Atrius Health was honored to be among several panelists to participate in the 2014 Annual Cost Trends Hearing yesterday on “Challenges and Opportunities for Coordinated Care: Post-Acute Care.” Richard Lopez, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Atrius Health joined other panelists including representatives from Baystate Medical Center, Brockton Visiting Nurses Association and Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center to discuss the vital role that post-acute care plays in improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.
During his testimony, Dr. Lopez noted that recognizing the importance of post-acute care, VNA Care Network & Hospice and VNA of Boston joined Atrius Health in 2013, making it the largest VNA in Massachusetts, with three hospice houses and a hospice agency.
Atrius Health accepts financial and quality risk for about half of our patients, including Medicare Advantage and as a Pioneer ACO. As part of caring for our patients across the continuum, Atrius Health has been working over the past few years to strengthen the care that our patients receive in the post-acute setting and to recognize the opportunities that appropriate use of Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), home health and hospice can provide for keeping our patients out of the hospital.
We have achieved the highest quality scores of all of the New England Pioneer ACOs and the second highest among Pioneers nationally and have done this while having the lowest per beneficiary per capita cost of all Pioneer ACO’s in the Commonwealth. Atrius Health has made substantial progress at decreasing hospital admissions, decreasing the length of stay at SNFs and holding total medical expense flat or well within the target set by the state.
In his comments, Dr. Lopez noted the Health Policy Commission may want to look more closely at how the use of post-acute care can reduce the use of acute care hospitals. Additionally, the data should be examined for use of acute rehab hospitals which may not be as necessary in some cases given the current abilities of many SNFs. He also noted that Massachusetts does not do a good job referring patients to hospice or palliative care when compared to other states in the country, an assertion that was supported by other panelists.
We believe that post-acute care has the potential to be tremendously important in meeting the state’s goals of improving population health, reducing total medical expenses and ensuring patients’ access to care in the right setting. The following are some examples that illustrate our successes:
In addition to testifying, Atrius Health submitted pre-filed testimony in advance of the hearing. Our pre-filed testimony is available on the HPC’s website here.