NCMS Morning Rounds 7-23-20

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NCMS Morning Rounds!

  July 23, 2020

Collaborative Effort Helps Lower Costs; Improve Quality

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) and Aledade recently announced that their collaboration involving North Carolina physician-led Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) helped 47 primary care practices across the state lower costs and improve quality in the first year of operation. ACOs are groups of providers that share financial responsibility for delivering high-quality, better-coordinated patient care.

Results show the participating primary care practices:
• Reduced total cost of care by 4.7 percent for commercial patients.
• Reduced total cost of care by 6.1 percent for Medicare Advantage patients.
• Improved the quality of care for their almost 55,000 patients.
• Collectively earned $10.5 million in incentive payments.
• Improved their Medicare Star ratings, on average, from 3 Stars to 4.5 Stars.

The participating ACOs’ $10.5 million in incentive earnings has proven to be a crucial financial lifeline to primary care physicians on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Physicians joining these ACOs may also earn enhanced reimbursement rates and share in a portion of health care cost savings generated from improved quality of care.

The joint effort demonstrates both groups’ commitment to creating opportunities for primary care practices to remain financially independent.

Learn more about this collaboration between BCBSNC and Aledade and this latest announcement.

“The Blue Cross NC and Aledade performance defines true value-based care, setting the stage for quality, efficient, and accessible care for patients in our communities,” said NCMS Strategic Planning Officer Karen Smith, MD, a primary care physician in Raeford, and member of the North Carolina ACO. “I’m so thankful to Aledade and Blue Cross NC for believing in the power of primary care.”

Learn more about Aledade and the services it offers.

NC*Notify Offers Real-Time Patient Info

NC HealthConnex, the state’s health information exchange, announced this week that it now can offer you real-time alerts when one of your patients is admitted or discharged from the emergency department or an inpatient hospital stay.

“Having access to timely information about when our patients are seen at the hospital is always important to deliver better care. But especially during a public health crisis such as COVID-19, having access to timely notifications when my patients have been admitted or released from the hospital helps our staff schedule important follow up care with our patients,” said NCMS member Harriett Burns, MD, Associate Medical Director and Primary Care Provider at Piedmont Health Services Inc., an NC*Notify subscriber, and member of the NC Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA) Advisory Board.

The benefits of such event notifications include:
• Giving you insight to check in with patients after events and to schedule follow-up appointments for clinical interventions;
• reducing avoidable hospital readmissions and improves coordination across the care continuum;
• and helping you achieve financial goals under value-based care contracts;

The NC*Notify service also offers a web-based care coordination application.

Learn more about these new resources here.

MAHEC Awarded $1.8M to Expand Addiction Treatment in Western NC

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) $1.8 million over five years to increase the number of addiction specialists trained in primary care settings.

HRSA awarded a total of $20.3 million to MAHEC and 43 other fellowship programs across the country to expand the addiction workforce in communities with the greatest need like Western North Carolina, where all 18 counties are designated as mental health professional shortage areas. The western part of the state has higher rates of substance use, overdose, suicide and depression than state and national averages.

The program, housed in MAHEC’s Department of Family Medicine, welcomed its first three physician fellows this summer. The five-year grant will support training for up to four fellows each year, providing innovative telehealth services to improve access to care, and developing a network of community-based training sites across western North Carolina where treatment services are needed most.

Learn more about the award and the fellowship program here.

In the News

NIH Project Homes in On COVID Racial Disparities, Kaiser Health News, 7-21-20

Learning Opportunity

DON’T FORGET to register for our NCMS Town Hall Forum on Monday, July 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. Please join the only two physicians currently serving in the NC General Assembly, Rep. Perrin Jones, MD (R-Pitt) and Rep. Kristin Baker, MD (R-Cabarrus) to learn more about their health policy perspectives. The discussion will be held via Zoom on Monday, July 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. and will be moderated by NCMS Past President Robert ‘Charlie’ Monteiro, MD. Please submit questions or topics you would like the legislators to address to NCMS Director of Legislative Relations Sue Ann Forrest, MPA, at prior to the meeting. Register here to participate.

BONUS Learning Opportunity: The Duke Center for Healthcare Safety and Quality is offering a Healthcare Worker Resilience and Quality Improvement ‘Bite-Size’ Resilience Webinar series that can be purchased for individuals or by organizations for multiple users at once. Learn more about this valuable resource here.


If you have policies you’d like your NCMS Board of Directors to consider, please complete the Board input form here. Thanks for reading!


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