As the 15th Annual World Health Care Congress got underway at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, April 29, judges drawn from the various segments of the U.S. healthcare industry named a variety of organizations winners in various categories of achievement in healthcare (see sidebar below).
One of those named a winning organization was The Leapfrog Group, the Washington, D.C.-based independent organization focused on value in healthcare. That group’s online description states that, "Founded in 2000 by large employers and other purchasers, The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization driving a movement for giant leaps forward in the quality and safety of American health care. The flagship Leapfrog Hospital Survey collects and transparently reports hospital performance, empowering purchasers to find the highest-value care and giving consumers the lifesaving information they need to make informed decisions.” The Leapfrog Group was named the silver winner in the “Lifetime Achievement: Public Leadership” category.
During the reception immediately following the announcement of the winners of the Health Value Awards, Leah Binder, The Leapfrog Group’s CEO, Leah Binder, who has been with Leapfrog for ten years, spoke with Healthcare Informatics Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland regarding her organization’s current activities and aims, and how she sees the present and future of value in U.S. healthcare. Below are excerpts from that interview.
Congratulations on receiving this award. What does it mean for you?
I think that it honors thousands of people who have made Leapfrog a force in American healthcare. We have made every effort to change the way people seek out services, so that they weigh considerations of value before they go to a hospital or a doctor. And before you can even do that, you need information. Price is just one element. We need to know first about quality, before we send a loved one to a hospital or clinic or anywhere else. That’s where we started out in 2000. And we all still have a long way to go. It’s important for employers to continue to push on the healthcare industry to provide information. That’s what this award really honors: we made value possible.
Just a week ago, I wrote a blog about the results of a study of Massachusetts health plan members that found that, even armed with data and information tools designed to help them decide between healthcare providers based on value, most often, consumers are still not making full use of such tools. Are consumers ready to be fully active in this emerging role?
Consumers are being jolted into readiness, because they are being pushed into high-deductible health plans. One in three workers now is in one, and many employers either only offer a high-deductible health plan, or make it extremely difficult to choose another option. So that changes the landscape for consumer. The first dollar is now coming out of your pocket. So people are having to ask, how much will this procedure cost me? And as you get more comfortable asking questions about price, you start asking other questions. The patient is becoming a payer. And when the patient is a payer—when the recipient of a service is also the payer of a service, we call that a consumer. Patients are becoming consumers, and are starting to think of themselves that way. And that’s a huge cultural shift. So I see payers starting to change rapidly in their treatment of patients. For example, in hospitals, there’s a whole new job category, that of the chief experience officer. Did we never need that before? Of course we did, but that role is emerging now as the whole economy is changing. I see a whole new response to patient engagement beginning to take place now. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it will happen, and any provider who thinks they can just put their head in the sand and think consumers won’t become activated, is deluded.
What should CIOs, CMIOs, and other senior healthcare IT leaders, who have a broad role to play in creating the data analytics and data performance architectures to help their clinician and operational colleagues improve care delivery performance, be thinking about and doing right now?
One thing they should be doing is listening very closely to clinicians—physicians and nurses—about what is happening in direct patient care. I think it is very concerning right now that so many physicians are complaining of being burned out, especially around electronic health records. If the physician is feeling burned out and the EHR [electronic health record] is interfering with the physician-patient interaction, that’s not good. So healthcare IT leaders need to listen to physicians and nurses as experts in the design and implementation of information and record systems.
What about the issue of physicians feeling burnout around having to respond to multiple outcomes measure processes sponsored by the different health plans they’re contracted to? I know that stakeholders have been collaborating for a decade and a half in California on harmonizing outcomes measurement programs statewide.
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