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November 15, 2013 OHA Director's messages on the web
To: All OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

What we all need to do next

"The awareness that health is dependent upon habits that we control makes us the first generation in history that to a large extent determines its own destiny. " ~Jimmy Carter

Over the past several years Oregon has embraced the Triple Aim – better health, better care and lower costs – as a driving force in transforming the health care system.

The Health System Transformation quarterly report released last week had promising signs that coordinated care organizations are making strides in better care for lower costs. Emergency department visits have dropped and primary care is increasing for people in the Oregon Health Plan. People are getting better care earlier and avoiding "downstream" issues such as hospitalization.

To me, the health metrics indicate that by making basic changes in our health system, we can improve care, improve health, and improve the patient experience. But that's not all.

To truly meet the vision of the Triple Aim, we need to seriously address all of the factors that affect our health – beyond the care we receive in the doctor's office. And let's be clear, a significant percentage of our health – some studies estimate 40 percent – can be attributed to our own behaviors and choices. It's about taking responsibility for our own health.

The actions we take for our health matter. Whether we use preventive and primary care. Whether we get the right health screenings to identify serious illnesses early. And of course, what we eat, what we drink, whether we use tobacco, and how much we move.

Last month a task force completed its work of looking at how to create more opportunities for patients to engage in health improvement.

The task force made several recommendations to OHA. These include having The Transformation Center assist CCOs in marshaling resources that promote patient-level health engagement among OHP members. This could include everything from providing patients with better information to more use of traditional health workers. The goal is to make it easier for patients and providers to work together for better health.

They also recommended that OHA seek a federal waiver to expand options for cost-sharing in the Oregon Health Plan to give CCOs flexibility for value-based benefits. That means providing incentives for high-value, low-cost services such as preventive care and vice versa.

You can read the full list of recommendations and learn more about the work of the Individual Responsibility and Patient Engagement Task Force in its report, which is available on the task force's website.

But most importantly, it's time for all of us to better understand that to the greatest extent possible, we all must ultimately take responsibility for our health.

OHA on the web