What is value-based health care?

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A way of thinking

VBHC is a global movement that offers an approach to the organisation of health care systems that is focused on achieving value for people and communities.

VBHC is a way of thinking, not a strict process that must be followed. It presents a mindset shift, a lens through which we can adopt a helicopter view of a person’s journey through the health system and begin to tackle some of the entrenched wicked problems undermining the sustainability of health systems, by focusing on pursuing the shared goal of improving the outcomes that matter to the people and communities in the most cost effective and equitable way.

A global movement

VBHC is a global movement that is increasingly being adopted around the world to address the sustainability issues undermining healthcare. It offers an evidence-based approach to the organisation of health care systems that is focused on achieving value for people and communities across a full pathway of care, through the equitable and sustainable use of resources.

VBHC originated in the United States where its creators Professors Michael Porter and Elizabeth Teisberg conceptualised value in health care as ‘the measured improvement in a patient’s health outcomes for the cost of achieving that improvement’ that may be reflected in terms of the value equation.

However, as the movement has grown and is increasingly being adopted in systems founded on the principles of universal health coverage, the need to consider community and population health and social, environmental, and cultural outcomes in the conceptualisation of VBHC has arisen. As such understanding and definitions of VBHC have evolved to reflect the local context and embed principles of equity and public value.

Both internationally and here in Australia there are numerous definitions, theories and approaches to achieving value in health care. Context is important with the various definitions reflecting local nuance and priorities. However, all agree that value-based health care is about achieving the best possible outcomes for people receiving care with the lowest possible use of resources.

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