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Group Health Cooperative shows investing in more primary care pays for itself
Date:6/17/2009

SEATTLEAn evaluation of recent innovations in delivering primary care at a Group Health Cooperative medical center shows significant success and rapid return on investment. The data led to a decision to invest in these best practices in all of Group Health's 26 medical centers by 2010.

"Group Health has for many years focused on delivering quality, coordinated primary care, supported by fully integrated electronic medical records," said Group Health President and CEO Scott Armstrong. "This was an effort to bolster primary care furtherand really test what we believe: that excellent, proactive primary care will lead to better health outcomes at lower cost."

"At a time when resources are tight, we are so confident in our findings that we are hiring more primary care doctors, physician assistants, and nurses, because we believe this is the best way to achieve our goal of excellent affordable care," Armstrong said.

In one year, Group Health's Patient-Centered Medical Home pilot, compared to controls:

  • Broke even on its primary care staffing investment through reduced downstream utilization costs. Emergency room/urgent care visits were 29 percent less and inpatient hospital stays for patients with conditions including diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, and asthma were 11 percent less.
  • Improved indicators of quality of care. Overall improvements were 1.6 times greater across 22 measures than in controls. In seven out of 22 measures, the proportion of people meeting their target went up by more than 5 percent over one year. One example is cholesterol management (LDL less than 100mg/dl) for people with heart disease.
  • Enhanced patients' experience, including better bonding between patients and their physicians and care teams as well as better care coordination.
  • Improved care teams' work satisfaction and reduced their emotional burnout.

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Contact: Mike Foley
foley.m@ghc.org
206-448-4148
Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies
Source:Eurekalert

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