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APCD Harnesses the Power of the Internet

Originally appeared in the November/December issue of Colorado Medicine.

In recent years, the Internet has empowered consumers to make informed choices on products and services on everything from restaurants to books to plumbing. Yet, when it comes to health care, we’ve been essentially stuck in the horse-and-buggy days.

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My Prescription is How Much?

When we think of filling our prescriptions with generic drugs, we generally consider them a low cost, equally effective alternative to a brand name medication. We’ve also heard about the power of generics to move the price of brand name drugs and lower prescription medication spending overall. A recent example of this is Lipitor. Lipitor (generic name Atorvastatin) is a widely used cholesterol lowering medication that became available in the last half of 2012 as a generic. The generic version provided a lower cost option at less than one third of the cost of the name brand Lipitor. CIVHC analysis of data from the Colorado All Payer Claims Database pre and post-introduction of the generic version of Lipitor shows that the price per day for the brand Lipitor also dropped substantially as a result of generic competition which provided consumers with more alternatives.

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CO APCD Data in Action

Over the last two years, the Colorado APCD team has worked very hard with stakeholders across the state of Colorado, as well as across the country, to make the state’s most comprehensive health care claims database accessible and valuable for the benefit of Coloradans. According to the legislation establishing the database, the purpose of the CO APCD is to “facilitate the reporting of health care and health quality data that results in transparent and public reporting of safety, quality, cost and efficiency information at all levels of health care.” We’ve come a long way towards realizing that public purpose from 2012 to now and I’d like to highlight some of the exciting ways organizations are using the custom data for health care improvement.

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Five Emerging Trends in Health Care

Originally featured on WanthealthcareLLC.com.

I recently attended one of the last meetings of the Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) communities, sixteen communities around the country that have been doing payment and delivery system reform for almost a decade, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. I’m sure when the whole program wraps up next April, there will be a formal report on the findings and learnings. For now, here‘s a sampling of what I’ve learned.

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Informing Opportunities for Colorado

After joining CIVHC last year, I made a point of pouring through all of our past grants and reports to gain as much historical knowledge as possible. I wanted to understand our roots, our challenges, our successes and the progress we’ve made in the few short years since our inception as an organization. The Colorado All Payer Claims Database (CO APCD) annual legislative report was one in particular that I found intriguing given the astounding progress made between the time the APCD was signed into law in 2010 through last year’s 2013 recap. The 2014 annual legislative report just released is yet another reminder of how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. While it’s important to celebrate the accomplishments made over the past year, we continue to set our sights on where we need to take this important statewide resource to ensure it is providing the highest value possible to Colorado.

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Data Wonks Unite to Discuss Transparency

In case you missed it, last month was the Second Annual Transparency Summit in Washington, a fabulous wonk sprint of two and a half days on all things transparent and emergent in health care transformation. While these conferences are always biased toward the true believers of the concept in the conference title, I left with a number of insights:

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SGR Repeal and the End of Fee for Service Payments: A New Era for Forward Thinking Physician Groups

The perennial “Doc Fix” debate is nearing an end. On April 14th, the Senate voted overwhelmingly (92-8) to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) and implement a new payment model for physicians participating in Medicare. The House approved the bill last month with an unusually high degree of bipartisanship. President Obama has said he would sign the legislation.

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Comparative Performance Data for Physicians: An Important First Step for the Colorado APCD

As an economist, I know that credible information based on analysis of reliable data is worth its weight in gold. But, I also know that it is important not just to provide information, but to impart meaning and motivate action based on the results. To really make a difference, you have to engage all stakeholders in the health care community, get them to ‘take notice’ of the information and weave a story around the data to spark change.

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A Recipe for Success

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching which brings to mind all the things I’m grateful for - including some amazing family recipes. Each ingredient on its own is unique and important, but when you put them together it can be downright magical. We talk a lot about the power of organizational collaboration in Colorado in the same vein, but the same can be true when combining data sources.
 

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Achieving our Olympic Vision

It is fair to say that the Olympics and supporting the greater Olympic community is a family passion. During The Games, we follow the athletes in their events, celebrating and commiserating through victory and defeat. We treasure our own Olympic moments and cheer on close friends who are still working to achieve their dreams.

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Change in Seasons Offers Fresh Perspectives

I was shocked this week to see a few leaves turning signaling the first signs of fall, especially only a few short days following 90-plus degree weather. This time of year always seems to sneak up too quickly with school back in session, cooler nights and the hours of daylight diminishing. At the same time, the crisp night air and brisk mornings are a welcome change to the summer heat and I’m reminded again of how privileged I am to live in Colorado where with each change in season we’re surrounded by a new, unique perspective.

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Scholarship Funding Enabling Triple Aim Projects in Colorado

Similar to the saying, “the early bird gets the worm”, initial Colorado organizations who have applied for the APCD Scholarship awards are “the early requestors getting the data!” Three organizations have applied for and received a scholarship award for APCD data. This group of innovative organizations are focused on one or more aspect of the Triple Aim. They are using the data to improve decision-making for consumers, look at the efficacy of Accountable Care Act (ACA), and to conduct condition-based research to improve care.

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Big Data: Key Ingredients for Informing Innovation

The term “Big Data” is a popular phrase these days across social media and blogs, especially when it comes to health care. It’s not surprising given the challenges we’re facing with health care at the national level and the fact that data is key to managing any improvement effort. While the term “Big Data” is becoming synonymous with the golden ticket, it has the potential to become dangerous when used too broadly without a common definition. When it comes to data - “big” or “small” - not all are created equal, but the power of the right data can be instrumental to identify and inform meaningful, innovative change.

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Seeing the Whole Picture

Ana-English.gifAnyone who’s looked at an impressionist painting at close range knows that until you step back and look at the whole picture, it’s hard to know what you’re really looking at. The recent New York Times article, “The Experts Were Wrong About the Best Places for Better and Cheaper Health Care,” demonstrates this phenomenon perfectly.

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Why are Prices so High in Health Care?

Jay-Want-for-print.jpgFor many years we have been assuming that if Medicare costs were low in a particular region, like Grand Junction on our Western Slope, then commercial insurance costs were also likely to be relatively low.

 

 

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Plaintalk Blog Series

Plaintalk-Blog-Icon.jpgIntroduction to the series, and administrating the Colorado All Payer Claims Database (CO APCD).

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