Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NJBIZ Magazine’s “50 Fastest Growing New Jersey Companies” Awards show New Jersey’s strength

Just 12 short months ago when we met to honor NJBIZ  magazine’s “50 Fastest Growing New Jersey Companies,” we were taking a short pause from dealing with the damage and hardships that Superstorm Sandy had caused our individual businesses and the communities of New Jersey. There was a somber note about our celebration of entrepreneurship.

What a difference a year makes!  Although much remains to be done to help the victims of Sandy recover, it’s obvious that New Jersey has come back and shown that—in the words of the TV ad—we really are stronger than the storm. 

New Jersey’s strength is reflected in the diverse mix of companies whose successes we celebrate this year: information technology, software, internet services, professional services, contracting defense, banking, energy, and oh yes, there are 10 companies on the list that have something to do with health care.

Over the past few weeks, we have been reminded many times how large a sector of the economy health care has grown to be. And we’ve been reminded how important decisions about health care are, not only to individuals, but to businesses of all sizes.

But thank goodness for information technology and the Internet, two industries which together represent another 15 or so of New Jersey’s fastest growing companies.

 The use of information technology and the Internet has enabled UnitedHealthcare to launch major programs to educate consumers and businesses on health care issues. For example, UHC-TV breaks down industry jargon into simple, everyday language, sometimes with a touch of humor. Our online tools and mobile apps help people better understand their payment responsibilities and comparison shop for medical help based on quality and cost.

Last year it was Sandy. This year, it’s the much less threatening, but certainly more confusing, rollout of the Affordable Care Act.  And next year there is likely to be another imposing challenge pressing on the minds of New Jersey’s 50 fastest growing companies.

But whatever the challenge, New Jersey’s businesses have shown we have what it takes to handle it - and none more so than the companies recognized this year. Congratulations to all 50 companies not just for their successes, but also for their resilience, dedication to quality, innovation and commitment to their employees and the community.

Congratulations to all of the awardees who were also honored
with the "50 Fastest Growing New Jersey Companies" award 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Collaboration Works

By collaborating, medical professionals, health insurers and employers can develop more cost-effective procedures, policies and protocols that bring down the cost of providing care.  Performance-based contracts encourage such collaboration, and are a key component of accountable care organizations (ACO).

Performance-based contracts reward physicians with payment incentives based on a set of quality standards that improve patient health results and cut costs, such as focusing on preventive care and reducing hospital readmission rates.  A December 2012 study by UnitedHealthcare’s Center for Health Reform & Modernization shows that value-based contracts could save the United States $200 -$600 billion dollars over the next decade.  So of course, this is something we are committed to.

Earlier this week, I was excited to join the president and CEO and the medical director at WESTMED Medical Group on Long Island, New York when they announced that their ACO program with UnitedHealthcare and Optum improved on nine out of 10 health quality metrics, increased patient satisfaction and reduced health care costs – exceeding all expectations.

Since establishing the ACO in mid-2012, WESTMED, a large multispecialty group medical practice in West Chester County, New York, has seen significant improvements in patients taking their prescription medications properly; and for diabetics, an increased number of routine screenings and better control of their blood sugar levels.

The ACO is performing above the 90th percentile of National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Quality Compass for providing the highest level of coordinated care for breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings. Its patient-centered medical home program already had received the highest level of recognition (Level 3) from NCQA for providing coordinated, efficient and quality primary care. NCQA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality.

WESTMED received a nearly $1 million bonus under its ACO agreement with UnitedHealthcare by reducing practice variation, decreasing duplications in care and promoting the proper setting for care. Participating physicians who met both care quality and cost metrics focusing on providing the right level of care for patients may be eligible for bonuses. The medical group also will reinvest funds into ongoing technology enhancements to continue to improve quality of care, increase patient satisfaction and reduce health care costs.

WESTMED physicians have benefited from detailed health intelligence that Optum’s analytical tools provide – ranging from information about individual patient health to comparative data across entire populations. Regularly updated reports enable physicians to collaborate across specialties, helping them make informed medical care decisions based on a complete picture of each patient’s situation.

UnitedHealthcare continues to work with physician groups, hospitals and medical centers, and other health care delivery organizations across the country to achieve Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s “Triple Aim” objective – improving population health and patient experience, delivering the best possible quality outcomes and reducing the overall cost of care. UnitedHealthcare’s value-based payment capabilities are designed to support this transformation of care delivery.

Today, more than $25 billion of UnitedHealthcare’s annual physician and hospital reimbursements is tied to accountable care programs, centers of excellence and performance-based programs and we project that this number will reach $50 billion by 2017.

The initial results with WESTMED are clear indication, by collaborating medical professionals and insurers can achieve a common goal – getting patients to the right care at the right time in the right setting for the best outcomes.

Discussing our plans for the future!
From left to right: Simeon Schwartz, M.D., president and CEO, WESTMED,
Dennis O'Brian, vice president UnitedHealthcare,
Barney Newman, M.D., medical director, WESTMED and me.