Will Our Health Care Priorities Change?

Published in Spring 2017

For several years, we at Johns Hopkins and other health care institutions across the country have focused on achieving the so-called Triple Aim—better care, better outcomes and reduced health care spending—a framework established in 2007 by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. At a recent meeting, one of my colleagues cautioned against using that term to describe our work, as it may be wrapped up in the political turmoil we all expect to see in health care in the near future. Since the election, health care leaders are anticipating change in the national policy landscape.

That change is afoot has caused some of us to question if we are going to alter directions regarding our health care priorities. I think the answer should be, and will be, no. If we still focus on the core tenets of the Triple Aim, even if that term goes away, we can achieve the goals that all policymakers want: reduced health care costs and improved quality of care.

In early December, the Association of American Medical Colleges sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urging them, as they consider changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and any future reform, to uphold a number of key principles, such as making high-quality, affordable health insurance available to all; relying on the expertise of health care stakeholders in developing any new plans; and ensuring that payments to physicians and hospitals be at sufficient levels to ensure that access to care is not compromised. Whether or not the act is repealed or revamped, I think politicians will reinstate the programs that are working. Meanwhile, we can continue to frame our work into any new structure.

This newsletter once again highlights programs in which innovative thinking is leading to improved care. In Columbia, Howard County General Hospital is co-leading a community health partnership to help high users of hospital care take charge of their health needs and stay well at home. The Johns Hopkins After-Care Clinic, which offers primary care follow-up services to patients discharged from The Johns Hopkins Hospital and its Emergency Department, is demonstrating big savings by intervening before repeat ED visits or hospital readmissions occur. A novel program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Florida is decreasing lengths of stay and time to hospital discharge. Efforts like these all are geared toward achieving the Triple Aim. Let’s do all that we can to put the patient first, while we continue to leverage all incentives to drive improved health care, improved outcomes and better costs.


Patricia Brown
President, Johns Hopkins HealthCare