4 October 2012

AMGA Releases Definition of High-Performing Health Systems to Aid and Educate Legislators, Public, and Providers
Defining High-Performing Health Systems "Foundational" to Health Care Reform

ALEXANDRIA, VA-The American Medical Group Association (AMGA) today released its definition of high-performing health systems to educate legislators and the public about the need to foster meaningful change that promotes the unique attributes of these systems and to aid provider organizations in their efforts to improve patient care. The definition is the result of extensive work by AMGA member-driven work groups, the AMGA Public Policy Committee, and the AMGA Board of Directors.

"As health reform continues in the public and private sectors across the nation, we've seen a lot of confusion about what constitutes a 'high-performing health system,' and why these systems should be incentivized," explained Donald W. Fisher, Ph.D., CAE, AMGA president and chief executive officer. "Because our members are on the cutting edge of health care quality and innovation, AMGA believed it was imperative that we assume a leadership position in defining a high-performing health system to educate legislators, insurers, and the public."

As defined by AMGA, high-performing health systems are provider entities that demonstrate: 

  • Quality measurement and improvement activities across sites of care and between patient visits;
  • Use of a team-based approach that supports collaboration and communication among the patient, physician, and licensed or certified medical professionals who are working at the top of their field across medical specialties and health care specialties;
  • Meaningful use of interoperable information technology, scientific evidence, and comparative analytics;
  • Use of compensation structures that provide incentives to physicians and licensed and certified medical professionals to improve the health and outcomes of populations; and
  • Shared financial and regulatory responsibility and accountability for successfully managing the per capita cost of health care, improving the patient care experience, and improving the health of its respective populations.
  • Physician leadership in medical care and shared responsibility for non-clinical activities

Continuing, Dr. Fisher added, "It is our hope that this definition will prove foundational to providing high-performing health systems with greater financial and regulatory predictability and patients with higher quality care at a lower cost. We believe that provider entities can use these attributes as goals for operational and quality improvement. We hope our colleagues on Capitol Hill and at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will use this definition to ensure that these providers are recognized for their efforts.  As the old adage goes 'actions speak louder than words,' but in this case, we're hoping our words lead to bold federal actions."

Dr. Fisher unveiled the definition at the IQL 2012 Annual Conference, October 3 - 5 at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort & Conference Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The year's annual meeting of the association's Institute for Quality Leadership (IQL) explores successful models of accountable care including the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the ACO Pioneer program, and various commercial insurance models.

For a detailed definition, visit

The American Medical Group Association represents medical groups, including some of the nation's largest, most prestigious medical practices, independent practice associations, and integrated healthcare delivery systems. AMGA's mission is to improve health care for patients by supporting multispecialty medical groups and other organized systems of care. More than 117,000 physicians practice in AMGA member organizations, providing healthcare services for 110 million patients in 49 states (nearly one in three Americans). Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, AMGA is the strategic partner for these organizations, providing a comprehensive package of benefits, including political advocacy, educational and networking programs, publications, benchmarking data services, and financial and operations assistance.