GE Healthcare Camden Group Insights Blog

Five Focus Areas for Medical Groups in 2017

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jan 26, 2017 12:59:09 PM

By Lucy Zielinski, Vice President, GE Healthcare Camden Group

doctors-300.pngFor medical groups, the last few years have been tumultuous with the shift to value-based care. In 2017, medical groups will continue to experience change on all fronts, including payment, care delivery, and interaction and communication with patients. Medical groups must contend with new payment models, fierce competition in their markets, increased regulatory requirements, clinical advances, digital and information technology changes, and population health management implementation.

In response to these shifts, medical groups should focus on five key areas to position themselves for the future. As Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” And that is what medical groups need to do in 2017: build the new by transforming the old ways of practice management.

To read this article in its entirely, please click the button below to be taken directly to the HFMA website.

Medical Groups, 2017 Trends

Topics: Population Health, Medical Groups, Patient Access, Trends, Medical Group Transformation

Operationalize Population Health With a Focus on Consumer Access

Posted by Matthew Smith on Sep 16, 2016 12:53:53 PM

By Lucy Zielinski, Vice President, GE Healthcare Camden Group, and Fran Horner, Managing Partner, Singola Consulting

population_health-3.jpgHealthcare organizations are faced with the reality of value-based care. Many have formed a clinically integrated network (“CIN”) to manage patient populations while focusing on the Triple Aim (improve patient satisfaction, reduce cost of care, improve quality of care). Forming a CIN and setting a strategy is one thing, operationalizing clinically integrated activities is where the rubber meets the road. To succeed, organizations must bend the cost curve while improving quality performance and outcomes.

While in some areas, the opportunities to provide better care are obvious, other areas prove harder to improve. For example, 60 percent of referrals go unscheduled. This alarming statistic demonstrates how healthcare organizations can do better—namely by implementing operational processes that schedule referrals during the initial patient visit. Other examples include 23 percent of scheduled appointments are missed, and 36 percent of patients do not receive follow-up care. This lack of follow up and care coordination to manage patients may lead to complications resulting in increased healthcare costs, not to mention low patient satisfaction scores. Many payors, including CMS, are publicly reporting quality data and consumers are scrutinizing the scores and making decisions based on the scores. As a result, an organization may be negatively impacted from a reputational perspective, as well as a financial one.

To avoid a negative impact, organizations can focus on five strategic areas improve care, thus having an impact upon the Triple Aim.

1. Know Your Consumers

To gain market advantage, organizations must understand their consumer profile. Market segmentation enables organizations to segment consumers with similar needs and wants in an effort to match their expectations. Questions to ask include:

  • Who are your consumers?
  • What is important to them?
  • What services do they need/seek?
  • What are the socioeconomic profiles and physiographic elements?
  • Are they compliant, tech savvy, cost conscious, do they operate online, etc.?
  • How do they best receive messages?

Taking time to study your consumers is the first step.

2. Engage Patients

Patient engagement starts at registration by identifying the channels of communication—phone, email, web-portal and/or text—that the patient finds most convenient to receive appointment reminders, medical advice, and follow-up care. This is reconfirmed during discharge to streamline care coordination. Knowing how to communicate with the patient is key to truly engaging the patient in his or her care and effectively leveraging contact center technology to support outreach.

Knowing your patient population and how best to communicate with the different patient populations improves engagement. For example, if you are targeting medication adherence for your hypertensive patients, you may consider sending patient reminders for medication refills or educational material via the patient portal. You may also consider calling and reminding patients to schedule and complete routine wellness screenings such as mammograms. If patients fail to complete these screenings, then reminders can be sent via portal or text message. 

3. Focus On Outbound Communications

Outbound communications in healthcare include appointment confirmations, payment reminders, wellness updates, prescription refills, and claim status updates. A contact center can also be an efficient way to support outreach by leveraging omni-channel contact center technologies, including outbound communications, to improve care and engagement by contacting patients at the right time, with the right message, using their preferred channel of communication. Using outbound communications and technology, the contact center can play a vital role in reducing preventable readmissions. Many organizations are consolidating and centralizing contact centers to include the acute, ambulatory and post-acute environments to support care coordination.

4. Leverage Technology

As a result of the Affordable Care Act, many organizations have adopted electronic health records and reports from such systems can be leveraged to support care management. For example, using a targeted population list exported from the EHR, the contact center technology can be effectively deployed in both self-service or assisted care models. Case in point, patients who have scored 1-4 on the LACE Index may receive an automated call, voicemail, or text to reiterate their discharge instructions and remind them to call their primary care physician for a follow up appointment. Whereas patients with a score greater than 10 (indicating a high risk of readmission) would receive a phone call from the contact center nurse or care coordinator to personally follow-up on patient discharge instructions, make a follow up appointment, or coordinate referrals. Organizations, including clinically integrated networks, are focusing on the interoperability of technology to give them a leg up on patient safety, quality and cost. 

5. Optimize Change Management

Many healthcare organizations focus on technical change strategy and change management when executing tactical plans and projects. They are concerned with planning, budgeting, organizing, controlling, measuring, and problem-solving. Change management produces predictability and order in the organization. An essential but often-overlooked aspect of change strategy is change leadership—the human or cultural component that provides the spark needed to activate change. Change leadership aligns employees with a shared vision for the future of the organization, then mobilizes and motivates them to make that vision a reality. Organizations need to train their staff on how to best communicate to consumers so that consumers navigate the system with ease and satisfaction, resulting in positive surveys.

