Since 2010, a multi-organizational coalition in Pueblo County has been working to develop a strategy to address rising health care costs, poor population health and quality of care concerns, otherwise known as the Triple Aim. The Pueblo Triple Aim Coalition (PTAC) identified the county’s major health care challenges during the initial discovery phase of their work which was funded by Kaiser Health Foundation to support implementing the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim model. PTAC’s steering committee members coined the three highest areas of concern as “Pueblo’s Health Crisis”: 1) health insurance premiums that have increased three times as fast as wages, 2) health care spending per year of nearly one billion dollars for the county, and 3) low rankings on both health outcomes and healthy behaviors. PTAC recently received implementation funding from The Colorado Health Foundation to execute their 2012 strategic plan which aims to ultimately make Pueblo the healthiest county in the state.
“Our initial work following IHI’s Triple Aim model included gathering all of the key healthcare players in the county together to identify and agree upon opportunities for improvement,” said Matt Guy, PTAC’s project coordinator. “It was so important to have the hospitals, providers, public health agencies, business community, education institutions, health plans, and others on board from the beginning because of the importance of gaining buy-in across the entire community.” Once the steering committee was established and clear roles and responsibilities were determined, the discovery phase involved identifying and evaluating community-level healthcare and population health data to develop goals.
Utilizing state comparison data, the steering committee determined to focus initially on reducing the use of tobacco. The current rate of tobacco use in Pueblo County is 24 percent; much higher than the statewide average of 18 percent. PTAC members believe that reducing tobacco use would not only improve the county’s health ranking, but it would also also decrease the number of preventable tobacco deaths and may result in savings to payers and providers as well.
“Tobacco reduction is a low-hanging fruit for our county, although it’s not easy to change behaviors where addiction is concerned,” explained Guy. “It’s going to take a community-wide push to make headway in tobacco cessation and other areas which involve social issues which is why we’ve spent so much time up front making sure we have the right players engaged at the table.”
In addition to reducing tobacco use, PTAC also plans to reduce unnecessary emergency department visits, hospital readmission rates, obesity, and teen/unintended pregnancies with their grant funding. Each area of focus will consist of a pilot stage and an effort to scale up the project to the larger community. PTAC plans to provide an evaluation and accountability through a community scorecard, which will display measures that will show improvement through a Triple Aim lens.
For more information on the Pueblo Triple Aim Coalition, please contact Matt Guy at email@example.com.