$685M in new HHS funding for patient-centered care

'Peer-to-peer support' for physicians, nurses, pharmacists
By Mike Miliard
07:41 AM
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As part of the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will dole out some $685 million to help health networks, physician practices and other providers drive advances in IT-enabled communication, care coordination, quality improvement and cost reductions.

[See also: HHS launches $840M in new IT incentives]

The awards will go to a variety of more than three-dozen health organizations to help equip more than 140,000 clinicians with the tools to increase patients' access to information and move toward more value-based care, said HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell during roundtable discussion on Tuesday with Members of Congress and health care leaders.

"Supporting doctors and other healthcare professionals change the way they work is critical to improving quality and spending our health care dollars more wisely," said Burwell in a press statement. "These awards will give patients more of the information they need to make informed decisions about their care and give clinicians access to information and support to improve care coordination and quality outcomes."

[See also: Clinical decision support: no longer just a nice-to-have]

TCPI is one of the largest federal investments aimed at helping clinicians nationwide through collaborative and peer-based learning networks. Most of this new funding will go to 29 group practices, healthcare systems and regional extension centers for efforts including:

  • Helping providers give patients better tools for communication through e-mail and other IT apps;
  • Providing dedicated coaches to help practices better manage chronic disease and offer preventive care;
  • Offering real-time notification alerts for clinicians caring for high-risk patients;
  • Improving screening and treatment of behavioral health across multiple care settings and increasing patient medication management education;
  • Centralizing data reporting and providing technical assistance with quality improvement targets and mid-course corrections; and
  • Promoting patient, provider and community engagement through advisory boards and community engagement in learning collaboratives.

Meanwhile, 10 national organizations – including the American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Radiology and National Rural Accountable Care Consortium – will receive up to $27 million to work toward aligning clinical practice guidelines across medical specialties; offer continuing medical education credit to clinicians to support these transformation efforts; share best practices and provide technical assistance in emerging alternative payment models, and provide education and access to registry data information, including training on how to use the data to improve care.

The American Board of Family Medicine will work with more than 25,000 family physicians serving 50 million or more patients to help clinicians and patients reduce disparities in health care and move toward a wellness-based approach to managing care, for instance. The National Nursing Centers Consortium will work with more than 7,000 nurse practitioners that support 2.5 million patients to avoid more than 14,000 unnecessary tests and 4,000 unnecessary hospital admissions.

"As a practicing physician, I know the importance of quality improvement support and sharing of best practices to help clinicians transform their practice and deliver outstanding care to every person," said Patrick Conway, MD, acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in a press statement. "This support is critical to achieve better care, smarter spending, and healthier people."