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New online tool can help employers improve the value of health services they purchase for workers

Private employers estimate their health care costs in 2002 will be nearly 14 percent higher than they were in 2001. The recent surge in costs, coupled with the current economic uncertainty, is prompting many employers to question the value of their health care spending.

Although a growing number of large businesses are developing and implementing strategies intended to improve the value of the health services they purchase, there is very little evidence so far on the impact of these efforts. Now there is a new Web-based tool for use by businesses and other health care purchasers to help them evaluate the effectiveness of their health insurance contracting processes so they can obtain better quality care for covered workers and their families.

The new tool is an online guide, Evaluating the Impact of Value-Based Purchasing Initiatives: A Guide for Purchasers.

The guide encourages formal evaluations of value-based purchasing activities and provides a highly detailed, step-by-step evaluation process that users can adapt to their individual programs.

Developed for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality by Dennis P. Scanlon, Ph.D., a professor at Pennsylvania State University, the guide helps users define their organization's value-based purchasing activities and goals; determine the necessity, appropriateness, and feasibility of an evaluation; choose a research design to assess impact; implement the research; and summarize the results and interpret the implications.

Print copies of Evaluating the Impact of Value-Based Purchasing Initiatives: A Guide for Purchasers (AHRQ Publication No. 02-0029) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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