CMS partners with commercial and state insurers to support primary care practices and reduce clinician burden
By Dr. Patrick Conway, Acting Principal Deputy Administrator and Deputy Administrator for Innovation & Quality and
Pauline Lapin, MHS, Director, Seamless Care Models Group, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation
Over the past few years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has committed to supporting clinicians by providing them with actionable data. This is part of the Administration-wide initiative to unlock government data to promote innovation and best practices. Today, we are highlighting one way we have reached this goal and sharing how we plan to use the lessons we’ve learned in future efforts.
With the growing use of health information technology to support care delivery, using data to guide patient care has become increasingly important and common. Not surprisingly, data transparency has become a focus of primary care clinicians. In the past, practices were often left wondering what happened to patients outside of the four walls of their primary care offices. Even when practices do have access to data, clinicians often spend time sifting through multiple reports from different insurers, each with its own set of measures, and format, and much of the data is only applicable to a portion of the clinicians’ patients. Aggregated data allows clinicians to get an overall snapshot of their patient population to identify care gaps and target areas for population health improvement. It also reduces burden and saves staff time, which helps primary care clinicians focus on what they were trained to do: deliver high-quality patient care.
In the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative (CPC), a model from the CMS Innovation Center that ran from 2012 to 2016 and aimed to strengthen primary care, CMS convened payers in seven regions to test whether delivering comprehensive primary care at each CPC practice site — supported by multi-payer payment reform, the continuous use of data to guide improvement, and meaningful use of health information technology — could achieve better care, smarter spending, and healthier people. In three of these regions – Colorado, the greater Tulsa region of Oklahoma, and the Cincinnati-Dayton region of Ohio and Kentucky – CMS and payers collaborated to produce reports that combined privacy-protected patient-level health data from multiple payers into a single report given to participating primary care practices. Payers worked closely with participating CPC practices and CMS to define priorities, governance structures, and refine the format and content of the reports. In turn, data aggregation specialists collaborated with the payers in each region to combine and streamline delivery of that data, ensuring the highest level of security of the health information.
“This was a much anticipated solution to the complexities posed by not having access to consistent claims data, and a continuous desire to improve our approach to meeting CPC Milestones [program requirements],” said Dr. Austin Bailey, Medical Director of University of Colorado Health (UCHealth), which participated in CPC. By having all data in one place, UCHealth practices were able to quickly and easily identify gaps in patient care and see exactly what services their patients were receiving outside of their practices.
“Our practices will continue to leverage the use of aggregated claims data using Stratus [the tool for practices in Colorado] to identify the cost patterns of high risk patients — for example, among our patients with diabetes, is the greatest cost associated with specialists, emergency department utilization, or medications? Having this information across multiple payers makes it more relevant and helps to build our confidence in selecting the appropriate interventions, identifying trends, and effectively assigning care management resources,” said Dr. Bailey.
Many CPC practices are taking the important skills and lessons they’ve learned into the newest CMS Innovation Center primary care model, Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+). Built on the foundation of CPC, CPC+ began this month on January 1, 2017, supporting primary care practices located in 14 regions across the country, with over 50 commercial payers and state Medicaid agencies partnering with CMS.
We expect that aggregated data reports will be a top priority for CPC+ practices and partner payers and we look forward to the opportunity to build on the tremendous success we’ve had with data aggregation in CPC. Public and private payers working in partnership with primary care clinicians, engaging patients, and delivering the right data and information is essential to improving our health system and the care delivered to patients.
Vendors and partner payers that participated in CPC data aggregation with CMS, by region:
Vendor: Best Doctors, Inc.
Participating payers: Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Colorado Choice Health Plans, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (Medicaid), Medicare fee-for-service, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, UnitedHealthcare
Greater Tulsa region
Vendor: My Health Access Network, Inc.
Participating payers: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, CommunityCare, Medicare fee-for-service, Oklahoma Health Care Authority (Medicaid)
Vendor: The Health Collaborative
Participating payers: Aetna, CareSource, Buckeye Health Plan, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Medicare fee-for-service, Ohio Medicaid, UnitedHealthcare