17 health systems look to digital tech to aid care for underserved

To address the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations, 17 health systems across the country are collaborating to develop and scale digital solutions to improve care for those enrolled in Medicaid.

The Medicaid Transformation Project, a nationwide initiative, will be co-led by health systems network AVIA and former CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, founder of Town Hall Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in entrepreneurs improving the health of underserved populations.

“The current healthcare system fails the people who need it most,” said Slavitt in a written statement. “The Medicaid Transformation Project will be part of a decade-long journey leading some of the best health systems in the country. Our work will be to deepen and refine the best innovations and then implement them at an accelerated pace at providers across the country.”

Specifically, the effort will focus on five critical challenges confronting vulnerable populations, four of which have been identified: behavioral health, women and infant care, substance use disorder and avoidable emergency department visits.

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Medical assistant Astrid Garcia, center, takes a patient's blood pressure at a Community Clinic Inc. health center in Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S., on Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Led by the American Medical Association, three of the top five spenders on congressional lobbying have waged a campaign to urge Congress to revamp the way Medicare pays physicians and end the cycle of "doc fix" patches. Senate leaders predict quick action on House-passed legislation when Congress returns April 13 from its two-week recess. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Astrid Garcia

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With one in five Americans covered by Medicaid, Linda Finkel, president of AVIA, contends that there is a growing recognition by health systems that the situation for underserved populations is untenable and financially unsustainable for the country.

“Now is the time to act,” says Finkel. “Digital solutions will be critical and are the best hope health systems have to accelerate quality, reduce costs, provide value, and ultimately meet the needs of underserved individuals and families in their communities.”

The 17 health systems participating in the initiative, operating in 21 states and with more than $100 billion in combined annual revenues, include Advocate Aurora Health, Allina Health, Ballad Health, Baylor Scott & White Health, Christiana Care Health System, Dignity Health, Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, Geisinger, Henry Ford Health System, Memorial Hermann Health System, Navicent Health, OSF HealthCare, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Providence St. Joseph Health, Rush University Medical Center, Spectrum Health and UVA Health System.

“We believe tomorrow’s solutions for today’s health disparities will be rooted in digital solutions and technologies that are easy to implement and scale,” said Nick Turkal, MD, president and CEO of Advocate Aurora Health. “This unique opportunity brings together like-minded systems who are committed to delivering greater value to those who deliver, receive and pay for healthcare.”

All 17 of the health systems participating in the Medicaid Transformation Project are from AVIA’s network, which includes 35 total health systems that collaborate to identify and scale digital solutions, according to Finkel. At each health system participating in the initiative, a core team will implement solutions and share best practices across the network.

“These health systems are stepping up in a very significant way,” she concludes. “We are honored to partner with this powerhouse group of health systems and be an accelerant for the innovative work they’re doing to help vulnerable populations every day.”

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