Raising the ‘steaks’ on quality care

Recently, I had a brief conversation with a man I admire and respect very much, regarding the cover story of the Oct. 15 issue of DSN, “Building the ACO.”


“Eder, what’s an ACO?” the man asked.


I explained that it stands for accountable care organization; basically, it means providers from different practice settings working together to spread primary care responsibility across an integrated healthcare team. 


“You think that’s good?”


It’s about lowering cost, improving care and realigning incentives so people ultimately live healthier, I said. In the not-so-distant future, providers across all practices will be measured and compensated based on their ability to improve patient outcomes. 


“Just what we need — the government deciding how to pay doctors.”


But it’s not the government, I explained; providers are making those decisions right now. Quality care initiatives are taking place across every sector of health care, including the Pharmacy Quality Alliance, which is working to define what quality patient care looks like in that setting. Medication adherence will be a critical measure that will determine how pharmacies are paid.


I explained the star ratings that would replace our fee-for-service system. Think of it like picking a restaurant. If I want to go to dinner, I can go to Zagat or Yelp, or any of a number of websites that will tell me where to get the best steak in town. I know if I go there, I’m going to get a great meal, and I also can expect to pay more for it. That’s not socialism. Socialism would be if all restaurants had to charge the same price regardless of the food, service, decor, etc. — where a great chef made as much as a chef that made you sick.


Why should health care be any different?


Rob Eder is the editor in chief of The Drug Store News Group, publishers of Drug Store News, DSN Collaborative Care, and Specialty Pharmacy magazines. You can contact him at reder@lf.com.

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