How and why AVH is helping to make Aspen a healthier place for all
Every day seems to bring news of a major medical breakthrough in the diagnosis or treatment of disease. In the marble halls of Washington, D.C., and in statehouses across the nation, healthcare policy is hotly debated. Hospital systems, health insurance companies, physicians and nonprofit groups are constantly exploring ways to improve quality, cut costs, increase access to services, encourage healthy lifestyles and raise awareness of the benefits of preventive care.
These and other dynamics demonstrate how rapidly the U.S. healthcare industry in general and its delivery systems in particular are evolving. Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) is not immune to the effects of the evolution — and in fact, AVH is an active player in acknowledging its value, embracing its tenets, moving its conversations forward and advocating for the best interests of the hospital’s patients, community, providers and employees.
The Quadruple Aim and population health
In recent years, you may have heard discussions or seen information about the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Quadruple Aim:
- Improve quality of care and patient experience
- Enhance physician engagement
- Elevate population health status and wellness
- Reduce cost
These are the objectives AVH has identified as key to transforming the health status for everyone in the community. “The Quadruple Aim is also central to our mission to make AVH ‘more than just a hospital,’” said Elaine Gerson, General Counsel, Chief Transformation Officer and Administrator of AVH Ambulatory Clinics. “The Quadruple Aim provides areas of focus that inform our decisions about the specific steps we can take to move our organization and community forward.”
Some of the steps AVH has identified can be categorized as promoting population health — that is, creating a healthier community for everyone. Among the strategies AVH is using to promote population health are:
Creating an integrated care network
Nationally, stakeholders in healthcare have sharpened their focus on the role of primary care providers (PCPs) as the backbone of population health management. PCPs serve as coordinators of all the care their patients receive, which means they are responsible for overseeing the quality and appropriateness of their patients’ care. For example, PCPs can ensure that a patient’s medical services are not duplicated by multiple specialists, (which can drive up costs), and the patient’s various medications do not interact (which can cause harmful side effects).
Because of the key role they play in patient health, AVH is actively recruiting more PCPs to the Aspen area. Some of them will be directly connected to AVH, while others will be indirectly connected to the hospital through group or individual practices as part of a clinically integrated network. To improve cost efficiency and maintain quality, network providers will follow standards of care, such as evidence-based protocols for high-cost diagnoses.
Launching an electronic health record and establishing the AVH Center for Medical Care
Integration will also involve a new system of electronic communications — an electronic health record — scheduled to launch this fall for AVH’s subspecialty clinics in orthopedics, cardiology, otolaryngology and ophthalmology. These clinics are now part of the AVH Center for Medical Care, a new entity created to make care more convenient and cost-effective for patients.
Eventually, the electronic health record (and the Center) will expand to include PCPs. And through the electronic health record interface, both patients and providers will benefit from easier access to medical records. For patients, it offers a new standard for managing healthcare appointments and records: through the online patient portal and integrated Healow app.
Strengthening our presence in the midvalley
AVH has long provided healthcare services in the Basalt area. So far, however, AVH’s presence in the midvalley has not been centralized in a way that maximizes convenience for patients and cost efficiencies. For example, AVH has three facilities — After-Hours Medical Care, the Midvalley Surgery Center and the Midvalley Imaging Center — in Basalt.
As part of AVH’s population health strategy, the hospital plans to expand and centralize its presence in the midvalley with creation of a campus that will house multiple services. Currently, it is working to identify an appropriate location and determine which services will be part of the campus.
Managing health risk in the community
Imagine a person who is overweight, has high blood pressure, is prediabetic and does not see a PCP for regular checkups. Back in the day, hospitals usually did not play an active role in the life of a person with these types of health risks until he or she arrived via ambulance in the emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack or other life-threatening conditions.
AVH recognizes that it is uniquely positioned to improve the information, tools and access people need to stay healthy — and that doing so is an integral part of the hospital’s mission and responsibility. Through outreach efforts such as health fairs, childbirth and diabetes education classes, the monthly “Walk With a Doc” series and other events, AVH is already making resources available to help everyone do their part to build a healthier community.