“We are stronger working together” – Caravan Health client
2020 has been a year of challenges for everyone and health care providers have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we begin to look ahead to the new year, we decided to stop and take a look back at what we’ve come through together. How have we changed? What surprised us? What did we learn? We asked our clients and below are the collective responses.
Few, if anyone, would have predicted 2020 to be the year of the public health emergency. As you look back at the start and progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you believe was your facility’s biggest challenge?
Strategizing ways to keep patients healthy & able to access services
Recovering revenue through telehealth visits
Learning how to use telehealth & teaching it to patients
Many providers had doors of opportunity close this year – what do you believe your organization lost due to the pandemic?
Turmoil and challenge often result in growth and success. What successful experience surprised you about your team, facility, patients, and/or community this past year?
The trust patients have in their providers
Camaraderie & support of communities with resources, volunteers, donations, etc.
The ability to work with community leaders to help inform patients & residents
The dedication of employees, providers, clinicians, staff, admin, patients & community leaders
As we close the door on 2020, what will be your biggest takeaway from the year?
The importance of team-based care & the impact it can have on communities
The importance of being flexible to the ebbs & flows of changing guidelines
Appreciating organizations who value their employees & put their safety first
Health care entities can do anything when the right supports are provided
Reid Health Implements Successful Behavioral Health Integration Plan
Serving the extended communities of Richmond, IN, Reid Health (Reid), has been with Caravan Health since 2015, and is currently part of the Crouse/Pathways Collaborative ACO. Reid’s Behavioral Health Integration (BHI) program has been recognized for its success and patient engagement. Britany Swallow serves as Reid’s Behavioral Health Coordinator, and with April Coffin, Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health, together they have collaborated to ensure patients have access to everything they need while they work with staff to achieve their goals. In Reid’s case, seven may be their lucky number.
7 Keys to Reid’s BHI Success
Patient Identification and Outreach: Each week, Britany creates patient eligibility lists and provides them to the practices for potential enrollment in the BHI program. She visits and communicates with each site on a rotating basis to establish relationships with their care coordinators and providers. Provider referrals are one of the most successful routes of patient enrollment.
Overcoming Contract Disputes: Britany established a relationship with coding and billing departments and ensured time tracking was completed accurately. This has helped make the billing process smoother resulting in more admin buy-in and leveraging additional resources for patients with financial hardships.
Marketing & Advertising: A Reid BHI website, brochures with care coordinators information and pictures, and sharing patient testimonials has helped with patient buy-in and referrals.
Enrollment process: If a patient is seen by the provider, and the provider referred them to the BHI program, they bring in Britany to meet with the patient for a warm hand-off which includes an introduction, consent, and an overview of the program. Similar to their CCM program, she uses a complexity grid to assess how frequently she meets with the patient and has scheduled acuity reviews. If the patient scores 0-5 they meet every month, a score of 5-10 they meet every two weeks, and 10 or more – they meet once a week.
Care Plans: Britany documents each visit and has the provider signs off on the note in the EHR. They also have a standard follow-up protocol. If they are unable to reach a patient after three attempts, a letter is sent to the patient stating that Britany has been trying to reach them and asks the patient to contact Reid Health.
Billing: Britany tracks time with each patient, collects out of pocket payments (what? copays? payment) and bills for her services each month. Having a centralized person in place has help to standardize the billing process along with the documentation in their EMR.
Graduation Process: Britany uses the GAD-7 and the PHQ-9 to check progress over time for patients with depression each month to every three months. Interacting regularly with the behavioral health coordinator has resulted in significant improvements in PHQ-9 scores. These tools also help to identify clients who may be able to graduate from the BHI Program.
“Our behavioral health coordination program is absolutely outstanding. As a provider, it has enabled me to address my patient’s mental health in a more comprehensive manner. Every patient who has made contact with this program has had a greatly improved mental health outcome. This community is blessed to have this program.”
JoAnna Reisert, FNP-C
Chambers Health Improves Patient Outcomes by Focusing on HCC Coding
Chambers Health runs a critical access hospital and two FQHC’s in Anahuac and Belview, Texas. With the acknowledgement of the constant and unpredictable change in health care and the goal to improve patient care, staff and providers set out to focus on the patient as a whole person – not just symptoms or one area of care.
