Health Care Industry Leaders Explore Ways to Define, Measure and Improve Efficiency

Health care system design creates winners and losers, making the problem

difficult to solve

Jun 22, 2006, 01:00 ET from ABIM Foundation

    PHILADELPHIA, June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The ABIM Foundation today
 released summary findings from a roundtable, co-hosted by the Institute of
 Medicine, that brought together a diverse group of health care industry
 leaders to explore the issue of efficiency in health care - in particular,
 ways to reduce health care costs without sacrificing quality. More details
 of the discussion are provided in "Measuring and Improving Efficiency in
 Health Care," available from the ABIM Foundation at
     Participants - physicians and other stakeholder leaders who share a
 commitment to advancing health care quality - agreed that our health care
 system is not efficient, and that strategies to eliminate waste from health
 care are needed to increase affordability and access. There was less
 agreement about whether and how that could be done. Consensus clearly
 emerged that physicians share the responsibility to work toward improving
 efficiency, that effective solutions will not emerge unless physicians are
 involved, and that physicians cannot focus narrowly on quality without
 considering the resources they expend.
     Health care system creates winners and losers
     The roundtable participants concluded that the structure of the U.S.
 health care system creates winners and losers. Medicine is practiced in an
 environment in which one sector's cost is another sector's revenue, and
 where one person usually loses something if another person gains. In that
 environment, there is no obvious way to improve efficiency without
 resistance from some group - typically a powerful one.
     "Although no simple way exists to improve health care efficiency and
 eliminate waste, it is critical that all stakeholder groups continue this
 important dialogue," said Christine Cassel, MD, President and CEO of the
 ABIM Foundation, who co-chaired the roundtable with Harvey V. Fineberg, MD,
 PhD, President of the Institute of Medicine. "Only through ongoing
 discussion can we achieve consensus and develop effective strategies to
 achieve greater efficiency in health care."
     A roadmap to improving efficiency
     A few key elements in a possible solution strategy emerged from the
 discussion, including:
      - Physician involvement, since doctors control the vast majority of
        health care resources;
      - Local leadership, because solutions will develop locally, not
      - Changes to the way that health care is paid; and
      - Ongoing dialogue, so that there can be consensus about the complex
        issues involved.
     Potential strategies and solutions will be explored more thoroughly at
 the ABIM Foundation Forum, being held from July 29-August 1 in Colorado
 Springs, which is devoted entirely to the issue of optimizing efficiency in
 health care. The Forum, which promotes dialogue and decision-making, will
 include panel discussions with health care industry leaders from various
 stakeholder groups.
     Roundtable participants included:
      - Richard A. Baron, MD - Practicing internist and President, Greenhouse
        Internists, PC
      - Bruce E. Bradley, MBA - Director of Health Plan Strategy and Public
        Policy, General Motors Corporation
      - Troyen A. Brennan, MD, JD, MPH - Senior Vice President and Chief
        Medical Officer, Aetna, Inc.
      - Christine K. Cassel, MD - President and CEO, ABIM and ABIM Foundation
      - Carolyn M. Clancy, MD - Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and
      - Robert Cunningham - Deputy Editor, Health Affairs
      - Karen Davis, PhD - President and CEO, The Commonwealth Fund
      - Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD - President, Institute of Medicine
      - Elliott S. Fisher MD, PhD - Director of Health Policy Research, Center
        for the Evaluative Clinical Studies, Dartmouth Medical School
      - Alan M. Garber, MD, PhD - The Henry J. Kaiser Jr. Professor of
        Medicine, Primary Care Outcomes Research, Stanford University
      - Paul Ginsburg, PhD - President, Center for Studying Health System
      - Holly J. Humphrey, MD - Professor of Medicine and Dean for Medical
        Education, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and The
        University of Chicago Hospitals
      - Karen Ignagni - President and CEO, America's Health Insurance Plans
      - George I. Isham MD, MS - Medical Director and Chief Health Officer,
        HealthPartners Inc.
      - Mark A. Kelley, MD - CEO, Henry Ford Medical Group, CMO and EVP, Henry
        Ford Health System
      - Elizabeth McGlynn, PhD - Associate Director, RAND Health, Director of
        the Center for Research on Quality in Health Care
      - James L. Naughton, MD - Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine,
        University of California, San Francisco and Chair, ABIM Foundation
        Board of Trustees
      - Nancy Nielsen, MD, PhD - Speaker, House of Delegates, American Medical
      - Margaret E. O'Kane - President and CEO, National Committee for Quality
      - John Popovich, Jr., MD - Chair, Department of Medicine, Henry Ford
        Health System
      - Robert D. Reischauer, PhD - President, The Urban Institute
      - John W. Rowe, MD - Executive Chairman, Aetna, Inc.
      - Leonard D. Schaeffer - Retired, Founding Chairman & CEO, WellPoint
      - Stephen C. Schoenbaum, MD, MPh - Senior Vice President, The
        Commonwealth Fund
      - Cary Sennett, MD, PhD - SVP for Strategy & Communications, ABIM and
        ABIM Foundation
      - Susanne Stoiber, MS, MPH - Executive Officer, Institute of Medicine
      - John Tooker, MD, MBA - EVP and CEO, American College of Physicians
      - Reed V. Tuckson, MD - SVP, Consumer Health and Medical Care
        Advancement, UnitedHealth Group
      - Thomas Voluck, MD, JD - Medical Officer and Senior Adviser, Centers
        for Medicare & Medicaid Services
      - Kevin Weiss, MD - Director, Northwestern University Feinberg School of
      - Daniel B. Wolfson, MHSA - EVP and COO, ABIM Foundation
     About ABIM Foundation
     The ABIM Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to
 reflecting and supporting medical professionalism, physician leadership,
 science-based medicine, and health care of the highest quality. Its mission
 is to advance medical professionalism and physician leadership in quality
 assessment and improvement by: exploring what it means for physicians to be
 professionals; stimulating physicians to become involved in quality
 assessment and improvement; bringing diverse groups of leaders together to
 enable dialogue and consensus; and promoting research into the science of
 quality evaluation and improvement.

SOURCE ABIM Foundation