COM buildingThe UCF College of Medicine is applying for a new federal grant to create a collaborative network for physicians across Florida to improve the health of patients and the providers’ business operations.

The nation’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is funding up to 35 organizations nationally to create collaborative Practice Transformation Networks (PTN). Individual grants are expected to average about $20 million. The UCF grant proposal consists of working with partners statewide, including payers, hospitals and Health IT experts, through a program the medical school is calling the I-EQUIP FL (Implementation of Evidence-Based Quality Improvement into Practice in Florida) network.

The networks are designed to help improve healthcare quality. Specifically, UCF’s network will support clinicians in optimizing health outcomes; reducing unnecessary testing, procedures and hospitalizations and achieving operational efficiencies. Under the grant, the college would provide physicians with Health IT tools to better coordinate care and increase communication with patients. The analytics tool included in the program leverages physicians own electronic health records and, when available, integrates that information with data from health claims, to provide actionable information on how clinicians can improve practices and the outcomes of the patients they serve. Practices using this service have reported double-digit increases in quality measure performance in the first year and saw their care teams achieve an increase in efficiency of up to three patient visits per day.

For both primary-care physicians and specialists, the UCF network is designed to bring increased revenues and more engaged patients. Network leaders point out that as the United States transitions to a new healthcare model based on providing value over serving volume, reimbursements are changing. Many insurers are expected to begin value-incentive payment plans. Under such plans, physicians who can show they have actually improved the health of their patients – such as reducing blood pressures and weight for cardiac patients or hospitalizations for those with chronic disease – will get higher reimbursements. Those who can’t show they are contributing to their patients’ overall wellness may face penalties. The goal with this new system is to stop paying physicians for the number of doctor’s visit they schedule and more for the quality of the care they provide.

“All of us became healthcare providers to care for people and improve their overall well-being,” Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine, wrote to physicians statewide in introducing the network. “Through the PTN, we can help you transform your practice in many ways: your care teams practice at the top of their licensure; increase communication and engagement with your patients; provide more coordinated care and better manage complex patients with co-morbidities. This level of engagement not only improves the quality of care, it increases patient satisfaction. And as we know, satisfied patients tend to be more compliant with their treatment plans – and share their positive experiences with others.”

The network would be led by the UCF College of Medicine’s Regional Extension Center, which has helped more than 2,700 community providers with implementing electronic health records and other health IT initiatives. As Dr. German explained, “Just as we were honored to serve as your partner in navigating a new electronic health record process, we want to partner with you for success in this new era of healthcare transformation.”

Physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants interested in partnering with the medical school in forming the network are asked to submit nonbinding letters of commitment to the medical school. For more information, please visit ucf-rec.org or contact Lindsay Schagrin, MHCI, Director, UCF College of Medicine Regional Extension Center, (407) 504-8316, [email protected].