December 22 2012
Improving Care and Reducing Costs
Health care conference examines the role of front-line staff and union involvement to improve health care delivery
More than 90 physicians, nurses, administrators, union officials and others attended a Worker Institute health care conference last week on improving health care delivery.
Designed to increase collaboration between front-line staff, union and management leaders to deliver patient care, the conference gave one nurse "hope for the future."
Peter Lazes, director of the Healthcare Transformation Project, a program of the Worker Institute at Cornell is committed to providing union and management leaders with access to the next generation of methods for redesigning health care delivery systems.
"We need radical changes in how our delivery system works," Lazes said. "We need to redesign our delivery systems so that care is coordinated, thereby preventing duplication of services and helping patients avoid unneeded hospitalizations."
"We also need to control and reduce health care costs by redesigning our health care systems, not by reducing reimbursements to hospitals and health care centers."
"Redesigning our broken delivery system is the only way we will be able to drastically reduce health care costs. And front-line staff and unions need to work with management to make this happen. Labor and management both need to be part of this process," he said.
Peter Lazes, director of ILR’s Healthcare Transformation Project, based in Manhattan, said Cornell is committed to providing health care union and management leaders with access to next-generation methods for redesigning health care delivery systems.
"The health care world is changing dramatically. We want to help frame a conversation and help health care leaders have a safe space to examine and then respond to the changes," Lazes said.
April Smith, director of organizational development for the Service Employees International Union, said, "It’s exciting to see health care teams working together. It gives us hope for the idea of teamwork."
Union-management teams from Kaiser Permanente, Montefiore Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center and other groups attended the conference, which also drew participants from medical centers where unions and management have not started to work together.
Conference presentations and workshops included:
- methods to transform outpatient clinics and health centers to become primary care medical homes
- how to change the reimbursement system from fee-for-service to one that supports an increased focus on primary care and the integration of services
- making sure that behavioral health services are available in primary care settings and particularly for patients with chronic care problems
- methods to accelerate the ability to create radical changes in the American health care delivery system
- improving employee wellness
- strategies for labor and management to work together
- methods to engage patients in their care and to provide them with critical information so they, too, can make choices based on best practices.