Guest Blog from The National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions:
Employers are the Change Agents of Healthcare
By Michael Thompson
I have often cited that employers, as the main purchasers of healthcare, sit on top of the supply chain and have the potential to lead the much-needed transformation of this market. While a number of substantive changes in this industry have come from Medicare, many improvements that have occurred in our public programs have been built on the learnings and innovations led by employers themselves. The historical list of employer-led innovation is long -- cost containment, managed care, quality measures (NCQA), hospital patient safety (The Leapfrog Group), population health, consumerism, etc.
But the job is far from done, and the issues have become even more urgent:
The time is now for a new generation of disruption and leadership from the employer community. And that is what is we are seeing as referenced by the recent article in Harvard Business Review by Walmart’s Lisa Woods, Geisinger Health System’s Dr. Jonathan Slotkin and colleagues – How Employers are Fixing Health Care and news of progress on Haven, the Amazon joint venture to revamp healthcare.
In the end, employers must act in concert, together, effecting change region by region while accelerating the ability to adapt those changes through a national framework. Our coalitions and the National Alliance can be great enablers of this next generation of employer healthcare leaders. While it’s not a new battle but the next generation of leaders is just getting started in taking it on and this change effort is essential!
Click here to visit NAHPC's website
YMCA Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program: TAKE ACTION FOR HEART HEALTH
by Caroline Rankin, MPH, Executive Director of Health Innovations, YMCA of Central Ohio
The YMCA of Central Ohio has been a leading force in Health and Wellness for nearly 160 years. The YMCA has been unafraid to take on life's many challenges including chronic disease, child abuse, and homelessness by offering wellness programs, child care, and housing.
Individuals come to the Y because we are a trusted community organization and can provide programming to support a healthier lifestyle. With approximately 1 in every 3 adults or 75 million American adults having been diagnosed with High Blood Pressure the YMCA provides the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program. The four month program helps adults with hypertension lower and manage their blood pressure. The program focuses on regulated home self- monitoring using proper measuring techniques, individualize support and nutrition education for better blood pressure management. With the support from a trained Health Heart Ambassador a participant measures and records their blood pressure at least two times per month with a BP cuff that is provided, attend two personalized consultation per month and monthly nutritional sessions.
Research shows that the process of recording blood pressure at least twice a month over a period of four months has been shown to lower blood pressure in many people with high blood pressure.
Goals of the program include
The YMCA of Central Ohio began offering the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring program in September 2018. The program is offered at YMCA branches, employer sites and community locations. The program is fee based and with the support of the Ohio Department of Health funding is available to support individuals at 200% or below the poverty level. In 2020 the Y will begin piloting this program with an insurer to serve a selected number of individuals with diagnosed hypertension.
A group of male residents living at the downtown Y participated in the program. The Healthy Heart Ambassador went to the Y to hold the bi-weekly check-ins and lead the monthly nutritional sessions. Joe, one of the residents shared he did not realize how serious HP pressure was and how much it impacted his health. He participated in the program to learn how to better manage his hypertension. Through the program he gained greater knowledge on his health, diet and sodium intake. He now reaches for the label and not the salt shaker. During the four months he shared his blood pressure was checked more than it had been the entire year prior. He sees taking his blood pressure as a necessity, not an inconvenience.
If you are interested in learning more on the program or how to get someone enroll please contact Caroline Rankin at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit
Update on HCGC led Patient Family Advisory Councils
by David Brackett, Vice President of Accounting and Special Projects, HCGC
In an effort to emphasize true patient-centered primary care, Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) requires participating practices to convene Patient-Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) at each of their sites on a regular basis. Since August of 2017 HCGC has worked with Central Ohio Primary Care (COPC), the country’s largest physician owned primary care group to help facilitate PFACs at each of their 39 CPC+ sites.
