'I'm filled with optimism': New Orleans East Hospital's journey to value-based care

New Orleans East Hospital was built after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the previous hospital in 2005. Ten years after it opened, President and CEO Takeisha Davis, MD, is focused on implementing quality-based performance measures and population health to transform health within the community.

"It's challenging to bring healthcare out of devastation, but our residents deserve it and we are proud that we brought in a quality way to lead," said Dr. Davis. The hospital has earned Joint Commission Certification and recognition from the American Heart Association, which honored it as a 2023 Get With The Guidelines Stroke GOLD PLUS award winner and certified primary stroke center.

To achieve her population health goals, Dr. Davis partners with community organizations and created a community health worker program to make sure there is continuity of care and patients are compliant with their appointments and preventative measures. The program was developed in partnership with ASHE Cultural Arts Center, Aetna, Humana, and the Louisiana Department of Health with the goal of reducing costs for utilization of ER visits and improving health in the community.

The new project has been helpful for the hospital, which faces many of the financial pressures and staffing shortages as other health systems across the country.

"The post-pandemic world continues to be a challenging environment for hospitals because of increasing financial pressures with salary and wages," said Dr. Davis. "The burnout we continue to see with healthcare workers and inflation challenges us. The value-based models allow us to focus on ways to provide higher efficiency with care, especially as the primary care team and community health workers work together to ensure patients are meeting their goals."

The community health workers have been particularly helpful with diabetes patients, lowering the number of patients who return with extensive needs because of non-compliance with their treatment and lifestyle changes.

"We are starting to see some results, but we're still looking at the data and we need to analyze and make sure we can provide quality of care and see efficiencies," Dr. Davis said. "At the same time, we are a hospital that relies a lot on public payers because of our population, so we're looking for ways to partner with those public payers."

Partnering with payers isn't always easy, especially if hospitals have had a contentious relationship with them in the past. But Dr. Davis said her partnerships with payers have been successful because each side understands the value their collaboration provides.

"At the hospital, we are in charge of taking care of all patients no matter what level of care. From the payer's vantage point, they are looking at highest utilizers and cost. We want to tackle that in a collaborative manner," she said. "It is sitting down with them as a partner and figuring out what is of value to them that is also of value to us."

The transition to value-based care is also a big undertaking, but a necessary step to optimizing patient care.

"I'm filled with optimism, even with these challenges, as we continue to invest in cutting-edge technology and self-monitoring equipment that will allow us to be in partnership with patients and engage in their care, and move us further along in value-based care," said Dr. Davis. "We aren't just compensated for the number of tests and interactions, and we can provide more high value care in partnership with the community."

Dr. Davis also sees stronger and deeper relationships with community organizations as critical to advance New Orleans East Hospital's mission. She said the hospital is trying to move more care outside of the bricks-and-mortar facility and into the community.

"We have a mobile strategy that evolved from the pandemic and moved into a provision of primary care, moving it further into the communities with access challenges and bridging that divide," she said. "We will continue to foster an environment of quality and zero harm in our facilities in the work we're doing with our teams to demonstrate safety and quality. Going into 2024, it will be key to demonstrate that to the community like we did this year, with national organizations validating the quality of our work."

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