Payment reform is driving population health, says Ascension Medical Group President Dr. Joseph Cacchione 

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Joseph Cacchione, MD, president of Ascension Medical Group, the national provider organization for St. Louis-based Ascension. Dr. Cacchione also serves as the interim ministry market executive for Ascension Michigan. 

Dr. Cacchione will speak on a panel at Becker's Hospital Review 7th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable titled, "Advancing Population Health," at 10:55 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: What is one of the most interesting healthcare industry changes you've observed in recent years?

Dr. Joseph Cacchione: The change in healthcare that is most interesting is the movement away from the acute care focus to a more population health and outpatient focus. We are still far behind in a focus on wellness. The accelerant has been risk-based contracting. Organizations focus on the population health aspect of things because that's the way they get paid. The reimbursement system has driven the change; it has not been health reform, but payment reform. Wellness theoretically is important, but the focus has not been on the health of our communities.

Q: How can hospital executives and physicians ensure they're aligned around the same strategic goals?

JC: We have the unique opportunity to enhance proactive, primary-care driven care delivery. Clinical experts must be aligned to improve the overall health of those we serve before they need care. We are limited by poor nutrition and disease-prone populations, which are fueled by barriers to access and social burden. Additionally, we should continually focus on innovation and collaboration. The more we bring innovative solutions to the table and share them across networks, the more successful we will be as an industry.  

Q: What's one conviction in healthcare that needs to be challenged?

JC: Hospitals and expensive fee-for-service-oriented delivery systems should continue to be challenged. The traditional delivery of healthcare from disparate, isolated parts which duplicate services and lack coordination must be replaced by whole networks that can view an individual person through a broad, comprehensive lens. We can coordinate the experience for patients, ensure cost transparency and avoid costly duplication. The delivery of care expanding in doctor's offices and outpatient care centers continues, and new virtual care delivery mechanisms will change the overall landscape at an increasing pace.

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