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Top 5 data takeaways from NACHC CHI 2014

Hello everyone. Jeff Brandes here. I would like to share some of the IT takeaways from the recent NACHC Community Health Institute and Expo in San Diego. The importance of good, actionable data continues to emerge as a core health center need, whether it is for increased reporting requirements, improved center performance or better care outcomes. Many of the panels and discussions at CHI   focused on the power and potential of data to help health centers achieve their many objectives. Here are the top five takeaways:

1) Clinical Quality: HRSA is offering monetary incentives based on Uniform Data System (UDS) performance
The Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) continues to align financial incentive payments with clinical quality, making available incentives for:

  • Top Improvers – compared to self;
  • High Performers – compared to peers using quartile rankings;
  • Clinical Excellence – highest performers compared to national standards in key clinical areas.

All of these incentives will be limited to those submitting UDS data that comes from their full patient panel and not via the traditional 70 chart audit.

2) Changing Organizational Structures: ACOs, IPA formation and participation by Health Centers
As some community health centers shift toward participation in accountable care organizations (ACOs) and independent practice association (IPA) models, the need for high-quality, accessible data will be integral. Centers will need a strong understanding of their performance – and the ability to both manage and report it – in order to satisfy the data requirements of the new models.

3) Payment Reform and Alterative Payment Models
Health payment reform will continue to impact health centers. New payment models, requirements from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and other provisions means that centers will be required to produce more rigorous quality reporting data in order to participate in new payment methodologies. The data needs to be more granular – and in many cases – delivered more frequently. Data management tools are becoming increasingly important for collecting, extracting and reporting data on clinical outcomes and other measures payers expect through their new payment models.

4) Strong data functionality is key in population management
Strong data capabilities are essential for managing the health of large populations. Collecting data by storing the details - as opposed to aggregate performance numbers only - provides the ability to understand population health at the macro level, and also to drill down to the individual patient level. This functionality allows practices to understand and create an accurate portrait of the varying health needs and outcomes for different populations, and to turn those conclusions into programming changes or justification for advocacy. Merely collecting the data is not enough: it must be accessible and actionable. Health centers need complete, reliable data to craft strategies that improve overall population health while making the best use of available resources.

5) Data’s impact on understanding the social determinants of health
Health centers understand the factors that determine an individual’s health go well beyond genetics. Social factors contribute significantly, and evidence for this is often very apparent in populations served by health centers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes “social environment, physical environment, health services, structural and societal factors” among the key social determinants. Collecting, maintaining, and understanding data on these social determinants will become increasingly important for making the argument to shape resources and treatments to accommodate the needs of patients facing these additional challenges.

Jeff Brandes is CEO of Azara Healthcare. Follow him @AzaraDRVS