How a Data Dive Makes a Difference in ACO Care Coordination Efficiency

Thursday, March 30th, 2017
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

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UTSACN used data analytics to trim its home health network from more than 1,200 agencies to 20 highly efficient home health providers.

How does UT Southwestern Accountable Care Network (UTSACN) use information to inform and advance care coordination programming? As UT Southwestern’s Director of Care Coordination Cathy Bryan explains, a closer look at doctors’ attitudes toward a Medicare home health form initiated a retooling of the ACO’s home health approach.

We realized our home health spend was two times the national average. When we reviewed just the prior 12 months, we identified more than 1,200 unique agencies that serviced at least one of our patients. With this huge number of disparate home health agencies, it was difficult to get a handle on the problem.

Our primary care doctors told us they found the CMS 485 Home Health Certification and Plan of Care form to be too long. The font on the form is four-point type; it’s complex, so they don’t understand it. However, because they don’t want a family member or patient to call them because they took away their home care, they often sign the form without worrying about it.

As we began looking at these findings, we wondered what they really told us. Are some agencies better than others, and how do we begin to create a narrow network or preferred network for home care? We knew we couldn’t work with 1,200 agencies efficiently; even 20 agencies is a lot to work with.

We began to analyze the claims. My skilled analyst created an internal efficiency score. She risk-adjusted various pieces of data, like average length of stay. For home health, there were a number of consecutive recertifications. We looked at average spend per recertification, and the number of patients they had on each agency. We risk-adjusted this data, because some agencies may actually get sicker patients because they have higher skill sets within their nursing staff.

We created a risk-adjusted efficiency score based on claims. We narrowed down the list by only looking at agencies with 80 percent or higher efficiency. That left us with about 80 agencies; we then narrowed our search to 90 percent efficiency and above, and still had 44. That was still too many, so we cross-walked these with CMS Star ratings to narrow it even more. Finally, after looking at our geographic distribution for agencies that serviced at least 20 patients, we eliminated those with one and two patients. We sought agencies that had some population moving through them.

Ultimately, we reduced our final home health network to about 20 agencies that were not creating a lot of additional spend, and not holding patients on service for an incredibly long period of time.

Source: Advanced Care Coordination: Bridging the Gap Between Appropriate Levels of Care and Care Plan Adherence for ACO Attributed Lives

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During Advanced Care Coordination: Bridging the Gap Between Appropriate Levels of Care and Care Plan Adherence for ACO Attributed Lives, a 2016 webinar available for replay, Cathy Bryan, director, care coordination at UT Southwestern, shares how her organization’s care coordination model manages utilization while achieving its mission of bridging the gap from where patients are to where they need to be to adhere to their care plan.

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