Meaningful health reform in the United States must improve the health of the population while lowering costs. In an effort to provide a framework for doing so, the Institute of Health Care Improvement created the triple aim, which encompasses the goals of (1) improving individual health and experience with the health care system, (2) improving population health, and (3) decreasing the rate of per capita health care costs. Current reform efforts have focused on the development of Patient-Centered Medical Homes (an innovative team-based model of care that facilitates a partnership between the patient's personal physician coordinating care throughout a patient's lifetime to maximize health outcomes), but these relatively narrow efforts are focused on office practice and payment methods and are not generally oriented toward community needs. We sought to apply design research in assessing a community opportunity to apply the triple aim as a strategy to transform health care delivery. Mixed methodology provides greater insight into the unexpressed health needs of individuals and into the creation of delivery systems more likely to achieve the triple aim. In a small, midwestern town, a mixed methods approach was used to assess community health needs to facilitate design and implementation of care delivery systems. The research findings suggest that health system design concepts should focus on the creation of health, not health care; foster simplicity; create nurturing relationships; eliminate user fear; and contain costs. These observations can be helpful to health care professionals who are developing new methods of care delivery and policymakers and payers contemplating new payment systems to achieve the goals of the triple aim.
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