As comprehensive patient outcomes became a priority, they analyzed key performance indicators, reviewed Caravan Compass reports, and worked closely with their Caravan partners to identify gaps in care. It became apparent there was potential to place more emphasis on HCC coding to assuage gaps between medical teams and coders and further embrace value-based care. As the Chambers staff continued to work closely with Caravan Health, they were able to successfully transition to a level of care that placed improved HCC coding at the top of their list of patient care priorities.
Their successful strategies included:
Taking the FQHC approach of comprehensive patient care and treating the whole patient rather than one area of symptomology.
Gaining commitment from leadership with transparent and open communication to pursue HCC coding improvements.
Utilizing an external audit for objective analyses that would be fair to all providers.
The results of their efforts has been profound. Patient outcomes have improved, staff and providers are not only more informed about the opportunities of HCC coding, but have also identified cancer in patients early on, communication between primary care providers and specialists has improved, and the previously identified gaps in care have substantially narrowed.
Today, the collective Chambers team has made a new commitment to pursuing patient centered care and are working to receive the Patient Centered Medical Home designation through NCQA, with plans to align those goals with their ACO goals. They are continuing to use Caravan Compass to identify highest costs and outliers within their referral system, discussing the use of crosswalks to streamline processes, and are on track to have a PCMH designation by this time next year.
“We’ve made it a priority to improve patient care. We feel like it’s not only an improvement for them and their care and their future wellbeing, but it’s also an improvement for us to show that we’re able to work comprehensively and try to address their health care needs.”
Director of Compliance
Tri-State Memorial Hospital Uses Quality Data to Build Successful Chronic Care Management Program
Tri-State Memorial Hospital (TSMH) is a critical access hospital with primary care and specialty clinics serving residents in Clarkson, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho. In 2018, physicians and staff worked with Caravan Health to build a chronic care management (CCM) program. With new goals to increase preventive services, improve disease management and better engage patients they recruited Nicole Louchart, RN, to further develop the program. She joined TSMH and brought with her a unique approach to enhancing the program.
Nicole started by completing Caravan’s Health Coaching Program and Population Health Orientation to develop her skillsets. She also relocated her workspace to be in close proximity to the providers who served Medicare beneficiaries. In hindsight, it was the seemingly simple change in location that helped her establish the essential relationships needed to enhance the program. By working in the same area with the providers who treated the patients who would benefit the most by CCM, Nicole increased transparency and communication and has led TSMH to success. Today, TSMH’s CCM program emphasizes communication between patient and collective care teams.
Five key steps that helped TSMH enhance their CCM program:
Involving the entire team with consistent meetings helps everyone state on top of policy changes.
Billing staff & accurate coding are essential, including follow-through on secondary insurances.
Reviewing data and goals each quarter ensures that patients and/or opportunities do not fall through the cracks.
Identifying & engaging patients by cohorts help staff maintain continuity of care.
Communicating with providers, staff, and patients help with introductions and enrollments which sets the foundation for success.
“Sometimes people will say, ‘Oh, they’re not compliant,’ and write them off. Well, in chronic care management, those are the patients you’re looking for. It’s not that people don’t want to be compliant, they can’t. They might be choosing between buying medications and paying rent.”
Nicole Louchart, RN
Tri-State Memorial Hospital
Helen Newberry Joy Hospital Nurses Impact Social Determinants of Health & Improve Care
Population Health nurses at Helen Newberry Joy Hospital (HNJH) serve a rural community in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. HNJH has been part of Caravan’s collaborative ACO since 2016. In addition to delivering value-based care, the nurses are dedicated to taking advantage of continuing education and training opportunities that help to enhance their skills.
Following the first week of a Caravan Health PHN training on communication styles, Population Health Nurse Andrea Marsh, had the opportunity to use her new skills in a challenging patient situation. She had been working with an underserved, disadvantaged family with a Chronic Care Management (CCM) patient who lived with some complex medical challenges. Throughout their entire care history, it was assumed the daughter was the most competent person to receive and disseminate written instructions. While the daughter was amenable, Andrea noted inconsistent follow through. In time, with more conversations with the extended family using her new communication skills, Andrea discovered that the family spokesperson could not read.
