Jacob Reider, CEO of Alliance for Better Health
Recently, the former Alliance for Better Health Care changed its name by a single word—to Alliance for Better Health. That simple change speaks volumes about the organization’s mission.
“Our goal is more health, less care,” said Alliance CEO Jacob Reider, MD. “It’s not that care is unimportant; it’s that health is more important than healthcare, because if you’re healthy, you don’t need care. The health of the community is our number one priority.”
The Alliance serves as a performing provider system (PPS) an integrated, collaborative system of healthcare providers, hospital systems and community-based organizations. This type of organization is a response to New York State’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program, which is an effort to restructure healthcare delivery in a way that will reduce avoidable hospital use by 25 percent by 2022.
More Advances Underway
To meet that goal, the Alliance recently launched two funds that provide incentives for high-quality performance and encourage innovation among partners. The Transformation Fund rewards the achievement of specific measurements—such as increasing well-child visits, reducing potentially preventable hospital admissions and others that help improve the health of the community. The Innovation Fund provides seed money so that partners can implement creative ideas for meeting those targets.
Recipients can, among other things, use the funds to connect with Hixny—an effort that Alliance supports.
“Right now, we’re working with the surrounding PPSs to facilitate Hixny connections for skilled nursing facilities,” said Kellin Rowlands, Technology Project Manager at Alliance. “We’re also reaching out to our own behavioral health partners that are not connected, and analyzing how our connected partners are using Hixny—so we can understand how and when providers are interacting with the portal.”
Such initiatives align with what Reider sees as Hixny’s ultimate value to PPSs like Alliance. “One core piece, for us, is understanding where we are relative to success. To do that, we have to have information—and to have information, we need one central place to find the information. This is where Hixny comes in. We want to use Hixny as the throughput facilitator for health data, so we can assess the health of our communities and our success in promoting it.”
At the same time, Alliance is actively collaborating with surrounding PPSs to advance healthcare performance throughout the region. During its Northeastern New York Health Innovation Summit, 18 entrepreneurs pitched their innovative healthcare ideas to DSRIP participants in what Rowlands described as a “profoundly successful event.”
Solutions presented at the Summit ranged from apps for triaging patients before they reach the emergency department to a way to use appointment wait times to capture valuable health information. A panel of PPS representatives chose IPNCare as Outstanding Health Innovator, recognizing its app that integrates community pharmacists into a patient’s care team.
On another front, the PPSs are making it easier for community-based organizations (CBOs) to participate in the PPS structure. CBOs are nonprofit organizations that work to improve lives within local communities. Between their established relationships with hard-to-reach individuals and the transportation, housing and other non-medical services they provide, CBOs play a central role in supporting the health of underserved populations, especially in the value-based environment.
“As the healthcare system transitions from volume to value, a truly integrated delivery system is a necessity,” said Alliance Director of Communications, Melissa Russom. “It prioritizes prevention by addressing the full continuum of medical and psychosocial needs. That makes CBOs a critical piece of the care team.”
One CBO is the City Mission of Schenectady, which serves the city’s poor with spiritual guidance, counseling, training, classes and other initiatives. In collaboration with Alliance, the Mission’s Schenectady Ambassadors surveyed and engaged more than 2,500 community members between November 2016 and August 2017. Drawing on the results of that project, Empower Health came into being able to generate solutions that better connect the community with healthcare resources.
“Traditionally, we have done little in regard to healthcare and the wider community,” said Nathan Mandsager, Director of Schenectady Works, a division of the City Mission. “Our collaboration with Alliance has empowered us to step into this world in a way that personally connects community members with the healthcare resources they need, while overcoming and addressing a wide range of barriers.”
All of these initiatives underscore the extraordinary collegiality demonstrated by the region’s PPSs.
“DSRIP is non-competitive by definition,” Reider said. “I was just asked last week, ‘How are you handling the competition from the Albany Med PPS, since St. Peter’s is a member of Alliance?’ I said, ‘Actually, this isn’t about Albany Med or Alliance. They only succeed if we succeed and vice versa. It’s not baseball or football. It’s a non-competitive game.’”