by Andrew Crisp
Driving down health care costs starts with making patient health a priority, according to officials at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center.
Officials from St. Luke's Boise Medical Center and the Salt Lake City-based health-insurance provider SelectHealth today debuted a new partnership between the two entities that would create an insurance plan which would provide incentives for healthier living among patients.
"We fundamentally believe fixing the health care cost crisis really begins with health," said Patricia Richards, SelectHealth president and CEO. "We will work closely with our physicians. We can also get out into the school systems and the community to first and foremost improve health."
The plan would give patients access to St. Luke's statewide BrightPath network, as well as St. Luke's health facilities, and would offer a stable premium, according to Richards.
"Preventative services will be readily available," she said.
Richards also mentioned monetary rewards for patients who make healthier living choices, such as eliminating tobacco use or getting regular checkups.
"We know that it's very important for expecting moms to get all their prenatal visits. If they do all that, they get a small cash reward," said Richards.
SelectHealth would share patient-care data with physicians and providers readily, in a more cohesive partnership.
"We've got to improve health, improve care and lower cost," said Dr. David Pate, president and CEO of St. Luke's. "The current model is only rewarding improving care."
The program would take a "three-part aim" at health care problems. Billed as "pay-for-value" rather than a "pay-for-volume" model, the partnership seeks to drive down health care costs by making the system of providing health care more sustainable. Currently, physicians and providers, such as hospitals, bill for services rendered, as when a patient receives a CAT scan.
"Instead of telling physicians, 'We want you to keep cranking through and seeing volumes of patients,' it's instead a team-based approach to work together for a patient's health," said Pate.
The partnership may be the first in the nation to present a health-insurance plan that incentivizes preventative care and healthy living, said Pate. It would put physicians, the insurance company and the hospital working toward the same three goals.
By focusing on long-term patient health instead of patient volume, physicians, hospitals and insurers could keep costs down by eliminating redundant services.
Dr. Geoffrey Swanson, a BrightPath board member, said the hospital and network hope more patients will shift to the SelectHealth partnership in the next three to five years.