Health Care Costs Need Not Be a “Bitter Pill” to Swallow

How has American healthcare fared since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed? That’s the wide-ranging question that Steven Brill’s new book “America’s Bitter Pill” strives to answer, and Brill’s response is more positive than one might expect.

Brill explores the impact of America’s evolving healthcare system on patients, providers and insurers, including a glimpse into Partners’ own efforts to redesign health care. In his research for the book, Brill spoke with Partners CEO and president Dr. Gary Gottlieb about our 2011 agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield – a promise to improve quality while lowering costs.


Tags: redesigning care

Grants Help Prevent Hunger This Holiday Season

Hunger assistance grants in South Boston

More than 11 percent of Massachusetts families live in food insecure homes, which means that approximately 700,000 people in Massachusetts don’t know where their next meal is coming from today. In an effort to address this crisis, Partners HealthCare is providing Hunger Assistance grants to 18 local community health centers during the holidays.

Food insecurity is not only stressful; it can also have a significant effect on one’s health and well being. Studies have shown that adults who suffer from food insecurity are at higher risk of suffering from chronic diseases including diabetes and hypertension, and also at greater risk for anxiety and depression. Children living in food insecure homes are at higher risk of slowed development and growth and are more likely to struggle academically.

This is the second year Partners has provided Hunger Assistance grants to community health centers.


Tags: community, community partnerships

Partnering with Patients for the Future of Medical Research

Dr. Elizabeth Karlson with a Biobank participant

Dr. Elizabeth Karlson with a Biobank participant

At Partners, we’re committed to investing in cutting-edge research while also striving to improve efficiencies. The Partners HealthCare Biobank is one innovative program that does both. A joint project between Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals, the Partners Biobank stores patient blood samples alongside medical history, family history and data about lifestyle and environmental factors that are collected from participants.

“The most innovative aspect of this project is the ability to study biomarkers, genetic variants and environmental factors to predict longitudinal outcomes in a large, diverse population in a way that will lead to understanding how to use this data for personalized medicine,” says Dr. Elizabeth Karlson, co-investigator of the project at BWH.

While many academic medical centers collect DNA samples, plasma, or serum, few include surveys of family history, lifestyle and behavioral factors alongside those samples.


Tags: research and discovery, technology

Partners CEO Gary Gottlieb on Our Evolving Models of Care, NHP and His Future

Dr. Gary Gottlieb

Partners HealthCare CEO Gary Gottlieb, MD, recently spoke with Modern Healthcare about some of the strategies we’ve pursued to expand access to affordable health care, closer to our patients’ homes.

One major effort of recent years has involved implementing population health management across our system. This serves a greater goal, as Dr. Gottlieb explained. “Collectively, there’s been a spirit of redesigning the front end of care, serving patients in medical homes with care managers, allowing us to reduce total medical expenses.”

Another way we’re improving care delivery, increasing efficiency and reducing costs is by pursuing partnerships with community hospitals. Dr. Gottlieb told Modern Healthcare why this practice works for our patients.


Tags: industry interactions

Partners Urgent Care Centers Will Open in 2015

At Partners HealthCare, we’re dedicated to improving access to affordable, high-quality care, closer to patients’ homes. In early 2015, we will partner with MedSpring Urgent Care to open new urgent care centers in Eastern Massachusetts – and offer patients a lower-cost alternative to emergency department visits.

Across the US, more than half of all emergency department visits are for non-emergency conditions that could be safely treated in an urgent care setting. As a result, patients with non-emergency conditions often wait until those with life-threatening conditions have been treated.

To address this challenge, providers are opening urgent care centers to offer much-needed care during weekday and off-hours without a scheduled appointment.


Tags: uniform high quality

Breaking Ground on Our New Offices in Assembly Row


On Monday, we marked an exciting milestone for Partners, breaking ground on the site of our new offices in Somerville’s Assembly Row development (read The Boston Globe article here).

Our Assembly Row campus will house non-hospital functions such as information systems and finance, bringing together many of our colleagues who are currently scattered among more than a dozen different locations. Working under one roof will enhance collaboration and the exchange of ideas among the 4500 professionals who will be based here. We’ll join a thriving neighborhood that is already welcoming new retail businesses and housing, as well as a recently opened MBTA station. By choosing a location with immediate access to the MBTA we ensure that we are more connected than ever to important resources across the region including our hospitals, the communities they serve, academia and the region’s research industry.


Tags: creating jobs

How to Care for Patients Impacted by Trauma

Trauma is more pervasive than many realize—more than half of the population has had some experience of trauma. It can come in many forms: physical violence, domestic abuse, street violence and even the witnessing of such violence. Some people try to mitigate the effects and others struggle to do so.

Caregivers and providers must be sensitive to the experiences patients carry with them. They may be wounded, but the wounds are sometimes invisible to the naked eye.

With this in mind, employees from across the Partners system came together this fall to increase awareness of trauma and trauma-informed care to better meet survivors’ needs.

Approaching all patients with trauma-informed awareness encourages caregivers and providers to be sensitive and empathetic to a survivor and his or her needs, whether it’s during a clinical interaction or in the reception area.


Tags: uniform high quality

A New Home for Global Collaboration at the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases

Ann Romney Center lobby display

Last month, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) announced the launch of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, a global collaboration to accelerate treatments and cures for five of the world’s most complex and devastating neurologic diseases. The center will focus on multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease and brain tumors.

Led by BWH neurologists Howard L. Weiner, M.D. and Dennis J. Selkoe, M.D. – two of the world’s most renowned experts in neurologic disease – the center aims to produce breakthrough, life-changing research to benefit patients confronting these devastating neurologic diseases. Dr. Weiner, a global leader in MS clinical care and research, and Dr. Selkoe, an Alzheimer’s expert, brought their own laboratories together in 1985. Their proven track record of firsts in neurologic discoveries inspired the novel, collaborative strategy embraced by the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases.


Tags: research and discovery

Treating Veterans’ Invisible Wounds

Approximately one in three veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan experience post-traumatic stress or a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after returning home. These “invisible wounds” are often complex. A perceived social stigma keeps many veterans from addressing them.

Ryan Pitts, a Medal of Honor recipient who served in Afghanistan, told The Boston Globe about the challenges he faced in seeking treatment after he returned home following a battle that killed nine others:

“At first, I felt that I deserved to suffer and that my pain was penance for my failure to bring everyone home,” he said. “But I began to think about how they would want us to carry on and the lives I would want them to lead if we had traded places. We owe it to ourselves and to our fallen to lead good lives worthy of their sacrifice.”

Last night, Pitts shared his story with an audience gathered at Boston’s Symphony Hall to benefit the Home Base Program, a partnership between Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation.


Tags: community partnerships

An Unwavering Commitment to Our Vision

Dr. Gary Gottlieb has announced that he will be stepping down as Partners HealthCare’s President and CEO next summer to pursue a new opportunity as CEO of Partners In Health. Dr. Gottlieb remains deeply committed to pursuing partnerships with South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health that are fundamental to our vision of expanding access to affordable health care.

“We’re on a pathway in which we are really in the midst of a substantial transformation,” Dr. Gottlieb told the Boston Business Journal.

Our plan to affiliate with South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health would enable all of us to work together to deliver higher-quality, coordinated care to patients, closer to their homes at lower costs.

In a recent letter to the editor in The Boston Globe, Dr. Gottlieb responded to the idea that the partnership would increase costs for patients.


Tags: redesigning care

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