Since then, COPC has held more than 375 successful council meetings engaging more than 1700 patients since. Over the last ten quarters of implementation, October-December 2018 saw the highest total attendance across all practice sites with 231 patients attending a meeting! Our average quarterly attendance total was 189 attendees and the average attendance per site at each meeting was 5 attendees. HCGC worked with staff across practices to design and execute meetings on a quarterly basis that involved patient education, experience, and quality improvement. Many practices sites were able to use PFAC members to help improve patient experience around the office and get feedback on what the practice is doing well. A representative from HCGC has been able to attend most of these meetings to gather organization wide feedback and identify themes that are prevalent across many sites. HCGC is then able to work closely with administrators at COPC to identify solutions and opportunities for additional learning and organizational growth.
Looking ahead to 2020, HCGC, COPC and their PFACs look to sustain the momentum built over the last two years to spread the information, education, and action steps taken as a result of PFAC meetings. Other questions HCGC and COPC will be asking when measuring PFAC success in 2020 and beyond are: How can practices best be supported to bolster recruitment, planning, and executing efforts? In what ways can organization administrators and practices collaborate to stimulate and drive effective, ongoing partnerships for increased quality and patient-experience. The success of PFAC meetings moving forward requires all parties working collaboratively to design, test, and implement interventions and processes that ensure the patient is at the center of their care team and the way they experience care.
How is your organization engaging patients to improve experience and quality in 2020?
If you have questions, or would like to learn more about Patient and Family Advisory Councils or engagement, please contact David Brackett at email@example.com.
Community Health Workers’ Role in Screening for Social Determinants of Health
By Tanikka C. Price, Data and Finance Director,
Central Ohio Pathways HUB
Health is more than just going to a doctor’s appointment. It is wellness; feeling good and being empowered to make decisions for yourself and your family. Health is impacted by where you live, where you work, what you eat, how you provide for your basic needs, how you get where you need to be and how safe you feel in your most intimate relationships. For too many families, health is impacted by all the things that happen before they get to the doctor’s office. These elements are known as Social Determinants of Health (SDoH).
The Central Ohio Pathways HUB (the HUB), a care coordination program managed by the Healthcare Collaborative of Greater Columbus (HCGC), deploys community health workers (CHWs) to address clients' SDoH in order to provide connections to appropriate health and social services and care to our region’s most vulnerable populations.
On December 19th, HCGC will welcome our partners at Franklin County Public Health, who will provide an update on CORE 5, a screening tool for SDoH. We know that clients in the HUB all have unique needs that need to be addressed, and learning more about CORE 5 and how it is being introduced into medical settings will be very helpful to inform the work that CHWs do for HUB clients. Click here for more information and to register for the webinar.
The Core 5 basic determinants of health are:
CHWs have the unique perspective to meet clients where they are, address their needs, as well as provide referrals to medical and social services. This has the potential to build an ongoing, trusting relationship with providers in the communities in which the HUB serves for future collaboration.
As we move into programming and education opportunities for HUB CHWs in 2020, HCGC plans to continue providing training on the various services that each HUB Care Coordination Agency (CCA) has to offer HUB clients. The ten CCAs currently participating in the HUB provide a wide array of services including pre-and post-natal care to address the infant mortality crisis, opioid prevention and treatment, theft diversion, mental health referrals and several chronic disease management and wellness services and referrals.
HUB CHWs meet clients where they are and provide access to nutritious food, housing, funding for utilities, transportation and support for those experiencing IPV. Serving as community connecters, CHWs have the unique opportunity to connect clients to services provided by CCAs, and have first-hand knowledge of what referrals are appropriate and where the most up-to-date referral sites are located. It is the relationship and trust that is built with the CHW that allows the client to follow through with the plan and referral process, which results in better outcomes and overall health for people in Central Ohio.
We hope you will join us on December 19th to learn more about the current state of the CORE 5 SDoH screening tool, and partake in a community conversation about the future of screening for SDoH.
