DALLAS--()--Village Health Partners and HealthTexas Provider Network have collaborated with local consulting firm Mercer on behalf of employers to successfully launch a unique, high-quality primary care model catering to individuals with complex health conditions.
“The return on investment is remarkable considering that while studies of other, more traditional patient-centered medical homes have also shown gains in quality, savings results have been mixed”
This advanced care program is called CareConnect. Unlike traditional patient-centered “medical homes” emerging throughout the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, this primary care model matches a very select group of high-performing physicians with chronically ill patients who require “salient caring” – intensive, tailored care.
CareConnect is being used by one national employer with large numbers of employees in Dallas and will be made available to other employers in the Dallas market. The initiative is based on successful programs piloted in other parts of the US, results of which were published by Mercer physician adviser Arnold Milstein, MD, in the policy journal Health Affairs’ blog (http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2009/10/20/are-higher-value-care-models-replicable/#more-2518). First-year results were dramatic, with a 20% reduction in cost (net of plan expenses), 15% or greater improvements in physical and mental functioning, and a 45% reduction in absenteeism.
“The return on investment is remarkable considering that while studies of other, more traditional patient-centered medical homes have also shown gains in quality, savings results have been mixed,” said Mercer’s Eric Bassett, senior partner based in Dallas. “This advanced-care approach is extremely promising as a way to improve quality of care, health care status and costs.”
“What makes this model so effective is that it is driven by physicians and nurses chosen specifically for their ability to deliver better care and to work closely with patients to address their concerns in a highly caring manner. As a result, the care the patients receive through CareConnect from a select panel of primary care physicians is characterized by what has been called ‘salient caring’,” said Neil Smithline, MD, a Mercer physician consultant who has been instrumental in developing the program.
This is because members of the care team – the patient’s primary care physician and a dedicated personal care nurse who works alongside the physician – are chosen because of their ability to provide not only high-quality medical care, but also because they provide the patient with “extra caring”.
“This ‘extra caring’ means being accessible to the patient – through extended evening and weekend hours and ‘virtually’ via online access. It means using a physician-led team of health care providers to coordinate the care of patients to achieve high-quality outcomes at reasonable costs,” added Christopher Crow MD, founder of Village Health Partners.
Major employers are seeking newer and better approaches to caring for their employees with complex or multiple health conditions. Mercer worked with the employer with a large presence in the Dallas area to identify its employees with chronic health conditions. The CareConnect providers Village Health Partners and the HealthTexas Provider Network (HTPN) approached this group of employees to participate in the program, and roughly 40 percent have agreed to do so. Employees must change primary care physicians in some cases, but the primary care physician fee may be waived as one incentive to participation.
CareConnect also dramatically changes physician compensation. Physicians are rewarded for excellent results and for spending additional time with their patients. They are paid an additional fee for the extra care coordination required. They also have the opportunity to receive additional compensation for demonstrated improvement in patient health outcomes.
"Providing new resources and new incentives to mature primary care practices allows them to better serve the most at-risk patients while creating the value we need from our health care system,” said Cliff Fulerton, MD, Chief Quality Officer for HTPN.
Mercer is a global leader in human resource consulting and related services. The firm works with clients to solve their most complex human capital issues by designing and helping manage health, retirement and other benefits. Mercer’s 20,000 employees are based in more than 40 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global team of professional services companies offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and human capital. With 52,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $10 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a global leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a global leader in management consulting. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @MercerInsights.
About HealthTexas Provider Network
Founded in 1994, HealthTexas Provider Network (HTPN) was formed as an innovative partnership between a physician group and Baylor Health Care System (BHCS), one of the largest hospital systems in our market. By aligning ourselves with a common vision, HTPN and BHCS have emerged as one of the premier physician-hospital alliances in the nation.
Headquartered in Dallas, TX, HealthTexas is a multi-specialty medical group that employs over 580 physicians practicing in 183 care delivery sites in the North Texas area. This medical group practice is comprised of 66 primary care centers, 119 specialty care centers including 9 physiatric medicine centers, 7 hospitalist programs, 3 pulmonary critical care units, 12 liver disease outreach centers, 3 senior health centers, 21 cardiovascular care sites, 13 liver health outreach programs, 1 Kidney outreach program, 1 heart failure center and a family practice residency program. In FY12 HealthTexas reported 1.7 million patient visits, and $615 million in gross charges making them one of the leading medical groups in the nation. HealthTexas was named a 2011 American Medical Group Association (AMGA) Acclaim Award Honoree. In 2010 HealthTexas was awarded AMGA's Medical Group Preeminence Award.
About Village Health Partners
Founded in 2003, Village Health Partners is a nationally-recognized family medical practice with two locations in Plano, Texas. Village Health Partners focuses on the quality, access and convenience of care for its patients. The practice uses health information technology such as Electronic Medical Records (EMR), secure e-mail access with doctors and a convenient online portal for patients to request same day appointments and prescription refills. Village Health Partners and its physicians have been recognized by Congress for their efforts to improve healthcare and have received numerous awards including "Practice of the Year," by Physicians Practice, The Davies Award by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Village Health Partners was the first practice in North Texas to achieve the National Center for Quality Assurance's (NCQA) Patient Centered Medical Home Certification as well as Excellence in Diabetes Care. The practice has been repeatedly recognized for Best Doctors in Family Medicine by D Magazine and Texas Monthly. To learn more visit www.villagehealthpartners.com.