Putting ACO prin­ci­ples to work

Colorado Springs hospi­tal of­fers co­or­di­nated care, in­cen­tives for em­ploy­ees

Modern Healthcare - - OPINIONS COMMENTARY - Mar­garet Sabin

With health­care re­form ap­proach­ing and eco­nomic chal­lenges all around us, the land­scape for health­care providers is chang­ing rapidly. There’s a lot of “buzz” in the me­dia to­day about clin­i­cal in­te­gra­tion, pop­u­la­tion health man­age­ment and physi­cian align­ment. Most of the cov­er­age out­lines the gen­eral busi­ness case for hos­pi­tals mov­ing in this di­rec­tion and the im­pact it would have on a tra­di­tional de­liv­ery sys­tem. But I be­lieve many of us could be miss­ing the most com­pelling op­por­tu­nity: What our health­care sys­tems are do­ing for our own em­ploy­ees.

With nearly 2,700 as­so­ciates at Pen­rose-st. Fran­cis Health Ser­vices in Colorado Springs, Colo., we de­cided to ap­proach our em­ployee pop­u­la­tion as if it were pop­u­la­tion man­aged by an ac­count­able care or­ga­ni­za­tion al­most a year ago. We al­ready had in place a well-rec­og­nized as­so­ci­ate well­ness pro­gram—one of the longest­stand­ing pro­grams in the coun­try that is con­sis­tently ac­cred­ited at the plat­inum level by the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion as a fit-friendly work­place—but we stepped it up to be­come a cor­ner­stone pro­gram in the tool­box of an ACO.

As in­di­vid­u­als, we know health sta­tus is a com­bi­na­tion of life­style be­hav­iors, ge­net­ics, the en­vi­ron­ment and med­i­cal care—many fac­tors we can con­trol and some we can’t. Yet, all too of­ten, we feel dis­em­pow­ered and un­cer­tain how to ex­ert con­trol and make smart choices. At Pen­rose-st. Fran­cis, we em­pow­ered our as­so­ciates to be­come ac­tive part­ners in their health, and to cul­ti­vate a re­vi­tal­ized re­la­tion­ship with the pri­mary-care provider of their choos­ing.

To help our as­so­ciates make pos­i­tive life­style and be­hav­ior choices, we added well­ness coach­ing, ev­i­dence-based pro­grams (stress man­age­ment, weight loss, smok­ing ces­sa­tion and chronic con­di­tion self-man­age­ment), and pro­vided an out­come-based in­cen­tive pro­gram to drive en­gage­ment. Our health man­age­ment pro­gram goal is to build em­ployee ac­count­abil­ity so they can be role mod­els for our pa­tients and com­mu­nity. We have en­gaged about 42% of our as­so­ciates in our pro­grams so far and have tracked suc­cess­ful out­comes, in­clud­ing im­proved body mass in­dex, blood pres­sure and in­creased ac­tiv­ity. And they’re choos­ing health­ier food items, thanks in part to our nu­tri­tion ser­vices’ com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing daily “Bet­ter Bites” of­fer­ings.

To align with our physi­cians, we part­nered

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