Integrating Social Determinant of Health Data with Regional Quality Data Reporting
by Heidi Christman, Director of Communications, HCGC
Central Ohio providers continue to be open and transparent with one another about how they perform on specific quality measures with an eye on improving health and healthcare delivery across the region. HCGC is pleased to release our second regional quality report of 2019 with data on nine clinical quality measures from11 healthcare organizations representing over 140 primary care practice sites that are caring for more than 640,000 patients across Central Ohio. Our Quality Improvement Learning Group (QILG) hosts quarterly work sessions for practices and quality improvement system leaders to evaluate regional performance, set goals, and align improvement activities at a system and practice level.
Since 2014, the report has been released twice a year, providing benchmarking, trends and important insights to help as practices strive for continuous improvement. Over the years, HCGC has increased the number of practices from just over 80 reporting in 2014, to 159 in the report released earlier this year. The number of quality measures has also increased as a result of the collaborative work of the QILG.
For the first time, the most current report includes social determinant of health (SDOH) data. HCGC is excited to add this important data to our regional quality reporting, as we feel as though it will inform, expand and improve the clinical data we will continue to collect in conjunction with the traditional regional quality report. We have been able to add SDOH data because of our work with the Central Ohio Pathways HUB (the HUB.) Patient level data has been collected on both risks and outcomes that have addressed client needs in real time through the outstanding work of community health workers (CHWs) identifying, meeting with, and serving clients around central Ohio. The CHWs work at 10 care coordination agencies (CCAs), and are able to find, treat and measure client progress and SDOH data via the HUB’s information technology system. The current report focuses on HUB adult (18+ y/o males & 45+ y/o women) clients to align with the clinical data in the quality report. In this section of the report, we have highlighted hypertension data, again, as a way to align with the Controlling High Blood Pressure measure in the traditional quality report. The two sets of data are not exact comparisons in terms of reporting and collection. The HUB data is self-reported by clients, while the clinical quality transparency data is currently self-reported at the practice level. While we realize that this is just a start, and not yet actionable, we are hopeful that adding SDOH data will provide the building blocks to start gathering, analyzing and one day, acting upon this important information. In the future, we hope to add other SDOH measures that align with the clinical data, including depression/PHQ-9, breast health, pregnancy and infant mortality and diabetes/A1C.
The HUB continues to grow rapidly in terms of clients, services and agencies participating. This growth provides potential for the SDOH data to add further insight to the regional quality report as a whole regarding service delivery, trends, and gaps.
HCGC’s vision for continuing to add this data is to have a functioning integrated data system with multi-level reporting that can be contributed to and shared with providers and community partners to inform connections, performance and improvement work. It is our hope that integrating social and clinical data at a regional level will drive a cultural change in transparency and improvement, not just from a clinical and cost perspective, but also as a way to impact social and public health at a community level.
If you have questions, or would like to participate in our Quality Improvement Learning Group or the Central Ohio Pathways HUB, please contact David Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org or Carrie Baker at email@example.com.
Emerging Opportunities to Provide Care Coordination through the Central Ohio Pathways HUB
by Heidi Christman, Director of Communications, HCGC
Since January of this year, HCGC has been managing the Central Ohio Pathways HUB, a care coordination program that links the most at-risk populations in our region to services that address their social, economic, and both mental and physical health needs. We have seen great success in connecting clients with several services including insurance enrollment; establishing a medical home with a primary care physician; access to mental health services; addiction and cessation services for drugs, alcohol and nicotine; prenatal and postnatal care for new mothers and their babies; stable, affordable housing; reliable, coordinated transportation; chronic disease management; and various education opportunities regarding a plethora of subject matter including safe sleep for babies and insurance renewal requirements. Through the supervision of ten Care Coordination Agencies (CCAs), our HUB Community Health Workers (CHWs) have enrolled 387 clients in the HUB, with 251 of those individuals being currently active in the system. Those 387 clients have accounted for over 2,800 Pathways, or connections to the aforementioned and other care and services.
