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How Intermountain is making healthcare more affordable

How Intermountain is making healthcare more affordable

By Joe Mott, Vice President, Healthcare Transformation

Dec 11, 2014

Updated Nov 17, 2023

5 min read


Intermountain has demonstrated that in healthcare, higher quality often costs less. Patients have better medical outcomes and tend to experience fewer complications and readmissions. Shared Accountability is based on the idea that everyone involved in healthcare has a role to play in achieving better health: patients and health plan members, healthcare organizations, physicians, payers, and the community.

Put simply, we at Intermountain will significantly reduce the rate at which healthcare costs increase by:

  • Continuing our efficiency efforts.
  • Consistently implementing best-practice standards using evidence-based care that provides the patient with the right care, in the right setting, at the right time, by the right providers.
  • Aligning financial incentives for everyone involved in healthcare to encourage health and highly effective care.

Three basic factors contribute to overall healthcare costs:

  1. The number of episodes of care (called “Population Utilization”), like a hospital stay.
  2. The number of processes or units of care used within each episode (called “Intracase Utilization”), like how many lab tests or MRIs were used during a hospital stay.
  3. The cost-effectiveness of each process or unit of care (referred to as “efficiency”), like the cost of an MRI.

Even if hospitals operate very efficiently and reduce the cost of individual units of care like blood draws, costs will still tend to rise if more patients are using more services.

What is Intermountain doing to help make care more affordable?

At Intermountain, we’re addressing all three components of cost. We’ve been focusing on efficiency since Intermountain was founded back in 1975, and we’ll continue to do so.

Intermountain Healthcare’s “Shared Accountability” initiative is helping address the other two components of healthcare costs: “Population Utilization” (the number of cases or demand for services); and “Intracase Utilization” (the number of units of care used in each case). We’re trying to reduce the demand or need for services by keeping patients as healthy as possible as well as getting much better at identifying which treatments really will help patients. And we’re trying to ensure the appropriate number of units of care are used by focusing even more on best practices and evidence-based medicine.

We’ve provided wellness and care management programs for years to help our patients and plan members stay healthy. We’ve also promoted best practices through our Clinical Programs and Services. But now we’re taking those efforts to a whole new level. We believe we can make a dramatic improvement in clinical quality and outcomes. At the same time, we are working to reduce the rate of cost increases close to that of general inflation by 2016.