The QualityPath Program has been up and running for almost two years. As a new and “market- disrupting” initiative, we are watching this program carefully. We want to ensure that we are accomplishing our aim of better care for patients at lower costs. Check and check!

So far, twenty-nine patients have had a procedure through the program with great results. They’ve also saved themselves and their employers over $250,000 through the lower bundled price.

What’s more, nine additional patients were headed for a joint replacement. Once they saw a QualityPath surgeon, they learned they had been misdiagnosed or that conservative therapy did the trick. These avoided procedures saved another $260,000, not to mention the enormous human cost of an unnecessary surgery.

But that’s only part of the story. The impact of QualityPath goes beyond the care for individual patients and cost savings for both patients and employers. Through QualityPath, Alliance members are collectively “raising the bar” by changing the way care is delivered for all patients. We are having a positive impact on the health care delivery system! That’s because, to be part of QualityPath, doctors and hospitals have to improve their systems of care – and this applies to everyone, not just patients who are part of our program.

Some examples of the impact we are making through QualityPath include:

  1. Getting the right imaging test (CT’s MRI’s, etc.) – one of the sources of waste in health care occurs in the use of medical imaging. Sometimes, tests are done that aren’t needed or an expensive test is used when a simple, less expensive test would do.
    • QualityPath providers now use systems that give doctors feedback about the appropriateness of a test for their specific patient. Doctors learn in real time if there is a more appropriate test to consider or if a test might not be indicated at all. This guidance is based on the body of scientific evidence from the American College of Radiology, so it’s credible and well-accepted. These systems are used across the board for all patients.
  2. Helping patients make informed decisions – Often, there is no “one right answer” for a health care issue. When there is more than one treatment option, patients should be part of the decision-making process. The research shows that when this occurs, patients have better outcomes, are more satisfied with their care and often choose less invasive and inexpensive treatment options.
    • QualityPath providers now routinely use patient-friendly “shared decision-making” programs to ensure that all of their patients’ preferences are heard and respected.
  3. More hospitals and doctors measuring and reporting outcomes. Tom Peters was right – what gets measured gets done. When hospitals and doctors contribute their data to nationwide patient registries (databases), they are able to benchmark their performance. And experts in these fields are able to see important trends that lead to improvements in care. But participation in registries is voluntary and there is a fee, so participation in the orthopedic registry has been low.
    • QualityPath orthopedic providers are required to contribute their data to these national registries. When we started QualityPath, only nine hospitals in our service area were in the American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR); today, there are 39! And QualityPath is being mentioned as one of the reasons why. In fact, the activity from hospitals in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois has been so striking that we received a call from AJRR asking what we were doing and what is “this QualityPath” program we keep hearing about.

The seven employers who founded The Alliance twenty-six years ago envisioned having a positive impact on the health care delivery system by joining together to speak with one voice. QualityPath is another example of the realization of that vision.

Cheryl DeMars

Cheryl DeMars

President & CEO at The Alliance
Cheryl DeMars joined The Alliance in 1992, assuming several roles before becoming CEO in December 2006. Cheryl works with the Board of Directors and senior leadership team to establish the strategic direction of the cooperative.

Cheryl participates in a number of national and regional initiatives that align with The Alliance’s mission of controlling costs, improving quality and engaging individuals in their health. She is a board member and former chair of the National Business Coalition on Health. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the board of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality.

Prior to joining The Alliance, Cheryl was a program manager at Meriter Hospital in Madison. She earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Read blog posts by Cheryl.
Cheryl DeMars

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