At just nine months under HCGC management and just seven months of actively accepting clients, we have seen great opportunity in how we deliver these services to the community. HUBs around the country, and certainly in the state of Ohio have typically been focused on Infant Mortality and efforts to decrease racial disparities in that space. The Central Ohio Pathways HUB has certainly continued that tradition. Since March of this year, our HUB has twenty nine closed Pregnancy Pathways resulting in thirty live births (one set of twins), and twenty five of those births resulted in healthy birthweight babies, including the set of twins. Nineteen of these babies were born to black mothers, six to white mothers, and the remainder were born to mothers of various racial and ethnic backgrounds.
We are proud of this work and plan to expand and improve upon it, and we have also seen great opportunity to utilize all twenty Pathways in other sectors of the population at large. We have been thrilled to share the HUB model with our partners in the Columbus City Attorney’s Office. Since June, City Attorney Zach Klein and his team have put in place a theft diversion pilot program, which allows petty theft offenders to enter the HUB at their first court appearance. If they complete the six-month program by showing progress and a will to engage, the offense is removed from their record. There are currently HUB 26 clients enrolled in this program. City Attorney Klein and the Columbus City Council awarded Central Ohio Pathways HUB $25,000 to cover the care of clients who are not eligible for Medicaid coverage, or, as we call those instances in the HUB, in-kind clients.
Another exciting partnership that we have established just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is with the Susan G. Komen of Columbus Foundation. Komen of Columbus has provided our HUB with a $15,000 grant to provide breast health education and referrals for screening and treatment to women and men who are being seen by a CHW. These grant dollars will also fund in-kind clients who are not covered by Medicaid Managed Care.
Fifty percent of breast cancer deaths in black women in Columbus are found in five zip codes. There are great racial disparities in access to quality breast health screening and referral, and Komen sees the HUB model as a great way to start to help narrow those gaps in access. CHWs in the HUB have access to unique populations, some of which are in those five area codes that are disproportionately affected by lack of access to breast health services. Through this work, CHWs will educate both women and men on self-breast health awareness, encourage clients to assess risk, identify clients at risk and link to available resources, continue addressing the other needs and social determinants of health of clients at risk, and provide feedback to Komen about barriers or issues in the system. CHWs will officially begin providing these services on October 1st, and HCGC looks forward to supporting this important work in our community.
For more information on the Central Ohio Pathways HUB, please visit our website, hcgc.org, or contact the HUB Executive Director, Jenelle Hoseus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columbus Medical Association Guest Blog:
Let’s “Move the Needle” on Flu Vaccination in Ohio
The Columbus Medical Association (CMA) is excited to announce that today is the launch of the “Move the Needle Challenge,” an innovative approach to increasing flu vaccinations across Ohio while providing an opportunity for physicians to receive their MOC Part IV quality improvement project credit.
CMA, in collaboration with the Healthcare Collaborative of Greater Columbus (HCGC), is a sponsor for MOC Part IV credit through the AMBS. Already, the CMA has an existing menu of approved Q/I projects and the ability to create new initiatives tailored to specific physicians. But what if all physicians in Central Ohio and beyond collectively participated on one project that would demonstrate the impact they can make in the community? Would it provide a sense of accomplishment for physicians and prove they can work together, outside of systems and specialties, for the greater good?
CMA hopes to answer these questions with the “Move the Needle Challenge.” This initiative is intended for practices, physicians, and patients to pass on to their colleagues or friends so they too can take the “challenge” and increase the number of those vaccinated for the flu this year.
The first organization to accept this challenge is Central Ohio Primary Care (COPC). “Our goal in this campaign is to increase vaccination by 20% between now and the end of the year; we challenge all clinicians in all practice settings across our community to join us," said Bill Wulf, MD, CEO Central Ohio Primary Care. "At Central Ohio Primary Care, we take flu vaccinations for ALL of our patients seriously and are so proud and excited to work with the Columbus Medical Association and our physician colleagues across the community to improve influenza vaccination rates.” said Wulf.