Consumers are making decision on a daily basis. Health systems, by focusing on these five strategies, can help consumers navigate their organization to make sure that the right care is delivered at the right time, at the right place and at the right price. Health systems will then be able to experience better outcomes, while attracting new patients and retain existing patients.

ZielinskiL.jpgMs. Zielinski is a vice president with GE Healthcare Camden Group. With over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, she specializes in helping private and hospital-owned medical groups achieve top financial and operational performance. Such optimization is achieved through physician-hospital alignment—including clinically-integrated networks, strategic planning, practice transformation, coding and revenue cycle improvement, physician compensation plan design, and health information technology, and data analytics optimization. She may be reached at Lucia.Zielinski@ge.com.


horner.jpgWith more than 20 years of experience in contact center operations and 11 of those in healthcare, Ms. Horner is a recognized industry leader who has guided numerous healthcare organizations through development of their patient engagement strategies with a focus on top-to-bottom contact center assessments, workforce optimization, outsourcing, referral management, and revenue cycle management. With extensive experience directing large-scale business operations and strategic initiatives, she is skilled at driving change and implementing cost-effective solutions while enhancing the customer experience.

Topics: Population Health, Patient Access, Lucy Zielinski, Access, Fran Horner

Infographic: Population Health and Children's Hospitals

Posted by Matthew Smith on May 25, 2016 9:05:23 AM

Infographic.pngThe Children's Hospital Association ("CHA") collected data from a series of iterative population health surveys to provide members with timely, relevant benchmarking data and inform their shared planning. Findings from the first CHA survey offer a high-level overview of children’s hospitals engagement in population health. Seventy-three of 207 members invited to participate responded, yielding a response rate of 35%. This data collection is part of a larger CHA effort to support children’s hospitals in balancing the dual roles of healthcare delivery and creating child health.

Key takeways include:

  • More than two-thirds of respondents consider population health a top priority.
  • 95% of participants agree that Population health is aligned with their children’s hospital mission.
  • 68% of participants agree that population health is a top priority of their children’s hospital.
  • 63% of participants agree that financial resources are available for population health at their children's hopital.
  • Only 34% of particpating children's hospitals have reliable data to measure identified target population health outcomes.

 For a larger view of this infographic, please click here.




Topics: Population Health, Children's Hospital Association, Children's Hospitals

9 Ways to 'Activate' Patient Engagement

Posted by Matthew Smith on Apr 18, 2016 10:53:06 AM

By William K. Faber, M.D., Senior Vice President, GE Healthcare Camden Group

engagement.jpgNew payment models reward healthcare systems and providers for improving the health of populations. Providers are understandably concerned about the extent to which they can succeed in such models because so much of patient health is beyond their personal control.

Seventy-five percent of our health dollar is spent on chronic conditions that have everything to do with the choices made by patients, notably diabetes and degenerative joint disease as they relate to obesity. Therefore, engaging patients in the management of their own health is vital to achieving population health improvement.

At a recent national health conference I attended, the speaker asked the audience, “What is the least utilized resource in the American healthcare system?” After a few seconds of silence, as thousands scratched their heads for the answer, the speaker called out, “The Patient!”

Accountable systems and providers will increasingly need to learn how to empower and “activate” patients, rather than encouraging their dependence on the system to provide cures. Similarly, providers and care managers will need to reach out proactively to patients, rather than passively waiting for patients to seek care.

Here are nine key approaches to patient “activation:"

1. Charge Patients with the Primary Responsibility for their Own Care

Some patients have never been encouraged to think of their disease as their personal responsibility. Remind them there are some things they can do for themselves that no one else can do for them. For instance, no amount of insulin or other diabetic medication will overcome the effects of excessive eating.

2. Encourage Patients to Monitor their Own Conditions

Provide glucometers and blood pressure devices and ask patients to log their daily readings and progress. Let them know that you expect them to bring their logs (or devices that store results) to visits so you can monitor their progress. Teach them how to adjust their diets or medication to respond to their daily readings.

3. Encourage Use of a Patient Portal If You Have One (And Agitate Your System to Invest in Portal Technology if it Has Not Already Done So)

Make the procedure for signing up for the portal easy and understandable for the patient. Show them how to use the portal to check their own lab results or request appointments. Let them know that you want them to regularly use the portal so it can become a reliable channel of communication between you and them.

4. Plug your Patients Into Community and National Support Groups for their Condition

The local park district may hold free exercise classes, for instance. Many communities have free smoking cessation clinics. National organizations representing almost every major disease have websites that provide educational support materials and may introduce patients to local support groups for their condition.

5. Consider Group Visits

Group visits have several advantages that accrue to the providers (it saves time and enhances revenue) but one of the best outcomes of group visits is that they greatly increase patient engagement. Patients with chronic conditions gain significant emotional support and encouragement from interacting with other people “like them” who share their condition. Social support is one of the most powerful motivators of behavior. Group visits produce surprising improvements in the health of their members.

6. Pull Patients into the Electronic Health Records ("EHR") Screen in the Exam Room

EHRs threaten direct eye contact of health professionals with their patients. Savvy providers have learned to turn this liability into an asset by bringing the patient “into” the EHR as they work, showing them computer-generated charts, for instance, that trend their blood pressure or blood sugar, or to have the patient verify their medications and doses. The EHR becomes an engagement tool, and patient trust is enhanced when they realize the provider is not hiding information from them.

