Defining and Implementing Value-Based Health Care: A Strategic Framework

Acad Med. 2020 May;95(5):682-685. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003122.


Value in health care is the measured improvement in a person's health outcomes for the cost of achieving that improvement. While some descriptions conflate value-based health care and cost reduction, quality improvement, or patient satisfaction, those efforts-while important-are not the same as value, which focuses primarily on improving patient health outcomes. A decade of research into organizations that have achieved better outcomes while often lowering costs suggests a strategic framework for value-based health care implementation that starts with identifying and understanding a segment of patients whose health and related circumstances create a consistent set of needs. An interdisciplinary team of caregivers then comes together to design and deliver comprehensive solutions to address those needs. The team measures the health outcomes and costs of its care for each patient and uses that information to drive ongoing improvements. Care provided in this way aligns delivery with how patients experience their health and reconnects clinicians to their purpose as healers. It also asks physicians to think differently about their role within the larger care team and about the services that team provides. The authors suggest medical schools should incorporate education on the principles and implementation of value-based health care throughout the undergraduate medical curriculum to prepare their graduates to lead the transformation to value-based health care as they enter the physician workforce.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Humans
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Quality Improvement
  • Social Values*
  • Strategic Planning*