Bon Secours Virginia Medical Group

Richmond, VA

Provider Type              Multi-specialty group practice
Locations                     140
Providers                     475 (45% primary care)
PCMH Recognition      NCQA Level 3
ACO Est.                      Medicare Shared-Savings Program, January 2013
Patients                       25,000 (Virginia)
Technology                 Adopted Epic enterprise-wide in 2009

A pioneer in implementing medical home and accountable care initiatives, Bon Secours has dedicated itself to implementing a sustainable care delivery model that is in alignment with health care reform across its providers and locations. Bon Secours’ transformation into an organization that embraces population health management is the result of a systematic strategy to reengineer primary care practices, integrate new technologies into care team workflows, and engage patients in their care. Steps in this strategy include:

•                Enterprise-wide EMR implementation
•                Early adoption and continuing commitment to the medical home model
•                Implementation of registries to identify high-risk patients and gaps in care
•                Care management and patient engagement initiatives
•                Adoption of advanced quality and reporting tools
•                Formation as an accountable care organization (ACO)

Bon Secours took a ‘leap of faith’ in implementing these changes, acting on the belief that payers would come to them if they built a viable model. And payers did. The organization was selected as an early participant in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. It has also signed value-based contracts with two commercial payers – CIGNA and Anthem – and is in negotiations with several more. These contracts provide a financial mechanism to expand and scale the medical home initiative and support ACO models. This case study examines in more detail Bon Secours’ approach to position itself to achieve quality outcomes and financial success in the changing health care environment.

Bon Secours’ Care Team Model

The foundation of Bon Secours’ strategy for value-based care is its medical home initiative – the Advanced Medical Home Project. The project began as a pilot in June 2010. Since that time, eleven practices have earned NCQA recognition as patient-centered medical homes.  One of the most significant objectives of the Advanced Medical Home Project is to improve capacity – making it possible for care teams to double the size of their patient panel without overburdening themselves or sacrificing quality of care.

At the heart of this medical home strategy is the effort to reengineer practices by creating high-performance physician-led care teams, which requires changes in workflow, new care coordination activities, and defined delegation of clinical responsibilities across the care team. To facilitate this process, Bon Secours has invested significantly in embedding care managers into the primary care team. These nurse navigators are Registered Nurses (RNs) who are either board-certified case managers or actively working toward certification.

Each nurse navigator is assigned a panel of approximately 150 high-risk patients. He or she cultivates a personal relationship with these patients, usually through repeated phone contacts. Although most outreach is telephonic, navigators have the skill to assess which patients require face-to-face intervention. And because they are embedded in the practice, they can spend time with these patients doing assessments, care planning, and education.

Bon Secours’ eHealth Strategies

An important aspect of Bon Secours’ strategy is implementing health information technology that empowers the care team to efficiently manage the health of their populations. They consider this technology – standardized across the medical group – as the key to enabling them to scale their system for value-based care. As a first step, Bon Secours implemented Epic’s ambulatory EMR and all its modules in every practice within the system. This gave them a strong foundation for documenting care and accessing health records across the enterprise.

Risk Stratification: They were able to build a registry within Epic that could identify high-risk and high-utilization patients based on data such as number of medications or frequent visits to the emergency department. However, the organization recognized the need for a more robust, scalable registry that would drive efficient population health workflows in their practices and enable analytics and predictive modeling across multiple clinical conditions.

Integrating their EMR with the Phytel population health management platform, Bon Secours is able to aggregate all source data into a population-wide registry that enables the organization to implement multiple quality-improvement programs simultaneously. The registry stratifies the population by risk – providing a total population view while enabling each care team to drill down to the data they need about cohorts and individual patients. The system allows care teams within the practice to monitor their patients’ health status and take action by delivering timely and appropriate care interventions. Because the system automates these interventions, care teams are able to communicate with many patients at once.

Figure 1: Patient X Risk Calculator:  For example, Patient X has a LACE score greater than 11, which indicates he is at high risk for readmission. He is male, has a poor social support system in place, and was discharged on a Friday and readmitted the following Sunday. Using the appropriate technologies, the team was able to see that he had been receiving much of his health care in the emergency room and hospital for the past year.

Automated Outreach: A significant priority for Bon Secours has been preventing 30-day readmissions. The medical group uses Phytel’s automated outreach system to identify discharged patients, link them to a primary care provider (PCP) and pinpoint those who are at high risk for readmission. Flagged patients are then called within 24-72 hours to reinforce discharge instructions, make sure their medications are reconciled and schedule an appointment at the PCP’s office within 5-10 days of discharge. Bon Secours will soon implement the Phytel readmissions solution to automate the process of calling discharged patients, asking them to complete a short assessment, and escalating cases as needed based on their feedback.

Personal Health Records: Another strategy for patient engagement is activating patients on Epic’s MyChart personal health record (PHR), which allows patients to view clinical results and communicate conveniently with their caregivers via email. Bon Secours works to gain physician consensus on policies that drive the use of PHR: physicians agreed to allow automatic release of normal results to the PHR, but abnormal results are held for 24 hours to enable the care team to contact the patient. The organization is relying on physicians and staff to get patients active on MyChart, helping them sign up on the spot in the exam room.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Gaining physician buy-in for reengineering practice workflow. The concept of the care team can be difficult for some physicians because they see themselves as the clinician and the rest of the team as support staff. To help physicians embrace the care team and delegate patient-care tasks, Bon Secours placed tremendous emphasis on physician education. The organization also allows physicians to adjust some of the standardized care-team protocols to fit the needs of their practice, which fosters ownership of the process and assures physicians that they remain in control.

Paying for the transition to value-based care. As mentioned previously, Bon Secours implemented its medical home model with the hope that payers would come to them if they built a viable program. CIGNA currently gives the organization a per-member per-month (PMPM) adjustment for care coordination. Anthem, the group’s biggest payer, pays a care coordination fee and will change to PMPM in the coming year. Several more commercial payers are lined up to sign contracts with the group. However, this payer involvement is a relatively new development. For the first few years of the project, Bon Secours shouldered the expense. The organization is now poised to reap the rewards of its investment.

Bon Secours is also demonstrating significant progress managing its CIGNA population. In the first six months of their value-based contract, they have achieved a 27 percent reduction in readmissions and are $1.8 million below their projected spend.  They have hit many of their care quality metrics and need to improve their gap-in-care metrics only slightly to achieve the index necessary to qualify for gain sharing with CIGNA – a development that will bring a projected annual savings of $4 million.


Looking Ahead

Bon Secours’ mantra for the future is “healthcare without walls.” The organization is aggressively pursuing remote, noninvasive monitoring for highly acute case management. Their vision is to bring care outside the four walls of the hospital into the patient’s home using technology. They are operationalizing a geriatric medical home that will allow patients to age in place with home visits for preventive and acute management.
They are also expanding their implementation of the Phytel platform to include performance measurement at the group, site and provider levels, feedback to providers on variance in care, and quality reporting. This added functionality for analytics and insight on both the clinical and administrative level will help the organization ensure that it is meeting the Triple Aim.

Innovation Impact

  • 30-day readmission rate for medical home patients < 2% for two years
  • Patient engagement scores (the CE11) were in the 97th percentile
  • Patient outreach efforts generated approx. 40,000 unique patient visits for preventive, follow-up or acute care, leading to $7 million increased revenue
  • 6:1 ROI for their health information technology investment
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