Voices in Health Care Value

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Welcome to the Health Care Value Research Consortium, and the first edition of the Voices in Health Care Value newsletter! With funding from the PhRMA Foundation as part of its Value Assessment Initiative, Altarum and VBID Health have established the Health Care Value Research Consortium. The mission of the consortium is to promote the pursuit of value in health care delivery in the U.S. by identifying high- and low-value clinical services, tracking the use of such services, and helping to ensure that consumer preferences are incorporated in health care decisions. The consortium will work with researchers to identify the strategies that lead to better value, such as health benefit designs that incentivize the use of high-value services and discourage the use of low-value services.

Coordinating the complementary activities and research plans of Altarum’s Center for Value in Health Care (CVHC) and VBID Health, and collaborating with other units within Altarum that conduct related research, will help ensure that their work and dissemination initiatives are mutually supporting, while building on this work via small projects that employ the resources provided by the PhRMA Foundation will extend its impact and reach. The consortium will also create a learning community to facilitate collaboration and dissemination of the work in these groups conducting research on value in health.

Research Agenda

The consortium has been designed as an umbrella organization to coordinate ongoing Altarum and VBID Center value-related activities. During each year of consortium operations, we plan to use consortium funds to complete at least one “quick-strike” study such as those identified below.  In this first year, a “quick-strike” project will involve incorporating measures of health care value into Altarum’s ongoing health sector tracking. More specifically, we will develop and implement methods to track utilization of the top five highest value interventions and top five lowest value interventions that have been identified in VBID Health’s empirical work, and incorporate these results into our reporting of health spending, prices, and labor. This project will be leveraged by our ongoing work to track low-value care, as well as our work for RWJF to track multiple aspects of the health economy in our monthly Health Sector Trend Reports. Coordination of these activities under the consortium umbrella will enhance these research programs in a number of specific ways and will lead to new projects to be conducted using consortium funds.

Organization

The consortium is co-directed by George Miller, PhD, an Altarum Institute Fellow, and Mark Fendrick MD, a VBID Health principal and director of the University of Michigan V-BID Center. They coordinate the consortium’s activities in conjunction with a leadership team comprising Chris Duke, PhD, co-director of Consumer Engagement Programs in Altarum’s CVHC, and Michael Chernew, PhD, a member of the V-BID Advisory Board and a V-BID founding director. Altarum’s Beth Beaudin-Seiler, PhD, serves as the consortium’s dedicated administrator, managing its day-to-day operations. The consortium is staffed by other members of Altarum’s CVHC and VBID Health, notably Paul Hughes-Cromwick, co-director of CVHC’s Sustainable Health Spending Strategies, who leads the consortium’s outreach activities, and Lynn Quincy, co-director of CVHC’s Consumer Engagement Programs and director of the Healthcare Value Hub. CVHC and VBID Health interns will support and be mentored by the consortium’s senior staff.

Other Altarum researchers both within and outside CVHC will participate in consortium activities as appropriate. Examples include our Payment Innovation Solutions group, which pursues the design and implementation of alternative payment and health plan benefits incentives programs to improve the affordability and quality of health care in the U.S., and our team that supports the Great Lakes Practice Transformation Network (GLPTN), providing guidance to over 15,000 clinicians in the Great Lakes region to improve quality and outcomes. The consortium will also facilitate networking by and promulgation of the work of external affiliates, as described below.

Summary

The mission of the Health Care Value Research Consortium is closely aligned with the research objectives of Altarum and VBID Health and with the goals of the PhRMA Foundation’s Value Assessment Initiative. We plan to have a fully operational consortium by the end of the first year of its operations, including a newsletter and web site, a functioning advisory committee, a start at outreach to potential external affiliates, a first symposium, completion of a new quick-strike project and plans for subsequent projects, and completion of an initial operating version of our methodology for measuring wasteful spending. Our long-term goal is to develop a reputation for the consortium as the place researchers and stakeholders first look for comprehensive knowledge about value in health.