Each practice or participant will be able to set their own goals based on their own data and this is free for members of the CMA. "With CMA's Maintenance of Certification Part IV effort, physicians can receive needed quality improvement credits for their Medical Boards; and patients will be more protected during flu season - it's the right thing to do for our community," Wulf added. So, do what’s right for the community and take the challenge today.
Using Technology to Strengthen Information Sharing Between Clinical and Social Service Organizations in our Community
by Carrie Baker, President and CEO, Healthcare Collaborative of Greater Columbus
For the last several years, the Healthcare Collaborative of Greater Columbus (HCGC) has been working with community partners to work within what we call a "medical neighborhood" so we strengthen information sharing and relationships between clinical and social service organizations in our community.
Because of our partners’ strong commitment to this work we all, as individuals and as a community, have learned so much and embarked on improving quality, value and patient experience by collaborating in our community with the assistance of CliniSync's technology platform to exchange patient data.
We recognize that patient healthcare outcomes are dependent on so much more than what happens inside a primary care or hospital’s physical space. Environmental, social and behavioral factors deeply influence health and healthcare status and are often sighted as a reason many people can’t achieve optimal health, both in our region and across the state and country.
Addressing social determinants of health and promoting better connectivity and coordination among all providers – primary care, behavioral health, social services – and by utilizing state-of-the-art technology to assist in doing so is a hallmark of HCGC’s mission and the core of this work with our partners.
A well-coordinated patient experience requires a complete picture of a patient’s health information. This means that every patient’s healthcare provider has a single point of access for referrals and information sharing—from local healthcare providers, social service agencies, and other healthcare stakeholders.
We know that technology cannot replace strong provider relationships, but it can augment a difficult world where data --from screenings and assessments to making a referral and having access to the referral outcomes in real-time --can make a difference. We know that a single, HIPAA compliant portal where all those working with a patient can communicate, reduce duplication or even locate patients and their records is the right path to be taking. And we are grateful, thanks to all of our partners below, to report that in 2018, CliniSync referrals nearly doubled!
As HCGC embarks on more quality and cost data collection and reporting, on addressing social determinants of health through the Central Ohio Pathways HUB in our community. Together, we support specific pilots and projects in the region-addressing transportation needs: reducing senior malnutrition, engaging employers and patients in taking more of a leadership role in the quality of the healthcare they buy/receive.
In partnership with all of you, we believe 2019 will continue to see increases in collaboration via technology. Below is a list of Medical Neighborhood Partners, with more signing up each week. For additional information, please always feel free to contact email@example.com for more information.
Creating Optimism in Advanced Care Planning Conversations
By Jonathan Thorne, M.D., Internal Medicine
“Quality” and “value” metrics are becoming the vernacular for the American healthcare industry payment models, but do we, healthcare providers, offer our patients choices to achieve the highest “quality of life” and receive the best “economical value” during the final weeks or months before they die? The data reveals missed opportunities abound when it comes to discussing goals of care, Advanced Directives and their documentation.
Retrospectively, my medical school education and residency training zeroed in on identifying and treating every disease in the Kelley’s Textbook of Internal Medicine. As an outpatient PCP for 18 years, my focus was on making sure that I met national standard benchmarks of “quality” healthcare including hgbA1c for diabetics, BP for hypertensive patients, routine vaccines at annual physicals, etc. Of course during my early years in practice, when I was documenting on paper and had more time to spend with each patient, conversations about end of life goals were less taxing and less forced. Then, electronic health records arrived and my time was suddenly consumed with documentation, which is ubiquitous across all medical fields.
As I transitioned into a new role in the local emergency department evaluating my medical group’s patients to reduce ED overutilization and offer alternative treatment plans instead of hospitalizations, I realized that very few patients had Advanced Directives or code status in their records. Many patients have terminal illnesses, end-stage chronic diseases and are severely debilitated physically or mentally, but have not had significant meaningful conversations concerning their prognosis and eventual death with their health care team or families. Furthermore, unexpected situations similar to the unfortunate 1990 Terri Schiavo case occur every day resulting in the emotional division of family members, eventual death of an individual and ultimately the death of a family. Hopeless patient suffering and lack of knowledge about prognosis creates anxiety, worry and depression for everyone involved. Tentatively, I began to give patients and their caregivers the information that they really wanted to know despite being a new face to their health care team. Their appreciation was palpable.
