Partners CFO On The 3-Pronged Future Of Health Care

This is just a snippet from a longer conversation about Partners HealthCare's finances — stay tuned on that — but I thought it was such a nice synthesis of many trends in health care thinking that I wanted to share it right away.

I was speaking with Peter Markell, chief financial officer for Partners. That means he's in charge of quite a few billion dollars — and he struck me as a thoughtful, historically grounded explainer of where all that money goes and why.

[module align="right" width="half" type="pull-quote"]"We'll make some moves, probably in the near future, that might make some people say, 'What the heck are you doing that for?'"[/module]

He offered this tantalizing little quote, which he declined to explain further despite all my entreaties: "We'll make some moves, probably in the near future, that might make some people say, 'What the heck are you doing that for?'"

Partners HealthCare CFO Peter Markell
Partners HealthCare CFO Peter Markell

"I firmly believe we'll end up in three main segments of the [health care] business.

We will have primary care - what I would call preventative health. You're relatively healthy, so how do we work with you to keep you healthy?

But even if you're the healthiest woman ever to walk the face of the earth, stuff will happen. And you will need episodic care. How do we do that episodic care as well as possible?... We are thinking these episodes of care should really take you from the beginning to the end of your episode, which is your being fully functional again, and cover everything you need to do that. So that is a change in how we run ourselves. Even though that's what we're best at, it's a change.

And the third component is these high-risk, high-cost patients. How do we manage them most effectively? And that's what a lot of what we've been doing is leading toward, and that's where a lot of this future investment will be.

This program aired on August 4, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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