Improve care with low-cost redesign teams

Hospitals on tight budgets should focus redesign efforts on strategy, tactics and operation--not new payment models, according to a health policy report published in yesterday's New England Journal of Medicine.

"Only a redesign of care itself offers a real alternative to reducing provider payments or restricting patients' access," wrote Thomas H. Lee, M.D., network president for Partners Healthcare System in Boston and CEO for Partners Community HealthCare.

He recommends hospitals first reorganize their strategy around patients' needs. For example, Partners HealthCare has set its overarching goal to "improve the value of care as defined according to the patients' perspective."

With a patient-centered strategy in place, hospitals need "care-redesign teams" charged with driving strategic improvements. These teams will determine how to accomplish improvements and which processes are appropriate, according to the report.

Moreover, care-redesign teams ought to be permanent parts of a hospital's organizational structure, Lee noted.

With a team-based approach to redesigning care, team members must assume responsibility for improving the value of care for specific patient populations and meet regularly to review and share data with peers, MedPage Today reported.

Partners' Massachusetts General Hospital has already embraced the team-based approach to redesigning care, with teams specifically dedicated to improving care for joint replacement, obstetrics and colon cancer, among other conditions.

To learn more:
- here's the NEJM report
- read the MedPage Today article
- check out the Mass General care redesign team

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