Access to care goes beyond coverage. It depends on availability of qualified health care workers. Arizona has consistently had far fewer physicians and nurses per capita than the national average. It’s time to change.
Arizonans are taking advantage of coverage opportunities through AHCCCS (Arizona Medicaid) and the Health Insurance Marketplace. At the same time, there is greater emphasis than any time in recent memory on innovation, prevention, coordination of care, and bending the cost curve. The Affordable Care Act and population changes are driving shifts in health care practices.
That combination of increased access and momentum to change practices breeds opportunity. And that’s where The Phoenix Health Care Sector Partnership comes in. It emerged from Phoenix’s Workforce Readiness Initiative. The city of Phoenix, Arizona Commerce Authority, Maricopa Workforce Connections, Maricopa Community Colleges and more than 35 health care organizations are participating.
Together, they are focusing on improved health outcomes and healthcare system changes that spur economic growth. The collaboration, in which St. Luke’s Health Initiatives is a partner, has identified opportunities to:
- Grow the healthcare workforce, producing high-wage jobs, strengthening the healthcare system and satisfying increased demand.
- Highlight opportunities for wellness and quality of life, focusing on the goal of attracting new businesses and young talent to the region.
- Foster further health care innovation, building on our assets. AHCCCS serves as a national model for controlling costs and emphasizing community-based care. Accountable Care Organization models are flourishing here. Arizona has made great strides positioning itself as a leader in the biosciences.
- Develop collaborations to make healthcare more cost-effective. Replicable pilot partnerships are already reducing unnecessary emergency room visits and prioritizing community-based care. When hospitals, community organizations, emergency responders and behavioral health providers coordinate their efforts, they are producing better outcomes while reducing costs.
- Attract medical tourism. Arizona can tap into its climate and international leadership in specialties such as neurology to foster new growth opportunities.
In December 2014 the collaborative produced it’s first publication, Health Workforce, Healthy Economy, that discusses Arizona’s unique opportunities for simultaneously improving access to care and growing higher wage jobs.