The paucity of meaningful conversations and documentation in combination with the overwhelmingly positive patient and family feedback emboldened me to initiate a pilot program in my company in 2017. Starting with building our electronic health record documentation template into the social history, then having discussions with our nurse and social worker care coordinators who were eager to learn more and help educate patients about advanced directives. However, no one is more impactful with these end of life conversations than the physician providers on the health care team, from PCP’s to specialists, surgeons, gynecologists, etc.
Lastly, during a recent patient “group education” meeting, patients and their family members added that they have financial concerns about costly medical procedures, medications and hospitalizations. Most had experiences with loved ones who had died despite increasingly expensive interventions. If they had been informed of a poor prognosis based on measurable functional status tool, such as ECOG or Palliative Performance scales, then they believed that unnecessary suffering and medical expenses would have been avoided. When I noted statistics revealing healthcare costs are an increasing cause for claiming bankruptcy for Medicare patients and the average one night hospital stay in the lowest acuity bed was over $2000 (a critical care bed was over $10,000), they were less than enthused to be hospitalized if they have a poor long term prognosis. Every patient attending the meeting was interested in learning more about Palliative and Hospice care and the means to attain those services when appropriate.
We all owe our patients and their loved ones the peace of mind that accompanies informed decisions regarding advanced care planning and quality of life during their last months and days. If you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you desire the highest quality and value of care? Do you have your Advanced Directives in place and feel confident that your loved ones know what your desires are when you are incapacitated? I am optimistic that as a healthcare community, central Ohio providers will empower our patients and each other to have impactful conversations about what “quality” and “value” mean to each individual.
Quality Transparency and Improvement Across Central Ohio
by Krista Stock, HCGC VP of Quality and Transformation
Central Ohio providers continue to be open and transparent with one another about how they perform on specific quality measures with an eye on improving health and healthcare delivery across the region. HCGC is excited to share the latest regional quality report for nine quality measures based on 2018 data from 16 healthcare organizations representing 159 practice sites that are caring for over 820,000 patients across Central Ohio. The report also features the top performing practices for each measure. This quality transparency and improvement project continues to grow and evolve and we couldn’t be prouder of the collaborative spirit of all of these healthcare leaders who are voluntarily sharing their data and their quality improvement processes and outcomes with one another.
These partner organizations know that although their improvement activities are key to moving the needle on performance metrics, building a culture of improvement is equally important. Without the right culture, the improvement work could merely be an exercise in checking boxes. Earlier this month, project partners convened to share how they are building a culture of improvement within their organizations. Two physician leaders from two different organizations shared how they are engaging providers and care teams in improvement initiatives by being open and transparent with quality data. They are sharing quality performance scores via reports and dashboards across their organizations. Providers can see how one another perform on specific quality metrics, allowing them to benchmark themselves against one another and identify where improvement opportunities exist. Data is constantly updated so that care teams know how their efforts are impacting their patients. Care teams appreciate the transparency and engage in improvement efforts more readily because they can see the data and monitor changes in performance as they make improvements. Building feedback loops for providers and their care teams helps shape a continuous quality improvement culture. It takes time, but building the right culture is foundational to improving how we deliver care for all of our patients.
As we continue to monitor how we are performing as a region, we constantly remind ourselves that this can be a slow process. But getting as many providers and care teams working together as possible, we can start to make more impactful changes that will benefit all patients in the region. We continue to work with these providers to identify and support collaborative improvement opportunities and welcome other provider organizations who want to be part of this important work. For more information about participating in this project, please visit our website or contact HCGC’s Vice President of Quality and Transformation, Krista Stock at firstname.lastname@example.org.