7. Use In-Office Instructional Videos

Some practices run motivational or educational videos in their waiting rooms or have a learning room with a library of instructional videos on a variety of health-related subjects. A well-organized file of printed educational materials is a low-tech way to achieve the same ends. The more information patients can absorb about their conditions, the more engaged they will be with their self-care.

8. Create an Interactive Website

Numerous providers have created their own webpage or blog and write about topics related to the health of their patients. These providers found that this strategy increased the engagement of their patients and generated new business.

9. Convey an Openness to Questions and Support Initiative

Consider the factors that might harm patient engagement and work to reduce them. Be there to support and respond to patients when they attempt engagement. This requires a positive response when the patient asks about their condition and how to improve it. Old-fashioned paternalism, which thwarts patient questioning, kills patient engagement. Patients respond to praise for even modest health improvements they achieve. 

GE Healthcare Camden Group and Prophet recently hosted a webinar discussing their new patient experience study which was conducted to understand the consumer healthcare experience by assessing the gap between patient and providers’ expectations and perceptions. To view this webinar on-demand or stream it to your device, please click the button below.

Webinar, Patient Experience, Patient Satisfaction

Dr. Faber is a senior vice president with GE Healthcare Camden Group. As a physician executive, Dr. Faber specializes in the development of clinically integrated networks, accountable care organizations, physician engagement programs, governance, population health management, and health information technology. Over the past three years, Dr. Faber has been instrumental in the establishment of six new clinically integrated networks, including their quality and care management programs and health information integration strategy. He currently supports two of those organizations as Interim Medical Director. He may be reached at william.faber@ge.com.

Topics: Population Health, William K. Faber MD, Patient Engagement, Patient Activation

MSSP and NGACO Application Windows Quickly Approaching

Posted by Matthew Smith on Apr 6, 2016 11:50:17 AM

By Daniel Juberg, Manager, GE Healthcare Camden Group

ACO News, MSSP, NGACOCMS recently launched the first step of the application process for its Next Generation ACO (“NGACO”) Model, and next month opens the window to apply for the Medicare Shared Saving Program (“MSSP”) Initiative. The NGACO, CMS’ newest two-sided risk model, accepted 21 organizations for 2016. The MSSP, which also added enhanced risk-based options in 2016, had 100 new ACO participants this year, bringing the total to 434 ACOs at the start of the year. These numbers reinforce CMS’ stated goal to move 30 percent of traditional Medicare fee-for-service payments into alternative value-based payment models by 2016, and 50 percent by 2018.

MSSP: Zero Downside Risk

The MSSP Model was introduced in 2012 as a key component of the Medicare delivery system reform initiatives found in the Affordable Care Act and a new approach in the delivery of health care intended to facilitate coordination among providers to improve the quality of care. Among the primary attractions of the MSSP was the option to participate with zero downside risk, meaning if organizations outspent their target expenditures, they would not be liable to repay the difference to CMS. Through Track 1 there existed only upside, or the ability to share in any savings generated, an appeal that the MSSP Model maintains to this day. This allows organizations to dip their toes in the accountable, value-based waters and develop the infrastructure necessary for future success while still participating in a fee-for-service environment today. And the participating organizations have largely voiced their approval of the program – more than two-thirds renewed their participation when their initial agreement ended in December.

NGACO: Higher Risk/Higher Rewards

While the MSSP Model was the right first step for many organizations beginning their journey towards value-based care, it was in many ways insufficient for more advanced organizations experienced in care management and risk-based contracting. Thus the Next Generation ACO model was born, providing a higher-risk, higher-reward alternative to the MSSP, while simultaneously responding to and improving upon its oft-maligned and challenged predecessor, the Pioneer Model, with a refined attribution process and enhanced benchmarking methodologies. Now organizations can select between two risk options from 80 to 85 percent on the shared savings option all the way to a full-risk opportunity. Now if organizations overspend their benchmark expenditures, they will have to cut CMS a check at the end of the year. This may seem daunting, but many organizations view this as the natural programmatic evolution and that the increased skin in the game can be the push their organization might need to really enact the necessary transformation. In fact, seven of the new NGACO participants came from the MSSP program, demonstrating the interest of existing program participants to advance their risk exposure and opportunity based on their work and success to date.

The NGACO, with its enhanced risk profile, is obviously not for everyone, which explains why only 21 were accepted in the past cycle. As stated above, the NGACO was effectively developed for those organizations with experience in commercial ACOs or with value-based contracts, or that had experienced success in the MSSP and had outgrown the less-lucrative risk arrangement. Accordingly, in addition to the seven MSSP converts to the NGACO program, eight made the transition from the similarly two-sided, but less favorable Pioneer model.

Deadlines Approaching

The good news for organizations wanting to prepare for a value-based future is that the 2017 application windows for both programs are upon us. Organizations contemplating their fit in either initiative can apply for one or both, but need to submit their Notice/Letter of Intent by the respective deadlines to be considered. These submissions are non-binding, so we encourage organizations at all considering participation to file one and then assess their options in the next few months. One caveat is that while organizations can simultaneously apply for both models, they will ultimately only be able to participate in one of the two initiatives.

