The development makes it a "monumental day" in the future of health care nationwide, Dr. Michael Cropp, president and CEO of Independent Health, said in an afternoon news conference.
Cropp joining other health-care executives, including James Dunlop, executive vice president and CFO of Catholic Health, in the news conference at Sisters Hospital on Main Street in Buffalo.
"The future is based around the 'Triple Aim,' as Jim [Dunlop] described -- better health, better care, and more affordability," Cropp said.
Cropp says the Affordable Care Act -- also known as the health-care reform law -- serves as a "good first step" toward ensuring health coverage for all Americans. Cropp adding that health plans, hospitals, and other stakeholders are working toward better health-care delivery and more affordability.
Independent Health is one of the primary health-insurance providers serving customers in Western New York.
Cropp says the high court's decision just affirms a direction for the health-care system -- adding that health-care reform has to happen locally.
"You can set the table in Washington. You can set the table in Albany, but the sustainable solutions have to come from within because health care is like politics, it's local," Cropp said.
He went to outline some challenges the industry faces moving forward with most the law remaining in tact.
"How can we find ways to achieve the 'triple aim.' Most importantly, how can we find ways to lower the cost of care while improving the quality of the care that our community needs," Cropp said.
Cropp says other challenges include personal responsibility to avoid chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease and more primary-care doctors for the Western New York region.
Moving forward, Cropp says local health-care executives have built a platform based on -- what he called "five pillars" that the industry thinks are essential to achieve the Triple Aim.
First, Cropp says people have to take personal responsibility for their own health. A percentage of today's health-care costs are driven by the chronic diseases that are tied to personal diseases.
"The heart disease, the high blood pressure, the strokes, some of the cancers that we see, diabetes, all relate back to people's choices about what we eat, whether or not we exercise, do we smoke, how do we handle stress," Cropp said.
The reality is, he says, that we could have the finest health-care system in the world, but if we continue to bring that disease burden forward, "it's going to be expensive."
Additionally, Cropp says the nation as a whole needs more primary-care providers, although the situation in Western New York is fine for the moment.
Cropp says a third element is payment reform -- noting the health-care system has been brought up on a "flawed system" that still has consumers paying for volume.
"We just pay for doing things, rather than paying for results," he says.
Cross says Catholic Medical Partners, Catholic Health, and Independent Health have "some really good experience" in making that transformation to "pay for performance."
"With the primary-care physicians we've been working with, it's incredible to see the results that we've achieved in helping them to manage diabetes, manage asthma, manage the other risk factors of heart disease by paying them for doing the right things and getting better results," Cropp says.
The fourth pillar, he says, has to do with the need for greater alignment of the diverse elements of the health-care system.
The last pillar targets health-information technology. Nowadays, doctors and hospitals are using electronic medical records to keep track of patient information and their medical history. The use of such records does require patient consent, Cropp says.
Cropp noting Healthy Link, an "electronic-information highway" that enables the connection of every health-care provider in the community.
"If a patient consents to have their information flow over this highway, their information can be wherever they are," Cropp says.
Such record keeping allows medical providers access to a patients' medical history -- if the patient allows it. The system can prevent repeated treatments for certain condition, and therefore, can reduce the cost of an individual's care.
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