TMF Awarded Two Federal Health Care Improvement Contracts

TMF Health Quality Institute Awarded Two Federal Health Care Improvement Contracts

Innovative projects will increase physician knowledge, involvement in treatment for depression, alcohol use as well as chronic care management

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Emilie Fennell
Director, Communications and External Relations

Rachel Jordan-Shuss
Communications Specialist
TMF Health Quality Institute

Austin, Texas – Sept. 13, 2016 – TMF Health Quality Institute, a leading nonprofit health care consulting company, will teach physicians new and innovative methods of treating depression and alcohol use disorder as well as managing chronic care. In TMF’s role as a Quality Innovation Network Quality Improvement Organization, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has awarded TMF two new contracts to advance health care improvement initiatives. Work on both contracts begins immediately.

"TMF is excited to expand our work with primary care physicians to help them focus on treating depression, alcohol use disorder and chronic care conditions among their Medicare beneficiary population," said Tom Manley, TMF president and CEO. "Participation in these special innovation projects will help improve the quality of care provided to these Medicare beneficiaries by focusing on care management methods as an integral component of practice operations."

Based on the Project ECHO® model, this project is designed to increase primary care physician knowledge of treatment for depression and alcohol use disorder. The Project ECHO model was founded by a physician in Albuquerque, NM and supported by the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. The model links experts and specialist teams at an academic hub with primary care clinicians in local communities.

Using telecommunications technology, experts and community physicians collaborate in weekly clinics. During the clinics, primary care physicians from multiple sites present patient cases to the specialist teams and to each other, discuss new developments relating to their patients and determine treatment. Through this method, physicians can develop additional skills they need to treat a particular condition. As a result, local physicians can provide comprehensive, best-practice care to patients with complex health conditions, right where they live. Primary care clinicians become part of a learning community.

Today, Project ECHO operates 39 hubs for nearly 30 diseases and conditions in 22 states and five countries outside the U.S., including sites within the Department of Defense.

In addition to using the Project ECHO method, TMF will provide technical assistance to help practices institute a team-based approach to behavioral health using the Mental Health Integration model. This model has mental health care integrated into everyday primary care practice. It involves mental health specialists working with the primary care physicians to implement individualized strategies for patients and their families. This method improves clinical decisions and allows patients and families to receive services within primary care.

Dell Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry will partner with TMF to assist with project interventions, working with 80 practices in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Also beginning immediately, TMF was awarded an innovation project focusing on increasing the number of primary care practices providing and billing for chronic care management (CCM) services for Medicare beneficiaries with two or more chronic conditions. This is an education and outreach campaign to support primary care physician participation in the CCM program and provide technical assistance and resources to help 100 eligible billing practitioners in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas integrate CCM into their workflows.

According to a 2012 CMS chartbook, within the Medicare program, beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions accounted for 93 percent of spending and 98 percent of all hospital readmissions. Implementation of CCM will reduce the cost of care for participating Medicare beneficiaries as a result of 24-hour access to a consistent health care professional, reduce use of the emergency department, reduce hospitalizations and reduce hospital readmissions.

Participation in this project will improve the quality of care that recruited practitioners are providing to Medicare beneficiaries by focusing on care management as an integral component of practice operations in the management of patients with chronic diseases. As a result of participation, the goal is that practitioners will be better prepared for the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 Merit-Based Incentive Payment System and Alternate Payment Models.

About TMF Health Quality Institute
TMF Health Quality Institute focuses on improving lives by improving the quality of health care through contracts with federal, state and local governments, as well as private organizations. For more than 40 years, TMF has helped health care providers and practitioners in a variety of settings improve care for their patients.