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Are You a Yakima Valley Kind of Pioneer? Time to Let Us Know

October 28, 2015
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The Healthcare informatics Innovator Awards Program is once again open to submissions from innovative teams in healthcare. Will your team be one of the 2016 winners?

About 150 miles away from the glamour and hip chic of Seattle, the Yakima Valley lies in the heart of Washington state’s agricultural and viticultural heartland, with fruit orchards and vegetable fields, and a community that includes many migrant workers, some of them undocumented, and many uninsured or underinsured. These are the kinds of healthcare patients and consumers who are challenging to care for, because of many of the day-to-day challenges they face, including poverty, transience, and long-term chronic illnesses that often go uncared for, for years.

But Carlos Olivares, CEO of the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, and his fellow administrators and clinicians, have taken on the challenges facing them in their community with a passion and a vision that are remarkable. Caring for about 130,000 area residents annually, Olivares and his colleagues recognize that there will never be an abundance of resources available to serve the Yakima Valley patient population, 90 percent of whom fall below the poverty level.

Thus, Olivares and his colleagues at the Toppenish-based YVFWC, which encompasses 26 outpatient care sites, 1,400 staff, and 95 physicians and allied health professionals  have had to create invention out of necessity, in order to optimally care for their hardworking, underprivileged population.

As a result, Olivares and his colleagues have invested heavily in IT, building a robust data warehouse, developing a comprehensive set of clinical reporting tools that integrates with the clinical workflow of the organization and supports physicians and other clinicians with dashboard-based indicators for chronic care management; and have outsourced data analytics management to a vendor partner (the Burlington, Mass.-based Arcadia Healthcare Solutions), resulting in the freeing-up of time and intellectual energy on the part of senior YVFWC leaders to focus on IT and data strategy instead of core system maintenance.

The results of all this have been outstanding, with excellent patient outcomes, and with YVFWC receiving $1.6 million in differential payments last year.” What’s more, Olivares notes, “It took us 18 months to get Level 3 recognition from NCQA [the National Committee for Quality Assurance]; we were accredited early last year. By achieving the Level 3 NCQA recognition, we generated $3.50 PMPM [per member per month], which translated into $3 million in incentive payments from our payers,” who include Medicaid managed care and some commercial health plans.

In short, Olivares and his colleagues at Yakima Valley have achieved remarkable success working with limited resources, and caring for a disadvantaged population. As a result, their submission won first place in the Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards Program in 2015, and Olivares and his colleagues were recognized at our Innovator Awards reception, held in the splendid Empire Room at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel during the annual HIMSS Conference, which took place in Chicago this April. Also honored were three other Innovators finalists, teams from Texas Children’s Hospital (Houston); the Children’s Health Alliance (Portland, Oregon); and the Bon Secours Medical Group (Richmond, Virginia)—as well as eight admirable runners-up.

The kinds of innovations that all these teams of leaders have created in their organizations are deeply inspiring, and they are exactly the kinds of innovations that we are proud and privileged to bring to you through our program.

Are you and your colleagues creating innovation in your organizations? The innovation involved can be of any kind that has moved your organization forward, along clinical, operational, financial, or organizational lines; and that benefits your community in some concrete way. The ideal is to be able to share innovations that have involved the ingenious leveraging of data and information technology for these purposes. The program is open to submissions by all patient care organizations, including hospitals, medical groups, and integrated health systems, and collaboratives of patient care organizations; health information exchanges; and health plans. We do not accept submissions from vendor companies.

Are you and your colleagues innovators? Please let us know—and let the world know—by submitting today to our Innovator Awards Program. The link to the program is here. Thank you for reading and considering this, and best of luck in your submission to this year’s program!