AMA Backs Health Outcomes For Diabetes, Hypertension

The American Medical Association, the nation’s largest doctor group, said it will partner with clinical programs and community groups to achieve measurable improvements in treating heart disease and diabetes within four years for millions of Americans under a new push to improve health outcomes.

American Medical Association launches health outcome improvement initiative, starting first phase focused on preventing heart disease and diabetes.

The nation’s largest doctor group, long known for advocating for doctors as a powerful lobby for physician interests in Washington and state capitals, said it has launched the first phase of a multi-million dollar effort called the improving health outcomes initiative. The first outcomes on the AMA’s national dashboard are “preventing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and improving outcomes for those with these conditions.”

“The toll of these diseases on our nation is staggering – in terms of human suffering and health care costs,” said AMA President Dr. Jeremy Lazarus. “We have 100 million people in the U.S. who have diabetes or prediabetes. The direct and indirect cost of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is more than $535 billion a year.”

As part of the cardiovascular disease program, the AMA will partner with a research institute within Johns Hopkins Medicine known as the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. The goal of the partnership is to “help meet and exceed the goal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts Initiative to bring the high blood pressure of 10 million more Americans under control by 2017.”

The groups will work with physicians, teams of medical care providers, their patients and their communities to get at reasons for uncontrolled blood pressure and work together on solutions. Meanwhile, the AMA also announced a partnership with YMCA YMCA of the USA to improve health outcomes for people with diabetes in part by increasing referrals of patients with “prediabetes” from physicians and into “evidence-based diabetes prevention programs offered by the Y.”

“Connecting physician practices to the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program will ensure that those at greatest risk have the opportunity to prevent or delay diabetes,” Jonathan Lever, vice president of health innovation and strategy, YMCA of the USA said in a statement. “This novel collaboration between medical practices and community-based programs could prove to be a model for promoting health and wellness.”

Dr. James Madara, the AMA’s chief executive officer said at Forbes Inaugural Healthcare Summit in December that the effort to improve health outcomes would be part of a new strategic plan for the organization, which represents nearly a quarter-million physicians. The AMA is also advocating for change in medical and pushing payment models that not only emphasize high quality but enhance a doctor’s satisfaction.

The AMA’s national dashboard of outcomes are designed to achieve the three-part aims of the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services that are: “better care, better health and lower costs through improvement,” according to the improving health outcomes initiative linked here.

The AMA’s moves could also help employers and insurance companies in their measurements. Major health insurance companies like Aetna Aetna (AET), Cigna Cigna (CI), Humana (HUM) and UnitedHealth Group (UNH) are increasingly basing physician pay and performance on how doctors improve outcomes, moving away from fee-for-service medicine employers and insurers deem expensive and not based on quality improvement.

“This is going to be a resource for physicians to use in their communities,” Lazarus said.

“These are the first steps toward the AMA’s ambitious, long-term goal of achieving measurable improvements in health outcomes for patients in the United States,” Dr. Lazarus said of the health outcomes initiative’s first phase. “We look forward to partnering with many individuals and organizations who share these goals.”