Greater col­lab­o­ra­tion among health-​​care stake­holders, including insurers, physi­cians and employers, could cure the United States’ ailing health-​​care system, according to a new book coau­thored by Eric D. Kupfer­berg, of Northeastern’s Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies (CPS).

High Stakes: The Crit­ical Role of Stake­holders in Health-​​care,” pub­lished in May by Oxford Uni­ver­sity Press, grew out of six years of research with health-​​care leaders, including junior exec­u­tives of phar­ma­ceu­tical firms, direc­tors of public hos­pi­tals and ben­e­fits man­agers of For­tune 500 companies.

The ben­e­fits of stake­holder col­lab­o­ra­tion hold true under a single-​​payer system or under a com­pletely consumer-​​driven health-​​care system,” says Kupfer­berg, a senior assis­tant dean for aca­d­emic and fac­ulty affairs in CPS, where he directs the master of sci­ence pro­gram in reg­u­la­tory affairs for drugs, bio­logics and med­ical devices. “My hope is that it spawns a healthy debate.”

Rather than col­lab­o­rate, health-​​care stake­holders cur­rently com­pete with each other in unre­lenting fashion. “You could chart the com­pe­ti­tion and inef­fi­cient struggle between stake­holder groups,” says Kupfer­berg, “and each would have a hos­tile atti­tude toward at least three others.”

Take, for example, the con­tentious rela­tion­ship between physi­cians and health insurers, who blame each other for the high cost of health-​​care and com­pete for every dollar.

As Kupfer­berg puts it, “Doc­tors view each dollar that a health insur­ance com­pany makes as one less dollar that they need, but insurers who pay physi­cians think of it as one less buck that they make.”

Employers and employees are engaged in a sim­ilar debate over health insur­ance pre­miums, which tend to increase or decrease in con­cert with phys­ical wellness.

Dia­betes, and high blood pres­sure and cho­les­terol levels among employees con­tribute to the health-​​care costs of even the most prof­itable indus­tries, according to Kupfer­berg, who says, “Over­weight employees cost com­pa­nies a fortune.”

The solu­tion, he says, is company-​​wide health pro­grams, in which employees who stay in shape pay lower pre­miums. “If an employee can demon­strate he has main­tained a healthy weight, quit smoking and fol­lowed dis­ease man­age­ment prin­ci­pals, then an employer might reduce his pre­miums,” says Kupferberg.

He sug­gests that hos­pi­tals that agree to take an evidence-​​based approach toward diag­nosing and treating patients could receive more reim­burse­ment money from health care providers. The strategy, in turn, he says, could “increase the quality of care, while reducing cost.”

Politi­cians may begin asking Kupfer­berg for advice on fixing health-​​care. “I expect to be invited into the fray,” he says.