Infinity Practice Management and Transformation

Infinity is the practice management and transformation system from VPQHC. It has been designed from the ground up to allow practices to focus on delivering care in the most effective and efficient ways possible. A comprehensive, yet flexible system allowing "ramp up" activities such as individual improvement projects all the way to full scale practice transformations over multiple years, Infinity rewires your practice at operational and human levels to enable permanent change. 

We've been working on our Infinity practice management and transformation system to bring it to market in the very near future. Infinity consists of four elements:

  1. The Infinity management and transformation methodologies
  2. Infinity practice coach training and certification
  3. Infinity certification for practices
  4. The Infinity practice business process comparative database

Responding to demand, we have accelerated development and launch of Infinity University, our online learning environment which will administer and provide training courses in the Infinity methodology. Our first courses will be available in the next couple of months, so if you are interested in discovering more, please email us at leeb@vpqhc.org I'll be happy to talk about the various options for training and development within the Infinity system. Watch this space for further updates soon!

 

New Year, New Approach?

As 2016 drew to a close, the political environment in the USA was turbulent. In an atmosphere of disinformation as the norm, establishing clear pathways for the continued evolution of the health care reform efforts instigated by MACRA is proving ever more difficult. We simply don't know what the effects of this sharp political direction change may be, and that only fuels the uncertainty felt in the health care system as a whole. 

What we do know however, is that the basic premise of the health care reform movement in the USA is unchanged. The system as it is currently configured is inherently flawed, the net result of those flaws being the double digit increases in health insurance premiums we have been seeing for the last few years. This situation is as unsustainable now as it was in 2016, and so the rationale behind MACRA remains the same too. The House and Senate realized this and backed MACRA in a bipartisan manner. Since then some of the provisions have been enacted and now the implications are beginning to be felt throughout the system. This is the equivalent of the supertanker changing course, but instead of physical momentum taking the ship 10 miles before being able to execute a turn, we have political momentum driving the system forward, but with the course corrections inherent in MACRA slowly turning the system to a new direction. This takes progressive time, unless a tipping point is achieved whereby the desire for change overcomes the threshold level of resistance forces against it. I can feel that tipping point rapidly approaching. 

What does this look like at each level in the health care system? Clearly there are some themes that are relatively constant. Costs are increasing, demand is increasing, supply (of qualified providers and associated resources) is decreasing and wages are stagnant. Whichever level you work at, the net result of these factors is increasing pressure to understand your costs, how they arise and how you can reduce them. In a system that has shown little appetite for exposing those costs, this pressure begins to stress the system as a whole. That stress rails against the system constraints, such as politico-economic forces, resulting in decreasing performance, an exodus of trained providers exacerbating the already diminished pool and more patients postponing or neglecting to engage with the system in anything other than catastrophic ways (typically by presenting at the ED). 

Systems thinking teaches us to look at the root causes of system conditions and address them to achieve sustained improvements in performance. Identifying and working with organizations to improve these conditions is a core specialty at VPQHC. Email me at leeb@vpqhc.org if you would like to find out how we can assist you to get an understanding of your costs, a plan to improve them and sustained assistance in implementing those plans. 

Where do I find the time to do all this?

In my work with medical practices, hospitals and other organizations there is one almost universal issue that arises, seemingly to stop any progress dead. 

"How am I supposed to find the time to do all this? My practice is already swamped with work, we're not getting home on time, staff are frazzled and now you're telling me I need to develop a Vision and Aims for it? I don't have the time right now. Sorry."

My reaction is always the same. From a systems thinking standpoint, the system is perfectly engineered to produce the results it is producing at any given time. If the results show stress in the system, there are clearly difficulties within the system that lead to this stress. Without addressing the root causes of this stress, the system will continue to exhibit these characteristics and life as we know it will not change. It is a self limiting system, and without breaking from the cycle of acceptance of current conditions, the system will not change. 

Breaking from the cycle of acceptance requires two things:

  1. An understanding of the situation 
  2. A commitment to perform an action to solve something. Anything that will release capacity that is currently being consumed in wasted activities. 

