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HIT Think

Why practices need creative partnerships to achieve customized breakthroughs

Physician practice managers know that it takes much more than technology to successfully navigate today’s increasing cost pressures.

The technology available to help physician practices move from fee-for-service to value-based care and deliver better care can’t—on its own—guarantee success. Achieving a high level of positive results comes from aligning the right technology investments with strategic partnerships and targeted expertise.

At times, the best innovations come when partners are empowered and supported to find customized solutions. One example is a partnership between our two organizations, forged in New York’s Capital Region to better serve patients in the eight-county region.

Community Care Physicians, the region’s largest, independent multi-specialty medical group with 420 practitioners across 80 locations and 30 specialties, took steps to direct its own path in data science for improved patient outcomes and to achieve practice efficiencies.

CCP has long recognized the power of technology and partnership to achieve its goals. In 2005, it transitioned physical patient charts to an electronic health records (EHR) system. Since that time, CCP has continued to identify new ways to integrate technology into patient care to enhance the patient-physician relationship and streamline the delivery of care.

CCP operates with two instances of the Allscripts TouchWorks EHR and multiple other IT systems. Practice administrators faced the challenge of consolidating reporting requirements for population health and payers in a mixed operating environment where fee-for-service still prevails next to risk-based contracts.

For example, realizing the potential for delivering value-based care (where quality is defined as improved health outcomes, and financial returns are measured through cost savings) and doing so in this mixed operating environment, physicians of CCP invested in the creation of Acuitas Health three years ago.

Albany, NY-based Acuitas Health is a population health and value-based solutions company formed through a partnership between the physician investors and a local payer, Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan.

Acuitas Health’s objective is to build a protective cushion around the one-to-one relationship primary care physicians have with their patients. The company takes the complexity of value-based contracts and requirements and helps re-introduce meaningful, actionable information into the practice workflow.

Working with their clinical partners in CCP, Acuitas Health developed a customized solution that places claims information at the point of care in the EHR—that recognizes that reporting and sharing patient data are key in the delivery of value-based care. This enables clinicians to understand the acuity of patients across the continuum of care within its own practice and outside of it. With this understanding, clinicians and site managers have the information they need to care for patients, accurately code encounters and achieve the business’ financial goals.

Correctly coding patient acuity improves shared savings, and this accuracy is critical when operating in a risk-based environment.

There have been multiple benefits realized from this partnership approach.

• Practitioners see accurate coding as an opportunity to deliver better care because they understand the patient holistically using advanced analyses.

• Coding with more specificity means providers can adjust risk factors in real time.

• Shared savings is achieved more effectively.

• Data that previously took months to compile is available at the point of care.

• Putting claims information at the point of care (in the EHR) addresses clinician burden, since clinicians don’t have to look elsewhere to find it.

We believe that, to be successful and remain independent, practices like CCP must pool their expertise with strategic partners to deliver new solutions exactly when and where they are most needed.

Keegan Bailey, MS, Strategy and Technology Leader at Acuitas Health, also contributed to this article.

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