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HHS Deputy Secretary Recognizes Grand Rapids Leaders for Improving Quality and Value in Health Care

Encourages use of electronic health records to improve patient care

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a meeting today, HHS Deputy Secretary Tevi Troy recognized local providers, consumers, employers, insurers, and other community leaders as a Chartered Value Exchange (CVE) for their strong commitment to improving quality and value in health care. With this special federal distinction, the Minnesota Healthcare Value Exchange will have an opportunity to implement innovative and cutting-edge ways to connect consumers to better health.

"I applaud the efforts that health leaders in Grand Rapids have taken to transform health care to a patient-focused marketplace," Secretary Leavitt said. "Together we are building a foundation for a transparent system that empowers consumers to obtain affordable, effective, and high quality health care."

"Thanks to their foresight and hard work, we're coming closer to the day when those who chose to provide, pay for, or consume effective, competitively-priced health care will be rewarded for their smart choices," Deputy Secretary Troy added.

The designation gives the organization access to information from Medicare that measures the quality of care physicians deliver to patients. These performance measurement results may be combined with similar private-sector data to produce more comprehensive information on the quality of care available across Minnesota. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin providing these performance results to the Minnesota Healthcare Value Exchange by the summer of 2008. They also will join a nationwide Learning Network sponsored by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This network will provide peer-to-peer learning experiences through facilitated meetings, both face-to-face and on the Web, and will also feature tools, access to experts, and an ongoing private Web-based knowledge management system.

Over the last year, HHS has designated more than 100 Community Leaders who are encouraging the growth of community-based, multi-stakeholder collaboratives working to drive health care reform. These groups were the first eligible to apply for CVE status and, after an extensive peer-review process of 38 applications, 14 collaboratives in a dozen states have been selected to receive charters from Secretary Leavitt.

During the meeting, the Secretary also encouraged St. Paul community leaders to join together and apply for a new Medicare demonstration project that provides incentive payments for physicians' use of certified electronic health records to improve patient care. The project, which will be open to small- and medium-sized primary care physician practices, is expected to reduce medical errors and improve the quality of care for an estimated 3.6 million Americans.

"The Alliance for Health is proud to be a Chartered Value Exchange," Alliance President Lody Zwarensteyn said. "This will help our efforts to advance awareness of quality and price information, to promote positive incentives to reward value in health care, and to further the exchange of health information through means such as electronic health records. Because health care is local, it is important for our community to work together on these priorities."

"Communities like Grand Rapids have a tremendous opportunity to help transform health care delivery starting at the local level," Secretary Leavitt said. "Broad adoption of interoperable electronic health records has the potential not only to improve the quality of care provided, but also to change the way medicine is practiced and delivered. By implementing this demonstration project in a dozen health markets across the country, we'll help move this nation toward a system that delivers better quality health care at lower cost for more Americans."

Over a five-year period, financial incentives will be provided to as many as 1,200 primary care physician practices that use certified electronic health records (EHR) to improve quality as measured by their performance on specific clinical quality measures. In addition to the incentive payments, bonus payments may be awarded based on a standardized survey measuring the number of EHR functionalities a physician practice has incorporated. Total payments under the demonstration may be up to $58,000 per physician or $290,000 per practice.

Secretary Leavitt and other senior HHS officials are meeting directly with patients, providers, health plans, and local business leaders in communities across America to discuss this new demonstration project.

The application period is open now through early May for communities interested in becoming one of the demonstration program's 12 sites. CMS will focus on locations where the demonstration may enhance existing or planned private sector projects that support the adoption and use of health information technology and quality reporting initiatives. Eligible communities will include those that:

-- Demonstrate active community collaboration with a broad group of stakeholders, including providers and medical professional groups, consumers, health plans, and employers;

-- Show private-sector support, with likely probability that similar programs will be implemented among employers or health plans in the region;

-- Are geographically large enough to recruit a sufficient number of small- to medium-sized primary-care physician practices, of which 100 will be eligible for incentives and 100 will be control sites; and

-- Are not already part of an existing CMS demonstration similar to the EHR project.

CMS will announce the 12 communities selected for the demonstration project in June 2008. Once communities have been selected, CMS will begin working with the communities to recruit physician practices for participation in the demonstration. After selection in June, four of the communities will begin implementing the demonstration, with the remainder beginning in 2009.

The EHR demonstration project is a major step toward the President's goal of most Americans having access to a secure, interoperable electronic health record by 2014.

For more information about the EHR demonstration project, visit h_Records_Demonstration.pdf

This initiative is also part of HHS' bold vision for health care reform built on the four cornerstones of value-driven health care. These include: adopting interoperable health information technology; measuring and publishing quality information to enable consumers to make better decisions about their providers and treatment options; measuring and publishing price information to give consumers information they need to make better decisions on purchasing health care; and promoting incentives for high-quality, efficient delivery of care.

To learn more about Connecting to Better Health Care, please visit

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at

SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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