The NGACO Letter-of-Intent is due May 2, with the MSSP Notice-of-Intent due May 31. Additional key milestones for both models can be found below:


With the continuous innovations of both payment and delivery models, CMS is maintaining its commitment to the transformative shift to value-based care. While that momentum is undeniable, not all organizations are necessarily ready for that transition just yet, particularly in the riskier models. We recommend undergoing a comprehensive (and candid) self and market assessment of your organization’s present situation and evolution in what GEHC Camden Group considers the eight core domains essential for clinical transformation to successfully thrive in a value-based world. A commitment must be demonstrated in the below key operational competencies in order to achieve success in the changing landscape.


CMS has reiterated its commitment to population health with its ongoing development and support of these accountable initiatives. Even more encouraging, CMS has demonstrated a willingness to adapt and improve to encourage participation and collaboration. The strongest healthcare organizations tend to be the ones that are proactive rather than reactive. For organizations that can see what’s coming down the tracks, there may be no better time than now to begin preparing for a value-based future.


Next Generation ACO


juberg_headshot.pngMr. Juberg is a manager with GE Healthcare Camden Group and focuses on clinical integration, transactions, and strategic and business planning for healthcare organizations. He has extensive experience with the development of ACOs (financial planning and funds flow modeling), managing Medicare Shared Savings Program applications, and implementing clinically integrated networks. He is also experienced in master facility planning, CMMI Innovation Center grants, medical group valuations, and community needs projections. He may be reached at daniel.juberg@ge.com.


Topics: ACO, MSSP, Population Health, CMS, Next Generation ACO Model, MSSP ACO, NGACO, Daniel Juberg

10 Myths of Population Health and Clinical Transformation

Posted by Matthew Smith on Mar 1, 2016 11:40:34 AM

By Daniel Juberg, Manager, and Megan Calhoun, MS, MSW, Manager, GE Healthcare Camden Group

Myths, Clinical Integration, Population HealthIt is a confusing time in United States healthcare. Healthcare organizations are faced with the new reality of value-based care and are identifying the necessary steps for success in an evolving healthcareenvironment. For many, this transformation is difficult, and fear of this change may hinder progress. However, at present, a lack of true understanding of the care processes, tools, and consequences of this transformative shift persists in the healthcare community, and with the public at large. The delivery and consumption of care is rapidly changing for both provider and patient, and not everyone is on the same page. Below are ten myths associated with clinical transformation and its ability to position an organization for success in a value-based world, along with the realities with which providers and organizations must face.

Myth #1:  The best care (or better care) is provided in hospitals.

RealityFor many years, the United States healthcare system has been very hospital-centric. Patients who were sick were directed to go to the Emergency Room or the hospital to get better, and physicians were paid handsomely for services provided in the hospital setting. This cycle has engrained within Americans (and within many physicians) that the hospital is the setting for receiving the highest quality of care. Patients will often even ask to be admitted to the hospital because they believe superior care will be provided there. Today, the healthcare system has begun to shift to improve and increase the suite of outpatient healthcare services to include ambulatory surgery centers, urgent care centers, retail clinics, even home-based care. The hospital is no longer the only place to go to receive care and, in fact, the best interventions will keep patients safely in their homes and out of the hospital altogether.

Myth #2:  All organizations should be negotiating value-based payment contracts.

Reality:  While value-based payments are a driver for clinical transformation, organizations should move at the pace of their market (and their own capabilities). Each market across the county differs in its pace in the shift from a volume to value-based environment. Organizations who are maintaining success in a primarily fee-for-service environment may not be ready for an immediate switch to value-based payments. Instead, these organizations should begin undertaking efforts to prepare for an eventual change to value-based contracting through improved medical management efforts and regular analysis on clinical outcomes and cost of care. This transition for some has had to be rapid, given the speed with which the market had adopted value-based payments. However, for many others who are not yet positioned for success in a value-based market, this transition should be gradual as the organization begins to develop the necessary capabilities; in a volume-based environment, these changes can still have positive outcomes through a focus on treating patients in appropriate care settings, thereby increasing capacity and access. Therefore, the focus for all organizations should be developing and implementing the clinical care model that is in sync with its payer contracting strategy.

Myth #3: Interoperability among information technology (“IT”) systems results in clinical integration.

Reality: As healthcare organizations begin to explore the clinical transformation needed to achieve clinical integration, the number one barrier frequently identified is the lack of interoperability among the health IT systems. Often, organizations may decide a complete IT overhaul is necessary (very costly) or that clinical integration is simply not possible and withdraw from the effort. However, highly integrated IT systems do not magically result in clinical integration. IT systems lack the clinical judgment that is necessary to provide high-quality, patient-centric care. IT systems cannot identify population health objectives and goals and design interdisciplinary medical management programs that aim to meet population health goals. It is the aligned vision for improving health outcomes among all care team members that results in clinical integration; IT systems can simply enable this type of care through real-time alerts, evidence-based clinical pathways, and historical and predictive trending of clinical data and notes. Interoperability should be viewed as a means, not as a deal breaker in its absence.

Myth #4:  Electronic Medical Records (“EMRs”) make physicians lives easier and provide better patient care.

