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Adding quality to the mix

New Mexicans have always stepped up to a challenge and, in 2015, a small but dedicated group is working to make a difference in health care.

The group has done what a few months ago we thought would be impossible – transformed into a purchaser-led, multi-stakeholder, nonprofit coalition – the New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Value.

We have evolved from a nationally funded grant program to one that is financed and operated by those it serves – health care providers, employers and health plans. We have made this leap through member acknowledgement of past success and a vision for success.

The firm base laid through Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality galvanized the new group. That group, the New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Quality – supported by the nonprofit HealthInsight of New Mexico – came about in 2009 to align multi-stakeholders in transforming health care focused on improving quality and decreasing costs of health care in New Mexico.

The coalition created some efficiencies and addressed some hard questions. These include: “What is the common good?” and “Does it align with the competitive business model of great quality at the right cost, and providing care at the right time and in the right setting, avoiding duplication of care, including diagnostics, by combining the resources of people, time and money?”

As the foundation’s generous funding ceased in April, there was a fear that the good work would not continue. However, those in the coalition decided in this instance that the work was too valuable and so eliminated that possibility. They worked to obtain funding, recruit founding members and filed articles of incorporation at the state level, and are filing for a 501c3 tax-exempt status – all to improve the value of health care.

While coalition members establish the organization’s direction, no one entity – employers, clinicians, insurance companies or consumers – can influence and drive the change that we need in the health care system alone.

Our goal is to have the most affordable, highest quality health care in the nation – a key to attract and retain jobs, and improve the health and quality of life for all New Mexicans.

Our outlook for 2015 is bright.

We are renewing our emphasis on increasing transparency. We are working to strengthen business and government purchaser buying power.

We are helping employers make smarter decisions about their health care purchases so that, ultimately, the patient will benefit and we are undertaking real trailblazing work.

As one founding member has stated, all of our work has a bottom line and now the outlook is very positive.

For many years, access and cost were the only health care improvements discussed. Our efforts have added a bonus – quality. We added quality to the mix by inviting members of the community – purchasers, employers, physicians, hospitals, consumers and state leaders – to discuss common issues, solutions and shared learning in a neutral zone.

The New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Value is an opportunity for New Mexico to be first on the list of better health care, not last.

With information comes power, and consumers and purchasers will be able to select their best options, while the health care organizations themselves undergo improvements.

Our founding members include Albuquerque Public Schools, Bernalillo County, the city of Albuquerque, Health Insight, New Mexico Health Connections, New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority, Presbyterian Health Plan, Presbyterian Medical Services, PNM Resources and Sandia National Laboratories.

We are extending an open invitation for others to join us so the New Mexico Coalition for Health Care Quality has the power to bring about real change. This is an opportunity for everyone to join us as we transform health care for all New Mexicans.