Conway says health care payment, quality reform to continue


Keynote speaker Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, MHM, told hospitalists at HM17 Wednesday that, while there is a seemingly endless stream of punditry about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, health care will continue its trajectory to higher value, lower costs, and improved quality for patients.

“Health system transformation, innovation, delivery system reform, accountability, the work that you all do each and every day ... is a bipartisan ideal,” he said. The work “on value, the work on accountability, the work on bundled payments ... will continue and will continue to be important to you and the patients you serve.”

Dr. Patrick Conway delivers the day 3 keynote on "Health Care System Transformation" during the Wednesday morning plenary at HM17. Darnell Scott

Dr. Patrick Conway delivers the day 3 keynote on "Health Care System Transformation" during the Wednesday morning plenary at HM17.

Dr. Conway, deputy administrator for innovation and quality for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and director of its Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, said, in a speech titled “Healthcare System Transformation,” that he understands a new presidential administration means “some new policy priorities come forward.” However, he noted that the proposed American Health Care Act doesn’t have a “single word dealing with the Innovation Center,” which is the government agency tasked with supporting the development and testing of new payment and service delivery models.

He also echoed Tuesday’s keynote address from Karen DeSalvo, MD, former Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, that hospital medicine needs to look at health care more holistically to help work on social issues. Dr. Conway, who still moonlights as a pediatric academic hospitalist on weekends, knows the problem first-hand as he often sees children on Medicaid who have multiple chronic conditions.

“I can tell you our system still does not have a highly reliable, whole health system for those children and their families,” he said. “Every weekend, I have a family that I can’t discharge because they don’t have the social and home-based supports for them to go home. So, they literally sit in the hospital until Monday. That makes no sense for our overall health system.”

Dr. Conway said that the gravitation away from fee-for-service toward alternative payment models would ideally lead to better patient outcomes, more coordinated care, and financial savings. He urged hospitalists to continue to help design new payment and care-delivery systems.

“You know what you’re passionate about and where you want to drive better care,” he said. “If the army of people in this room and all the places you are working [at] are the driver of better quality, better safety, coordinated care for patients ... that’s what it’s all about.”

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