Friday, November 05, 1999

Diabetes care looks beyond cost

Project adds value idea to health system

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Tristate health care leaders are declaring a new kind of war on diabetes that could serve as a national demonstration project for resolving many thorny health care reform issues.

        The project, coordinated by the Health Improvement Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati and sponsored by a grant from Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, is expected to improve and streamline treatment for the estimated 180,000 local residents who have diabetes. Just as important, the project seeks to improve how diabetics take care of themselves.

        Early details of the Cincinnati diabetes project were announced Thursday at a meeting of Leadership Cincinnati, a class of community and business leaders sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.

        “Today is the start of a historic project in Cincinnati that's going to be studied throughout the country,” said Jane Rollinson, managing partner and top health-care consultant for the Cincinnati office of William M. Mercer Inc.

        The Cincinnati diabetes project is part of a bigger concept called “value-based partnering” that is attracting interest among business and medical groups concerned about the recent surge in health care costs.

        Diane Pinakiewicz, senior director of Schering-Plough's health care strategic leadership unit, traveled to Cincinnati Thursday to explain the concept.

        The basic idea is to shift the health care debate from a narrow focus on costs to a community-wide evaluation of health care value. The goal is to get often-conflicting groups of doctors, hospitals, employers and insurers focused on the common interest of providing excel lent care to people who need it.

        “Everybody wants the best health of the population. But what does value mean in the health care industry? This is a conversation we've never had,” Ms. Pinakiewicz said.

        Since local health care leaders already had formed the Health Improvement Collaborative to discuss these kinds of issues, Schering-Plough agreed to use Cincinnati as a model to study how the value-based partnering approach can improve care for diabetes.

        The collaborative gets involved in various community health issues. Last year, it launched an extensive public awareness campaign promoting flu shots.

        Results from the diabetes project remain months and years away.

        If the diabetes project proves successful, the same approach could be used to rethink many other parts of the medical system in Greater Cincinnati, said Lynn Olman, president of the Greater Cincinnati Health Council.

        The Health Improvement Collaborative will work with a Boston-based consulting company, the Crimson Group, to analyze the value of diabetes care in the Tristate, discuss ways to improve care, then study whether real change occurs.

        The Crimson Group hopes to produce articles for medical journals and other reports on the Cincinnati diabetes project.


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