by Lauren Dubinsky
, Senior Reporter | November 22, 2017
The Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement recently selected five more organizations to be part of its project that’s measuring the total cost of health care in regions across the U.S.
“If you want to address the rising cost of health care you must understand what is driving those increases,” Elizabeth Mitchell, president and CEO of NRHI, told HCB News. “When you compare costs from hospital to hospital or region to region you can identify those drivers and see how they are being avoided in other places.”
The project is part of NRHI’s Getting to Affordability initiative, which is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Their goal is to standardize the way in which information on the total cost of care is produced, shared and used as well as identify and find solutions to the barriers to that information.
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The Greater Detroit Area Health Council, HealthInsight New Mexico, HealthInsight Nevada, Integrated Healthcare Association and California Healthcare Performance Information System will join nine other organizations. A few of the project’s current grantees are the Washington Health Alliance, HealthInsight Oregon, HealthInsight Utah, Massachusetts Health Quality and Virginia Health Information.
Mitchell argued that this information is essential for providers because they need it to be responsible stewards of resources to succeed under risk arrangements, and to partner with their patients to make optimal care decisions.
Employers and purchasers need to know the key costs drivers to purchase cost-effective care on behalf of their employees and redesign payment arrangements to reward good care. Policymakers can also benefit from understanding relative costs across states as they seek to reform the regulatory environment.
The total cost of care hasn’t been investigated in depth until now because the data wasn’t previously available. Researchers need to know the amounts paid to providers and those assumed by patients through deductibles copays and coinsurance.
“There continues to be resistance to transparency by those being measured, but as the need for this information grows, that resistance may be waning,” said Mitchell. “Measurement and reporting on cost and quality is high stakes, but we've found that concerns about the validity of the information can be mitigated when you include providers in the measurement process and explain how the information is produced.”