The Mercy Health Network and its related facilities in Nebraska and Iowa have won a grant of just over $10-million to move to a system called “Value Based Care.”
Mercy senior vice president David Swieskowski says the new approach aims to cut costs and improve care by more closely following patients.
“This grant will provide funding to put in the IT systems to follow all patients with chronic diseases or healthy patients,” Swieskowski explains. “Patients with chronic diseases will make sure they’re getting the care that they need and make sure that we are getting the outcomes we expect.”
The network includes more than 160,000 patients at 25 hospitals and 73 clinics in Iowa and Nebraska.
“So if they are not getting the care, we are going to call them and tell them they are overdue for care and ask them to come in,” Swieskowski says. Setting up the system to track patients is the first step, but Swieskowski says the most money will be spend on the staff to handle the care.
“We’ll have health coaches who can work with patients to set goals and help them change their health behaviors to get better outcomes,” Swieskowski. Another aspect of the program is working with those who already treat the patients. “Part of it is you have to engage their health care providers — their physicians and advanced practitioners who are working within these sites — to support this and encourage patients to work with this process,” according to Swieskowski.
What happens if the patients don’t follow up and get the care that they need? Swieskowski says they have seen a positive response when working with their patients.
He says when they call patients who are overdue for care, they get 90% of the people to come in. “The most common reason people will give for not coming in is that they forgot or didn’t know,” he says. Swieskowski is not sure exactly when the program will get underway, but says it shouldn’t take long once they launch it.
“We can get these data systems ramped up in three to six months, so I’m saying in six to 12 months patients in these locations will start noticing a difference in the way we are delivering their care,” Swieskowski says. The different delivery system is expected to save money for treatments and care that are not needed because the patient got better and not worse. The health system will benefit by making the program work.
“We have shared savings programs with Wellmark and with Medicare where if we reduce the costs we get a portion of the costs that we reduce, we share in the savings,” Swieskowski says. “So, initially we are going to fund this program through he grant, and when the grant runs out in three years we are hoping that the shared savings will be more than enough to continue the program.”