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How can Public Sector Health bend the cost curve? I believe that to drive real results, agencies need to rethink how they engage with consumers—and focus more attention on social determinants of health.

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Bending the Cost Curve in Public Sector Health
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

I think the challenge has always been how do we bend the cost curve in healthcare in the public sector?

And I think that truly the way to get there is to start with the consumer and to engage them in a fundamentally different way.

Consumers are very digitally savvy. They interact in the digital economy just like everybody else does. That means that they are a great partner with state agencies and with the rest of the ecosystem in empowering themselves and achieving better health, so I think that’s the way we are going to start to bend the cost curve.

Then we get to the outcomes discussion. Certainly there are challenges on the systems side around how do we figure out how to actually pay for outcomes, but even if we come up with the best well-conceived structures in the world if consumers are not at the center of it and active participants we are never really going to get to the place where we are paying for outcomes. So I think that’s the way to get to the bending of the cost curve, engaging the consumers, not just to make it a better experience for them, but to truly have them be co-creators of their own better health and empowerment.

Another path to bending the cost curve I think is really paying attention to social determinants of health.

We’ve been talking about it for a long time and what the literature clearly shows is that only 20% of the total cost of healthcare and the outcomes that you achieve is determined by the clinical service that’s delivered in the clinical setting. 80% of the outcome is determined by the social factors that the individual lives within, their own behaviors and the environment and how it acts on health.

What that tells me is that those of us who are working in public sector health need to spend 80% of our time on those things. I think we typically tend to spend more than 20% of our time on issues around how service is delivered, how it’s paid for, the administrative tasks of putting a person in touch with a service provider. That’s important to pay attention to, but the real way we’re going to bend the cost curb is to focus on that other 80% of the things that influence outcomes.

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