The American Hospital Association is shaping what is expected to be an extensive reform agenda that tackles not only how its own members can improve the healthcare system, but also on how individuals can better their overall health.
The AHA presented the work-in-progress to some of its members last week. And earlier this year, AHA President Richard Umbdenstock shared some of its details with members of the American College of Healthcare Executives (March 26, p. 8). AHA executives say that they have shared the framework of the plan with its board members, but added that its still in the early stages and a vote on whether to approve the guidance isnt expected until July. Meanwhile, the association plans to share a draft of the plan with a wider berth of industry stakeholders, including consumer groups, physicians, business leaders and policymakers.
Carmela Coyle, senior vice president of policy at the AHA, said that proposal includes five pillars that focus on wellness; the delivery of more efficient and affordable care; boosting the quality of care; the sharing of timely and accurate health information; and healthcare coverage for all, paid for by all.
People perceive this nation as being near a tipping-point as it relates to health and healthcare, Coyle said. If we really want to reshape health and healthcare, its going to take everybody working together.
Coyle said the agenda items would include a set of commitments that hospitals would be asked to agree to follow, but also another series of goals that would promote healthier lifestyles for the general population.
Though still in the draft stage, Coyle said that one element of the plan would hone in on financial incentives that reward healthy behavior. Another proposal would lead to the creation of a network where consumers can access objective and trusted information and education on managing healthy lifestyles.
I think from (the boards perspective), this is one of the most important initiatives that the AHA has undertaken in a long time, Coyle said.
To be sure, the AHAs overall plan melds with the goals of many other strategic coalitions that have formed over the past several months. On Capitol Hill last week, a consortium of large employers, the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform, downplayed the notion that broad healthcare reform isnt possible this year or next, and instead proposed a mix of market-based reforms and universal coverage as key ways to immediately fix the hobbled healthcare industry.
The coalition, made up of nearly 40 companies, including insurers Aetna and Cigna Corp., said it plans to work closely with state and federal lawmakers to ensure that healthcare reform bills lower healthcare costs and improve access and quality for every American.