Author:Sorensen, William
Position::Around Utah

For many employers, the second biggest line item in their budgets is to pay for medical benefits for their employees. In fact, employers pay for the health care of more than half of all Americans. The value they get in return for that investment, however, is not always clear.

Patients too often make blind choices about their health care without knowing their costs or understanding the quality of care provided. And that has to change, said Shannon Connor Phillips, chief patient experience officer at Intermountain Healthcare. "Health care may be the only place where people come in and purchase something without understanding what they've bought. How is that acceptable?"

Phillips was one of more than 170 health care professionals, community members, government officials and business leaders who gathered at the Utah Value Forum to discuss what high-value care means to different stakeholders and how we can ensure we provide high-quality, patient-centered, affordable care.

For too long we've attempted to define value in health care without listening to those who receive, provide and pay for it, said University of Utah Health Interim CEO Lorris Betz. The Forum followed U of U Health's nationwide survey that asked patients, physicians and employers how they perceived value in health care and prioritized its component parts--cost, quality and service.

Moving toward a more value-centric health care system is the only way forward, said Mike Leavitt, former Utah governor and former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But we can't keep moving like a glacier when the forces behind the glacier are moving so rapidly. We need to face the crisis.


Each of the Forum's three panels--patients, physicians and employers--addressed the issues around cost and affordability--a top priority to patients in Utah and across the nation according to the survey. "It's clear there is tension between health care quality and cost," said Mary Jane Pennington, pediatrician and president of Granger Medical Clinic. "How do we reconcile that? How do we convey to patients that they have an advocate on the cost front as well as on the health front?"

Empowering and enabling physicians and patients to have discussions about the costs of care is an important step forward, said Donna Milavetz, founder and CEO of Onsite Care. "Physicians must...

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