Purchasing value: The Pacific Business Group on Health champions nationwide innovation

July 1, 2008

When Peter Lee stepped down in January from his eight-year tenure as president and CEO of the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), he chose to stay close to home, taking over the new role of executive director of national health policy for this non-profit organization of large employers and other major purchasers. Although Lee wears a new hat, he is confident that he has left the CEO position in the hands of a competent and experienced healthcare thought leader: David Lansky. The duo has easily blended its expertise-Lansky as the information technology whiz and Lee as the national healthcare policy guru and patient advocate. Both share a passion for data and measurement.

When Peter Lee stepped down in January from his eight-year tenure as president and CEO of the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), he chose to stay close to home, taking over the new role of executive director of national health policy for this non-profit organization of large employers and other major purchasers.

"I believe that the next few years mark an important window of opportunity to provide major reform in healthcare, and I want to focus my attention full-time on those efforts," Lee says. "The fact that the PBGH board would allow me to make that change is a reflection of their 'getting it.'"

Although Lee wears a new hat, he is confident that he has left the CEO position in the hands of a competent and experienced healthcare thought leader: David Lansky. The duo has easily blended its expertise-Lansky as the information technology whiz and Lee as the national healthcare policy guru and patient advocate. Both share a passion for data and measurement.

Patient Charter

One of Lee's pet projects is the "Patient Charter for Physician Performance Measurement, Reporting and Tiering Programs," which took a giant step forward in April. Organized by a grant-funded national alliance called the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project, for which Lee serves as co-chair, the initiative resulted in a national set of principles to guide the measurement of doctors' performance and how it's reported to consumers. Health plans that adopt the Patient Charter agree to the measurement and reporting principles. In the months leading up to the Patient Charter, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo had been pressuring the state's insurers to comply with transparency standards, designed to prevent the use of physician ratings to drive patients to the cheapest doctors.

"Consumers are looking for information on providers, information with oversight and transparency that they can trust and understand," says Nancy Nielsen, MD, president-elect of the American Medical Assn. "[Lee] took those preferences and developed a template, a charter with lots of input from both consumers and employers."

Gary Allen, executive director of the Honolulu-based Hawaii Business Health Council, applauds Lee for his ability to carefully choose his crusades and to bring many stakeholders to the table and focus their attention on a common solution. "PBGH's clout has helped the organization build its strength and achieve its goals," Allen says.

"To really make this initiative patient-centric, we have to focus on meaningful outcomes of treatments; patients care about results," he says. "The average American wants help selecting a physician, more than a health plan or a hospital."