Today, the nursing staff intervenes as necessary to ensure that whenever written instructions are provided, they invest more time talking with the daughter, using visual aids with symbols and drawings to ensure she understands. The nurses are continuing their collaborative efforts with the family to ensure that care, instructions, and communication works for them. Communication has been significantly improved and customized which has resulted in better care for the entire family’s health and well-being.
“Population health relies on good communication skills. I wanted to enhance my patient care and to improve our team dynamic with higher quality skills. We are continuing our focus on efficiency and team-based care and with each new experience our team learns and shares best practice techniques.”
Allison Blakely, RN
Helen Newberry Joy Hospital
Coal Country Community Health Center Focuses on the Patient with ACP
Based in Beulah, North Dakota, Coal Country Community Health Center (CCCHC), operates four FQHCs and are active members of Caravan’s Collaborative ACO. CCCHC has set themselves apart by far exceeding an ambitious goal to provide Advance Care Planning (ACP) to 15% of their Medicare patients. Currently, more than 30% of CCCHC’s Medicare patients receive ACP.
CCCHC staff established workflows and a care coordination committee was established to ensure the continuity of their messaging and services. The committee brought providers and clinics together which has led to nurses and social workers becoming certified in, ‘Honoring Choices’, to help promote more meaningful conversations where patients can express their values and wishes for their end-of-life care. Staff from the local critical access hospital, long-term care facility, ambulance services, and the public health unit have been trained to guide these conversations. Today, 75% of nurses and social workers have been certified and behavioral health care coordinators are currently being trained.
As staff worked to enhance their focus on patients, they also identified other essential components that helped embolden the strength of their ACP program including:
Accurate coding & billing ensures proper documentation and makes transitions to new EMRs and other technologies more efficient
Follow-up & scheduling helps to keep conversations open and fluid between provider, patient, and family and loved ones.
Understanding that AWVs & ACPs visits are not separately reimbursable when performed the same day meant that CCCHC opted to forgo a second visit requirement in order to see the patient and have the ACP conversation.
Monthly meetings provide an opportunity to discuss obstacles, help to engage providers, and ensure that the entire team, including billers and coders, care coordinators, nurses, behavioral health providers and C-suite executives are included in the over-arching plan.
“When you look at how nursing has evolved, it's really a whole person approach and Advance Care Planning is a huge component. ACP is what's right for the patient. It's what's right for our care teams—being able to have the conversation prior to it becoming a critical situation.”
Chastity Dolbec, RN
Coal Country Community Health Center
Hancock Regional Hospital Highlights the Importance of Preventive Care
Since 2015, Hancock Regional Hospital (Hancock), has participated in the Suburban Health Network ACO. Hospital providers and staff are well-versed in population health models of care and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation the Indiana-based, health care facility focused on a core component of value-based care: preventive health care and proactive screenings.
Population health care emphasizes the importance of screenings in order to improve patient health. Population health nurses at Hancock stayed alert to not only their high-risk patients, but also to patients who may not present as high-risk but due to anxiety or apprehension were at increased risk for depression or other behavioral health illnesses.
As health care delivery was disrupted across the nation, Hancock nurses remained steadfast to preventive screenings. With concern for the ripple effect of anxiety, depression and isolation due to the pandemic restrictions, nurses proactively reached out to their patients with questions to facilitate open conversations.
One result of a proactive outreach call had an almost immediate effect on a house-bound patient. The patient’s heightened fears about catching the virus resulted in her wearing a face covering inside her house. Despite it being summertime in Indiana, she was afraid to open her windows and the patient had grown increasingly isolated and hesitant to leave her home. Nurses were not only concerned for her mental well-being but also for her decreasing supply of food, medications, and other essentials.
On that call a population health nurse took the time to listen to the patient as she voiced her concerns and then explained specific steps for her to take to ensure that she was using best practices while not succumbing further to depression and isolation. In a follow up call a few days later, the patient’s quality of life had improved, her fears had been alleviated, and while she was still concerned about the virus – her response fell into the normative range.
