Health system giants launch collaborative to raise quality, cut costs

A group of high-profile healthcare systems are not waiting around for the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to tell them what works in terms of improving quality and reducing costs. Instead, they're taking matters into their own hands, launching their own collaborative.

Cleveland Clinic, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Denver Health, Geisinger Health System, Intermountain Healthcare and Mayo Clinic will join The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice to share data on outcomes, quality and costs across many common, yet expensive, conditions and treatments.

The collaborative will focus first on eight conditions and treatments where costs have risen quickly in recent years. The conditions and treatments, which vary widely in quality and outcomes across the country, include: knee replacements, diabetes, heart failure, asthma, weight loss surgery, labor and delivery, spine surgery, and depression.

The six healthcare systems care for a combined patient population of more than 10 million. Their goal is to identify best practices and optimal care models that can be replicated across the country.

The collaborative first will tackle total knee replacement, a procedure that is performed more than 300,000 times a year and can cost up to $24,000 per surgery. In early 2011, the partners will begin work on defining best practices in diabetes and heart failure care.

Dr. James Weinstein, director of the Dartmouth Institute, which will coordinate data sharing and analysis, seemed to suggest that the collaborative could grow. "It would be enormously valuable to have the broadest geographic and demographic representation in the sharing of outcomes and experience," he said in a statement.

To learn more:
- read the Dartmouth Institute's press release