This post was originally published by The Washington Health Alliance | November 20, 2015
As individual consumers, every time we make a purchase we must weigh cost and quality to determine value. Employers and labor union trusts purchasing health care benefits are doing the same thing—they’re just buying a lot at one time and at a big cost to their organizations.
But what kind of care are your employees or members receiving and are you spending your health care dollars wisely? There is enormous variation in the quality and cost of health care. And not all medical groups and hospitals deliver the best patient experience, which studies have shown can harm the health of their patients.
How can you make sure you are getting value for your health care dollars?
High-value care means receiving high-quality care at the right price that leads to the best possible health outcome and reflects the patient’s values and needs. Purchasers have a big role to play in helping their employees and members get high-value care through smart benefit design and employee communication and engagement.
- Design benefit strategies that reward providers for outcomes rather than just volume. Use the Washington State Common Measure Set on Health Care Quality and Cost as a tool for value-based purchasing contracts. Washington State, which represents almost one-quarter of the health care purchasing power in our state, has already committed to using the Common Measure Set in its health care contracting and encourages other purchasers to follow its lead.
- Look for medical groups and hospitals that deliver the care patients need, avoid unnecessary tests and procedures and deliver a good patient experience. Go to the Community Checkup website, which in December 2015 will include Common Measure Set measures, to find out how providers rate on measures of quality and patient experience.
- Look for providers who offer high-quality care at a fair price. Paying more for health care doesn’t necessarily mean the care will be better. Members of the Alliance who are purchasers receive special reports on comparative price in the Washington state market that can help them make smart decisions.
- Encourage your employees to be “savvy shoppers.” Share the Savvy Health Care Shopper materials (to be released in December 2015) in your next employee benefits communication. Members of the Alliance can also participate in the Own Your Health campaign, which encourages consumers to become active participants in their own health and health care. Contact us to learn more.
- Become a member of the Alliance. By itself, no single employer can create the impact needed to improve the quality and affordability of health care in Washington and decrease wasteful overuse and misuse of health care resources. Transforming health care takes the participation of everyone.
How you buy health care can change the way care is delivered—for the better. As a group, employers and health trusts have enormous power to shape the health care market.