“We know that preventive care and screenings are important and our focus on these have been particularly useful for patients experiencing depression and anxiety during the public health emergency. It’s always better to plan ahead and prevent a potential event than to have a reactive approach. Our proactive methods have helped improve outpatient care.”
Tish Morris, RN
Hancock Regional Hospital
Carteret Medical Group Uses AWV to Solve Social Determinants of Health for Patient in Need
Carteret Medical Group (CMG) has been an active member of the Myriad Health Alliance since 2018. At CMG, population health nurses routinely use the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) to screen patients and encourage open conversations about their health care and access to health.
When a patient with a history of Type 2 Diabetes presented with comorbidities, Carteret nurses explained, and recommended, Chronic Care Management (CCM) and the patient agreed to be enrolled. Nurses quickly identified concerning factors including the patient’s inability to pay for an expensive new-generation medication to treat her diabetes. A consult was arranged with an Endocrinologist who prescribed an equally-effective but more affordable medication and the patient began taking the medication immediately.
In addition, the patient had an above-the-knee amputation and had relied on her long-standing roommate for groceries and help with errands and transportation. Her roommate, however, had recently died unexpectedly and the patient’s access to groceries and other necessities was severely compromised.
Relying on population health strategies, nursing staff spent time with the patient, helped to educate her on her health care needs and also helped to resolve some socioeconomic needs that had begun to affect her health. The patient learned how to read food labels, prepare healthy meals, and identify portion size. The patient became motivated to learn and help herself and expressed goals to lose weight, eat better, and lower her HbA1c.
Twelve months later, the patient was active in the CCM program and requested to continue in CCM. She maintained consistent communication with her health care providers and was continuing to take advantage of community resources to help her with transportation and food delivery. She is now scheduled to receive 12 hours of in-home assistance each week. Additionally, the patient has lost more than 20 pounds and her HbA1c has decreased from 6.6 to 4.9. She continues to be motivated and is an active participant in her health care.
“The population health nurse training modules from Caravan stressed the importance of addressing all the aspects of a patient’s life that can impact their ability to manage their disease. The patient recently had a positive biopsy result at the site of her original cancer. She will be undergoing surgery and further treatment. The patient will need continued emotional support as she goes through this process.”
Anne Kypraios, RN
Carteret Medical Group
Memorial Community Health Joins ACO and Focuses on Preventive Care
Memorial Community Health Inc., (MCH), has served residents of rural counties in eastern Nebraska for more than 60 years. In 2016, MCH joined Caravan’s Collaborative ACO with the goals to improve the quality of patient care and increase revenue for the hospital. By working closely with Caravan experts who provided support, education and resources MCH staff established new population health workflows with emphasis on the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV).
As MCH embraced population health, more emphasis was placed on preventive care and population health nurses Lisa Friesen and Cindy McDaniels worked with staff to schedule AWVs. Their process evolved to perform AWVs in conjunction with provider visits for two reasons, (1) to prevent their patients from coming in for an extra visit in their rural area and, (2) to encourage patient participation and engagement. Staff and providers prefer this back-to-back visit to ensure that patient problems are addressed based on the results of the screenings.
Once example of this successful model involved a patient with a history of tobacco use who typically did not see a doctor unless he felt ill. Encouraged by nurses to have an AWV with an upcoming checkup, the patient agreed to his first-ever AWV. During the screenings, the patient agreed to an AAA screening and a chest x-ray due to his advanced age and smoking history. Staff performed those tests while he was on site for his appointments.
The AAA screening was positive for an 8 cm aortic aneurism and nurses were quick to refer him to a vascular surgeon - the repair was scheduled within a week of the screening. A low dose chest CT was also completed which showed a small nodule which has been addressed and is now under the watchful eyes of a pulmonologist.
Today, the patient is doing well and recovering from his AAA repair. He plans to return to work once his post-op restrictions are lifted. He has also agreed to have a colonoscopy once he has fully recovered.
