athenahealth launches accelerator to help docs gain PCMH recognition

By Mike Miliard
10:15 AM

athenahealth announced Monday it will launch the Patient-Centered Medical Home Accelerator Program, which aims to assist primary care physician groups in meeting the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) newest PCMH recognition standards.

The medical home delivery model, with its potential to support total care coordination and engage a patient, the primary care physician and the patient’s family in the delivery of that care, has emerged as an attractive centerpiece of healthcare reform.

[See also: athenahealth to acquire Proxsys for $28M.]

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NCQA, which accredits and certifies a wide range of healthcare organizations and recognizes physicians in key clinical areas, has developed the nation’s most widely adopted medical home standards.

“There is a lot of momentum in the health system rallying behind the cloud as the vehicle that will enable this shift we’ve all been talking about from pay-for-service to performance-based care, because, finally, we have this thing that allows us to create vital clinical information and push it through the care continuum to everyone accountable and engaged in driving better outcomes,” said Jonathan Bush, CEO and chairman, athenahealth.

“The program we are rolling out gets me really excited," he added, "because here we are loading in pre-existing data to actually accelerate doctors’ ability to become PCMH designated and putting a framework against which they can be continuously evaluated. It’s a program where everyone’s bought into and is vested in this idea of truly coordinated care.”

[See also: NCQA recognizes 51 sites with top patient-centered medical home status.]

athenahealth has aligned with NCQA to advance this mission. The company’s cloud-based EHR offering is the first to have undergone a corporate review process whereby it has been qualified as a service that helps primary care physicians to participate in the PCMH incentive model more quickly and with less strain on their workflow, officials say.

“We’re deeply invested in the PCMH model and believe in its potential to drive better patient care in this country,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “Practices and providers using the Accelerator will be well positioned to earn PCMH recognition from NCQA. We are thrilled that athenahealth is helping practices by launching this program and that athenahealth is going through our corporate review, a first for any EHR.”

Physician practices that use athenahealth’s EHR and are applying for NCQA’s PCMH Recognition Program will receive automatic credit in the areas where athenahealth has met or exceeded NCQA’s requirements. In addition to pre-validation, athenahealth is assembling a suite of services designed to ease the way for athenahealth clients to secure NCQA PCMH recognition, including:

  • Pre-filtered reporting for NCQA PCMH applications
  • Quality management tools to track PCMH measures
  • Identifying/pursuing payer programs that can help subsidize the cost of recognition

With the rollout of its accelerator program, athenahealth will seek to match PCMH recognized practices with payer programs that reward for quality care services.

[See also: Patient-centered healthcare is essential healthcare.]

“We applaud athenahealth for taking this leadership position in the industry in helping medical groups expedite achieving PCMH status," said George Purdue, chief administrative officer of Hudson Headwaters Health Network in New York State. "athenaClinicals enabled information coordination for disease management, outreach, and the best practices to help our care delivery organization to achieve PCMH Level 3 recognition, allowing us to create an even more valuable health system by providing better care at lower cost.

"We were then able to negotiate with eight different payers, including Medicare, to be reimbursed for PCMH activity, and that’s allowed us to raise some salaries on the physician side and develop staff around the physician so that they can practice medicine the way they wanted to when they were in medical school, rather than the way the economy was driving them.”