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I’ve spent the last two days at a fascinating meeting of data geeks, providers, employers, health plans, quality organizations and consumer advocates from across the country all working to improve the quality of health care. It was a meeting of Chartered Value Exchanges from 25 communities/states; eHealthConnecticut was designated as a CVE in a very competitive process. The program is administered by the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of Health and Human Services. The best part of the conference is the strong emphasis and clear commitment of AHRQ and the CVEs to serving consumers’ needs. The first sentence on the website sums it up — “Consumers deserve to know the quality and cost of their health care.” Everything flows from there. It isn’t just a set of platitudes, but it permeates everything they do. It is refreshing – consumer advocates in CT don’t get that a lot.

Eventually, through eHealthConnecticut CT consumers will be able to get comparative quality information about our providers across payers online– for example how many patients with diabetes are being well managed, and STD or cancer screening rates. In a few communities, this ability already exists. A great example is the Puget Sound Health Alliances’ Community Check up. They also have a special report comparing care in Medicaid with other coverage. There was a lot of talk about fair, nationally certified, consensus approved measures and standards, as well as lots and lots of discussion and research about how best to meet consumers’ needs and questions, how to present the information to ensure it is useful, and how to market the tools. CVEs are devoting significant resources to answering all these questions – making sure the system is consumer-centered. It is a fantastic model that CT policymakers should be studying.

Another great benefit from the conference was getting to spend two days with the rest of the CT delegation, including a health plan, a large employer, a primary care physician, a hospital rep., and a quality organization. It is critical for stakeholders to understand and respect other perspectives, and the opportunities for that in CT are rare, unfortunately.
Ellen Andrews