NJ healthcare leaders: Cost constraints drive innovation

Financial constraints and pressure to lower costs drive healthcare innovation, industry leaders in New Jersey said during a panel discussion this week, according to NJSpotlight.

"There's only three imperatives in health reform: cost, cost and cost," said New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute President and CEO David Knowlton.

To lower costs, patients with chronic conditions need improved access to primary care physicians and better care coodination. In addition, hospitals need financial incentives to accomplish reforms that lower costs and drive innovation, according to the article.

Hospitals should align financial incentives in new payment models to change behaviors, and make sure patients work closely with physicians to have more of a say in their care, said Anthony Slonim, vice president and chief medical officer at Barnabas Health Medical Group. Upfront payments for care coordination may provide a stronger incentive, he said. The issue is especially important with the millions of newly insured under the Affordable Care Act, according to the Spotlight.

Care coordination means providers and insurers will allow more access to innovative treatment and create savings, said Ruth Perry, M.D., executive director of the Trenton Health Team, an organization that coordinates the work of two Trenton-area hospitals.

Improving access and coordination of care for treating conditions like diabetes and hypertension is key in lowering costs and improving general population health, Slonim said. "A lot of the stuff that we're talking about for the masses is very fundamental, not particularly innovative and old-school," Slonim said. "And that's where the work is, that's where we need help on the ground, in delivering the services."

Hospitals around the country are exploring cost innovation methods. Bon Secours Richmond (Va.) Health System started an incentive program that allows employees to earn an extra $900 a year if they participate in health and biometric screenings, risk assessments, health coaching and health goal settings, FierceHealthcare previously reported. The program initially focused on high-risk employees who showed signs of obesity or diabetes.

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