Delivering fast results
Dealing with two new owners and meeting seven new quality metrics in just five months has made for a frenetic year for Dr. Robert White at his Albuquerque medical practice. One big change came when ABQ Health Partners, a 230-physician multispecialty group where White serves as medical informatics director, merged with HealthCare Partners, a Torrance, Calif.-based independent practice association, which has since been acquired by DaVita.
It meant the New Mexico physicians had to match the seven pay-for-performance measures their California counterparts were already obliged to meet before the end of 2012, then just five months away.
It was a quality improvement campaign that White, a 2013 winner of the AMDIS Award from the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems, led. He and his colleagues achieved six of the seven measures by using health IT to identify those patients in need of special attention and by not waiting for the patients to schedule appointments, but reaching out to them aggressively to either schedule tests or intervening to improve their lab test scores.
The measures targeted timely mammograms for about 9,800 women ages 50 through 69 covered by Medicare and commercial insurance, as well as blood glucose and LDL cholesterol levels for about 5,900 patients covered by both payer types and with either diabetes or ischemic vascular disease.
During the campaign, White gathered and shared performance scores for the practice as a whole and for provider teams so members could assess progress being made toward patient performance goals. The only goal missed was for targeted Medicare IVD patients on their cholesterol counts of less than 100, with 54% of patients attaining that measure compared with a goal of 62%. The rest were exceed- ed by various margins, including diabetics with commercial plans, whose target for Hb1Acs was topped by a whopping 16 percentage points. Mammogram screening rates were above 70% for patients with both payer types. What’s next for White, 64, and his colleagues?
“We’re doing a lot more preventive care visits and using some of the same tools to identify gaps in care and how can we do a better job. How can we get the data from the hospital being discharged? What does the patient need? How can we get the patient in quickly?
“EHRs are not where they need to be as a tool to take care of patients day to day,” White says. “Every day I hear somebody say, ‘I didn’t go to medical school for this.’ Yeah, they’re still clunky, but there are some real solid benefits for providers with EHRs, things we can do with IT that we never conceived of before.”