How Jay Want Prescribes A Change In The Business Of Paying For Health Care

This year, the U.S. government started a program for health-care innovators. One innovator, Jay Want sees a more efficient and cost-effective future for health-care payments.

Jay Want
Photo by Matt Nager

Chairman of the Board @ Center for Improving Value in Health Care, Denver

Condition: Our health-care system encourages "billable activity": The more tests providers prescribe (however unnecessary), the more money they make.

Cure: Providers charge a standardized amount per procedure—say, $500 to fix a broken leg—and it's up to doctors to make it work. That way, there's an incentive to deliver better results, faster

"We get it: This is a radical idea. We're asking health-care providers to change from an activity-based model to an outcome-based one. So we're spending a lot of time talking to different stakeholder groups—hospital groups, physician groups, consumers, businesses—to rally support. Of course, it's not natural for people to hear us and say, 'I vote for something totally different.' Doctors assume they are in charge, providers assume prices are going to go up, and patients assume they're never going to get a good experience. But our system makes things more efficient for everyone. Imagine being able to go online and find out who will give you the best care at the best price, much as you do with cars on Consumer Reports. Then providers have to start thinking about building their brands and making them better. That culture of continuous improvement drives most industries. What's so special about health care that we don't expect it to?"

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