“We set a goal to increase our Annual Wellness Visits and place more emphasis on screenings. This has improved our ability to intervene when necessary and help to prevent more serious situations. Our patients have responded well, and we are continuing to add more AWVs to our schedule.”
Lisa Friesen, RN
Memorial Community Health, Inc.
Tampa General Hospital Improves Patient Outcomes with Population Health
In 2019, Tampa General Hospital (TGH) made the decision to join the Caravan Health Collaborative ACO. From all accounts, the Florida-based hospital has not looked back. The enhanced focus on patient care using population health methodologies has made a significant difference in overall outcomes in a short amount of time.
One recent example highlights the benefit of the improved patient-provider relationship. A population health nurse discovered that a patient with diabetes had stopped taking her meds due to the high cost of the prescription. In a routine nurse-led screening, the patient opened up to the nurse and explained that she knew she needed to take her meds but there were times that she couldn’t afford to refill the script.
The nurse went to work to solve the obstacle and create opportunities for the patient. She spent time with the patient and learned about her lifestyle and began a series of conversations about the importance of healthy living, provided eating tips including healthy snacks and meals, and an found an affordable YMCA membership to encourage exercise. Providers worked with the local pharmacy and safely changed her prescription to a less expensive option.
The patient became actively engaged and encouraged by the affordable prescription, took more ownership and began following the advice of her care team. Patient records now show a patient with diabetes who is committed to taking her meds and has adopted a healthier lifestyle.
The numbers speak for themselves: her cholesterol numbers dropped from 144 to 127, triglycerides dropped from 148 to 116 and today, her liver functions are in the normal range. An AIC goal of 7% was set and has been achieved.
“With population health, we’re able to dive deeper with patients and get to know them on an all-new level. The extra time spent with them is making a difference. We’re improving our outcomes and our patients are taking ownership of their own health. It’s a win-win.”
Adrienne Holmes BSN, RN
Tampa General Hospital
Lost Rivers Population Health Nurse Empowers Patients to Improve Outcomes
Lost Rivers Medical Center (LRMC) is a Critical Access Hospital that provides primary and preventive health care and emergency services to the surrounding communities of rural Argo, Idaho. LRMC is new to accountable care having joined the Eastern Idaho Care Partners ACO this year. The hospital has embraced the nurse-led model of population health and patient outcomes have already improved.
Robin Mangan, LPN, emphasizes patient care and works closely with those who are willing and able to take on a more proactive role in their health. As Robin spent time getting to know a patient with higher-than-acceptable blood pressure, she was prepared to discuss a newly prescribed medication along with the benefits of diet and exercise. She was concerned at the fluctuations in the pressures and taught the patient how to use a loaner cuff to measure his pressures from home. She noticed, however, that as they practiced with the cuff, his pressure was close to normal. Rather than start the meds, Robin consulted with the provider and they opted to delay the prescription for concern that his pressures could go too low. She sent her patient home with the loaner cuff to use during a trial phase and suggestions for improving his diet and exercise.
Within a short period of time the patient discovered his pressure was only high when he was anxious and feeling stressed. As he became more engaged in his health, he learned that if he took care of himself when stressed and purposefully did something to relax, he could manage his blood pressure and keep it under control without medication. Ultimately, the patient achieved target blood pressure values and did not require medication.
Meanwhile, a patient with multiple chronic conditions and a learning deficit was feeling fearful of a recent Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis. Robin taught her patient how to use a glucometer and spent time explaining how to control his diet and maintain his blood glucose levels to avoid the fluctuations of highs and lows. She explained that he didn’t need to check his levels six times a day as he was doing out of fear. And, she taught him how to prepare for days when he would be ill with a just-in-case ‘sick-day kit’.
Today, the patient is actively engaged in his health, has confidence checking his blood glucose, and has learned to manage his diabetes. This summer he is healthy enough to have a lawn-care job. This type of patient care exemplifies the benefits of population health – care that improves patient outcomes and, in some cases, avoids unnecessary prescription medication.
"As a PHN, it is very gratifying to see my patients take what they have learned and act upon it to manage their chronic illnesses and improve their quality of life. It especially makes me happy to see the joy patients have when they realize they have the control and the disease needn't control them."
