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The Cost-Quality Connection: Understanding the Financial Impact of Quality in Value-Based Payment Models

Webinar Series


Join executives from CohnReznick LLP, one of the leading advisory, assurance, and tax firms in the United States and Azara Healthcare, the leading provider of quality measurement, population health analytics and reporting for a discussion-based webinar series focused on educating healthcare leaders on how to bridge the gap between cost and quality while achieving financial sustainability. Each webinar is designed to shed light on the financial impact of value-based payment models on future financial performance, and how revenue is driven by quality and patient health outcomes.

The webinar series will cover topics such as:

  • Understanding the financial impacts of population health – and what organizations can do to better manage them
  • Increasing revenue and reducing costs while improving patient health
  • The evolving importance of social drivers of health – how data is the foundation for advancing health equity initiatives

Session One:
The Direct Impact of Quality Performance on Revenue–Why Quality Matters in Value-Based Payment Models

Presented by:
Peter Epp, CPA, Partner and Community Health Centers – Practice Leader, CohnReznick
Jeff Brandes, President & CEO, Azara Healthcare

In the first of the four-part series, Peter Epp, Partner and Community Health Centers – Practice Leader at CohnReznick and Jeff Brandes, President & CEO of Azara Healthcare discuss what can get left on the table when organizations treat quality and cost as independent and unrelated objectives and functions.  This session will explore common conflicts that arise between finance and clinical/operational teams that often adversely impact both financial operations and clinical care.  They will share ideas for righting the ship along with methods and tools available to drive quality improvement through actionable data.

During Session One, you will learn:

  • The drivers of financial performance and how they are linked to clinical and operational functions
  • An overview of key performance indicators (KPIs) and tools necessary to drive collaboration to bring clinical, financial and operations teams closer together
  • How to leverage data-driven insights to inform leadership decision-making
  • What the future holds under value-based care arrangements and its importance for continued success

Session Two:
Financial & Quality Improvement: Leveraging Data to Drive Meaningful Change

Presented by:
Dolores DiRe, Senior Manager, CohnReznick
LuAnn Kimker, RN, MSN, SVP Clinical Innovation, Azara Healthcare

Throughout the evolution of value-based care arrangements, payers have been incorporating the improvement of various performance metrics into their payment models. Practices across the country often leave money on the table due to a lack of understanding of how quality improvement can produce financial rewards for the organization. 

In this session, CohnReznick will lead with a discussion on the link between the management of quality measures and the generation of additional revenue. This discussion will include a review of an example financial model that could be used to project future quality incentive payments and show how much money is being left on the table. The session will then be continued by Azara reviewing methods and tools to efficiently operationalize the financial model to track progress and meet quality goals.  

During Session Two, you will learn:

  • How the improvement of quality measures translates to additional revenue for the practice
  • How to create data visualizations and workflows to drive achievement and reach identified goals
  • Strategies and tools to maximize outreach workflows and eliminate duplication of work efforts

Session Three:
Transitions of Care: The Financial Significance of Care Continuity
September 14, 2023 | 2:00 PM ET

Presented by:
Emily Holzman, Director, Clinical Transformation, Azara Healthcare
Peter Epp, CPA, Partner and Community Health Centers – Practice Leader, CohnReznick

Emergency department visits and hospitalizations are a key driver of unsustainable healthcare spending in the United States. In 2017, Americans made more than 144 million visits to the emergency room at a cost of $76.3 billion. Many patients who visit the ED are trapped in a pattern of treating chronic conditions through hospital visits —conditions which could be managed far more effectively and at a lower cost in a primary care setting. Breaking this pattern requires establishing a strong relationship between the patient and a primary care provider, something that can only be accomplished through a process of managing transitions of care. 

In this session, hear from Peter Epp, Practice Leader at CohnReznick, on how to understand the substantial financial implications of this relationship for your practice/network and value-based care contracts, and Emily Holzman, Director of Clinical Transformation at Azara Healthcare, for practical tools to identify and manage patients admitted and discharged from the hospital. 

During Session 3 you will learn: 

  • Why a transitions of care program is essential for financial success in any value-based care contract.
  • How to estimate the cost of hospital events across your population in the context of benchmarking, risk, and quality performance, and present compelling data to leadership which highlight the value of a transitions of care program. 
  • How to leverage DRVS TOC tools to identify and manage patients with hospital events.

