Joe Martin 2017-04-05 01:48:59
Planning for the Future When the PA Health Care Cost Containment Council was created as an independent state agency in 1986, there were few organizations, public or private, that were making the results of hospital and physician care available to the general public. It was a seminal moment in health care history. And for many years thereafter, PHC4 was the acknowledged leader, statewide, nationally and even internationally, in the field of public accountability through health care transparency. Today, there are many entities that are making substantive data available: Leapfrog, Consumer Reports, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Federal Government through Medicare, to name just a few. In many ways, PHC4 has made a major contribution to this positive and seismic shift in the health care landscape, thanks in no small part to the support of one of its founding members — the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. This dynamic, along with other dramatic changes, presents new challenges, and as a result, many healthcare-related organizations have engaged in mission-critical searches for relevance. A little more than a year ago, members of the PHC4 began a process of strategic planning focused around several crucial questions. What is the unique value that PHC4 can bring to the marketplace over the next three to five years (to think any further head amongst these rapid and dramatic changes is a fool’s errand)? And given that, what is the kind of organization PHC4 needs to build, how is it staffed, and how is it funded? The process began with an analysis of the agency’s status within the broader operating environment followed by a progression of strategic direction setting, and consensus-building engagement of the full board. First, PHC4’s planning consultants developed and conducted a survey of all members, which measured perceptions of progress on PHC4’s strategic plan of 2010, and assessed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats identified at that time for current relevance. Then, between May and October of 2016, the consultants focused on external thought leaders through stakeholder interviews with individuals representing employers, organized labor, providers, insurers, consultants, researchers, reporters and government officials. In addition, focus groups were held with the Lehigh Valley Business Coalition on Health Care and the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health’s Data Steering Committee. The stakeholder feedback reflected a common theme: users value the quality of the data but want data from additional sources, such as the outpatient, physician and emergency department settings, as well as improved cost analytics, in a timelier manner with greater usability. PHC4’s role as an honest broker, its objectivity, credibility and the accuracy and comprehensive nature of the data were also noted. On Nov. 21, 2016, more than 80 people attended a meeting marking the 30th anniversary of PHC4. The meeting, held in the Rachel Carson State Office Building, recognized the critical work of PHC4 and included guest speaker Dr. David Nash of Jefferson College of Population Health. Dr. Nash is internationally recognized for his work in public accountability for outcomes, physician leadership development and quality-of-care improvement. Dr. Nash, whose theme was “Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant” spoke eloquently about the history of healthcare transparency, emphasizing PHC4’s leadership role in bringing the health care system to where it is today. When the event concluded, the full Council met in executive session to review and discuss the stakeholder interview results and to begin to establish goals and next steps. The bullet points below reflect the key points that emerged from the strategic planning process to date. 1. Create better, simpler presentation of data. • Users need a more basic explanation of data, but with enough detail to still meet health professionals’ complex needs • Make data searchable, Smartphone-relevant • Localize the data • Consider ranking providers 2. Implement better marketing, communication and education strategies. • Education efforts targeting key audiences, including legislators and staff • Utilize social media to educate and publicize • Highlight important data points in public reports (e.g., racial disparities) • Utilize PHC4’s Technical Advisory Group, academic partners to publicize PHC4 findings 3. Expand the collection, analysis and reporting beyond the hospital setting. • Foster voluntary collaboration with alternative data sources • Possibly aggregate data from other sources (CMS hospital/Physician Compare; AHRQ; DOH) • Conduct population-based geographic analysis-PHC4’s Super-Utilizer study • Align reporting with CMS incentives/disincentives on infections and readmissions • Report on full spectrum of hospital admissions, episodes of care analysis 4. Improve timeliness of data, which is hampered by antiquated regulatory requirements. 5. Consider incorporating outside data tools for flexibility and expanded analysis/reporting. 6. Develop strategic partnerships. • Partnerships should be fostered between PHC4 and state health agencies, universities, business coalitions 7. Promote consumer price transparency including out-of-pocket figures. 8. Develop public-sector data cost analytics strategy (Medicare and Medicaid). 9. Grow the budget, including but not limited to increasing data sales revenue. PHC4 will continue to engage in the strategic planning process to establish next steps as well as longer-term priorities. In the future, PHC4 plans to produce a new report on pediatric and congenital heart surgery that includes risk-adjusted outcomes and new hospital-specific utilization reports that focus on volume of common elective procedures and cancer related surgeries. PHC4 will also evaluate the potential to analyze episodes of care and consider the potential for new reporting through statewide research briefs. PHC4 is very appreciative of the support of the PA Chamber, especially PA Chamber President Gene Barr and Vice President of Government Affairs Sam Denisco — both of whom are PHC4 Council members — and the business community statewide for its ongoing activities. ■ Joe Martin is executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.
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