Bundled payments was one of the most discussed topics at the recent Caradigm Customer Summit, our annual gathering of industry leaders to share best practices in population health and information security. Matt Stevens, Senior Director with The Advisory Board highlighted bundled payments in his presentation as a program that CMS believes will push the needle in reducing cost variability while improving outcomes for high volumes of patients. He said more mandatory bundles (e.g. cardiac, expansion of Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement) could be coming and that the intersection between bundled payments and MACRA is only likely to grow as it could become tied to the Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) track in the future. Matt recommended that hospital systems prepare to deliver both a broad clinically integrated network as well as excellence in individual bundles that can be decoupled and offered to patients in ways that offers them greater value.
We also heard a number of provider organizations (St. Luke’s University Health Network, United Surgical Partners International, Genesis HealthCare and Greenville Health System) explain why bundled payments is one of the most important pieces of their overall value-based strategy. The bundled payment program drives operational learning and experimentation so that expertise and care process improvements can be built, which then trickles down to other parts of the organization and to multiple populations of patients (e.g. Medicare, commercial populations). As that expertise grows, workflows improve and patient quality metrics improve (e.g. reduced readmissions, lower utilization), Our customers said this helped them gain confidence to scale their programs and also engage in additional value-based initiatives.
Another key aspect of bundled payments discussed was that it pushes providers to develop a high-touch patient engagement model. We heard from everyone that developing patient relationships is not easy, and that they take time. Not only is it a major change for patients to communicate more frequently with providers, the conversations are also different. For example, providers are now discussing with patients why it could be beneficial in certain situations to recover in their own homes rather than stay in a skilled nursing facility. We also heard one customer say that patients often hang up on them during a follow-up call thinking it’s a solicitation call. In this shifting dynamic, providers are trying to establish the groundwork for deeper patient relationships earlier in the care process so they can set the right expectations ahead of time.
Overall, it was exciting to hear that the bundled payments program is having a meaningful impact on patient outcomes and is helping organizations achieve financial success in value-based initiatives. We heard throughout the Caradigm Customer Summit that population health is where healthcare has to go to improve the health of the highest-risk patients. Bundled payments is a key program that will help healthcare providers advance down the path to population health. If you’d like to learn more about how Caradigm is supporting bundled payment initiatives through its enterprise care coordination software, then please send us a note here.