Commonwealth Fund Report Says Health IT Could Stabilize Healthcare Spending

The Commonwealth Fund ReportLatest Research by The Commonwealth Fund Released

The Commonwealth Fund is a non-profit organization established in 1918 to promote the common good. It was one of the first private foundations to be started by a woman, philanthropists Anna M. Harkness. Almost 100 years later, the organization lists its missions as: to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults.

To support this mission, The Commonwealth Funds supports independent research across a broad spectrum of healthcare issues. Former ONC National Coordinator David Blumenthal, MD is president of this prestigious organization.

The Fund last week released its latest report, Confronting Costs: Stabilizing U.S. Health Spending While Moving Toward a High Performance Health Care System. The report lays out a strategy for holding future healthcare spending at a rate no greater than the long term growth of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Currently, healthcare spending represents 18% of GDP. The report predicts this rate is likely to rise to 21% by 2023 without “yielding commensurate value in terms of improving population health or patients’ experiences with care.”

The  strategy outlined in the report for stablilizing healthcare spending while moving toward greater performance relies on three broad initiatives. From the report:

  1. Provider payment reforms to promote value and accelerate health care delivery system innovation.
  2. Policies to expand options and encourage high-value choices by consumers armed with better information about the quality and cost of care.
  3. Systemwide action to improve how health care markets function, including reducing administrative costs and setting national and regional targets for spending growth.

The report breaksdown these three initiative into an outline of  10 policies that reinforce each other in addressing both public and private concern. One of the 10 policies of particular note recommends accelerating meaningful use:

Enhance information on clinical outcomes of care and patient experiences to inform treatment decisions and choices of providers and care systems. Accelerate the “meaningful use” of health information technology to assess and compare clinical outcomes over time from alternative treatment choices and, through use of patient registries, to enable post-marketing surveillance of safety and care outcomes. Provide consumers and clinicians with transparent information on costs and prices to further inform choices.

According to InformationWeek,  Dr. Blumenthal at the press conference announcing the report said “”There is a clear recognition that information technology is part of the support for this general set of policies and that, in fact, the continued spread and utility of information systems of all types will be critical to achieving this vision.”

You can read and download The Commonwealth Fund full report here. The Fund also provides an interactive version.