S.C. Organizations First in Nation to Take Statewide Approach to Reforming Health Care

Columbia, S.C. – Major health care players in South Carolina have joined in a unique initiative to enhance the state’s competitiveness by improving the health of the state’s citizens, it was announced at a symposium here today.

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Health Sciences South Carolina and the South Carolina Hospital Association have formed the South Carolina Partnership for Health, committed to “The Triple Aim,” a concept and strategy developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and now espoused by the nation’s leading health policy thinkers.

The Triple Aim lays out a vision for reforming the American health care system through the simultaneous pursuit of three goals: improving the experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita costs of health care.

The announcement of the joint effort was made by Maureen Bisognano, president and CEO of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement (www.ihi.org) during her address, “Thriving in the New Health Care World,” to nearly 400 attendees at the Fourth Annual South Carolina Patient Safety Symposium today in Columbia.

“Widespread inefficiencies in the U.S. health care system waste precious resources, best-known science is not reliably applied, and our patients too frequently suffer unintended harm and avoidable deaths. For academic leaders, insurers and health care providers to come together statewide in South Carolina to tackle the Triple Aim, using a community collaborative approach, is a first in the nation,” Bisognano said in advance of the symposium.

The South Carolina Partnership for Health includes leadership by individuals at the highest levels in each of the founding organizations. Jim Deyling, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina president, is chairman; Thornton Kirby, S.C. Hospital Association president, is secretary; and Jay Moskowitz, Health Sciences South Carolina president and CEO, is treasurer.

“This is exciting. Rather than pursuing these objectives in isolation, our organizations will work together within the South Carolina Partnership for Health to focus on mutual priorities to improve the health of the citizens of our state,” said Deyling.

“Individual communities and organizations have been working to improve site-specific care, but we won’t achieve high-value health care unless initiatives are broadened statewide,” said Kirby.

“South Carolina is the only state in the nation where all the major research-intensive universities and largest teaching hospital systems have joined forces to use collaborative research to improve population health and patient care. Now we can complete the circle by engaging more directly with insurers and the business community,” said Moskowitz.

The South Carolina Partnership for Health already has started work to inventory priorities of each organization, identify areas of mutual interest and need, and establish a hierarchy of projects the members can tackle together.

The first project to be undertaken is reducing preventable hospital re-admissions, such as for heart failure, heart attacks and pneumonia. The group is examining, for instance, academic research, marketplace success stories elsewhere, barriers to care such as lack of transportation, low-cost interventions such as home visits, and gaps in care such as lack of a primary care physician or timely follow up on the hospitalization. The team will develop possible solutions to be piloted and, if successful, the pilots can be disseminated statewide.

Other projects might be fostering further development of patient-centered medical homes, reducing health care acquired infections, and strengthening the delivery and measurement of evidence-based care for chronic disease.

Project and study results will be shared as appropriate with patients, health organizations, businesses and legislators throughout the state.

03-16-2011 03:37 (EDT)