What a great day! Today’s kickoff of the National Health Policy Conference has been chock full of great presentations and quotable moments. If you can’t join us, we encourage you to participate in the discussion by following us here or on Twitter (@nhpc and #nhpc11). Opening Plenary Don Berwick opened the NHPC with a discussion of CMS’s priorities for continuous improvement, operating values, and strategic aims. He shared that his approach to continuous improvement in health care is a three-part aim: better care for individuals, better health for the population and lower cost through improvement (not reductions or withholding of care). Berwick articulated operating values for CMS:

  1. “Boundarielessness” (i.e. eliminating the perceived boundaries between caregiver and patient, provider and regulator, agency and agency)
  2. Speed and agility matter
  3. Unconditional teamwork (with colleagues, partners, and patients)
  4. Value innovation
  5. Customer focus
He also shared his top questions for the field of health services research:
  1. What are the extent and forms of waste in health care?
  2. What form of integrated care works well for various contexts and local circumstances?
  3. How can total cost be known and tracked at the population level?
  4. How can we address the needs of the people most dependent on health care?
  5. How can safety be best measured as a systemic characteristic?
We’ll have more on Don’s remarks in the March issue of AcademyHealth Reports. Accountable Care Coordinated care dominated the discussion during the morning sessions. Hal Luft, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, and Robert Margolis, of HealthCare Partners, outlined the keys to successful implementation of the accountable care organization (ACO) model, stressing the importance of defining and carefully targeting populations. Jay Want, of the Center for Improving Value in Health Care, stated that the key to a successful ACO is physician accountability and acceptance. The safety net is well positioned to embrace the model of coordinated care, as Bruce Seigel of the National Association of Public Hospitals pointed out. He stated that the safety net has all the pieces of the integrated delivery system, but those pieces need to be put together. The concept of connecting with each other to form a true system of care is the biggest challenge facing the safety net, said Mitchell Katz, of the County of Los Angeles. He stressed that those working within the safety net will never have enough resources, but that they must figure out how to leverage what resources they do have to create a system. He cited his previous work with the Healthy San Francisco project, where clinics all used the same system of record keeping to help understand where and how people were receiving care – a simple and effective strategy. Todd Park – HHS Luncheon plenary speaker Todd Park spoke about the government’s open data initiative (www.data.gov) and the many new data resources being made available from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the community health data initiative and similar efforts. The goal, he said, was to create a self-sustaining ecosystem of health data that creates an escalating benefit. The HHS approach is similar to what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has done with its data – providing public access to data that enables innovators and specialists to create useful interpretations for the public. Park discussed the available data sets and resources, examples of innovative applications developed as part of the developer challenge and his vision for the future. View www.healthindicators.gov for more information. Chair Award Board Chair Elizabeth McGlynn presented the prestigious Chair Award to former AcademyHealth President and CEO W. David Helms, Ph.D., for his numerous contributions to the field of health services research. The Chair Award is not an annual award, rather it is presented at the discretion of the Chair and Board to recognize leaders who have significantly contributed to moving health services research into policy and practice.
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