CMS award winners showcase partnerships

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Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor

Grasping, as many of us do, to find a positive healthcare story that includes the long-term care sector, it was nice to see that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Innovation Awards made long-term care a part of the picture.

The second round of 81 awards was handed out last week. Recipients included CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, in partnership with the Community Long-Term Care Facility Partnership Group and Incarnate Word University, which is receiving $3.5 million to train nurses to recognize early warning signs of congestive heart failure (CHF) and sepsis in Medicare beneficiaries in nursing home facilities and in certain hospital patients. It's anticipated to result in a 20% reduction in readmissions from nursing home facilities for CHF and sepsis.

Now take The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, which received a $4.1 million award to tackle dual eligibles by working on activities of daily living, and improving medication management and mobility. It includes interventions such as home visits from occupational therapists and nurses.

There's no question the Hopkins project is designed to reduce nursing home admissions. It also is estimated that it will save the government $6.8 million over three years.

It's easy to think, as with many of these projects, “harrumph, more money not going to us.” But I think we are moving toward the day where we see less of an “us vs. them” mentality of hospitals, universities and long-term care when it comes to these awards and grants.  

Take Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, which owns a home health agency as part of its non-profit system.

Before you instinctively glaze over because of the mention of home health, Intermountain sees its $9.7 million grant as furthering goals many long-term care providers have, such as making depression a part of the decision-making process.

“We know that depression is a chronic co-morbidity that should be included. It really is imperative to treat the whole patient,” Lucy Savitz, Ph.D., Director of Research and Education of Intermountain Healthcare's Institute for Health Care Delivery Research, told McKnight's.

Part of the Intermountain grant will be a computerized medical decision-support tool for doctors and patients. The system plans to develop new ways to deliver population-based data to primary care doctors to help patients with chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.

“We know from work that we've done that if a patient has three or more chronic co-morbidities that those patients are at unnecessary risk for hospital admission and ED visits,” Savitz says. “If we saw those people were at risk and spread across geography, we ask where those people are and how we might put in a quality improvement intervention.” These could include calls to ask about how a patient is doing with a weight loss program, or other types of follow-ups.

While Intermountain is largely focused on primary care, “we all have to look at the symbiotic nature of these things,” Savitz says.

“While we don't own long-term care facilities, we work closely with them. Everyone's goal is to stay home and stay well as much as possible,” she notes.

While politicians may rant and rave about the CMS Innovation Center, the projects I've seen show that your colleagues in healthcare are doing fascinating things, and I believe many will have a ripple effect as more organizations move toward coordinated care models.

The full list of projects can be seen here


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.