Monday, August 18, 2014

Doubling Down on Accountable Care Organizations and Health Information Networks

Want to achieve effective health care, reduced costs, increased quality, population health, widespread prevention and seamless health information access? 

It's easy, says  this article in Population Health Management: mix one part PHO with one part HRB to create a HAPPI.

The Population Health Blog was confused too, but that's what's proposed by three smart academics from Johns Hopkins, Arizona State University and UC Berkeley.

As the PHB understands it, Population Health Organizations (PHOs) would be responsible for all medical, public health, community and social services in a defined geographic area and coordinate them with local education, housing and labor. Much of it would be paid for by a pooled risk-adjusted global or capitated payment (budget) from all insurers.

Each organization would be paired with a Health Record Bank (HRB), which would act as a huge data warehouse that not only stores all medical information, but any other publically available information on every individual enrolled in the PHO. The HRBs would be owned and operated by "trusted custodial organizations." Data access would be ultimately controlled by each patient.

The authors believe that patient payments would be a source of additional revenue for their PHOs. Examples include buying "apps" that are tailored to their individual health needs, or selling their personal health information, especially if it means helping physicians buy an electronic health record or access cutting edge research.

Combine a PHO and HRB and you have a Health and Prevention Promotion Initiative (HAPPI). Its size and scale would warrant contributions from community and provider organizations "without the need for additional reimbursement or outside funding." It would efficiently "align incentives" for insurers, hospitals and ACOs - with money left over for prevention, care coordination, decision support and a learning health system.

Breathtaking, isn't it?  If any PHB readers thought accountable care organizations (ACOs) and health information networks (HINs) weren't big enough, along comes Tyrannosaurus rex-sized PHOs, HRBs and HAPPIs. 

The PHB worries that while we'd want to see how pint-sized ACOs (not a slam dunk) and HINs (likewise not a slam dunk) perform before we apply the massive steroid doses, the opposite could happen: their messy failure could be just the justification for doubling down and going even bigger

As pointed out in a recent Wall Street Journal Notable and Quotable:

Economist Michael Munger writing in the Freeman, Aug. 11:

When I am discussing the state with my [academic] colleagues, it's not long before I realize that, for them, almost without exception, the State is a unicorn. I come from the Public Choice tradition, which tends to emphasize consequentialist arguments more than natural rights, and so the distinction is particularly important for me. My friends generally dislike politicians, find democracy messy and distasteful, and object to the brutality and coercive excesses of foreign wars, the war on drugs, and the spying of the NSA.
But their solution is, without exception, to expand the power of "the State." That seems literally insane to me—a non sequitur of such monstrous proportions that I had trouble taking it seriously.
Then I realized that they want a kind of unicorn, a State that has the properties, motivations, knowledge, and abilities that they can imagine for it. When I finally realized that we were talking past each other, I felt kind of dumb. Because essentially this very realization—that people who favor expansion of government imagine a State different from the one possible in the physical world—has been a core part of the argument made by classical liberals for at least three hundred years.

Image from Wikipedia

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