The Health Care Transformation Opportunity

OHSU Extra, Summer 2012

healthcare-transformationFor years health care reform has been a political football. In Washington D.C., the debate has focused on how to address skyrocketing costs, and how to extend health insurance to more Americans. Proposals have been controversial, and the process has often stalled. But despite the evolving national picture, two things remain true: Oregon is ahead of the country in proposing solutions that go beyond cost containment, and OHSU is helping to lead those efforts.
In the coming years, all corners of the country will see significant changes in how care is delivered, how health professionals are trained, and how individuals decide what health care to buy. OHSU’s key role proposing model solutions is about leadership. As a nationally prominent academic health center, OHSU is uniquely positioned to engage vigorously in this critical conversation.


A landmark partnership

What makes change inevitable is the looming shortfall in funding for Medicare and Medicaid. The federal spending required for these programs expands dramatically in the next few years, quickly outpacing expected revenues and squeezing out other federal spending. “The situation is simply unsustainable – change must come,” said Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A., president, OHSU.
This urgency has created an unprecedented opportunity to innovate – to develop new ways to lower costs while simultaneously improving patients’ satisfaction and their health outcomes. This is the “triple aim” that OHSU and Oregon have committed to, and on which Washington D.C. is betting big.
In May the federal government made a landmark $1.9 billion investment to help Oregon deliver the triple aim. This funding acknowledges Oregon’s nation-leading approach to “Coordinated Care Organizations,“ or CCOs, to develop statewide provider partnerships  to coordinate care for patients whose health care services are paid by the state. OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., MB.A., is one of nine members of the board of Oregon leaders that designed this pioneering new care model, and OHSU will be a member of the first CCO to launch here.

A national model

If CCOs can be successfully tested in Oregon, they are likely to become a national model and commercial insurers may adopt similar approaches.
“Oregon is the ideal living laboratory in terms of population size, economic diversity, and the balance of rural and urban centers,” said Lawrence Furnstahl, OHSU’s CFO. “It’s possible to try out new initiatives here that might not be feasible elsewhere. Oregon also has a long history of originating big ideas that over time influence the nation – the Oregon Health Plan is a great example.”

Beyond CCOs

Every part of OHSU has the potential to influence health care transformation. Its hospitals, clinics and providers will improve the way health care is delivered – rethinking care across systems and with community partners. Its faculty will train health professionals to work together in the teams required to serve these new partnerships. Researchers will move new knowledge to patients more quickly, and design new systems of care to show how to keep everyone healthier.
The ultimate goal is clear – a health care system that’s better for all: for patients, providers, students, insurers and all who play a role in improving human health in Oregon and far beyond.