Growing and Engaging an Accountable Care Patient Base: Q&A with MissionPoint Health Partners' CEO Jason Dinger

MissionPoint Health Partners is a clinically integrated network based in Nashville, Tenn., founded by St. Thomas Health. The organization was formed in January 2012 to provide patient-centered, coordinated care while improving care quality and lowering costs. After about six months of operating as an accountable care organization, MissionPoint joined the Medicare Shared Savings Program in July 2012.

Even though MissionPoint has a little more than a year's worth of experience under its belt, the organization has seen dramatic growth and achieved great results. Here, Jason Dinger, CEO of MissionPoint Health Partners, shares the strides the organization has made and how MissionPoint plans to expand its reach throughout Tennessee this year.

Question: MissionPoint Health Partners has been up and running for a little more than a year now. What results did the ACO achieve in that time?

Jason Dinger: JasonDingerI think out of all of our accomplishments, we're most excited about the fact that the concept that we've put together is working; but we've seen three tangible results.

At the beginning, we were hoping to have 400 physicians sign up for program and network, and we now have more than 1,500 physicians, so the whole model is resonating with physician community here. Also, we launched with 10,000 members and we have grown to more than 50,000, which shows interest from employers in the market. On top of that, for the first 15,000 lives we have managed, we experienced more than 12 percent savings in cost. It's living up to the promise of bending the cost curve.

The combination of the three results is really what we're most excited about and consequently that's attracting more interest. It really comes down to proving the concept and delivering, and we have so far.

Q: MissionPoint recently penned a deal with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee for a network health plan option. What spurred that deal?

JD: We have always believed that a successful clinically integrated network should find strong payor partners. We have a lot of respect for payors that can drop a bill on time and be accurate. MissionPoint had no interest getting into the insurance business and instead wanted to really partner with someone to make that piece of the puzzle work. We have the unique value proposition of giving patients a best-in-class clinical experience with physicians that is inherently hard for payors to do, so we put the two worlds together for the pinnacle patient experience.

The first group of folks from the deal will come on board in January 2014, but we're out there today educating everyone and signing people up. Most insurance open enrollment runs on a calendar year cycle, so members wouldn't get care from MissionPoint until January. We're starting with self-insured employers that will have the option to add MissionPoint services to their current benefit offering.

Q: Capella Healthcare's middle Tennessee hospitals are joining the MissionPoint network. How will they be incorporated?

JD: Hospitals are an integral partner to MissionPoint and our model. We started with the hospitals of St. Thomas Health and we're adding four Capella hospitals now.

The hospitals will share quality data about their performance and they also will integrate with our IT infrastructure. When a MissionPoint member shows up to one of the hospitals, we know about it within an hour of their admission. It allows us to work with patients while they are still in the hospital or if they have recently visited the emergency room.

The obvious benefit of adding Capella's hospitals for members is that we have information about them immediately, as opposed to 60 days later when we see the claim has been filed. When we find patients in crisis or undergoing major health transitions, we are with them during that experience. If you're a MissionPoint member, we visit you in hospital, call you the day after discharge and even do a home visit. It's crucial to our model to get real-time information so we can help patients when they need it most.

The hospitals will launch in phases this spring. We're putting all of the IT infrastructure together now.

Q: I understand MissionPoint recently launched a mobile application for members. Tell me about how that came about and what the goals for the app are.

JD: As is typical with us, we started with a very straight-forward idea based on patient need. Most folks have a healthcare experience when they least expect it, and that's when they need a director or guidance. It only made sense to start investing in the mobile environment. Being a mobile platform, it engages patients right when they have the need as opposed to catching them on the other side. Members can find an in-network physician with the app and can call a health partner — a registered nurse who works with patients on a daily basis — who can help members make appointments and decide if they should go to the emergency room, urgent care or a physician office.

The app has been rolled out, and members can download it today. It's indicative of the demographic you'd anticipate, and it's been popular. What's been happening is people have an experience and call us, and we tell them about the new app. Consequently, they go on and get it. I think it's there not as something they would use every day but when they need it most.

Q: What other steps has the ACO taken to engage patients?

JD: MissionPoint has host of services we offer from health risk assessments to offsite clinics. We deploy people, technology and resources as ways to engage patients.

There's a tool we built from scratch that allows members to select a primary care physician or medical home in the area. People can search providers by specialty, gender and distance, and can understand who the physician is before meeting them. We call it the primary care marketplace.

We also have a full telemedicine infrastructure to bring care closer to people's homes so they don't have to drive to the city for specialist visits. It is a fairly expansive network that includes 44 endpoints throughout middle Tennessee.

Q: What are your biggest goals for the ACO this year?

JD: First and foremost, we want to maintain the outcomes we achieved over the last year for a bigger population. We were very excited to see the concept was working and want to make sure we scale that and maintain the outcomes we have achieved.

Then, we want to start innovating in new ways to figure out what we can do for patients. So much of what we do is new in the healthcare community, and we want to continue innovating in ways that create value for people every day.

More Articles on ACOs:

5 Leadership Traits for Accountable Care Leaders
Survey: Majority of Physicians Unfamiliar With ACOs, PCMHs
Improving Population Health — An ACO Tenet Undefined?

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