In 2019, WCHQ began actively strategizing to address health care value, taking considerable time to name this new priority the “Value Acceleration Initiative.” The name was chosen to emphasize that work to improve health care value would build upon decades of work to improve quality and to emphasize that we needed to improve at an accelerated pace. As we’ve focused on value, we’ve recognized that there are many partners and perspectives focused on the same broad topic. WCHQ has a specific role in this realm: driving improvement for all while maintaining a focus on the ultimate beneficiary, the patient.
Value Acceleration isn’t an “initiative;” it is a foundational cornerstone of our collective work to improve the health of the people in our region. WCHQ has incorporated measures of value into all our improvement priorities, we’ve engaged partners from new areas that impact overall health care costs (employers, industry supplies, health plans) to help drive innovation, and we’ve pushed out actionable information to shine a light on areas that require more immediate attention.
Improving value also isn’t new; better health care quality is directly related to improved health care value. Perspective is important here as many investments in health care value have upfront costs with benefits that accumulate over time. Traditional quality improvement activities, such as aiming to decrease high blood pressure or lower diabetic A1c, are associated with lower health care costs for the patients it encompasses. Taken a step further, health care systems have made investments, such as embedding a pharmacist or behavioral health specialist in primary care, increasing tobacco cessation activities, or offering obesity counseling. These are real strategies our member health systems have implemented that have significant up-front costs but are proven to increase the value of health care for the patient.
One difference in our work with value compared to traditional health care clinical quality improvement is the need to engage more partners from outside the health care provider system. As anyone trained in quality improvement knows, you cannot solve a problem without ensuring all of the perspectives that influence or are impacted by the problem are actively engaged in the solution. This strategy is noted elsewhere in this newsletter where you’ll see employers joining a conversation on how to provide effective solutions for treating obesity, and pharmaceutical companies engaged in the development of educational tools for diabetes care. That is why at the WCHQ Board level we have voting members who represent organizations that are outside the provider community.
Throughout its tenure, WCHQ has catalyzed collaboration in the health care community that have helped Wisconsin move forward together to set and achieve high standards of patient care. The value initiative is set to follow a similar path as we share a passion with our members and partners to make care more accessible and affordable.