Northwest Health Summer 2012

In My View

Partnerships and Collaboration Lead to Better Patient Care

Group Health's collaboration with other health care organizations leads to better patient care.

Go to: Northwest Health Index

Scott ArmstrongAlong with my day job as CEO of Group Health, I'm a commissioner with the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and board chair for the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) — organizations working to help fix our broken national health care system.

At first glance, the two couldn't be more different. MedPAC is an independent agency appointed by Congress. ACHP is a trade organization for regional health care systems. But they have drawn strikingly similar conclusions about what we need to do to improve health care in this country.

Both believe in the value of a strong relationship between patients and a primary care doctor, supported by a team of caregivers who help you stay healthy when you are well and get better when you are sick. They also favor an approach that rewards coordination between doctors, hospitals, and specialists to improve quality and reduce unnecessary treatment.

This requires a level of collaboration that is rare in the health care industry today, but that has been central to Group Health medicine since we opened our doors in 1947.

The Group Health spinal surgery team is a great example of what this approach looks like today. The team works closely with colleagues at Virginia Mason to understand every aspect of each patient's case, and have developed a strategy that has resulted in a three-fold decrease in the rate of complications that can follow these surgeries.

Collaboration between health care organizations may sound unusual. In fact, Group Health doctors and nurses have been an important part of care teams at Virginia Mason for years.

We work in close partnership with providers in other communities too. During a recent visit to Spokane with Providence Health Care, I talked about plans to open urgent care clinics in that community. Our alliance with The Everett Clinic expands how we can serve patients in Snohomish County. Through partnerships like these, we are demonstrating that people get better care when providers work together to focus on each patient's needs.

This has been our vision for 65 years. Today we work more closely than ever with partners who share our belief that better health starts by working together to provide patient-centered care for everyone we see, every day, in every setting where Group Health provides care.

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