A Preferred Provider Relationship: Reinforcing Patient-and Family-Centered Health Care
By Donna Gouveia and Diana Franchitto
Seamless, coordination of health care is essential for patients to receive consistent, high-quality care. This is true from birth until the end of life.
In an effort to provide our patients the best possible continuum of care, Visiting Nurse Home Care (VNHC) and Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island (HHCRI), affiliates since February 2012, entered a preferred provider agreement last year with Coastal Medical, Rhode Island’s largest primary care practice. Coastal serves more than 118,000 patients across Rhode Island and neighboring Massachusetts. Under this agreement, the first of its kind in the region, Coastal physicians utilize VNHC’s and HHCRI’s services for their patients who need home care, palliative care, and hospice services. This agreement ensures that Coastal patients have access to consistent, high- quality care, 24 hours a day, whenever and wherever they need it.
Partnering to strengthen care delivery
HHCRI is the largest and most experienced provider of hospice care in Rhode Island, and VNHC has been delivering high-quality care to patients in their homes for 105 years. Last year our organizations joined forces, establishing one comprehensive resource for high-quality home care, palliative care, and hospice services, all delivered with consistency and coordination. Through an integrated network of providers, our agencies work together to provide expanded services in the most collaborative manner possible. Sharing our respective experience and expertise with one another translates into better care for the patients and families we serve.
VNHC is one of the oldest and most technologically advanced home health agencies in the region. Our agency’s nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and home health aides made 80,000 home visits to more than 3,500 patients last year, providing a full range of home care services.
HHCRI is the second-oldest hospice in the United States and a national leader in the field. The major teaching affiliate for hospice and palliative medicine of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, we provide compassionate medical, psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual care to people facing the advanced stages of serious illnesses. Last year, HHCRI’s staff of more than 300 cared for nearly 3,500 patients and their families across the state.
Coastal Medical is Rhode Island’s first Medicare Shared Savings ACO, as well as the state’s largest physician- owned and physician-governed primary care group practice. Coastal provides predominantly primary care, along with some specialty services, through 101 providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and 300 support staff. It serves more than 110,000 patients in 18 locations across the state and into Massachusetts. Coastal also owns successful state-wide laboratories, an imaging center, and a medical billing company that provides services to physician practices and hospital-owned medical practices across the country.
As a full-service agency, our model of coordinated care across the home care and hospice continuum is a perfect match for the patient-centered medical home modelof Coastal Medical. This preferred provider partnership ensures that Coastal patients in need of home health care services, palliative care, or end-of-life care receive the same high-quality care that they do in Coastal Medical offices.
“Through this partnership, we are able to expand the reach of our team and the scope of our care so we can ensure that consistent, high-quality care is available to our patients in their homes,”said G. Alan Kurose, MD, Coastal Medical president.
Communication — a cornerstone of patient- and family-centered care
As baby boomers age, the need for non-acute services, such as home care, palliative care, and hospice, will continue to increase. Seniors have always needed more of these services. Only today, many people are staying active and continuing to live as fully and richly as possible despite injury or illness. This sometimes means a patient can have multiple conditions that require complex coordination of care.
A key element of our agreement is frequent communication between Coastal physicians and VNHC/HHCRI to guarantee the most accurate view of a patient’s situation and help doctors to effectively treat their patients' ongoing needs. Clearly, this is a benefit to the patient who is treated as a whole, and not just in segments. We all are part of thesame care team, working together, and this translates into a tremendous advantage to patients.
“In addition to being leaders in the home care and hospice fields, these two organizations (VNHC and HHCRI) recognize that regular communication between home care and hospice providers and office-based primary care teams is crucial,” Kurose said. “Understanding all of the elements of a patient’s situation is essential to providing the best patient-centered care. These two organizations share our commitment to this type of communication so that we can meet our patients’ full spectrum of needs.”
For HHCRI and VNHC, working with Coastal solidifies our commitment to providing patients with the highest level of care and allows us to continually address their health care needs. Since we affiliated over a year ago, we have developed a strong system of communication tools and enhanced our patient-centered model. Our partnership with Coastal is a continuation of the ground work we’ve worked hard to establish.
Quality health care — the ultimate goal
This partnership truly is focused on creating the highest possible quality health care available. It was not formed out of financial need and it doesn’t involve financial risk-sharing. The obligations and commitments that we all share focus on a high level of communication and care coordination. We joined forces to decrease unnecessary re-hospitalizations and improve quality of care. That is the ultimate goal.
Coastal is recognized as one of the most highly respected medical groups in the region. This benefits HHCRI and VNHC as our patient base expands to include Coastal patients who have received the utmost in patient-centered, team-based, and coordinated care. Like our model of care, Coastal’s model makes it easier for health care teams at HHCRI and VNHC to deliver the best care resulting in the best possible patient experience.
The agreement also is important since it helps all of our organizations reach more patients who need our expertise. By working together we can grow our reach and expand our much needed services to the community.
We continue to welcome the opportunity to meet the full range of home health needs for Coastal Medical patients. Our preferred partner relationship ensuresthat their patients in need of home care, palliative care, and end-of-life care are receiving the best available care.
About the Authors: Donna M. Gouveia, CPA, is president and chief executive officer of Visiting Nurse Home Care in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Before joining VNHC, she served as CFO at VNS Home Health Services, chief of budget at the Rhode Island of Health, and director of finance and data processing at VNA of Rhode Island. She serves widely as an instructor at professional conferences for home care and hospice.
Diana Franchitto is president and CEO of Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island. Her experience encompasses 20 plus years in senior leadership health care positions including physician services, network development, marketing/communications, and government/community relations. Before joining HHCRI, she held senior-level marketing/communications positions within Caritas Christi Health Care in Boston, Massachusetts.