Since its inception, ACHI has focused on the health and health care challenges facing our state. Our past work has contributed to ACHI’s understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our existing health system. As a result, ACHI was well-equipped to analyze the various provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for their impact on Arkansans. Through this process it became clear that while the act provides several opportunities that will benefit the state, there is a great need for Arkansans to thoughtfully plan for the future of our health care system beyond implementation of the law.
The U.S. health care system is undergoing dramatic changes driven by increasing needs and escalating costs, exacerbated by the large proportion of uninsured and lack of coordination within the system. This is true in Arkansas too where demand for change is also driven by the increasing needs of an aging population and a population battling devastating rates of chronic disease, a Medicaid program with unsustainable costs, and a maldistributed health care workforce.
Recognizing the complexity of such an undertaking, ACHI began by developing a patient-centered vision for rebuilding our health system to better meet the needs of Arkansans. This vision has been ACHI’s guide as staff engaged with the many state agencies and stakeholders working toward solutions to interrelated health system challenges. A short video depicting our guiding vision was developed in November, 2011. Today Arkansans across the state, from both the public and private sectors, are working together to proactively shape the future of our health system. The Arkansas Health System Improvement Initiative is designed to create a sustainable patient-centered health system that embraces the triple aim of (1) improving the health of the population; (2) enhancing the patient experience of care, including quality, access, and reliability; and (3) reducing, or at least controlling, the cost of health care. This triple aim aligns with the aims set out by the Department of Health and Human Services in the National Quality Strategy: “Better Care, Healthy People and Communities, and Affordable Care.”
The overall initiative has four focus areas:
- Payment innovation—restructure the health payment system to incentivize quality outcomes through greater patient support and coordination of care across the system
- Health care workforce development—ensure that our health workforce is trained to efficiently use health technology and that patient-centered medical care is available when and where it is needed
- Expanded health care coverage options—reduce the number of Arkansans without health insurance through development of a health insurance exchange to assist Arkansans in securing suitable coverage and expansion of other insurance programs
- Adoption of health information technology—accelerate use of technology to improve the accuracy of medical records and avoid expensive and unnecessary duplication of services
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