Session Four:
Advancing Health Equity: How SDOH Data Impacts Patient Healthand the Bottom Line
November 9, 2023 | 2:00 PM ET

Presented by:
Leah Dafoulas, Director, Clinical Transformation, Azara Healthcare
Aparna Mekala, MPH, Principal CohnReznick

While social drivers of health (SDOH) have always played a crucial role in health outcomes, the past several years have shown that organizations have become increasingly focused on obtaining and acting on this information. But how can SDOH data become actionable insights that drive meaningful change and positively impact both patients’ health and the bottom line?  In the final part of the webinar series, executives from CohnReznick and Azara Healthcare share how to effectively leverage SDOH data to improve quality and health outcomes and how insights into overall population health and health equity are a key element of driving financial improvement. Payers and policy makers are starting to factor social needs into their health care payment policies and hoping to see improvements in the health and well-being of individuals who face socioeconomic and environmental challenges.  These improvements will help reduce avoidable health care utilization and spending. We will share three steps to advance healthy equity priorities by identifying populations at greatest risk, stratifying by risk factors commonly recognized by payers and engaging patients to proactively manage care—ultimately empowering patients to reach their full health potential.

During Session 4 you will learn:

  • Why integrating social care into care delivery is essential for performing against value-based care contracts
  • How to use SDOH data to understand upstream barriers impacting health equity 
  • How to leverage DRVS SDOH tools to evaluate your screening efforts and address your patients’ social care needs

Series Presenters:


Jeff Brandes
President & CEO
Azara Healthcare

Jeff Brandes is President and CEO of Azara Healthcare, a company focused on providing Population Health, Reporting and Analytics to Community Health Centers, Primary Care Associations and other networks and organizations representing safety net care providers.  Jeff led the formation of Azara in 2011 and has worked extensively with Community Health leadership across the country with the goal of increasing the use of Data and Analytics for both care quality improvement and cost management.  Jeff brings a sharp focus on creating partnerships with clients and stakeholders for long-term relationships based on alignment of common success goals.  With over 25 years of experience as a high-tech entrepreneur and executive, Jeff has taken numerous products/concepts from development to commercialization and led a number of companies from inception, through rapid revenue growth to exit. Jeff has a BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University.


Leah Dafoulas
Director Clinical Transformation
Azara Healthcare

Leah Dafoulas, MPH is the Client Success Director at Azara Healthcare where she works with health centers to improve quality through the use of data and technology.  Leah is passionate about the profound role that data-driven analytics has to improve population health and transform patient care. Prior to Azara, Leah was an Account Manager at a start-up health technology company focused on transitions of care where she worked with hospitals and health plans to optimize the use of a data analytics solution. She began her career at Pfizer where she ran population health management projects with ACOs and hospitals. Leah has an MPH degree from Boston University and BA and MA degrees in Biology from Clark University. She also has a Six Sigma Green Belt certification. 


Dolores Di Re
Senior Manager

Dolores Di Re is a senior manager in CohnReznick’s Healthcare Industry Practice. She has over 20 years of experience working in the healthcare industry, for which she has provided revenue cycle and compliance services to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), ambulatory care providers, and hospitals. Dolores also has extensive knowledge of federal and state reimbursement, and considerable experience in assisting clients with account receivable management, the identification and implementation processes for reducing denied claims, and the optimization of revenue by evaluating existing charge capture processes and identifying gaps in workflows.

Prior to joining the Firm, Dolores spent three years working at a large, national accounting firm providing revenue cycle consulting services and operational assistance to both regional and national FQHC’s. She also worked for NYU Langone Health, formerly NYU Medical Center and the Hospital for Joint Diseases, where she was responsible for all aspects of revenue cycle and compliance standards of ambulatory care services.

Dolores was a major contributor to the creation of an internal accounts receivable management program for another not-for-profit organization supporting three health care centers in two New York City boroughs. Dolores has also delivered educational presentations on diverse topics most recently she presented on the implications on reimbursement and revenue cycle workflows during and post the Public Health Emergency and best practices for effective denial avoidance.

Peter Circle

Peter Epp, CPA
Partner and Community Health Centers – Practice Leader

Peter R. Epp, CPA, is partner with CohnReznick and serves as Practice Leader of the Community Health  Practice. With over 35 years of experience, he is a nationally recognized expert in ambulatory healthcare reimbursement and financing and is a frequent lecturer at seminars and workshops on Value Based Payment and payment reform, third-party reimbursement maximization, strategic business planning, cost report preparation, federal grantsmanship, financial operations assessments, and managed care.

