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Vidant-ECU partnership earns high marks


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Federal data shows that a partnership between ECU and Vidant Health made significant improvements in the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries while achieving significant cost savings last year, a news release issued by Vidant on Friday said.

The data released last month show that the Coastal Plains Network LLC — made up of health care providers in Vidant Health and ECU Physicians, the faculty practice of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine — saved Medicare more than $8.9 million last year on the services provided to 24,574 assigned beneficiaries, the Vidant release said.

“This is simply one more demonstration of how Vidant and ECU are better together,” Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of Vidant Health, said in the release. “It’s proof that we know the patients in our region and the most effective ways to care for them.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the numbers as part of its 2017 financial and quality results for the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the release said. CMS is the federal agency that runs the Medicare program, which provides health insurance for people 65 and older who have worked and paid into the system through the payroll tax.

The Shared Savings Program is an alternative to the traditional fee-for-service payment model, offering health care providers and suppliers an opportunity to voluntarily come together in an Accountable Care Organization to provide care to their Medicare patients while agreeing to be held accountable for the quality, cost and experience of care for an assigned Medicare fee-for-service population.

The goal of an ACO is to ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors, the release said. It encourages investment in high quality and efficient services, with a focus on achieving better health for individuals, improved population health and lower growth in expenditures.

When an ACO exceeds quality and financial thresholds — which demonstrates achievement of high-quality care and wise spending of health care dollars — it is able to share in the savings generated for Medicare. ECU Physicians and Vidant Health received 44.6 percent of the savings they generated, or $3.9 million, as a performance payment.

“We are so proud of the work our health care providers have done to achieve these results,” said Dr. Mark Stacy, dean of the ECU Brody School of Medicine. “We’re committed to building on the successful partnership we have with Vidant to achieve even bigger and better things for the people of eastern North Carolina.”

Coastal Plains Network is a separate legal entity formed by Vidant Health and approved by CMS in 2014 for participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). East Carolina University’s health care providers joined Vidant Health in the network on Jan. 1, 2016.