Transforming Health Care, Together
Q. What are the goals of the Better Health Partnership?
A: As a Regional Healthcare Improvement Collaborative, or RHIC, Better Health leads collaborative efforts in the community to improve the quality of health care, health in the region and to reduce costs. Our vision is to make our region a healthier place to live and a better place to do business by transforming health care. Our goal is that every resident receives the right care at the right time in the right place and has access to healthy foods and safe places to lead active lives.

The complexity of health care systems, wide variations across markets and competition within markets require regional strategies to make health care more effective, affordable and accountable for all community stakeholders – patients, employees, businesses, insurance companies and health care providers. Better Health works across the health care system to drive better health and better value for health care – a goal shared by all. Our mission is to provide a safe place for competitors to collaborate. We celebrate improvement and share the “secret sauce” to help spread best practices across the region.
Q: What is a Regional Health Improvement Collaborative, or RHIC?
A:RHIC is a local nonprofit organization governed by a multi-stakeholder board that typically includes health care providers, payers, purchasers and consumers. RHICs help stakeholders identify opportunities to improve the health and health care of their community and facilitate partnerships, strategies and initiatives to address opportunities to transform care. They provide a neutral, trusted mechanism in the community to plan and coordinate and collaborate for successful health care system transformation.
Q: What does Better Health do?
A: Better Health works to transform the health care system, with a particular focus on primary care -- the foundation for high-quality, affordable health care.

Better Health’s core activities to strengthen primary care delivery take aim at improving the rates of appropriate care and good outcomes for people living with common chronic diseases, focusing primarily on diabetes and high blood pressure. These conditions are important to the health of communities and to optimizing the health care system, because complications are life-altering, costly and avoidable. Moreover, they typically can be managed in primary care offices.

Our programs are built on measurement and public reporting of achievement on nationally recognized measures of quality care. Twice yearly reports motivate and inform improvement and provide a yardstick for primary care practices. We sponsor multiple forums for collaborative learning and offer onsite coaching and consulting to help practices provide coordinated, patient-centered care and optimize resources to manage population health.

Better Health increasingly works with employers and health insurance companies to facilitate partnerships with primary care to align new payment mechanisms necessary to support high-performing primary care.
Q. What organizations participate in the Better Health Partnership?
A:We all have a role in improving health care. Better Health welcomes membership of health care providers, employers, insurers, consumers, and community and government organizations. Visit our About Us page to learn more about our participating practices and health organizations.
Q. What is "quality" health care?
A: Health care quality is at the forefront of national policies to improve our health system. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines quality health care as: "doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right person, and having the best possible result." The Institute of Medicine describes it as health care that is:
Safe. Treatment helps patients and does not cause harm.
Effective. Research shows that treatments have positive (good) results.
Patient-centered. Healthcare providers treat all patients with respect and take into account each patient's values about health and quality of life.
Timely. Patients get the care they need at a time when it will do the most good.
Efficient. Treatment does not waste doctors' or patients' money or time.
Equitable. Everyone is entitled to high quality care --men and women of all cultures, income, level of education and social status.
Q. Isn’t the quality of health care already first-rate in Northeast Ohio? What problem is Better Health trying to address?
A: Northeast Ohio is fortunate to have some of the finest doctors and hospitals in the nation. But we all can do better. Wide variations in care and outcomes are well documented in regions throughout the United States, and Northeast Ohio is no exception. When good evidence from research indicates that certain tests or treatments are more likely to result in better health or reduce complications, we should encourage adoption of these “best practices” that improve health and lower costs.

Because 75% of all U.S. health care costs are associated with care for common chronic conditions, better quality of care can also dramatically reduce the costs of health care. Finally, we shed light on disparities in care, by insurance as well as by race, income and educational attainment. Our reports highlight these differences in our region to inform local action, national discussion and policymaking.
Q. How will a performance report improve quality?
A: Research shows that when reports on health care performance are made public, more improvement occurs than if reports are kept private. Public reports are shown to motivate doctors and other health professionals to make changes for improvement, and they help patients better understand what they need to do to improve care. The reports also identify opportunities that health plans, employers, policymakers and community organizations can help address.
Q. How should I use these reports?
A: Everyone has a part to play:
  • Doctors and other health care professionals can learn from each other and look for new approaches to improve the quality of care they provide to their patients.
  • Health insurance companies can 1) partner with primary care practices to support optimization of the evidence-based Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model; 2) ensure benefit designs that provide enrollees with chronic disease ready access and affordability of medications and supplies.
  • Employers and other purchasers can work directly with primary care providers to support the PCMH model; ensure that employees’ benefits make it easy to get appropriate care; encourage healthy behaviors and provide information that employees need to make wise health care choices.
  • Patients should talk with their primary care providers about what they can do for themselves to be healthy -- then gather their health care team to help them do it.
Q. How did Better Health get started?
A: The partnership began in February 2007 with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in its signature Aligning Forces for Quality program, an eight-year program that includes states and communities from Portland, OR, to Portland, ME. Better Health Partnership was started with the leadership of Health Action Council, an employers group on health, the Center for Community Solutions; MetroHealth System and primary care practices from across the health care spectrum – ranging from community health centers that care for people experiencing homelessness to the marquis health systems’ suburban doctors’ offices. From the start, health insurance companies, health agencies, community organizations, employer coalitions and others joined together on our Leadership Team and its working committees.

Our partners support our work by volunteering their time, expertise and resources and through membership dues. Hospitals, primary care practices, health plans, employers and community organizations have become members to support the growing menu of programs and services and to sustain the impact of collaborative work to date.
Q. How can I get involved in Better Health Partnership?
A: We welcome all stakeholders in health care and the health of our region. Contact us at info@betterhealthpartnership.org.