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HHS offers $1B for health care innovations – What would MacGyver do?

With rising health care costs threatening to implode the U.S. economy if we don’t act quickly, the Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday that it will award up to $1 billion dollars for innovative projects that test creative ways to deliver high quality medical care and save money.

Funded by the Affordable Care Act, the Health Care Innovation Challenge will offer grants of $1 million to $30 million to applicants who come up with most compelling new health care delivery ideas. Priority will be given to proposals that expand health care sector jobs.

Anxious to defuse the ticking time bomb of rising U.S. health-care spending, the White House issued a “We Can’t Wait” memo on this initiative. Government experts estimate that annual costs will reach more than $4 trillion by 2017, accounting for $1 out of every $5 the nation spends.

Award “letters of intent” are due December 19, so there’s no time to waste. Which begs the question, what would resourceful, cool-headed, bomb-diffusing TV hero MacGyver do to solve the health-care crisis?

Stanford’s own MacGyver, Arnold Milstein, MD, who oversees a health-care reform ‘SWAT’ team at the university, thinks this initiative might help do the trick, telling me:

With the new health-care law about to expand coverage to millions of Americans, we don’t have the luxury of time. This award will unlock clinician creativity in the design of innovated care models that both curb health spending growth and improve clinical outcomes.

As director of the Stanford’s Clinical Excellence Research Center, Milstein is one of the architects of the “intensified care model,” which strengthens up-front primary care services for patients suffering from severe chronic illnesses, so that downstream expenses like emergency room visits and hospitalizations are reduced. This approach offloads overworked primary care physicians, while creating new jobs for nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, psychologists, and lay health coaches.

Previously: New Stanford center to address inefficient health care delivery, Innovative Stanford clinic to support chronic care patients, Community-based workshops help patients manage chronic illness and Free self-management program offered to people with chronic illness
Photo by Designs 4601/iStock

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