Triple aim: strategies to create a new health care model that works

December 19, 2018

By necessity, health care economics has changed how care is delivered.

Today, health care organizations are expected to take a more business-oriented approach to delivering health care, with an eye on providing the highest quality services in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible.

“The emergence of value-based health care requires new approaches to support how doctors and nurses serve patients,” explains Ben Spedding, DHA, faculty chair for Health Leadership and Innovation in Capella University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences. “Health care is shifting away from simply identifying and responding to patient issues, such as injuries and disease, to a focus on prevention and wellness. Creative business strategies are therefore essential in order to fulfill this expanded role with high-quality, cost-effective solutions.”

This new approach to health care is advocated by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s “Triple Aim,” which is a framework that advocates for optimizing health system performance through three dimensions:

  • Improving the patient experience and outcomes of care.
  • Improving the health of populations.
  • Reducing the per capita cost of health care.

“The Triple Aim framework takes us from a treatment-only model to a focus on improving outcomes and patient experiences,” Spedding says. “In most health care settings today, no one is accountable for all three dimensions of the Triple Aim, and that needs to change for health care organizations and the doctors and nurses they support to have the greatest impact.”

Spedding offers the following four business strategies to develop a “health care playbook” to help health care professionals implement the Triple Aim framework:

  1. Test and target: Large health care organizations should consider developing engagement strategies that foster wellness behaviors and test them on their own employees. By doing this, they can learn what works. It is important to hone those strategies before implementing them with the public.
  2. Embrace a case-rate approach: When health care organizations are responsible for the treatment and recovery of their patients for one flat fee, they have more “skin in the game.” This approach drives more efficiencies, as whatever health care organizations don’t spend, they get to reinvest, Spedding explains.
  3. Partner with non-health care businesses: Spedding advises health care organizations to develop relationships with businesses outside of their industry and bring them to the table to develop health-engagement strategies for the broader community.“Skills from other fields are highly valuable to health care organizations who need business development help,” Spedding adds. “The insights and ideas generated from those interdisciplinary relationships can be invaluable in activating on the Triple Aim framework.”
  4. Harvest “big data:” Data is the health care organization’s friend, Spedding says, and not simply data specific to treating patients and the organization’s operations. Spedding encourages the analysis of broader data and trends in the demographic populations served.“Yes, health care organizations need to be smart in integrating data from their electronic health record (EHR) systems into their clinical systems to provide the highest quality and cost-effective outcomes,” Spedding explains. “But the bigger win happens when they explore larger, external data sets that provide a window into the demographic realities of their regions. That is where the real insights are gathered that allow for the development of health care strategies that deliver the greatest possible impact.”


Learn more about Capella University’s degrees in health sciences

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