Paul Keckley: New non-partisan resource center may help change, improve healthcare policies

Accountable care organizations, the future of academic medicine and cost-reduction strategies are among the topics that the new Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, a non-partisan research center, plans to tackle in the next few months. 

And, if the center accomplishes its mission--to provide objective, fact-based information that healthcare decision-makers can use to plan and execute strategic efforts--it may also change federal healthcare policies for the better. 

To learn more about the center, I talked with Paul Keckley, a health economist and managing director for the new center, about how he thinks its work will drive change in the industry.

Healthcare consultancy firm Navigant said the center plans to focus on trends and issues within the industry and identify innovative solutions for leaders.

As part of its mission, the center released its first issue brief, "The Future of Accountable Care Organizations; How to Create Increased Share Savings with Payers," which describes the role bundled payments will play in the next wave of ACOs.

"The center is nonpartisan, it's not blue or red, and it's doing work with industry trends and policy, which makes it unique," said Keckley (pictured) during the exclusive interview. "We aren't selling something. We plan to study and answer issues with data about the industry. I suspect it will be well received because it fills a void and filters out the noise with hard data to answer hard questions."

The first issue brief on how to energize the traditional ACO model to create true shared savings is just the first of many data-driven reports the Center is working on, according to Keckley. "We have a dozen different studies going on right now," he said.

Those studies include the acceleration of hospital consolidation and the unintended consequences of mergers; doctors' medical decision-making and how hospitals may be held culpable; the future of academic medicine; and ways healthcare organizations can reduce operating costs.

Keckley hopes that these impartial research documents will provide necessary information that lawmakers can use when they consider policy changes.

"My last decade in D.C., I learned where data can be made available that's not proceeded with a request for money, that's not proceeded by a trade association's bias toward a solution," he said. "Policymakers welcome that information."

The Center is also unique, Keckley said, because it does not ask lawmakers and policymakers for anything. "We are providing information and methodology that is transparent so they can interpret the data. I think it will have impact." --Ilene (@FierceHealth)