Atrius Health succeeds in improving care, lowering costs for Medicare beneficiaries

| Posted On Sep 17, 2014 | By:

The following is a news release pertaining to results announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Newton, MA (September 16, 2014) – Atrius Health announced it was the highest quality ACO in New England based on the 33 ACO quality measures and the second highest quality Pioneer ACO in the country. Atrius Health’s medical groups achieved among the highest quality and patient experience scores nationally while also achieving savings for Medicare according to preliminary 2013 results released today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for 237 organizations participating in Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Atrius Health, an alliance of leading community-based medical groups (Dedham Medical Associates, Granite Medical Group, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Reliant Medical Group, South Shore Medical Center and Southboro Medical Group) and a home health agency and hospice, is one of 23 organizations nationally selected to participate in the Medicare Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model.

The 33 quality measures were chosen by CMS to represent patient/caregiver experience, care coordination and patient safety, preventive health, and risk for patients with diabetes, hypertension, ischemic vascular disease, heart failure and/or coronary artery disease. All measures were based on Medicare beneficiaries who received most of their primary care at one of the Atrius Health groups.

Atrius Health groups have been providing superlative care for decades to many of their elderly patients—and this is strongly evident in Medicare patients’ self-reported assessments of their health status. More Atrius Health ACO patients surveyed rated their own health status as “excellent” than comparable patient populations in 90 percent of ACO’s across the country.

“Atrius Health is particularly proud of minimizing the risk for our diabetic patients –of serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, neuropathy, and kidney failure,” said Anita Ung, MD, Director of Quality Improvement. The important Diabetes Composite Measure on which Atrius Health achieved well above the 90th percentile includes: glucose control, blood pressure control, and cholesterol control. “Furthermore, we have contributed to decreasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke, which usually increases with age, by controlling blood pressure among seniors with known high blood pressure (hypertension). Our performance on this measure was better than 90% of organizations in this impressive group of ACOs.”

In addition, because depression is a common but often quietly unidentified problem in the elderly, CMS is interested in measuring how many Medicare patients have been screened annually for depression. Atrius Health used its advanced electronic health record (EHR) and implemented new procedures to efficiently identify elderly patients at highest risk of depression to their physicians. In one year, Atrius succeeded in moving from average screening rates to greater than the 90th percentile of ACOs.

Based on the CMS analysis, Atrius Health was best-in-class for meaningful use of its EHR. Also, as compared with the ratings of the 236 other ACOs, Atrius Health rated above the 90th percentile on four patient experience measures, screening for fall risk, pneumococcal vaccination, tobacco use assessment and cessation intervention, colorectal cancer screening, mammography screening, blood sugar control in patients with diabetes , percent of patients with ischemic vascular disease having a complete lipid profile and cholesterol less than 100 mg/dl, and percent of beneficiaries on drug therapy for lowering cholesterol.

Furthermore, for the 36,000 Medicare beneficiaries served by its medical groups through the Pioneer model in 2013, Atrius Health saved Medicare $3 million compared to its target. Atrius Health’s target is the lowest among Massachusetts Pioneer ACOs, because it is based on Atrius Health’s already strong historical performance.  Atrius Health applied its investments in training, data analytics, information technology, and other resources to all of its Medicare beneficiaries and was also able to save $8 million against expected costs for patients who were enrolled in Medicare Advantage in 2013.

“These results demonstrate that we have made significant gains towards our ‘triple aim’ goal of improving quality, improving patient experience and also bringing down the cost of care,” commented Richard Lopez, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Atrius Health. “This tremendous accomplishment represents a lot of hard work on behalf of our patients by many dedicated clinicians and staff across our organization.”

Media Contact:
Alicia Bandy
Solomon McCown & Co.


About Atrius Health Atrius Health is a not-for-profit alliance of six community-based medical groups and a home health care and hospice agency. The Atrius Health groups include Dedham Medical Associates, Granite Medical Group, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Reliant Medical Group, South Shore Medical Center, Southboro Medical Group, and VNA Care Network & Hospice. A national leader in delivering high quality, patient-centered accountable care, Atrius Health and its groups make it easier for patients and communities to be healthy. Our organization represents more than 1,000 physicians and 2,100 other health professionals, with a total of 8,200 employees serving more than one million patients across Eastern and Central Massachusetts.  The medical groups and home health agency work together to develop innovative, high quality and efficient models for delivering care in the office, home, and remotely.

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