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April 7, 2008 | Latest News, Press Releases

Frontline Caregivers, National Healthcare Providers Unveil What’s Working in the Battle Against Chronic Disease

For Immediate Release:
March 19, 2008
Contact: Mark Glaze, (202) 271-0982

Frontline Caregivers, National Healthcare Providers Unveil What's Working in the Battle Against Chronic Disease: 11 Models Founded in Quality Form Cornerstone to Healthcare Reform

Summit Demonstrates Proven Techniques to Enhance Treatment and Access for Chronic-Care Patients

Washington, DC — Nurses, doctors and health care workers joined CEO's from a nationally renowned group of health care providers in sharing nearly a dozen pioneering programs that contain costs while improving the quality of chronic care at a summit hosted today by the Partnership for Quality Care (PQC).

The summit, Confronting the Chronic Care Challenge, was the first in a yearlong series of events designed to bring quality — a topic that encompasses access, affordability, efficiency, and cost containment — to the center of the health care debate, by presenting practical solutions to some of the most difficult problems in health care today. Launched in May 2007, the PQC unites more than 1 million nurses, resident physicians and health care workers and providers treating more than 50 million patients a year. The coalition is dedicated to the reform and improvement of our health care system to ensure that affordable, high-quality health care is available to every American.

"Any real attempt to manage health care costs must address the fundamental question of how we can affordably provide the highest quality care to the most challenging patients in our health care system," said Dennis Rivera, PQC Chairman and Chairman of SEIU Healthcare, the health care division of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). "If we focus on quality, we can change our health care system to contain costs and improve outcomes for chronically ill patients."

Chronic care patients are those suffering from recurring orpersistent illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease. They represent only 20 percent of patients but account for 75 percent of health care spending.

The summit comes as health care costs continue to rise and the issue of chronic disease impacts more families. "Among industrialized nations, America spends the most on health care and gets the least," Rivera noted. "But it doesn't have to be this way. The purpose of the summit is to share what we can achieve when we put quality at the center of health care reform."

"We need to build a new American health care system, one that guarantees quality health care that every person in this country can afford," said SEIU President Andy Stern. "And to do that, we all need to be part of the solution, including the health care workers who are on the front lines of the health care crisis. Every day, they see first-hand patients and families being devastated by a broken system — and they also know better than anyone what works and what doesn't."

George Halvorson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and PQC Secretary, noted that many people are unaware that such innovative programs exist or, worse, doubt that change is possible. "Too often, voters are told that increasing access to healthcare is only possible if costs are raised and quality lowered. This is a false dichotomy," Halvorson said. "In fact, leading health care providers have already implemented programs that contain costs, expand access, and, most importantly, improve the quality of care for chronic patients. That points the way to nationwide reform."

The groundbreaking programs highlighted at the summit included:

  • SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West and Kaiser Permanente successful implementation of an electronic health record that has led to a 57 percent reduction in hospital medication errors;
  • Montefiore Medical Center's self-designed electronic tool to monitor the health of thousands of patients and act as an essential safety net for patients with chronic conditions;
  • Massachusetts General Hospital's model for reducing persistent ethnic and racial disparities in the treatment of chronic care through its Disparities Solution Center;
  • Catholic Healthcare West's post-discharge support program that reduced the cost of care by 28 percent for patients by aiding them in monitoring and managing their disease;
  • Jackson Health System creation of a separate intake clinic to intervene and assess congestive heart failure patients, reducing readmittance by 80 percent;
  • The Mayo Clinic's asthma quality improvement initiative that shifts from traditional process-based measures to a focus on patient-centered outcomes;
  • Daughters of Charity Health System's "Asian Pacific Liver Center," created to address high rates of hepatitis B in the greater Los Angeles area;
  • How HealthPartners used its electronic medical record to collect patient race/ethnicity and language preference data (self-reported) and used the data to review quality metrics, identify disparities and develop strategies to eliminate disparities;
  • Group Health Cooperative's achievement in using health technology to create customized preventive care programs that take into account an individual's personal health needs by using the information in their medical record;
  • How nurses in Washington State worked with Group Health management to improve care for patients even after they'd been discharged from the hospital;
  • A Kaiser Permanente initiative that has helped reduce heart disease mortality among its members in northern

California by 30 percent through a combination of preventive programs and evidence-based medicine. The summit was held at the Columbus Club in Washington, DC's Union Station, steps away from where the national health care debate is being played out in Congress.

Panelists at the summit included nurses and caregivers and management from several PQC member organizations, including SEIU Healthcare, Catholic Healthcare West, Daughters of Charity Health System, The Greater New York Hospital Association, Group Health Cooperative, HealthPartners, Jackson Health System, and Partners Healthcare.

To learn more about PQC, please visit www.pqc-usa.org.

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