Reality: Advances in technology have provided innumerous innovations to the majority of industries and society in general. While healthcare has been an undeniable benefactor, it is widely assumed that because electronic tools have made the public’s lives significantly easier, healthcare providers have experienced the same benefits and welcome all advancements. Healthcare IT, including EMRs, can provide the care team (e.g., the physician, medical assistant, nurse, social worker, or other care coordinator), with a wealth of knowledge about each patient. Tools exist that track and trend lab results, maintain and update a singular care plan, and provide point-of-care alerts to close gaps in care. Many organizations rely heavily on the information provided through these tools to provide patient-centered, high-quality care. However, it is not the information contained within these tools that has enhanced patient care; instead, it is the care processes and workflows that have been developed to ensure this information is meaningful and utilized that has enhanced care. Without clear care protocols or actionable reports, physicians can be frustrated by the vast amount of information presented to them and the myriad of tasks they must complete within multiple IT systems. Too much data contained in a myriad of health IT systems can actually result in less coordinated care between physicians and across care settings. It is the integration of this information, in a succinct form, into clearly defined care processes that enables the delivery of high-quality patient care and allows the technology to ease the burden on the provider, rather than add to it.

Myth #5: Population health management requires significant IT capital and increased staffing.

Reality: Additional capital to support informatics and staffing are a luxury and can improve efficiency and effectiveness of care management initiatives, but they are in no way a necessity for population health management. Population health management begins with a cultural transformation within the organization that is centered on a dedication to providing high-quality, patient-centric care. A clinical transformation subsequently occurs that leads to the development and establishment of refined clinical pathways and processes and often the redeployment of staff. IT tools can assist with these processes, but they should not drive the clinical transformation that needs to occur within the care teams. Similarly, the role of support staff (e.g., care managers, social workers, health coaches) does not actually increase; instead roles are assessed and redefined, as necessary, to ensure staff resources are deployed in a manner that is targeted to meets the needs of the population and the associated intervention. Too often organizations making this transition attempt to run before they can walk.

Myth #6: Clinical integration results in mass layoffs of staff.

Reality:  The Triple Aim® consists of three components: improved health outcomes, improved patient experience, and reduced overall cost of care. While it is imperative that all three of these tenets are taken into consideration for successful clinical transformation, providers frequently focus on the latter and associate it with cost and workforce reductions. Often, organizations are not over-staffed for population health management; instead, staff members are simply not working to the top of their license and are not always providing care to the right cohort of patients, at the right point in time, with the right care interventions to meet the patient’s needs. A reduction in staff will only increase the volume strain all staff is already experiencing. Instead, an assessment and redesign of clinical protocols should inform the medical management staffing. A re-deployment of staff may be necessary to ensure staffing levels are congruent with the acuity of the patient population, and additional training may become necessary to ensure all staff members are able to perform effectively and efficiently in new roles. In many cases, rightsizing can be replaced by adhering to clinical protocols and reallocating existing workforces.

Myth #7: Buying services that span the continuum is the only way to achieve clinical integration.

Reality:  The desire to purchase services that span the continuum stems from a need to be able to share clinical information, conduct warm handoffs between care settings, and keep healthcare costs and revenue under a single umbrella. However, just because an organization may own these services does not mean that these services are the highest quality, nor even utilized by other providers in the continuum. What is most important when developing a clinical integration model is the provision of high-quality, patient-centric care across the continuum. Services do not need to be owned to meet this obligation. Organizations should be looking, instead, to develop formal relationships with the most high-quality and value-based healthcare service providers. Referrers should have access to cost and quality metrics for all partner organizations and should utilize these results to drive care to the most appropriate providers. Preferred networks should be developed to enable care model development in conjunction with these partner organizations, all with the intent to provide patients with coordinated, seamless care transitions across care settings and, when appropriate, back to their home. There are several ways to achieve tightly aligned networks – organizations should be judicious when deciding if ownership over all components is the right strategy for them.

Myth #8: Maintaining universal physician satisfaction is a critical success factor for population health management.

Reality:  Physicians are critical to cultural and clinical transformation – this is an undeniable truth. However, not all physicians are well-educated about or in favor of clinical transformation to position them for success in population health. Some may be nearing the end of their careers, and this change may present a large burden. Placating to physician needs and preferences will not always bring about successful and unified change within an organization. Instead, try performance transparency. Initially, this may cause some discomfort among physicians; however, no physician wants to be the poorest performer, and this tactic may bring about the most rapid change in behavior. The enforcement of remedial action plans for physicians who do not follow established evidence-based protocols may also not be welcomed by all physicians, but will ultimately ensure that high-quality care is provided. While physician engagement is a critical element for success in population health management, it must be a mutual effort. Organizations that make the successful voyage to population health management need to weed out those vocally not on board, as well as those refusing to row in the same direction in their practices.

Myth #9: Patient satisfaction is the same as optimizing the patient experience.

Reality:  Despite what physicians may think, patients aren’t really rating physicians on whether they “always communicated well with them” or “always controlled their pain well.” The truth is that patient satisfaction has many components. Ultimately, patients are rating physicians on factors such as whether they got better and had timely access, which can ignore critical aspects such as the cost and appropriateness of care being provided. One prominent study contended that patients who reported being most satisfied with their physicians had higher healthcare and prescription costs and were more likely to be hospitalized than less satisfied patients. Could physicians who have patient satisfaction scores tied to their compensation be less likely to advocate against unnecessary requested treatments or less likely to raise concerns about lifestyle and behavioral modification issues?  Or could there be a correlation between high patient satisfaction scores and providers who actively tackle the hard-to-discuss issues the best? More research – and specifically innovative research – is necessary. Further complicating this issue is the new trend towards Yelp-style online public reviews influencing local perceptions of healthcare providers. As with any crowd-sourced review product, an issue arises when the public tends to only be inclined to offer their opinions when the service is exceptional, or the experience was considered an unpleasant one. Managing digital perceptions is yet another responsibility that consumer advancements and innovations have required of providers.

