burgeoning Medicaid population.)

Recruit, train and retain the optimal health care workforce.  (Example: Reduce the cost of health care-worker education by investigating accelerated programs that prepare primary care providers for the needs of the future, with specific emphasis on the most cost-effective front-line providers such as community health workers, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and social workers.)

Use new people, places, and tools to achieve greater capacity at lower cost.  (Example: Deliver preventive and chronic care in places and at times that are convenient to patients rather than providers, with health-impact workers trained at the community college and vocational levels to help people with health care that does not entail examining the patient.)

Leverage technology, patient engagement, population management, and payment reform to accelerate smart processes.  (Example: In response to overwhelming consumer demand for increased automation and web services in daily life, create a dynamic interface with provider systems so that consumers can interact directly with their providers.)

Empower consumers to take personal responsibility for improving their health through education, interactive tools, and incentives.  (Example: Encourage health insurance companies, employers and government payment programs to institute lower co-payments, deductibles and premium reductions or rebates for patients seeking preventive and chronic care services.

The recommendations were unveiled today at a panel event at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation featuring respected health-policy experts such as:

Rushika Fernandopulle, M.D., M.P.P., president of Iora Health and former executive director for health systems improvement at Harvard University

John Podesta, CEO of the Center for American Progress

Simon Stevens, EVP of UnitedHealth Group and chair of the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform

John Tooker, MD, MBA, MACP, Associate EVP, American College of Physicians

Gail Wilensky, John M. Olin Senior Fellow at Project HOPE, an international health foundation

The panel was moderated by Ceci Connolly, a television commentator and author of the book Landmark: America’s New Health-Care Law and What It Means for All of Us.

%d bloggers like this: