Can this doctor save US healthcare?

If former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was the poster child for the pitfalls of health care reform, then Patrick Conway might be the hidden face of the law's promises.

A pediatrician and top administrator at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center until 2011, Conway is now leading the federal government's efforts to change the health care system – from one that rewards quantity to one that rewards quality.

Right now, health care providers are generally paid – whether by an insurance company or the government's Medicare or Medicaid programs – for each procedure, each test and each patient appointment they conduct. Health care experts have long argued this provides a perverse incentive for providers, because there are no rewards for keeping patients healthy and out of the hospital or the doctor's office.

To help flip that equation, the Affordable Care Act created an "Innovation Center," funded to the tune of $10 billion over 10 years and housed at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the government agency that administers those two federal health care programs.

The 40-year-old Conway is CMS's innovation chief, along with several other more official titles. His mission is to achieve what health care wonks call the "triple aim": bring down sky-high health care costs, while achieving better outcomes for patients and higher quality of care across the system.

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