Myth #10:  Patient satisfaction will increase if physicians spend more time with each patient.

Reality: Patient satisfaction is about much more than the length of an appointment. Ultimately, patients are concerned about receiving personal, high-quality care at the time they need it. A patient will be satisfied with their care if they feel they can access it when they need it; for example, when a patient is able to schedule an appointment on the day and at the time they wish to see their physician or other provider and if their wait time is minimal.  Or, when a patient contacts their physician via a patient portal and receives a timely response. Furthermore, the patient wants to feel as though their physician is utilizing the appointment time to truly discuss their care, rather than reviewing old notes and labs and consistently typing on a computer; patients respond very positively to eye contact and listening skills as indicators that a physician is interested in a patient. A medical assistant or other office support staff can greatly assist physicians prepare for their appointments so that patients feel as though they are receiving the physician’s full attention, thereby bolstering the patient’s satisfaction with their visit.

juberg_headshot.pngMr. Juberg is a manager with GE Healthcare Camden Group and focuses on clinical integration, transactions, and strategic and business planning for healthcare organizations. He has extensive experience with the development of ACOs (financial planning and funds flow modeling), managing Medicare Shared Savings Program applications, and implementing clinically integrated networks. He is also experienced in master facility planning, CMMI Innovation Center grants, medical group valuations, and community needs projections. He may be reached at daniel.juberg@ge.com.

Megan.pngMs. Calhoun is a manager with GE Healthcare Camden Group and specializes in the areas of care management strategy and design, strategic and business planning analysis, accountable care organization applications, development and implementation, and the development of clinically integrated organizations. Ms. Calhoun has supported numerous clients with the completion of Medicare Shared Savings Program (“MSSP”) applications and implementation strategy and planning. Her experience includes care model design and implementation that spans the continuum. She may be reached at Megan.Calhoun@ge.com.

Topics: Clinical Integration, Population Health, Regional Clinical Integration Networks, Daniel Juberg, Megan Calhoun, Clinical Transformation

Moving from Utilization Management / Referral Authorizations to True Population Health Management

Posted by Matthew Smith on Feb 9, 2016 4:28:16 PM

By Tawnya Bosko, DHA, MS, MHA, MSHL, Vice President, and Megan Calhoun, MS, MSW, Manager,                   GE Healthcare Camden Group

population_health.jpgHistorically, many organizations managing care in a risk-bearing structure such as independent practice associations, medical groups, or related enabling entities such as management services organizations have primarily concentrated on utilization management, referral authorization, and claims processing, with attention to cost containment and ensuring all compliance standards are met. These functions have served as an "operational core," focused on getting the job done and meeting necessary requirements.

As they evolve, these organizations realize that simply "getting it done" will not suffice; they need to increase the focus on the clinical delivery process in order to affect the health outcomes of their populations.

To read this article in its entirety, please click the button below to immediately access CAPG Health.

  Population Health

Topics: Population Health, Risk-Based Contracting, Healthcare Analytics, Tawnya Bosko, Megan Calhoun

Best of 2015: Population Health Alliances--Rethinking the Business Model

Posted by Matthew Smith on Dec 31, 2015 12:22:02 PM

By Tara Tesch, Senior Manager, MHSA, GE Healthcare Camden Group

Population health alliancesLeading into the new year, GE Healthcare Camden Group will be re-publishing the most shared and popular blog posts of 2015.

Healthcare systems are increasingly choosing to partner with other provider organizations to pursue population health initiatives on a more regional and sometimes state-wide basis. These “alliances” are often viewed as alternatives to more traditional mergers and acquisitions, and are created through the collaboration of more than one health system, hospital, or physician group. This emerging collaboration model provides opportunities to share common infrastructure, expand geographic reach, and increase access to additional clinical and support resources. These alliances also face additional challenges associated with sponsorship by multiple organizations that in some cases have historically been competitors.

The Next Generation of Physician Engagement Strategies

The healthcare environment is changing at a rapid pace and the path toward population health requires committed physicians, administrators, and clinicians at all levels and across the continuum of care. These leaders must commit to taking accountability for clearly communicating the transformational vision, goals, and objectives of the population health alliance to unite its members around this effort. Success in engaging the providers will be around demonstrating a true desire and understanding of the critical importance of integrating physician and clinicians into all levels of the alliance’s governance and operations.

Key to meeting this strategic imperative is to engage dynamic, knowledgeable physician leaders with creditability among the broader physician network to proactively meet with the front-line physicians and build support and engagement. Do not assume that established structures (e.g., medical staff meetings, etc.) will always be an effective means to distribute information and build engagement.

Additional strategies that have proven successful for alliances include:

  • Ongoing education for community-based providers in clinical integration, innovative care models, and tracking of clinical quality and outcomes aimed at increasing their understanding of the value of participation in the alliance network. Education requirements should be included in all physician agreements, and dedicated staff and resources assigned to support these efforts.
  • Leadership training and support to empower the next generation of physician leaders to jointly problem-solve and collaborate in achieving the tenets of population health. Set the tone that this is a transformational journey that will have successes and mistakes; jointly learning from them will offer new insights and promote future efficiencies in ongoing value-based care delivery planning and implementation.
  • Transparency in communication and evolving metrics are necessary to keep providers informed and engaged, and to elicit critical behavioral change. Adjustments in reimbursement, care models, coding requirements, IT systems and capabilities, and alliance-wide goals should be distributed regularly followed by timely educational sessions. Physicians can no longer focus only on their individual performance; rather, focus must shift to the care of their patients across the network continuum, and feedback on how appropriate interventions and utilization of care can improve the health of the populations served.

