Many hospitals and health systems are looking at ways to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery. Rather than go it alone, seven Connecticut healthcare organizations have banded together to build a data warehouse combining claims data with electronic health record (EHR) data in order to harness the capabilities of real-time analytics to address gaps in care for effective population health management.
The Value Care Alliance formed in December 2013 and is comprised of St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Lawrence and Memorial Health System, Griffin Hospital, Middlesex Hospital and Western Connecticut Health Network, which is comprised of Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and Norwalk Hospital.
In August, VCA partnered with Burlington, Mass.-based Arcadia Healthcare Solutions and is currently deploying the Arcadia Analytics platform to all member hospitals, unifying claims data from local and national health plans and hospital and ambulatory EHRs, to support real-time analytics which will be utilized by both VCA and hospital executives for strategic quality and cost improvement planning. The analytics also will be used by care management teams for patient monitoring, such as coordinating the care of diabetic patients.
The VCA anticipates the first results of this analytics work, which began earlier this month, in about 60 days. The Arcadia Analytics platform will serve as a central utility and dashboard capabilities will be used to compare cost, quality and efficiency metrics at the aggregate and individual hospital level, allowing VCA members to identify and share best practices between members.
Patrick Charmel, chairman of the VCA and CEO of Griffin Hospital, recently spoke with HCI Assistant Editor Heather Landi about the need for sophisticated data analytics in a value-based healthcare environment and the challenges of building a data repository with claims and EHR data across seven independent hospitals. In the second part of this two-part interview, Charmel will share the specific quality measures, what VCA will do with the results and how they got physicians on board.
How did the Value Care Alliance come together?
A number of hospitals were going through internal analysis and review looking at what kind of capabilities they were going to need in the future as healthcare began to shift from being volume-oriented to value-oriented. If we are going to take responsibility for a population of patients, we need to know a lot more about them, so we knew that we would have to develop more sophisticated information technology and capabilities. We would have to begin to gather both claims history data and medical records data to understand that population, to look at the underlying needs, or the chronic conditions that the population has, their claims history and then risk stratify them and develop strategies to intervene and try to manage the care of those patients more closely and more effectively. So that took a data repository and advanced analytics. Most of those traditional systems didn’t have that capability, and many still don’t. So, then the question is, how do you go about doing that? Do you do that as an individual hospital or do you come together with others? It’s a big investment. And that gets back to the question of what constellation of providers are you going to come together with? Are they efficient and are they producing good outcomes, meaning quality in terms of patient experience?
All of that analysis led us to say, let’s look for those high-performing hospitals that are capable and can execute and that understand how the environment is changing and are willing to embrace it, because not everyone is willing to embrace it. So, we tried to identify those organizations that were relatively low cost and producing high quality and that were forward thinking and wanted to come together in a less traditional manner that allows them to preserve their independence. There is a danger of bringing together fiercely independent people as they may not want to work together with others, so it’s a combination of being independent and also collaborative. Those were the kinds of folks that we were able to find and made sure we had a common vision with. We wanted to make sure that we all shared a philosophy and a common set of principles and then we set out from there.
Were there any challenges to getting this started?
Yes, I think there were. It took us a little while to understand that sometimes we have to subordinate the interests of our individual organizations to the interests of the larger organization to really get the collective benefit of coming together. You have to get a few successes for organizations to believe that doing it together is more beneficial to doing it on your own; but once we get some early wins, it builds confidence that coming together was the right thing to do.
How did you choose a vendor?