Reform Efforts Focus Attention On Regional Innovations In Care Delivery

As health reform efforts loom over Congress, news outlets find models of innovation in their own backyards. Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania, a Florida satellite of the Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Oregon and Washington state, and Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, Va., all get some attention.

The Florida Times-Union: President Obama "and other reform advocates have singled out the Mayo Clinic in recent months as a role model for other providers." The president said in a letter, "We should ask why places like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota [and Florida], the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and other institutions can offer the highest quality care at costs well below the national norm" (Cox, 8/25).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Two quiet towns in rural Pennsylvania, facing each other from across the Susquehanna River, are pushing innovations in health care. "One is Danville's Geisinger Health System, which has attracted national attention for providing quality patient care at relatively low costs. The other is Cherokee Pharmaceuticals L.L.C., which is based in Riverside," and is growing, bringing more jobs to the area (Hill, 8/25).

The (Portland) Oregonian: "... the key fact about providers such as Group Health [Cooperative] and Kaiser [Permanente Northwest] is probably not their member-laden boards or cooperative structures. What makes the HMOs different is that they spend more than most insurers -- more than twice as much, in some cases -- on primary care such as vaccinations, mammograms and tracking diabetics' blood sugar. ... If the United States wants to improve its health system, which is mediocre among those of other wealthy Western nations, many experts say it should start spending money the way Kaiser or Group Health does" (Dworkin, 8/24).

The Los Angeles Times: At Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, a home visit program has successfully kept seniors out of hospitals. A hospital executive says, "Every day they can keep a patient out of the hospital, it saves us $1,500." The effort would be replicated by a "proposal on Capitol Hill, known as Independence at Home, [that] would give independent doctors and nurse practitioners a chance to share in the savings that Medicare would see from home visits to patients with multiple chronic conditions (Levey, 8/25).

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