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Commission Corner

The Commonwealth Fund's Commission on a High Performance Health System has had an active summer.

One highlight was the Commission's July meeting in Minneapolis, which included a day trip to Bismarck, North Dakota, to observe and learn from innovations in rural health care organization and delivery at the University of Mary and Triumph Hospital. The site visit, organized by Commission member Mary Wakefield, provided valuable insight as to how organizing health care delivery into real and virtual networks can facilitate high-quality, patient-centered care. It will help to inform future Commission reports. The meeting itself brought the commissioners together to discuss and review upcoming reports on topics such as building a more organized care system and achieving savings and value to improve health system performance. The commissioners also had the opportunity to learn from innovations and reform efforts in Minnesota by engaging in a rich discussion with Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services, Cal Ludeman. Commissioners also heard from a distinguished panel featuring George Isham from HealthPartners, Denis Cortese from the Mayo Clinic, and David Page from Fairview Health System. In addition, the Commission had the opportunity to meet with key policy and delivery leaders in the Twin Cities area during a reception and dinner meeting.

Continuing to spread the message of the Commission's report, Aiming Higher: Results from a State Scorecard on Health System Performance, published in June, Fund staff have been traveling all over the country to present states' results to key stakeholders in Arkansas, California, Kansas, Ohio, and Wisconsin, with additional forums in Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, and Texas in the coming weeks, and others being planned. The Fund's newly redesigned Web site features an interactive U.S. map that enables visitors to view state-specific rankings and results compared with benchmarks. The map also presents the number of lives and dollars each state could save by achieving benchmark levels of performance.

The Commission also has published a number of reports this summer. To spread the lessons learned at its spring 2006 site visit to Denver Health, the Commission released a case study, Denver Health: A High Performance Public Health Care System. The report illustrates how the health system has succeeded at providing coordinated care to the community, promoting a culture of continuous quality improvement, adopting new technology and incorporating it into everyday practice, taking risks and making mid-course corrections, and providing leadership and support—and accepting accountability—both at the top and throughout the organization. Also published this summer, An Analysis of Leading Congressional Health Care Bills, 2005–2007: Part II, Quality and Efficiency examines the effect on quality and efficiency of bills relating to Medicare prescription drug coverage, Medicare payment reform, health system transparency, health information technology, patient safety, medical liability reform, and elimination of health disparities. Although they fall short of a comprehensive strategy for system-wide improvement, the legislative proposals potentially lay a foundation for more fundamental reforms.

Two new data briefs expand on the Commission's work. Health Care Opinion Leaders' Views on the Quality and Safety of Health Care in the United States reports the results of the Fund's survey of a diverse group of experts on ways to improve the quality and safety of U.S. health care. Measuring Hospital Performance: The Importance of Process Measures contends that Hospital Quality Alliance process measures represent actionable items that can have an impact on quality and health outcomes and identifies specific activities hospitals can work on to improve performance.

For more information, please visit the Commission page on the Fund's Web site.

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