COMMENTARY: Improving the state of health in Delaware

The state of Delaware’s health needs an urgent makeover. The projected trajectory of health care costs forecasts a severe financial burden on all of us in the near future unless critically needed reform measures are implemented. And, as we all know, the delivery of health care in general has become increasingly complex and confusing.

There is a prescription in place to cure these ills — a movement called Choose Health Delaware. You may remember that name from when the Healthcare Insurance Marketplace was introduced several years ago. Today, that name stands for a comprehensive, statewide initiative to improve the health of all Delawareans.

Back in 2013, a broad-based coalition of stakeholders — including hospitals and health systems, doctors and other providers, insurance companies, community leaders, consumers and patients — worked together on the design of Delaware’s State Health Care Innovation Plan. The work to create the plan was funded by the Affordable Care Act. Then, in 2014, Delaware was one of 11 states awarded a grant to test that plan.

The Delaware Center for Health Innovation — a nonprofit, public-private partnership — was established in the summer of 2014 to guide the implementation of this transformative effort to change how health care is delivered and experienced in our state. Its four goals are straightforward:

• Achieve better health outcomes

• Improve health care quality and patient experience

• Lower the growth in health care costs

• Improve provider satisfaction

DCHI formed five subcommittees to address five priority areas of health care reform: clinical care, patient and consumer engagement, payment models, workforce and education, and healthy neighborhoods. As part of their initial work, each of these committees have written “consensus papers” that provide a blueprint for change. (You can read these documents online at www.dehealthinnovation.org.)

DCHI is now “introducing” the initiatives that are underway through a series of public Community Forums. The next Forum will be held on July 11 at 5 p.m. at the Modern Maturity Center, 1121 Forrest Ave. in Dover. A panel of experts representing various aspects of health care will discuss specific topics that affect all citizens — ranging from accessing your electronic medical records and expanded doctors’ hours, to a team approach for better coordinated care and the introduction of new ways of paying providers that emphasize the quality of care, not the quantity of care. A question-and-answer session will follow the panel’s 45-minute presentation.

Important changes are coming that will concern every one of us. Come and listen, ask questions, and learn how to collaborate with your health care provider to manage your own health. Together, we can make our state and everyone who lives in it healthier.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Matt Swanson is the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Delaware Center for Health Innovation.

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