Executive leadership assigned to One Utah Health Collaborative – State of Repair

During a private signing ceremony on Tuesday, Governor Spencer Cox acquired One Utah Health Collaborative (OUHC) commitment pledge To improve the affordability, equity and outcomes of a nation’s health care system.

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Cox announced OUHC’s 6-member Board of Directors and CEO, Jamie Whistler, who joined the Governor in signing the pledge.

The community-owned nonprofit, launched by Cox last November, aims to transform health care in the state by uniting a wide range of partners around solutions around health care delivery, accessibility, and payment that will enable the system to scale and benefit all of Utah.

“Tackling the cost of health care has become an economic imperative,” Cox said at the signing ceremony. Failure to do so will hamper Utah’s economic growth by restricting employer earnings, cutting employee wages, and excluding other government spending priorities. But in Utah, we solve problems, and we’ll solve that problem before strict federal policy solves it for us. Let’s meet and find solutions that fit our country.”

The cooperative pledge is open to all stakeholders to take and define 3 primary goals over a 15-year period:

  1. Affordability: Leading the Nation in Access to Affordable Healthcare for Consumers and Stakeholders
  2. Equity: To provide equitable health care regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, geography or background
  3. The results: the healthiest state population in the country

“[Utah’s approach] “It’s not meant to be from a government perspective,” OUHC Chairman and Partner at SpringTide Ventures Ryan Morley said in an interview with State of Reform.

Many countries have tried to do this. It’s not from the perspective of the federal government. It is not a one-sided motive [or] Provider. Culturally, if it makes sense in our state to be able to understand this as no single stakeholder is the beneficiary or the responsible party. We are trying to bring all the different components of the system together and create this collaboration.”

OUHC organizers recently concluded a statewide lecture tour where conversations with various stakeholders on what solutions should look like laid the foundation for working together.

At the core of its efforts, Utah is shifting to value-based care, which requires providers to fundamentally transform their operations, financial management, and delivery along with their buying drives.

The organizers say that one of the main groups whose participation is essential to reaching the goals of the cooperative is the employers.

“Immediately [employer engagement] Marc Bennett, President and CEO of Comagine Health and a project advisor, said during a recent webinar about his many conversations with small, medium and large-sized businesses in the event.

“It’s really hard to reach and contact him [to]and successfully interacting with providers or employers when they say, “I can’t do anything that would bother my employees now because the most important thing to me is getting a job” and so this was a real big lift.

What we are beginning to realize is [that] These employers care a lot about their employees, they want a system that works for them. They, like all of us, understand that this is a flawed system for the way it is. And if we can give them tangible ways to participate, I think they are interested in it [participating] So I’m excited that the voice of employers is part of this. We just have to figure out how to take advantage of that without confusing them because they don’t have much time.”

OUHC says it has already engaged in hundreds of conversations with various stakeholders and community groups over the course of its course Organizing stage for 6 months. Utah has been at the forefront of healthcare innovation with Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health, and Huntsman Cancer Institute leading the way.

The Intensive Outpatient Program at the University of Utah successfully integrated mental and physical care along with social support for Medicaid patients while improving outcomes and reducing costs by 50% over two years.

Regulators say it is this type of innovation that can measure the cost and impact of using potential payment model solutions. OUHC said it will continue to build support and obtain commitments to stick to its goals of reducing costs and improving outcomes from key stakeholders.

Moving forward with planning, organizers say the process will be challenging but collaborative due to the undertaking’s shared goals.

“The cooperative has identified quite a few priority areas, so innovations, sort of, are a central theme of fostering innovation,” said John Pullman, managing director at Leavitt Partners and one of the lead organizers of the collaboration.

“[Alternative Payment Models] You can’t do everything but it’s at least the beginning. It focuses on primary care…there can be a lot of different ways from workforce to pay. And to address that, mental health is something our state has some momentum in and that’s because we’ve had a lot of problems there. Access must be one and the interoperability of the data.

There is some narrow focus [in] Specific areas in which it is located [those] Certainly means and value will play a role in some of these but not the dominant one…we have to think more broadly. We’re talking about a real transformation.”

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