Press Release: How Combined Investments Could Substantially Lower Healthcare Costs & Improve Health

Jodie Silverman, ReThink Health



Cambridge, MA: August 8, 2016 – As reported in this month’s issue of Health Affairs, ReThink Health leaders demonstrate that select, combined investments in clinical and population health, coupled with affordable long-term financial strategies, have the potential to dramatically reduce costs, improve health, and increase health equity over the next 25 years. Using a computer model that simulates a regional health system, the authors revealed a scenario that could reduce healthcare costs by as much as 14 percent and chronic illness by as much as 20 percent, and increase workforce productivity by approximately 9 percent beyond where they would otherwise be by 2040. While the results of the simulation are not predictive, they represent a plausible future consistent with current trends and anticipated population changes – and demonstrate that health transformation is possible.

Given the complexity of the health system, regional leaders are often challenged to determine what approaches will do the most to improve health with the funding that they have available. It is common for leaders to address one or two problems, yet it is rare for them to combine initiatives and funding in a manner that changes the course of the entire system, which this analysis suggests has the greatest promise for health transformation.

The strategy, outlined in “Combined Regional Investments Could Substantially Enhance Health System Performance, and Be Financially Affordable,” involves investments in: delivering higher value care (e.g., eliminating unnecessary services, and enhancing quality and capacity); enabling healthy behaviors; and increasing socio-economic opportunities (e.g., living wage laws, tax credits, childcare subsidies, and vouchers for housing). These initiatives are funded through financial agreements that reduce incentives for costly care (shifting from fee for service to global payment) and also reinvest a share of savings to ensure adequate long-term financing.

“While each of these interventions could be enacted individually, our research suggests that when implemented together, in a carefully orchestrated manner, they could yield substantially better results,” says lead author Jack Homer. “This strategy demonstrates that substantial improvements in the health system are plausible and should be a call to action for regional health leaders across the country.”

The strategy was tested using the ReThink Health Dynamics Model. By simulating how the health system responds to changes, the model allows planners to explore potential investments, either alone or in combinations, and project their short- and long-term outcomes. The model brings together decades of evidence into one analytical framework, providing leaders with a wide-angle view of their health system and a platform for understanding which investments will do the most to save lives, reduce costs, improve quality, enhance equity, and boost productivity.

ReThink Health catalyzes changemakers to reimagine and transform health across the country. ReThink Health was initiated by the Fannie E. Rippel Foundation, which was founded in 1953 to seed innovations in health and health care. For more information: