Coalition panel focuses on improving health care value

What creates value in health care?

Dr. James Balshi, chief medical information officer with St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem. – Photo submitted

For industry executives gathered at the 6th annual Healthcare Systems Engineering Symposium at Lehigh University, the answer is simple: lower costs and better health.

The panel discussion on value in health care was the final leg of the May 21 symposium, organized by the Lehigh Valley Business Coalition on Healthcare.

“We need to drive costs down and improve outcomes,” said panel member Tom Sibson, chief transformation officer with Bayada Home Health Care, headquartered in Moorestown, New Jersey.

According to Sibson, improving patient outcomes can mean reducing the length of hospital stays, lowering mortality rates and increasing a patient’s ADLs or activities of daily living, meaning improving a patient’s ability to feed and groom themselves and complete basic housework.

As the conversation turned towards ways to reach those goals, the solutions offered included reshaping the basic unit of sale.

“Let’s move away from rewarding the health care provider for completing tasks and towards being paid for producing better outcomes,” said Tami Hutchison, senior director for Remedy Partners, a health care consulting company based in Norwalk, Connecticut,

Standardization of care between health care providers was brought up as another important stepping stone to improving outcomes.

Standardization means that patients will receive the same kind of research-tested treatments for their medical issues, regardless of the physician or facility delivering the care.

Standardized medical records are helping providers get there, said Dr. James Balshi, chief medical information officer with St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem.

Balshi singled out Epic, an electronic medical record system that is used by many local health care systems, including St. Luke’s University Health Network, Lehigh Valley Health Network and Tower Health. The records can be shared seamlessly, he added.

“We are seeing each other’s records and trying to match the way care is delivered,” he said.




Dawn Ouellette Nixon
Dawn Ouellette Nixon is a career journalist who believes that good journalism can change the world. As the health care reporter, she covers everything from small town medicine to big pharma. You can also find her chasing a good business story in Berks County. She can be reached at or 610-807-9619, extension 4118.

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