Healthcare Business News

AMGA leaders urge members to drive change

By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: March 10, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

Care coordination and willingness to be accountable for patient outcomes are the keys to improving healthcare quality while reducing costs, said the opening speakers at the American Medical Group Association annual conference in San Diego—and they added that AMGA members are driving these efforts.

AMGA Board Chairman Dr. Robert Nesse, CEO of the Mayo Clinic Health System, noted how the complexity of care that patients need will continue to grow while the available resources to treat them will shrink and providers will be put at risk for outcomes and cost.

“I'm still optimistic,” Nesse said, after noting that “We are already well into the reform of healthcare.”

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Nesse said the best analogy he could think of was that healthcare organizations are “in the land of Oz, wandering through landscapes of new and odd things” while asking who's in charge and “Who's responsible for this mess?”

Nesse added that there are too many people wasting time admiring the problems of the healthcare system, and he declared that “It's time to move on.”

This movement, he said, is being resisted by those waiting to ride out fee for service, or the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on healthcare reform legislation, or the next election. “I'm sure we'll find other reasons to wait after that,” Nesse said. “It's our turn to take the system to the next level.”

Comparing the health system to a complex computer program with a million lines of code that programmers will never get perfect, Nesse urged AMGA members to work on the aspect of the system they can affect: being willing to be accountable for patient outcomes.

Donald Fisher, AMGA president and CEO, said “care coordination will not occur by magic,” and it requires the team infrastructure and patient-value-honoring culture that AMGA members already have in place.

Fisher said AMGA strongly believes in the patient-centered medical home model, but added, “I just wish they would have gotten a better name.”

Fisher said the AMGA “will assume an even greater role” in moving the nation toward value-based payment models, aligning health systems for the improvement of patient care, and lowering costs by designing and testing care processes for the patient conditions most responsible for driving those costs.

“We are the future,” Fisher said.

Other morning activities included presenting the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle with the AMGA Medical Group Preeminence Award. Virginia Mason previously won the award in 2007.

In summarizing the culture at his organization, Dr. Gary Kaplan, Virginia Mason chairman and CEO, said patients are at the top of their pyramid, employees are valued with the goal of making the medical center “a great place to work,” and there is a commitment to constantly improving quality with “people closest to the work, improving the work.”

Keynote speaker Morten Hansen, a professor of information at University of California Berkeley, built on the morning's theme of working together as a team, but warned that the goal of collaboration should not just be collaboration itself, but great results.

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