Adding Value to Physicians

Another critical concept in understanding best practices in physician engagement and network development is the realization by alliance and member system leadership that physicians only practice one model of care; they do not change that approach based on what payer or “bucket” the patient may be attributed. Where alliances can add true value to physicians and actively engage providers is in support services such as care management and IT platform/analytics – areas to support efficiency and provide actionable information in real time.

  • Create a centralized care management institute at the network level that includes performance improvement and care management resource support that can be accessed by other organizations if they do not have their own resources for local work efforts.
  • Establish an ongoing monitoring process, overseen by the alliance clinical committee to measure and track improvement in a clinical indicators over time. This active monitoring and validation helps to test whether or not the data is accurate, the metric(s) is (are) appropriate, and if the process in place actually impacts performance/outcomes.

A consistent challenge remains around providing meaningful data at the point-of-care to educate and engage providers around their performance on clinical quality and financial outcomes. As value-based care delivery relies on care model transformation, physicians rely more and more on receiving actionable information around their clinical outcomes, adherence to evidence-based guidelines and protocols, and value-based metric performance to impact behavior change and operational tools to support practices in care redesign.

The new care models and payment methodologies associated with population health management will require more tightly aligned financial and clinical incentives between hospitals and physicians. Initiatives in these areas must be physician-led to achieve sustained success clinically and financially.

One final consideration: employment does not guarantee physician alignment or integration. The same principles of engagement hold true whether employed or independent, and incentives that align with targeted behavioral change become increasingly important for longer-term success and transformation. Design incentive plans that not only encourage productivity, but reward physician efforts to achieve shared goals in care, quality, and cost control.

Tesch_T_headshot.pngMs. Tesch is a senior manager with GE Healthcare Camden Group with more than 18 years of experience as a healthcare leader and strategist. Ms. Tesch specializes in value-based care delivery strategic planning, CIN development and implementation for commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid populations, health information technology data governance and analytics strategy, as well as care management strategy, design, and implementation. She has worked with a variety of healthcare providers, including integrated delivery networks, academic health centers, regional referral centers, rural community providers, and national non-profit and faith-based health systems. She may be reached at ttesch@thecamdengroup.com or 312-775-1700.

Topics: Population Health, Physician Engagement, Population Health Alliance, Tara Tesch, Population Reach

Asked and Answered: Frequently Asked Questions by Physicians About Clinically Integrated Networks

Posted by Matthew Smith on Sep 21, 2015 3:35:11 PM

By Daniel J. Marino, MBA, MHA, Senior Vice President, and William K. Faber, M.D., Vice President, The Camden Group

FAQ, Clinically Integrated NetworkWhile clinical integration development continues to build momentum, many questions still remain. The following questions and answers will help communicate the value of clinical integration and clinically integrated networks ("CINs") to your physicians. If you're a physician, these questions and answers should help you with some recurring and nagging issues.

What is clinical integration?

Clinical integration is an effort among physicians, often in collaboration with a hospital or health system, to develop active and ongoing clinical initiatives focused on delivering quality, performance, efficiency and value to the patient.

What’s driving the movement toward clinical integration?

In the years ahead, physicians and hospitals must partner more closely than ever before to ensure that the community receives the highest quality and value. As we move from today’s fee-for-service reimbursement models to new performance- and value-based pay models, CINs enable healthcare providers to join together to enhance the health of a community. These networks bring value to patients, payers, and physicians by improving transitions of care, coordinating chronic disease management, and managing the health of a population.

What does a CIN do?

A CIN helps physicians align with the hospital to coordinate care across caregivers, focus on quality and performance, and prepare for new, incentive-based compensation programs in addition to the base compensation they already receive. The network will develop new payment systems and methods that focus on achieving quality, efficiency, cost-management measures, and enhancing value.

What is the purpose of the CIN?

The principal purpose is to enhance the quality and efficiency of patient care services provided by the participating providers to the community. A CIN with participating providers works together to develop clinical performance standards and protocols for the network. These will form the basis for the network to negotiate contracts with payers for performance incentive programs.

How is it structured?

The CIN is a wholly owned subsidiary of the health system managed by its own Board of Directors, with community physicians and hospital members. Physicians willing to participate in a meaningful way have the opportunity to be involved in the organizational committees that drive the network.

What are the benefits of joining?

For physicians, the network offers the opportunity to:

  • Become available as a preferred network provider to members
  • Use care management resources provided by the CIN
  • Identify and measure best practices
  • Improve outcomes for patients
  • Receive financial rewards for value-based outcomes and achievements

The goal of the CIN is to provide an exemplary patient experience and improve the health of individuals in our community in a continuum of care that is focused on quality, performance, efficiency, and value. This serves as the platform that will determine financial incentives for physicians.

Who can join?

To ensure the best value for patients and payers, the CIN welcomes physicians who want to be accountable and raise the quality of care. These physicians can be:

  • Independent community physicians who seek clinical and quality alignment
  • Physicians employed by a health system
  • Physicians who contract with the hospital to provide services in specialties such as emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and pathology

Do physicians join as individuals, or do all the physicians in a practice need to join?

