For a state that continually tops competitive rankings for its stellar business climate, it’s disheartening to see North Carolina lumped among the worst states for health care. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s health care outcomes are below average and the state ranks next to last in health care costs. Considering health care value is defined as improved outcomes at a predictable cost, it’s clear our state’s approach to value is backwards.
Understanding the havoc this could wreak on North Carolina’s competitive future, the NC Chamber Foundation commissioned the “Roadmap to Value Driven Health” to provide a strategic plan to improve value. The Foundation is now busy finalizing the next phase of research to help make North Carolina a top-ten state for health care value. While we look forward to sharing those benchmarks with you this spring, I wanted to highlight a few innovative concepts that are driving health care value in our state.
Direct Primary Care Saves Union County One Million Dollars
By utilizing primary care, patients are more likely to decrease the number of emergency room visits and avoid outrageous health care costs. While there are many different models for Direct Primary Care (DPC) services, each has the same goal – to drive value. These networks, like Mejor Health, are changing how patients access primary care and saving employers big money. In the first year Union County added a DPC option to its health care coverage, the county saved one million dollars. In addition to that savings, the DPC provider has improved health outcomes for almost 70% of patients.
Health Systems Sharing Data to Improve Outcomes
Comprehensive data is critical to quality care. Without a patient’s full history, physicians are limited in their ability to provide the best course of care to improve outcomes. To provide a broader scope of a patient’s history, Novant Health Inc. and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center are now sharing patient data between the systems. Aggregating this data will simplify a patient’s ability to review their history and give providers access to patient data, even if they’ve never been seen by the system before.
Innovation in data sharing doesn’t end there. In an effort to give patients more control over their own medical data, Apple is testing an update to its Health app that consolidates a patient’s medical records. UNC Health Care is one of 12 health systems across the country participating in the testing.
NC Startup and Walmart Work Together to Curb Opioid Abuse
As one of the greatest, if not the greatest, public health crises our nation and state has ever battled, the opioid crisis is greatly increasing costs in our health care system. While legislative and community leaders at the national, state and local levels explore solutions to fight the crisis, one NC startup and Walmart are working together to help curb opioid abuse. DisposeRX, a company out of Southern Pines, created a groundbreaking opioid disposal solution that neutralizes unused or expired opioid medications and will now be given to patients filling opioid prescriptions at each of Walmart’s 4,700 pharmacies for free.
There is certainly much more to do to bring value driven health care to North Carolina, but these are solid first steps. By focusing on outcomes and alignment between job creators, health care providers and other stakeholders on the health care supply chain, North Carolina will be better positioned to cultivate a mutually-beneficial system that boosts predictability and value.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber