Last week, Extending the Cure (ETC) staff attended Striving for High Value Health Care: Lessons Learned Across the Country, which was a roundtable event organized by NEHI, a Boston-based health policy institute dedicated to lowering the cost and improving the quality of US healthcare. The event coincided with the release of an eponymous publication of stakeholder interviews and case studies to which ETC contributed.

The newly revealed compendium of case studies is a part of NEHI’s Bend the Curve–an effort to provide policymakers with evidence-based tools and recommendations for reducing waste and inefficiency. At the heart of Bend the Curve is a 2011 guide for policymakers that identifies seven areas that constitute over $520 billion in potential cost reductions. According to NEHI, reducing antibiotic overuse is one of these seven opportunities, making up $63 billion in foregone savings second only to improving medication adherence.

As one of the leaders in antibiotic resistance research, Extending the Cure was invited to share our experience in an expansion to the initial Leader’s Guide that now features interviews and real world success stories of health care professionals making important improvements in their organizations.

The roundtable event featured speakers who gave broader context to the publication. J. Michael McGinnis of the Institute of Medicine talked about the IoM report that quantified the extent of wasteful spending in the US at a staggering $765 billion annually in the same ballpark as previous reports. Eric Weil of the Massachusetts General Hospital presented on an intervention that achieved a 13% reduction in MGH emergency department visits by boosting primary care. Finally, William Shrank of the CMS Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation highlighted the mandate and plans of his organization to implement market-based solutions that improve Medicare payment and delivery systems by investing over $10 billion in demonstration projects over the next decade.

Overall, there seemed to be consensus that tackling the challenge of healthcare spending has to be done by re-aligning incentives and ensuring that market forces can influence favorable outcomes for patients. Reducing antibiotic overuse, or, more broadly speaking, conserving the effectiveness of antibiotics, is a major piece of this incentive puzzle, underscoring the role Extending the Cure plays in this debate.