America's Health Insurance Plans
July 12, 2010
Plan-Provider Collaborations Promise Improved Care Delivery
By Louise Kertesz
"Despite many challenges, health plans are well positioned to drive improvements" in care delivery through collaborations with providers. "Health plans have an enormous amount of assets" in the form of data and relationships they can leverage to improve care, said Jeremy Nobel, MD, adjunct lecturer, health policy and management, Harvard School of Public Health.
To drive improvement, plans can contract with providers to deliver value-based care, with reimbursement linked to performance. Plans can help establish medical homes, accountable care organizations, and episode pricing, he said.
They can also offer providers online tools to improve care delivery effectiveness and efficiency, such as e-prescribing, registries, computerized order entry, and electronic health records. Plans can "be an active infomediary between members and providers, supporting collaborative and value-based care through care gap alerts and shared personal health records."
Rushika Fernandopulle, MD, a principal at Renaissance Health, has been involved in installing disease management processes for patients with chronic conditions in physician practices in Seattle and Atlantic City. His group has used predictive modeling to identify patients, brought in health coaches, and set up a three-tier payment model (in Seattle) and global budgets (in Atlantic City).
Putting DM processes - usually reserved for health plans and DM vendors - into physician offices is "next-generation disease management," he said.
"This sort of close payer-provider partnership is not easy, but it is very rewarding when done right. It's a very active process—more than writing a check and walking away. Plans need to be willing to invest enough, and be patient. There needs to be strong, ongoing connections at multiple levels, including personal relationships; one person needs to own this and go between" physicians and plan, he said.
Comment: Now that Congress has codified a permanent role in health care for the private insurance industry, what will be the next entrepreneurial innovations of the private insurance/managed care industry? "Plan-provider collaborations" that are "not easy" but "very rewarding when done right." Be afraid. Be very afraid!