For all the power of the federal government to initiate change in the nation's health care system, there is another force that will play an equally powerful role in pushing those changes forward — large employers.

The CEO Council on Health and Innovation comprises leaders from some of the biggest U.S. corporations: Walgreens, Aetna, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, Coca-Cola, Blue Cross Blue Shield, McKinsey & Co., Bank of America and others.

When that many heavy-hitters from the private sector combine muscle to push for change, hospitals, physicians and other health care providers better pay attention.

The council recently released a report that describes what companies can do to accelerate the move from a fee-for-service model to value-based payments. The three chapters in "Building Better Health: Innovative Strategies from America's Business Leaders" focus on improving the health of individuals and communities and on improving the health care system overall. Each chapter looks at key imperatives and common challenges.

The chapter on improving the health care system can enlighten — and perhaps, warn — hospital leaders and other providers about what big business wants and how it intends to get it. Two key imperatives are especially telling.

The first calls on businesses to push for provider participation by implementing incentives and new payment models, making information about provider performance available to payers and patients, and incentivizing employees to select providers that deliver better outcomes.

Another goal is to encourage interoperability and electronic information-sharing, something the CEO panel members complain is woefully lacking in health care today. They intend to change that by making their expectations clear and "by leveraging combined value-based purchasing power." Moreoever, they should make providers become transparent "about the level of electronic information-sharing" they provide and by "aligning incentives with outcomes rather than volume, and modifying benefit design" to encourage employees to choose providers "who share information electronically to support coordinated care."

The report features case studies from some of these big corporations about their initiatives to improve health and health care. While a lot of their intentions already are well-known to most hospital executives, the fact that they've laid them out in a well-organized and readable way for their colleagues in the business world indicates that momentum is building. Health care providers should take a look.