Moving Forward On Health Care, Together

Late yesterday, elected officials in Massachusetts detailed a plan that represents an effective way to provide needed assistance to those community hospitals that serve high numbers of low income patients here in Massachusetts. The agreement also offers, through the creation of a new Commission, a credible means to more thoroughly identify and better understand the many factors that contribute to variation in prices among hospitals in Massachusetts and across the nation.

Partners HealthCare supports the compromise legislative package, which was crafted jointly by the Governor, Senate President and Speaker of the House, and appreciates their timely resolution of this issue. The initiative they have helped craft is aimed at avoiding a messy ballot fight that would have been a deplorable waste of health care dollars in Massachusetts.

The plan detailed yesterday will help us move forward more constructively with labor leaders in the Commonwealth. We value the contributions of all Partners HealthCare employees. Their skills, professionalism, and compassion are essential to our common goal of delivering the highest quality health care to patients.

As part of our strategic alliance with SEIU, we will continue to work together to facilitate the delivery of high quality health care, support fair pay, and good jobs. We have always respected the rights of our employees to choose whether to be represented by a union, or not. Future organizing efforts will be designed to ensure the right of our employees to make free and fully informed decisions on this question through the process of a secret ballot election.

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Tags: community partnerships, creating jobs, economy, industry interactions, Uncategorized

Early Performance of Medicare ACOs: Is the Glass Half Full or Empty?

By Timothy Ferris, MD, MPH, Partners Senior Vice President for Population Health

Hundreds of health care organizations across the country are experimenting with the accountable care organization (ACO) concept, trying to both improve patient care and lower the cost of that care. A recent publication in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed the results so far and reached the disappointing conclusion that ACOs in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) saved little after the first full year.

In the study, researchers used Medicare claims from 2009 to 2013 to compare changes in spending and quality measure performance from before the start of the ACO contracts to the end of the first year for patients served by the 220 ACOs across the country. They compared these results to a control group of non-ACO providers, adjusting for differences in geography and patient characteristics. ACOs that joined in 2012 had a $144 per patient savings – or stated another way saved 1.4% ($238 million). Estimated savings were consistently greater in independent primary care groups than hospital-integrated groups. Three areas contributed the most to spending reductions: post acute care at skilled nursing facilities (6.1%), home health care (2.7%), and inpatient care (1.4%). There also were major improvements on many well-accepted quality measures.

Some commentators have viewed the 1.4% savings as a failure of ACOs to achieve significant savings, but when viewed through the lens of bending the cost curve in the long-run, the 1.4% is quite a significant achievement. Think about this: through a voluntary program thousands of U.S. physicians and hundreds of health care organizations have set their sights on helping the US find its way out of the cost conundrum. What appears as a small decrease actually represents half of the difference between medical cost inflation and general inflation. That means a voluntary program solved half of the U.S. health care cost problem.

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Tags: affordability, redesigning care

The People Who Are Partners HealthCare

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What does it take to create a world-class health care system? More than 68,000 employees, a third of whom are doctors and nurses. On average, they have worked for Partners, or one of our institutions, for 9 years and are in their early 40’s, although the full workforce is evenly divided between Baby Boomers, mid-career Generation X’ers, and young Millennials. Only 7% of our workforce is management. Most employees work full-time. And almost three-quarters of Partners’ workers are female. Our staff also reflects the patients we serve. Thirty percent of the Partners team is ethnically diverse – according to the US Census Bureau, the Commonwealth’s non-white population totaled 17.4% when last measured in 2014[1]. And the health care employment ladder is more upwardly mobile than it is for many industries. This will accelerate the diversity of our workforce.

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Tags: affordability, coordinated care, economy

MGH and BWH Dominate Medical Journals in 2015

It was an impressive announcement. Partners’ flagship hospitals—Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)—contributed the most academic papers to the world’s leading medical journals last year.

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Tags: redesigning care, research and discovery

Why is Partners HealthCare More Expensive?

In the ongoing conversation about health care costs a frequently asked question is “why do some hospitals charge more than others for the same services?” The truth is, no two hospitals or health systems are quite the same. Here are some of the reasons that care at Partners’ hospitals costs more:

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Tags: coordinated care, creating jobs, economy, improving community health, patient safety, redesigning care

MGH Celebrates Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence In Community Service

Today, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is celebrating its acceptance of the prestigious Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence In Community Service. In recognition of this achievement, the American Hospital Association put together this video, which brings the award, and the people that made it possible, to life.

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Tags: community, community partnerships

MGH Accepts Prestigious Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence In Community Service

This week marks a proud moment for Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the entire Partners family, as MGH accepts the prestigious Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence In Community Service. This prize, first awarded in 1986, recognizes health care institutions and communities who make improving community health a priority.

Rarely does an academic medical center like MGH receive this award. It acknowledges the long-term commitment of MGH and its Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI). The center connects with communities to change policies and systems so that decisions about healthy behaviors are easier to make.

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Tags: community, community partnerships, redesigning care

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital Acquisition Marks First Out-of-State Partnership For MGH

After nearly a decade of collaboration, Massachusetts General Hospital is moving forward with plans to make New Hampshire-based Wentworth-Douglass Hospital a member of the MGH family.

The move, which is still subject to state and federal regulatory reviews, would make MGH the parent organization of Wentworth-Douglass. The new partnership would be similar in scope to those formed with Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Nantucket Cottage Hospital.

Under the agreement, Wentworth-Douglass would remain an independently licensed, not-for-profit, charitable health care provider with its own board of trustees, medical staff, community connections and fundraising activities.

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Tags: community partnerships, industry interactions

MGH Hack-a-Thon Produces 15 Innovations to Tackle Zika Virus Threat

Earlier this month, more than 150 global health experts and innovators gathered at Massachusetts General Hospital for a comprehensive “Zika Innovation Hack-a-thon.”

The goal of this comprehensive, two-day event was to approach the growing Zika virus threat in new ways, using outside-the-box thinking and technologies, and get the world closer to a solution for this debilitating threat.

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Tags: redesigning care, research and discovery, technology

Annual Report Snapshot: The Opioid Epidemic

An average of 1,000 Massachusetts lives lost per year. Approximately 2.5 million people addicted nationwide. These sobering facts are the face of the opioid epidemic in this country today.

At Partners HealthCare, we’ve made it our priority to create new and enhanced prevention and treatment options for the communities we serve. And in our 2015 Annual Report, we’ve highlighted the people, programs and research that we hope will break the cycle of addiction in Massachusetts—and beyond.

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Tags: community, community partnerships, patient safety, redesigning care

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