Think tank puts data sharing as priority

Bipartisan Policy Center offers plan for patient-centered care, cutting costs

Delivering what founder and president Jason Grumet described as “one of the most challenging projects we’ve undertaken,” the Bipartisan Policy Center on Thursday put forth what it hopes will be “a viable political plan to reign in the spiraling costs” of healthcare while also improving quality. At the center is a recommendation to prioritize electronic sharing of information among providers.

The plan, "A Bipartisan Rx for Patient-Centered Care and System-Wide Cost Containment," is signed by former Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, and former Congressional Budget Office Director Alice Rivlin.

“There is no fiscal solution that doesn’t involve healthcare,” said Michael Peterson, president and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in Thursday’s event introducing the report, adding that healthcare has its own challenges.

Take the payment system, for instance. “Fee-for-service and the fragmentation of healthcare delivery fail to encourage quality, value and coordination,” said Rivlin, senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program at Brookings, and a visiting professor at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. “Our primary motivation is to improve the health system for patients and the their families.”

It’s a sweeping report with chapters on enhancing Medicare to incent quality, reforming tax policy, addressing other federal policies that block efforts to contain costs and enhance care, and empowering states to pursue needed reforms. 

It’s only fitting that there are suggestions pertaining to the federal government's health IT initiatives, and the meaningful use program specifically.

The report recommends:

Prioritize electronic sharing of information among providers in the next stage of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. HHS should provide implementation support for such information sharing, with a particular focus on the needs of small physician practices and community hospitals.

“Those who deliver care to patients, as well as patients themselves, must have access to information that resides in the multiple settings where care and services are delivered, including offices of primary care physicians and specialists, hospitals and clinics, laboratory and radiology centers, pharmacies, and post-acute and institutional long-term care providers,” the report authors wrote. “Much of this information is also needed to calculate clinical quality measures, which support performance measurement and improvement.”

All told, the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that its suggestions could reduce the deficit by $560 billion across 10 years – and its Medicare proposals could save nearly $300 billion in that time and $1.25 trillion over 20 years.