The system recently launched the new Population Health Services Organization. CommonSpirit’s Thomas McGinn talks about the effort.
With 145 hospitals and more than 2,200 care sites in 24 states, CommonSpirit Health serves patients with a wide variety of needs, from big cities to remote rural communities.
Now, CommonSpirit says a common platform is going to accelerate the move to value-based care.
CommonSpirit recently announced the launch of its Population Health Services Organization, a new platform aimed at sharing data and best practices across the nonprofit Catholic health system.
Thomas McGinn, CommonSpirit’s executive vice president of physician enterprise, spoke about the new platform with Chief Healthcare Executive®. In a recent interview, McGinn expressed high hopes for the organization’s potential to improve care and reduce some headaches for clinicians across the system.
CommonSpirit has been working in value-based care for some time, and some markets are more advanced in the transition than others, he says.
“We've been doing this for a while,” McGinn says. “What we're doing is really reorganizing ourselves in a way to enhance our efficiencies.”
Sharing best practices
Health systems engaging in value-based care are moving away from the traditional model of charging fees for each service they provide. Rather than focusing on the volume of service, value-based care organizations are banking on keeping patients healthier and avoiding costly hospitalizations.
CommonSpirit operates risk-bearing organizations and 10 accountable care organizations, with more than 2.6 million covered lives. McGinn says that number is expected to grow gradually and the new value-based platform is aimed at spurring that growth.
The new platform will provide population health analytics, care coordination, network management and other services to assist clinicians and practices.
McGinn says the ability to share and analyze data is a critical component. It’s taken a great deal of time and effort to get everyone on the same platform, but with that accomplished, CommonSpirit’s Population Health Services Organization can help providers across the system offer better care.
“We can get better efficiencies in all those markets, because everyone's on one data platform,” McGinn says. “Now, we're all on the same platform. And the companies that we're working with are actually very interested in making us successful.”
With one platform, CommonSpirit has more ability to leverage its expertise at scale.
“Everyone's measuring things the same way with the same datasets,” McGinn says. “Everybody's sharing their best practices, because now if you have the same process, you can share the best practice. And what you can do is develop expertise on that data set on that technology, which we were not able to really do before. I think that we'll quickly see, hopefully, some benefits.”
The new health services organization will serve a diverse mix of payers across its footprint.
CommonSpirit says the new platform should also encourage more collaboration with the system’s employed physicians and independent providers.
McGinn sees the potential to work with independent providers on managing contracts and services, so they could be more efficient and spend less time on those administrative responsibilities.
Expanding access to care
Citing CommonSpirit’s roots as a Catholic system, McGinn says health equity is embedded in the organization’s mission. He suggests the value-based care platform will continue to advance CommonSpirit’s goals of closing disparities in outcomes among minority groups and other underserved communities.
“CommonSpirit is built on a mission of serving the poor,” McGinn says. “From our founding sisters that started many of our hospitals across all of our markets, that was fundamental and that continues to be the driving force for CommonSpirit.”
He says he’s “100% convinced” that value-based care offers the best opportunity to care for more patients, including those who rely on Medicaid.
The biggest problem for many patients is “navigation access,” McGinn says. He argues that value-based care offers better chances for patients, especially those with modest incomes, to get the care they need.
“For us, this is the right way to go to be successful in that space,” he says.
CommonSpirit has also undertaken other initiatives to help patients, including the development of connection centers to aid patients with scheduling appointments, prescription refills, and referrals. Nurses can also help triage patients.
Since being established in 2021, the connection centers have managed more than 7.5 million calls. In addition to helping patients, the connection centers can alleviate some administrative burdens from clinics.
CommonSpirit is aiming to give clinicians more ability to focus on their patients. As a primary care doctor, McGinn says he’s “lived through this my whole life … I know what that secret sauce is.”
“We have to create the space for them to be caring,” McGinn says of clinicians. “They can't be overwhelmed and running around.”
McGinn says he’s excited about the ability to share best practices and insights with providers across CommonSpirit through the new value-based care platform.
As a physician who treats adult patients with chronic illnesses, McGinn is looking for another metric to demonstrate the success of their approach with value-based care: the number of annual wellness visits. He’s seen that number rise, and that’s an area where he wants to see continued success.
“I think that's one of the best things you can do for your patients, is sit them down in an annual wellness visit, go over prevention, make sure everything's good, all those sorts of things,” McGinn says. “So I'm always pushing that number with our folks.”
McGinn also emphasized getting more people screened for cancer. Across the country, fewer people were getting cancer screenings in the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, but McGinn says there’s been an uptick in screenings at CommonSpirit over the past 18 months.
“We've really doubled down on that because we've just found it to be so impactful for patients,” McGinn says. “And the doctors can relate to it, the nurses relate to it, the patients can relate to it. It's a pretty simple, straightforward thing, that, in the end, the ripple effects of that are quite big, if you do it well.”