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HEALTH CARE REFORM

HHS announces $685 million to support clinicians delivering high quality, patient-centered care

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell recently announced $685 million in awards to 39 national and regional health care networks and supporting organizations to help equip more than 140,000 clinicians with the tools and support needed to improve quality of care, increase patients’ access to information, and reduce costs. The Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative is one of the largest federal investments designed to support doctors and other clinicians in all 50 states through collaborative and peer-based learning networks.

Burwell released the awards in conjunction with a roundtable discussion with members of Congress and health care leaders on the transformation taking place across the nation to move the U.S. health care system to one that rewards value over volume. 

“Supporting doctors and other health care professionals [to] change the way they work is critical to improving quality and spending our health care dollars more wisely,” says Burwell. “These awards will give patients more of the information they need to make informed decisions about their care and give clinicians access to information and support to improve care coordination and quality outcomes.”

The awards will support 29 medical group practices, regional health care systems, and regional extension centers in offering peer-to-peer support to primary and specialty physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical pharmacists, and their practices. These efforts include:

  • Helping providers give patients better tools for communication through emails and other information technology applications;
  • Providing dedicated coaches to help practices better manage chronic disease and offer preventive care;
  • Offering real-time notification alerts for clinicians caring for high-risk patients;
  • Improving screening and treatment of mental health and substance abuse across multiple care settings and increasing patient medication management education; 
  • Centralizing data reporting and providing technical assistance with quality improvement targets and mid-course corrections; and
  • Promoting patient, provider, and community engagement through advisory boards and community engagement in learning collaboratives.

In addition, 10 national organizations and health care professional associations will receive up to $27 million to:

  • Align clinical practice guidelines across multiple medical specialties and disseminate those findings through well-established communications channels;
  • Offer Continuing Medical Education credit to clinicians to support transformation efforts and ensure that coordinated education programs are offered to participating clinicians;
  • Share best practices and provide technical assistance and coaching to their members that may be struggling with how to participate in emerging alternative payment models; and
  • Provide educational materials and access to registry data information, including training on how to use the data to improve care.

A few specific examples include:

  • The American College of Emergency Physiciansand American College of Radiology will engage clinicians, patients, and families in reducing unnecessary testing. Working with member emergency department physicians and radiologists they intend to avoid over 1.1 million unnecessary diagnostic imaging tests and engage physicians in collaboratively selecting the most appropriate imaging exam, thus reducing unnecessary exposure to radiation and duplication of tests that inconvenience patients and increase costs.
  • TheNational Rural Accountable Care Consortium will assess, educate, and provide on­ site peer-supported education and training to more than 5,500 rural providers who may wish to transition into Accountable Care Organizations.
  • The American Board of Family Medicine will work with more than 25,000 family physicians serving 50 million or more patients to help clinicians and patients navigate the changing health care system, reduce disparities in health care, and move toward a wellness-based approach to managing care.
  • The National Nursing Centers Consortiumwill work with more than 7,000 nurse practitioners that support 2.5 million patients to eliminate over 14,000 unnecessary tests, and avoid over 4,000 unnecessary hospital admissions.

Patrick Conway, MD, acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, says, “As a practicing physician, I know the importance of quality improvement support and sharing of best practices to help clinicians transform their practice and deliver outstanding care to every person. This support is critical to achieve better care, smarter spending, and healthier people.”

These awards are part of a comprehensive strategy advanced by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that enables new levels of coordination, continuity, and integration of care, while transitioning volume-driven systems to value-based, patient-centered, health care services.


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