Robin Mangan, LPN
Lost Rivers Medical Center
Confluence Health Joins ACO & Successfully Transitions to a Nurse-led Approach to Care
Confluence Health (Confluence), located in Wenatchee, Washington, is the major medical provider between Seattle and Spokane. More than 300 physicians and 150 advance practice clinicians serve patients in the integrated health system that includes two hospitals and more than 40 medical specialties. Confluence joined Caravan’s Stratum Med ACO in the summer of 2019.
Patient care had always been a top priority with staff, however, prior to joining the ACO they did not have standard workflows in place to facilitate communication between primary care departments. The Caravan team worked with Confluence staff to restructure the case management team processes. The new workflows enabled the 10 case managers to complete AWV intakes for the 130+ primary care providers in 14 different locations. This gives every patient the opportunity to receive case management services including support for the social determinants of health.
Helping patients “get through the medical maze.”
Corinne Loyd, Confluence TCM Nurse Case Manager, recently shared one case – among many – where the restructured case management made a difference in a patient’s life. When Corinne contacted the terminally ill patient for TCM, she learned how one particular nurse, Bernie Stanfield, helped him and his wife as he described it, “get through the medical maze. Corrine explained that the patient said he couldn’t imagine what people do “if they don’t have a Bernie,” as he explained the stress of navigating end-of-life decisions with multiple doctors on his care team.
Confluence’s Chronic Care Management program was just beginning to be implemented when COVID-19 began to affect their region. Despite redeploying staff to work with COVID-19 assignments and placing a hold on non-essential office visits, they have demonstrated measurable care management program growth based on Caravan’s guidance and the commitment to a nurse-led, team-based approach. The staff continue to hear positive feedback from patients as they continue to their expansion of population health care.
“We all have the patient as the center of our focus and through the support of each other, we are able to provide excellence in patient care. This patient’s sincere appreciation of Bernie was so heartfelt and moving, and I was so moved by his descriptions of the impact she had on his life; I wish I could have recorded our conversation. She really was his angel on earth.”
Corinne Loyd, RN, CCM, CBN
TCM Nurse Case Manager
“What I did for this gentleman was mostly behavioral health. Yes, I talked to him and his family about advanced care planning, housing options and physical needs but the majority of my ‘work’ was preparing him for transitions. We discussed her needs and his spirituality and everything in between.”
Bernie Stanfield, RN, BSN
CCM Nurse Case Manager
Population Health is Part of the Culture at McKenzie Health
Since 2014, McKenzie Health System (McKenzie), in Sandusky, Michigan, has participated in a Caravan Health ACO. Interested in adopting a wellness model of care, hospital administrators encouraged the transition to value-based care in order to identify illnesses sooner, apply interventions, and improve patient outcomes. The patient-centered approach was the catalyst for staff and providers to focus their attention on preventive measures and well visits.
Fast-forward to 2020 and six years of experience delivering value-based care, population health techniques have become an engrained component of the culture at McKenzie which has had a positive ripple effect on its rural community.
Recognized as a Top Performer – 76% of McKenzie’s traditional Medicare patients have had a wellness visit in the last 12 months.
Early on, staff and providers recognized the value of the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV), and they worked with Caravan to create goals, implement workflows, and establish templates to ensure consistency. The AWV has become the key to seeing patients who aren’t sick or in need, to maintain their health, and to discuss preventive care. Patients have heard McKenzie’s, ‘one year and one day’ mantra enough to know that one year and one day following their AWV, they will be seeing their providers for another one. This type of communication and education has created opportunities for increased chronic care management and has improved overall outcomes for patients and providers.
Everyone plays an integral role including support staff, billing and coding experts, nursing staff, providers and the schedulers. McKenzie successfully uses centralized scheduling to the benefit of staff, providers, and patients. Schedulers block specific times for providers which helps the daily schedule run as smoothly as possible. Patients are scheduled according to category – sick visits, well visits, med reviews – and during the COVID-19 pandemic, these time blocks have worked well to keep high risk patients safer.
