The last day of the 2016 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Conference brought together three former and present CMS administrators, Mark McClellan, Don Berwick and Andy Slavitt, in one room for the first time to discuss their perspectives on the state of health care today and their vision for the future of quality improvement.
Slavitt was able to sit down with Jean Moody-Williams, deputy director of CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, for an in-depth conversation. Slavitt shared insights from his time as CMS acting administrator and his hopes for the next person to “hold the baton” at the agency. Read a condensed version of their conversation here.
“It’s exciting for me to be here to see the trajectory that you’re on at CMS,” said McClellan, director of the Robert J. Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University, as he took the stage to share his outlook on health care reform.
“Real health care reform takes place between patients and their providers,” McClellan said. In 2017, he resolved, we’ll see a greater emphasis on state initiatives, alternative payment models and, most importantly, patient engagement in financing reforms.
“When the seas get rough, you better have a compass. Our compasses are the values that unite us — helping people to live long, healthy lives and relieve suffering — and CMS is here to carry that forward,” said Don Berwick, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
Berwick continued, “When a patient doesn’t feel respect, we’ve harmed them.” After discussing the importance of CMS’ new goal of achieving a 20 percent reduction in harm and 12 percent reduction in readmissions, Berwick challeged attendees to, “Go for it.”
In closing, Dennis Wagner, director of CMS’ Quality Improvement and Innovation Group, encouraged the room to “wind up, not down.”
“We know change is coming. We had a lot of change the last few years, and we should expect even more [in 2017].” Wagner closed by asking the audience to “foster resilience in ourselves by focusing on two key things — purpose and partners.”