Together Health Network was Michigan’s first true statewide clinically integrated network or CIN. It’s been said that clinically integrated networks live at the intersection of patient experience, improved population health and cost reduction. These guiding principles were certainly the shared vision and goals that united our partner health systems of Ascension Health, Trinity Health and Michigan Medicine.
But what exactly is a clinically integrated network and why should it matter for health insurance agents, brokers, employers or patients? We sat down with Mark Casmer, Vice President, Network Development at Together Health Network, to find the answers to that question.
Can you give us a layman’s definition of what a clinically integrated network (CIN) is?
A CIN is really a collective effort by health care providers to work as a unit or team in order to measurably improve patient care, lower health costs and generally increase value to the communities they serve. They’re really an evolution of historic approaches such as the classic independent physician association model that had disparate doctors banding together with health systems and insurance organizations. CINs are essentially the catalyst for maximizing efficiencies and instituting collaboration among the members of that network.
Why has this sort of organizational strategy suddenly become so important in Michigan and across the country?
As health care shifts from traditional fee for service into value-based care business models, providers need to find ways of partnering with other care entities. The result, direct impact on the care delivered within the health care eco-system beyond what individually was available allowing us to keep pace with today’s rapidly evolving health landscape. These same conditions are placing significant financial pressures on hospitals, medical practices, insurance organizations and employers. Identifying value chain efficiencies among connected care delivery partners is precisely what’s been the catalyst for organizations like those that founded Together Health Network to boldly enter the realm of clinically integrated networks.
What is it that really drives a clinical integration network so it can actually achieve these lofty goals of care, cost and value?
Together Health Network’s brand of clinical integration is very much a collaborative, data-driven, best practice identification approach. But it’s not just about more data, since most organizations are often data rich, but information poor. Creative and innovative data analytics drives higher quality by helping to orient our Together Health Network care partners to providing patients with the right care at the right place at the right time. By carefully analyzing and linking data sets and offering transparent comparisons of those metrics among our partners to identify best practices, we offer insights that can impact the quality, efficiency and efficacy of the care that is delivered in the local markets. For example, our tools enable Together Health Network to associate certain utilization data with claims data to highlight areas for potential focused improvement efforts. That results in our network care partners having the ability to learn from each other about how to identify high (potential) utilizers, avoid costly readmissions and solve numerous unmet social needs in their individual markets. Together Health Network provides supplemental data collection tools that allow caregivers to improve care quality through things like predictive modeling, risk stratification and other evidence-based protocols.
What’s in all this for the patients?
Simply put, better quality health and care at better costs. Having a clinically integrated network approach to our care model allows Together Health Network physicians, health systems and other key care providers to really impact outcomes and overall health scores for the communities our network serves. There’s a reason our company has “Together” as part of its name. Health care, delivered the way it should be, is very much a team sport. Everyone from the patient and their physician to the hospital and other continuum care providers all need to be on the same page using with the same sets of information in order to work effectively. Just like on a football field, the handoffs are critical so no one drops the ball. Together Health Network facilitates that type of collaboration by making care more accessible and more collaborative for the patients we serve.