The results of six years of population health are undeniable:
• Significant decreases in unnecessary ER visits
• Improved patient outcomes
• Patients are more engaged and take the initiative for their own health
• There has been an increased in community health screenings
• An increased number of patients enrolled in Chronic Care Management
“We have focused on population health for so long that we see it instilled in others. It’s become part of our culture and you see it in the hospital, in outpatient, in the clinics – we see it in our community.”
Director of Healthcare Practices
McKenzie Health System
Alcona Converts 100% of its Clinics to Virtual Care in Two Weeks
Based in Michigan, Alcona Citizens for Health, Inc. (Alcona) is a medical group with offices in nine locations. As one of the founding members of Caravan’s Collaborative ACO, Alcona has participated since 2014.
With population health practices well established among staff and providers, Alcona prepared to implement new methods of care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One priority was virtual care. Alcona’s specialty clinics had already opened their virtual care doors and had been successfully conducting BHI appointments from FQHCs. With one goal, to serve their patients to the best of their abilities, they expanded their virtual care services.
They began by looking at the providers who were already performing telehealth visits and one provider stepped forward to set the stage for the entire health system. Alcona ensured that providers, staff, and patients were equipped with the tools, resources, and information required to be successful by using well-engrained population health methodologies.
When challenges presented themselves, each time Alcona successfully course-corrected. When Skype wasn’t reliable in their area, they determined Zoom was. When patients didn’t have ready access to Wi-Fi, they created ‘Hot Spots’ in clinic parking lots – areas cordoned off specifically for telehealth appointments. For patients who didn’t own a smartphone or laptop, they provided tablets for them to use from the safety of their car – tablets donated by staff and employees, reformatted and prepared by IT teams to make them user-friendly. Every Alcona clinic had a ‘telehealth mini-launch’ that provided staff the resources and information they needed to develop workflows, use Zoom, ensure proper documentation and troubleshoot issues.
Within two weeks, Alcona had converted 100% of their sites to virtual care practices and were successfully seeing 35-40% of their patients virtually. The majority of patients were seen through telehealth from their homes and each day, between 35-50 patients had appointments from the ‘Hot Spot’ zone in the designated spaces in the parking lot. The ‘drive-up telehealth’ gave patients the ability to safely see and be seen despite having no access to smart devices or technology.
Today, Alcona has begun to see more patients in office settings, however they continue to see patients virtually from home and from the ‘drive-up telehealth’ parking spaces.
“Telehealth has worked out great, we’ve served so many patients we would not have been able to see if we hadn’t put this in place.”
Caitlin Schlappi, RN
Alcona Citizens for Health, Inc.
Patient-Provider Relationships at the Heart of Ridgecrest Regional’s Chronic Care Management Success
Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH), is a full-service, acute care hospital located in Ridgecrest, CA. The hospital has been a member of Caravan’s Collaborative ACO since 2016 and is firmly established in delivering value-based care. Their Chronic Care Management (CCM) program includes 150 patients and between 40-60 patients are seen each month.
The program’s success is founded in the levels of trust that have been established between the patients and providers, including nurses who are highly skilled in population health. The nurses, who are enmeshed in the community, know their patients by name and have a well-developed camaraderie. The patients are receptive to the nurse’s suggestions and the patient-provider relationship has been the catalyst for the success of their CCM program.
‘Only a phone call or hallway away.’
When RRH providers are meeting with patients the CCM nurses are available whether it is a phone call during a virtual visit or on-call nearby for in-office visits. RRH’s nurse-led program includes successful steps such as:
• Providing nurses with dedicated phone lines that allow patients the ability to contact them with immediate concerns or questions.
• Giving the nurses the ability to refer patients to a health coach or Behavioral Health team when indicated.
• Tracking all relevant information with a spreadsheet that displays the patient’s enrollment date, frequency of contact, most recent AWV, secondary payor source, etc.
• Accessing a variety of customized reports created to help identify potential CCM patients.
• Receiving alerts when their CCM patients are in the ER, Urgent Care, or are hospitalized.
CCM nurses work closely with community resources provided by RRH including senior services, support groups, and exercise programs that help patients with chronic conditions maintain their independence at the highest possible level of wellness.