Peter has been actively involved with health reform and the implementation of reimbursement systems for ambulatory care across the country with a specific focus on FQHCs and CCBHCs. He has been active with the implementation of Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment programs and Value Based Payment models in many states. Recently, Peter has been active with strategic business planning initiatives for his clients, including participation in Alternative Payment Models and clinically integrated networks. His in-depth knowledge of the interaction between third-party reimbursement and grants management enables his clients to tap into ancillary services, including operational reviews, strategic planning, health reform readiness, and related technical assistance.


Emily Holzman
Director of Clinical Transformation
Azara Healthcare

Emily Holzman is a Director of Clinical Transformation at Azara Healthcare. She earned her BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia, after which she joined the Peace Corps for service in Guyana. Upon returning, she worked for the nonprofit Project Place in Boston, creating and delivering an employment training program for justice-involved men. She moved into healthcare IT when she joined Athenahealth’s Population Health team, where she worked primarily with large accountable care organizations. In 2018 Emily joined the team at Azara Healthcare to focus on working with primary care practices to leverage their data into meaningful improvements in patient outcomes, access, and equity. Emily became an NCQA Patient Centered Medical Home Certified Content Expert in 2018, is currently earning her Master’s in Public Health at the University of Massachusetts and is working toward her doula certification.


LuAnn Kimker
SVP Clinical Transformation
Azara Healthcare

LuAnn is a veteran senior leader with 15 years of direct nursing experience as a foundation to the more recent 16 years leading innovation efforts in information technology to advance healthcare quality and equity.  LuAnn believes in the power of data and turning data into information to transform healthcare delivery.   LuAnn works with providers and provider networks, clinical leadership and integrated networks to develop strategies that will build their population health programs and lead them towards success in a value-based care environment. 

LuAnn holds a Master of Science in Nursing (Acute Care and Administration) from Salem State College and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Kent State University. 


Aparna Mekala, MPH

Aparna Mekala, MPH, is a principal in CohnReznick’s Healthcare Industry practice. With more than 20 years working in the healthcare industry, she leads the firm’s Strategic Business Advisory services. Her advisory services are purpose-built to help providers create lasting value at their organizations. She is skilled across many areas and has a demonstrated history of helping clients develop strategic and operational plans, interpret and advise on federal requirements related to grants, conduct financial feasibility projections and market assessments for strategic initiatives, and support corporate compliance and regulatory activities related to primary care transformation. Aparna’s work is uniquely focused on advancing health equity and includes collaboration with our Affordable Housing and New Market Tax Credit practices on the intersection of health, housing, childcare, and other community development needs for low-income communities. Her clients include Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Primary Care Associations (PCAs), behavioral health organizations, community-based hospitals — which include academic medical centers — other ambulatory care providers, and social service agencies.

Aparna is a frequent speaker at national and state primary care and behavioral health conferences on topics focused on strategic business planning with a focus on bridging financial, operational, and programmatic goals for an organization. She is a subject matter expert on federal requirements pertaining to the FQHC program and often assists distressed health centers with turnaround plans to help them maintain compliance with federal agencies. Prior to joining CohnReznick, Aparna worked as a management consultant at another accounting firm for many years and before that spent time in corporate planning departments at New York City Health + Hospitals and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she managed special projects across the systems.

About CohnReznick

As a leading advisory, assurance, and tax firm, CohnReznick helps forward-thinking organizations achieve their vision by optimizing performance, maximizing value, and managing risk. Clients benefit from the right team with the right capabilities; proven processes customized to their individual needs; and leaders with vital industry knowledge and relationships. Headquartered in New York, NY with offices nationwide, the firm serves organizations around the world through its global subsidiaries and membership in Nexia International. For more information, visit

About Azara Healthcare

Azara Healthcare, ​​the 2023 Best in KLAS provider of population health management solutions, is the leading provider of quality measurement, analytics and reporting for the Community Health and physician practice market.  Azara solutions empower more than 1,000 Community Health Centers, physician practices, Primary Care Associations, Health Center Controlled Networks, and clinically integrated networks in 40 states to improve the quality and efficiency of care for more than 25 million Americans through actionable data.