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6 Health Systems Team with Dartmouth to Study Quality, Costs

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 15, 2010

Billed as a first-of-its-kind program, six leading health systems have announced that they are collaborating with the Dartmouth Institute to share information on outcomes, quality, and healthcare costs across a range of common conditions and treatments.

"The intractable problems of quality and cost cannot be solved without getting to the fundamental issue of how we deliver healthcare in this country," said Brent James MD, chief quality officer at Intermountain Healthcare and Executive Director of the Intermountain Institute for Health Care Delivery Research, in  a statement. "By collaborating to gather data and identify the most effective care models, we can address variation in treatment, cost, and outcomes to give patients the quality care they need and bend the cost curve down in a meaningful way."

The systems joining hands are the Cleveland Clinic, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Denver Health, Geisinger Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, and Mayo Clinic. They have a combined population of 10 million patients.

For 20 years, the Dartmouth Institute has analyzed Medicare claims data and its major work, the Dartmouth Atlas, has produced statistics showing major variation in healthcare outcome and spending across the country. That work was a keystone in the healthcare reform debate leading to regulations establishing more federal funding for comparative effectiveness research.

"There is broad support from other health care systems across the country who want to participate in the work of the Collaborative," said Dr. James Weinstein, Director of The Dartmouth Institute. "It would be enormously valuable to have the broadest geographic and demographic representation in the sharing of outcomes and experience."