Despite the challenges of the Public Health Emergency, RRH has maintained a continuity of care due to their successful CCM program and the well-established relationships with patients. Many of the community resources that were once offered in-person are now offered virtually. This virtual support has helped their CCM patients maintain their wellness during the pandemic.
“We have a well-established rapport with our patients and throughout the pandemic that foundation of trust has served everyone well. We’ve been able to maintain our communication and make sure our patients with chronic conditions are maintaining their health. This experience has proven to us how important these patient-provider relationships are.”
Administrator of Care Coordination & Community Health
Ridgecrest Regional Hospital
Carle Foundation Hospital Initiated Chronic Care Management Outreach During COVID-19 Pandemic
The Carle Foundation Hospital (CFH) is a 433-bed Level I trauma center located in Urbana, Illinois. The hospital ranks as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals and for more than ten years has held the Magnet® designation - the nation’s highest honor for nursing care. CFH includes more than 1,000 doctors and advanced practice providers - they joined the Stratum Med ACO in July 2019.
During the public health emergency, CFH providers and thought leaders came together to determine a series of best practices to ensure the safety and promote health for their staff, patients, and community. One decision was to use an interdisciplinary team for Chronic Care Management (CCM), in order to make sure population health nurses had ample time to focus on high-risk patients.
In a successful collaboration, medical assistants initiated calls to patients, introduced the CCM program, and laid the foundation to begin patient care management. While a specific team consisting of a variety of physicians worked together on CCM, population health nurses worked closely with their high-risk patients. Well-versed in population health, screenings, and proactive questioning, the nurses were able to manage their higher-risk patients which prevented unnecessary hospital and emergency department visits. The nurses were able to convey essential messages on optimal health and safety measures and the CCM program began to grow. The increased communication has helped patients understand their changing environment and adapt to new dynamics which has helped to ease anxiety and stress levels. The CCM program is growing as providers have embraced population health.
“Our medical assistants started an outreach initiative to introduce our Chronic Care Management services. This led to gaining consent and now, we have an enhanced program and are effectively managing calls and coordinating our resources. Our patients have responded well. I believe what we’re seeing is the future of healthcare.”
Margie Zeglen, Vice President Population Health
Carle Foundation Hospital
Highlighting Best Practices During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Throughout the public health emergency much has been gained through the sharing of best practices and having opportunities for open dialogue. Early on, Caravan experts hosted COVID-19 educational webinars that quickly gained in interest and, the Q&A sessions at the end of each presentation grew longer. We saw that our ACO members were seeking more information and those with practices outside of ACOs were also interested in hearing what we had to say.
CMS has recently noted that ACO participants have managed pandemic conditions better than those who practice fee-for-service health care. Because the pandemic is far from over, it is critical to continue to stay updated on best practices. Increased outreach and virtual care are two best practices that have proven to maintain a continuity of quality care while generating revenue.
Increasing Outreach is an effective way to maintain communication with patients and encourage those with chronic conditions to enroll in a Chronic Care Management program. Outreach also enables patients who are fearful of leaving their homes during the pandemic a way to safely stay in touch with their care team and benefit from more information.
“We have enrolled more patients into our CCM program. I would like to continue this level of outreach after the public health emergency”, Shelle Berg, RN, First Care Health Center.
“Our weekly Town Hall forum on Facebook and YouTube has been a safe and easy way for us to communicate with our patients and provide them with resources and support”, Mindy McConnell, RN, Springhill Medical Services.
Implementing Virtual Care makes it possible to see patients in safe and healthy ways – especially those who are most vulnerable. Most patients have embraced telehealth and providers are successfully performing AWVs and other essential screenings using virtual care. An upcoming rule from CMS will include a proposal to permanently expand reimbursement for telehealth.
“We continue to offer our community and patients the care they deserve. We have been around for 75 years. Nothing is going to stop us now”, Kent Nicaud, President & CEO, Memorial Hospital of Gulfport.
“(We) worked creatively with Home Health Care, telemedicine, and other community resources to break the barriers to healthcare that many of our high-risk patients were experiencing”, Kathy Sawyer, RN, Witham Memorial Hospital.