Understanding the situation requires the ability to see the system itself. This is where the services of an experienced practice coach can be invaluable, as they are skilled in helping owners change perceptions and see systems differently. Once the situation is fully grasped, making a commitment to release currently consumed capacity can occur. The specific business process to work on to release the capacity is of course completely dependent on current circumstances and should be evaluated with the practice coach. 

It cannot be stressed enough how important this first step is to a successful transformation. Proving that capacity can be released by reconfiguration of business processes is the key to unlocking more activities and eventually, full system redesign and transformation. VPQHC is experienced in this work and can help take your practice to performance levels which will enable it to thrive in the new value based payments structures currently being introduced by CMS. If you would like to find out more, contact me at leeb@vpqhc.org for an introductory discussion. 

MACRA and MIPS and APM's - oh my!

Part of our work at VPQHC is with the Northern New England Practice Transformation Network (NNE-PTN) working with practices to help them transition their operations to be more successful in the upcoming value based payment systems such as Advanced Alternative Payment Models (AAPM's) and the new Merit Based Incentive Payment system (MIPS). We use a transformation methodology from CMS called the Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative (TCPI) which examines a practice within 27 distinct domains, evaluating the maturity level of each domain and producing a structured action plan to take those domains to their next stages of maturity. It's a complex process, and takes significant time, which is why the typical TCPI engagement lasts four years. 

The Medicare Access and CHIP Re authorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) mandated CMS with producing the MIPS system to replace the PQRS, Value Based Modifier, Meaningful Use and Resource Utilization Index measures, and produce one integrated system to be a "catch all" for practices that are not joining an advanced alternative payment model such as an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). (Practices joining ACO's have their own criteria and system to ensure they move to value based payments.)

The time line for these changes has caught a lot of practices by surprise. The first reporting year starts Jan 1 2017 (in about 6 weeks) and many practices either do not know of these changes, or are doing very little to change their operations to work within the new system.  MIPS has provisions to impose positive and negative modifiers on medicare payments, beginning with +/- 4% in 2019 (based on 2017 results) and up to +/- 9% in 2022 (based on 2020 results). If your practice has significant medicare billings, these figures will start to impact your financial performance starting 2019. 

TCPI is designed to help you navigate MIPS, submit data to CMS appropriately and design your operations to more effectively produce value, which is reflected in the MIPS scores. For any practices that are not currently in an advanced alternative payment model, a CMMI demonstration project (such as the Blueprint for Health in VT) or other CMS funded program, TCPI offers 3 years of free technical assistance to help you configure your practice to succeed in this new environment. In VT we currently have 22 practice slots available for the TCPI program. If you would like to discuss options, please don't hesitate to contact me at leeb@vpqhc.org

"Infinity" Practice Transformation

At VPQHC we cover the whole spectrum of healthcare in Vermont, and increasingly the whole care continuum as the United States begins to change thinking in this area to embracing the social and behavioral determinants of health. As the only neutral healthcare quality organization mandated by statute in the state of Vermont, we take our role in guiding the development of the statewide healthcare quality system very seriously. 

Primary Care and Specialty Practices have been historically under served with high quality, independent assistance in their operations, strategy and growth pathways as they struggle to adapt to the rapidly changing world of value based compensation from the traditional fee for service world. Recognizing this, we took a long hard look at the needs of this sector, matched it with our broad and deep experience and expertise bases and developed a practice transformation center of excellence. 

"What's a practice transformation center of excellence?" Well, we have been the Vermont partner in the Northern New England Practice Transformation Network for over a year now, assisting practices across the state (and in NH) with their efforts to transform their structures and operations to better live in the changing reimbursement environment of MACRA and MIPS. We have been instrumental in refining and extending the Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative (TCPI) methodology into a system that truly guides the practice to a higher performing state. In addition to this, we have taken our own experience bases and extended our practice transformation system far beyond that in TCPI to a truly holistic system capable of taking any practice from struggle to supreme performance. We call it the Infinity Method because the scope of improvement is limitless with the right guidance and coaching. 

Over the coming months, you'll begin to see more about this in our materials, communications and events. As we launch educational and service offerings, we will be in touch to get your feedback and discuss opportunities for us to work together to truly transform your practice. If this is something you would like to find out more about, please call us on (802) 229 2152 or email me at leeb@vpqhc.org