For independent physicians, a delegated representative from a group practice may sign the participation agreement and code of conduct on behalf of the practice to enroll all providers. However, in most instances, each individual physician in the group will need to complete a short application packet. Physicians employed by the health system will be enrolled with other members of their practice groups.

Will members be required to refer enrolled patients to other network members?

In-network referrals allow for the efficient accumulation and reporting of data, promote coordination and continuity of care and ensure adherence to evidence-based medicine.

What type of data is monitored?

Network leaders and physician advisory committees will determine details on clinical initiatives and data to be monitored and reported. Collected data likely will be similar to that being measured for Medicare programs, such as the Physician Quality Reporting System.

How will clinicians submit data to the network?

Providers will submit clinical and claims data on a timely basis to a secure, web-based platform that is HIPAA compliant and password protected. The web-based platform enables physicians to conveniently and easily submit data from any device with internet access.

What is the difference between a CIN and an Accountable Care Organization ("ACO")?

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an ACO is accountable specifically for Medicare beneficiaries. It is an organization of healthcare providers that agrees to be accountable for the quality, cost, and overall care of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the traditional fee-for-service program who are assigned to the ACO. Similarly, a CIN is an alignment model, coordinating care across affiliated caregivers and developing contracts with payers to improve quality while controlling growth in total cost of care, including value-based contracting initiatives with commercial payers and Medicare.

Clinical Integration Networks, CIN, Daniel J. Marino

Daniel J. Marino, The Camden Group, Clinically Integrated NetworksMr. Marino is a senior vice president with The Camden Group with more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare field. Mr. Marino specializes in shaping strategic initiatives for healthcare organizations and senior healthcare leaders in key areas such as population health management, clinical integration, physician alignment, and health information technology. He may be reached at dmarino@thecamdengroup.com or 312-775-1701.



William K. Faber, MD, Clinical IntegrationDr. Faber is a vice president with The Camden Group. As a physician executive, he specializes in the development of accountable care organizations and clinically integrated networks, physician engagement, and health information technology. Prior to joining The Camden Group, Dr. Faber served as Senior Vice President of the Rochester General Health System in New York, where he guided the development of the system’s clinical integration program and assisted more than 150 providers at 44 sites through the conversion process from paper records to an electronic health records system. He may be reached at wfaber@thecamdengroup.com or 312-775-1703.


Topics: Population Health, William K. Faber MD, Clinically Integrated Care, Clinically Integrated Networks, Clinically Integrated Network, Daniel J. Marino

The Doctors Company Teams With The Camden Group to Provide Expert Insights to Members

Posted by Matthew Smith on Aug 25, 2015 1:35:54 PM

Partnership, The Camden GroupNAPA, CA--(Marketwired - August 25, 2015) - The Doctors Company, the nation's largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer, has partnered with The Camden Group, one of the nation's largest healthcare business advisory firms, to provide members with insights on critical healthcare topics in a series of 20 webinars.

"The Doctors Company is pleased to offer these informative sessions featuring expert spokespeople from The Camden Group exclusively to our 77,000 members nationwide," said Robin Diamond, MSN, JD, RN, senior vice president, Patient Safety, The Doctors Company. "We are proud to be the industry leader in providing essential patient safety resources and unparalleled options for CME and CE credits."

"The Camden Group is dedicated to transforming healthcare through working with our clients as well as sharing our insights and expertise with physicians," said Teresa Koenig, M.D., MBA, senior vice president and chief medical officer, The Camden Group. "Healthcare is changing rapidly, and we are excited to partner with The Doctors Company on providing valuable resources to its members."

The webinars have been planned and implemented in accordance with the accredita­tion requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education ("ACCME") through the joint providership of The Doctors Company and The Camden Group. The courses also are in accordance with the standards of the ADA Continuing Education Recognition Program ("ADA CERP"). Doctors attending the webinars will receive 1.0 CME units or 1.0 CE credit.

The webinars, available at www.thedoctors.com/cme, will begin at 11 AM (PDT) on August 27 with "Population Health Management."

About The Doctors Company

Founded and led by physicians, The Doctors Company (www.thedoctors.com) is relentlessly committed to advancing, protecting, and rewarding the practice of good medicine. The Doctors Company is the nation's largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer, with 77,000 members and $4.3 billion in assets, and is rated A by A.M. Best Company and Fitch Ratings.

Follow The Doctors Company on Twitter at @doctorscompany for industry trends, subscribe to its YouTube channel to hear from industry experts, connect with The Doctors Company on LinkedIn to engage with company leaders, and find information on its key milestones and achievements on Facebook.

About The Camden Group

With offices across the country, The Camden Group is one of the nation's leading healthcare business advisory firms. The firm provides a broad array of healthcare consulting services to enable organizational, clinical, and operational transformation to respond to the rapidly changing healthcare environment. This includes services such as strategic and business planning; performance improvement; care model redesign and access improvement; physician compensation; mergers, acquisitions, and other transactions; physician-hospital alignment; clinical integration; payer strategy; and implementing accountable care organizations. Since its founding in 1970, The Camden Group has advised more than 2,000 health systems, medical groups, hospitals, outpatient facilities, post-acute providers, and other healthcare organizations nationwide. For more information, visit us online at www.TheCamdenGroup.com.

Topics: Population Health, Webinar, The Doctors Company

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