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Commonwealth Fund Case Study Points to 'Continuous Innovation' at Group Health Cooperative
Date:6/24/2009

SEATTLE, June 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A Commonwealth Fund case study notes that Group Health Cooperative is structured with incentives aligned "to launch innovations and organize services in ways that make the most sense operationally and clinically."

The case study -- along other profiles looking at medical systems that have the attributes the Commonwealth Fund has identified as necessary for a high performing health care system -- has been in the works for more than a year. Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis notes recent interest on Capitol Hill in cooperative structures, pointing to Group Health as a "shining example" of the model, while also praising other integrated systems.

"As the nation looks at how to create better health care, medical systems like Group Health that have pioneered a different approach, can provide some of the answers," said Group Health President and CEO Scott Armstrong. "Most important is setting up incentives that pay for quality care and keeping patients healthy rather than paying for the most care."

Here are the six attributes The Commonwealth Fund has identified, as experienced at Group Health:

Information Continuity

  • Electronic health record (EHR) system across all group-practice sites with integrated best-practice alerts, decision supports, and electronic prescribing.
  • Patient Web portal for online access to health information from the EHR, appointment scheduling, prescription refills, laboratory test results, and secure e-mail with clinicians.
  • Electronic health risk assessment linked to EHR identifies at-risk patients and offers recommendations for lifestyle change.

Care Coordination and Transitions & System Accountability (two attributes)

  • Implementing patient-centered medical-home model of primary care to promote proactive care coordination and patient engagement.
  • Complex case management for sickest/costliest patients to coach patients and reduce hospitalizations. Palliative care program with physician home visits for homebound patients. Anticoagulant management service has reduced adverse drug events by 26 percent.

Peer Review and Teamwork for High-Value Care

  • A mission-driven, values-based organizational culture brings people together to achieve higher performance.
  • Clinical dashboards communicate comparative physician performance. Performance-based pay rewards achievement on quality, patient satisfaction, productivity, and engagement.

Continuous Innovation

  • Innovative use of information technology to promote patient-centered and coordinated team care, e.g., home blood-pressure monitoring using the online patient portal, supplemented by online pharmacist-led care management.
  • Content of care program aims to improve quality by reducing unwarranted variations in care and by involving patients in shared decision-making so that care reflects their preferences.

Easy Access to Appropriate Care

  • Same-day primary care appointments for urgent needs. After-hours urgent care and telephonic nurse advice tied to EHR. Direct access to specialists.
  • Group visits enhance educational opportunities and build social support among patients with common health needs.
  • Telephone visits and secure messaging with the care team (GHC aims to make 30 percent of all patient encounters telephonic and electronic).

The mission of The Commonwealth Fund is to promote a high performance health care system. The fund carries out this mandate by supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy.

Group Health Cooperative

Marking its 62nd year, Group Health Cooperative is an innovative, consumer-governed, nonprofit health care system that integrates care and coverage. Along with its subsidiary carriers, Group Health Options, Inc. and KPS Health Plans, Group Health works to improve the health of more than 607,000 plan members in Washington and Idaho.

More than 9,000 staff employed by Group Health and Group Health Permanente, its contracted, multispecialty group practice, provide patient-centered, evidence-based care to members and the broader community through medical centers, a charitable foundation, and a nationally recognized research center.

Please visit the virtual newsroom on our Web site, www.ghc.org under "Newsroom."

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SOURCE Group Health Cooperative
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