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How one ACO ditched Excel to engage physicians and advance shared savings

Innovation Care Partners built a dashboard to engage physicians and offers them financial incentives to use the tool.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

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Only a minority of the ACOs in the Medicare Shared Savings Program are meeting quality performance standards and generating savings above the minimum rate, according to Faron Thompson, chief operating officer of Innovation Care Partners in Arizona.

The low success rate may be due in part to the complex data gathering and the analytics necessary to meet the MSSP's compliance and reporting requirements, Thompson said.

[Also: Physician burnout: See which specialists have it the worst]

To that end, Thompson said Innovation Care Partners, a physician-led clinical integration network and ACO, offers physicians financial incentives to attend meetings, become engaged.

"We're measuring their engagement by their participation," Thompson said. "They earn points. They're required to earn four points and they need to have eight points to be eligible for gain share distribution."

To make physician lives easies, the ACO, in conjunction with technology partner Orion Health, built web-based software that gives physicians a dashboard and progress charts to replace Excel spreadsheets. 

"We basically took all of the quality metrics and built it into this front-end experience," Thompson said. "We don't try to push a lot of paper. With spreadsheets, you're chasing people just to get the job done."

A more user-friendly web-based dashboard upped the desire and willingness of physicians to use the data and be engaged.

The result: Innovation Partners has readmission rates of between 5 and 6 percent, when the average in Arizona is 17 percent, according to Thompson. This has been achieved using myriad electronic health records and without vertical integration.

The ACO invested in a health information exchange that sends out about 60,000 messages to patients per month.

A complex care coordination program employs 35-40 former military medics who build long-term relationships with patients who have chronic, acute care conditions. 

The system is approaching 3,000 patients who are enrolled in the program that has shown to reduce ER visits, improve care quality and reduce costs, the pillars of the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

Innovation Partners has an estimated 400 employed physicians and 1,200 who remain independent in private practices. Not all of the system's 500 practices are part of MSSP. Those that are, however,   showed in 2016 shared savings that ranked with the highest in the country at over 9 percent, he said.

Thompson and Tiffany Nelson, MD, chief strategy officer for Innovation Care Partners, will speak at HIMSS18 during the session, "Shared Savings Power Tools: An ACO-Focused App and Open HIE," on March 7, from 10- 11 a.m. in the Las Vegas - Venetian Convention Center, Delfino 4004.

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Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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