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ACP Receives Federal Grant Aimed at Transforming Health Care Practices

Funding allows College to create clinician networks to improve care while reducing costs

A project proposed by the American College of Physicians to help transform clinical practices so that patient outcomes improve and costs go down has been awarded a four-year, $2.9 million grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The grant to ACP is part of CMS's Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative, which awarded $685 million to 39 national and regional health care networks and organizations across the country. The College's grant money will fund the recruitment of practices to join 29 peer-to-peer support networks, the development of tools to help support the practice transformation process and the dissemination of lessons learned from the initiative to prepare clinicians to participate in value-based payment models. Network participants will include primary and secondary physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical pharmacists and their practices.

ACP has received $870,000 for the first year, said Dr. Daisy Smith, director of clinical program development and senior physician educator for ACP in Philadelphia and principal investigator on the grant.

The project is closely aligned with the patient-centered medical home concept, where a primary care team oversees a patient's care, and with ACP's High Value Care initiative, which educates and encourages physicians to provide the best possible care to their patients while reducing unnecessary costs to the health care system, Smith said. For the project, ACP will work closely with five key partners, she said: the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care, the American Board of Internal Medicine, the Stanford Clinical Excellence Research Center and ACP's chapters.

"We're eager to begin recruiting clinicians and practices to participate in these 29 practice transformation networks," Smith said. Essentially, she and her colleagues are serving as matchmakers for ACP members and academic internal medicine practices that are interested in practice transformation by connecting them with local transformation networks.

Exactly how each practice will improve quality of care, increase patients' access to information and reduce costs is largely up to them, she said. "They are charged with innovating to deliver better outcomes, and ACP is developing a suite of tools they can choose from to help them reach this goal," Smith said. "There is a big push that these innovations reach smaller rural communities and the underserved."

ACP will use the grant money to enhance ACP Practice Advisor, an online tool that helps physician practices assess any gaps in their practices and then helps them improve patient care, organization and workflow. The plan is to build seven new patient-centered modules specifically to help participating clinicians meet the initiative's phases of transformation and associated milestones.

"The first four modules will be built this year and are aimed at improving patient access and care coordination, as well as avoiding over-testing and over-treating and improving medication adherence," she said. "In year two, new modules will address improving patient experience and engagement and advance health care planning."

Interested physicians and practices can schedule a practice biopsy with ACP Practice Advisor, Smith said. This exercise will allow clinicians to essentially diagnose where they are and develop a game plan for where they need to be to transform their practice, she explained.

The team from Stanford's Clinical Excellence Research Center has created a mathematical model to help track and quantify cost savings associated with the initiative.

The stakes are high, Smith said.

"At the end of four years, we want to be supporting 30,000 clinicians to actively participate in practice transformation, whether by using ACP's Practice Advisor or direct participation in one of the networks, reach 200,000 clinicians annually with messaging from the initiative, including lessons learned and best practices, and translate the efforts into a savings of $1 billion over four years," she said.

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