Certainty of Affordable Care Act Reinforces Need to Transition Health Care Industry from Volume to Value

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With the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) certain, health care leaders are turning their attention to the urgent questions about how to safeguard the quality of care amid mounting demands to curb rising health care costs. The International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM) is developing solutions to help establish transparency in health care outcomes and bring value to the forefront.

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Now, the important work begins: curbing the unsustainable rise in health care costs, while protecting quality for patients. Outcome measurement is the key to that success.

With the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) certain, health care leaders are turning their attention to the urgent questions about how to safeguard the quality of care amid mounting demands to curb rising health care costs. One answer lies in the groundbreaking work of the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM), which started developing solutions while the country continued to debate whether the ACA would move forward.

ICHOM, a non-profit organization that believes the universal development and reporting of patient outcomes by medical condition is the single greatest enabler of healthcare transformation, is developing solutions to help establish transparency in health care outcomes. Jointly founded by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the Karolinska Institutet and Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, ICHOM has launched the first publicly searchable, international database of health outcomes measures to accelerate the adoption of outcomes measurement in health care.

“Clarity on the fate of the ACA means health care stakeholders can finally discern the lay of the land,” said Dr. Jens Deerberg-Wittram, ICHOM President. “Now, the important work begins: curbing the unsustainable rise in health care costs, while protecting quality for patients. Outcome measurement is the key to that success.”

Outcomes measurements are becoming ever more important as payers demand and even mandate lower costs, potentially impacting quality of care. Measuring outcomes allows providers to improve and innovate, while focusing on the impact on patients. Outcomes measurement has helped unlock tremendous innovation in the care of cystic fibrosis, for in vitro fertilization, and for organ transplants, among other areas of medicine. The entire health care continuum can benefit from the resulting competition, innovation and transparency.

At ICHOM's inaugural meeting in late October, which drew more than 80 health care leaders from five continents, members began forging consensus on a set of important outcomes measures for four high-impact medical conditions – coronary artery disease, hip and knee arthroplasty, diabetes, and cataracts. ICHOM will spend the next year advancing working groups for each condition and engaging the broader health care community in its research efforts. In parallel, ICHOM will deepen its foundational metrics outcomes repository which currently includes 55 leading registries and provider organizations around the world.

“Health systems are experiencing unsustainable cost growth, and remarkably, we still see 15-fold differences in national outcomes achieved for certain diseases,” said Stefan Larsson, MD, PhD, a senior partner at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a co-founder of ICHOM. “Fixing that is where real health care transformation lies – both in improving the health of our patients, and in improving the health of economies overburdened by health care spending."

Competition is key to the equation, with the ability to unleash innovation, lower costs, and boost quality. But for competition to achieve its promise of incentivizing higher value health care, patients and payers must first be able to determine and elect higher value options—providers who deliver better outcomes at the same or lower costs. Providers, meanwhile, must be able to benchmark their own performance against peers to find and adopt innovations that deliver improved outcomes for patients.

"The fundamental problem of health care is the value delivered by the system. We must revolutionize the system if we are going to improve care,” said Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, a co-founder of ICHOM, and a co-author of the book Redefining Health Care. “We have a challenging road ahead, but the industry is ready, patients are ready, the world is ready."

About ICHOM
The International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM) is a non-profit organization united by the vision of developing global standards for outcomes measurement in health care. Founded by three renowned organizations and individuals, ICHOM is helping to guide the implementation of value-based health care (VBHC) around the world. Value, as outlined by VBHC, is maximized by identifying, codifying, and promoting treatments that are proven to yield better results at the same or lower cost. To learn more, visit ichom.org.

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Julie Johnson
Bliss Integrated Communication
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