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Q: What is Integrated Care Partners?

A: Integrated Care Partners (ICP) is a physician-led community of providers leading the way in Connecticut in transforming how health care is delivered. ICP is focused on improving the coordination of care and patient outcomes. Our member physicians define performance objectives, quality standards and evidence-based medicine protocols; forge partnerships with health plans, employers and providers; and establish requirements for ICP participation. We are focused on improving the health of the populations we serve.

ICP is a legal entity. It is NOT: an employed practice model, a program run by hospitals, physician employment or a practice-management service. Membership in ICP is free.


Q: Why does health care delivery need to change?

A: U.S. health care costs, almost 20 percent of our GDP, are the highest among developed nations. Despite that, patient outcomes and quality are uneven. Our method of delivering care is fragmented, because it's based on volume, or fee-for-service, rather than on quality. This is not sustainable, especially as our population ages and needs more care. The federal government (through health care reform), insurance companies and employers are demanding higher-quality care at lower costs. Coordinated care – using patient outcomes data and a single electronic medical record, finding and sharing the best care approaches, and reducing duplicate testing – should provide better patient care at a lower cost. ICP is setting care standards; providing tools for greater collaboration among physicians and hospitals; and focusing on patient wellness, which reduces the cost of care. We also have a Care-Management Team of nurses, social workers and health coaches embedded in some practices to help physicians with patients who have chronic illnesses and tend to be the most expensive to treat. Everyone benefits.


Q: How is Integrated Care Partners led?

A: Integrated Care Partners is led by a board that includes nine practicing physicians. Dr. James Cardon is the CEO of the organization, which seeks to improve care coordination and quality, improve efficiency and reduce duplication in care.


Q: Is Integrated Care Partners (ICP) part of Hartford HealthCare?

A: Yes, we are a Hartford HealthCare partner but our membership includes private-practice, community physicians, not only physicians employed by Hartford HealthCare. ICP was formed to improve coordination among physicians, hospitals and other health care organizations so that, together, we can improve patient outcomes and the health of the populations we all serve – which is a requirement of health care reform and, more and more, of insurance companies and employers who pay for health care benefits for their employees.


Q: Who belongs to the organization?

A: Our members are committed to engaging in an active program of improving care coordination, and patient outcomes and reducing costs. The invitation to join extends to Hartford HealthCare-associated physicians, employed and in private practice, as well as community-based physicians who are not part of a Hartford HealthCare hospital medical staff. Hartford HealthCare hospitals include Backus Hospital, Hartford Hospital, The Hospital of Central Connecticut, MidState Medical Center and Windham Hospital. Many private-practice, community physicians are among our more than 2,000 members.


Q: What are the goals of the organization?

A: Our goals are to:

  • Enhance established standards of patient-centered care and excellence.
  • Measure our success in meeting those standards and performing in the top decile.
  • Focus on improving the health of the populations we serve.
  • Shift the contracting focus from fee-for-service to a value-driven compensation model, rewarding high-quality, efficient care rather than volume.
  • Provide analytics and tools that physicians can use to improve quality and succeed under value-based contracts.
  • Deliver value to consumers and employers.
  • Operate transparently and share data.
  • Forge partnerships with health plans, employers and providers.


Q: What are the core principles of the organization?

A: Our core principles are to:

  • Be physician-led, patient-centered, quality-based and value-focused.
  • Practice using evidence-based medicine driven by shared data.
  • Deliver value for consumers and employers.
  • Forge partnerships with health plans, employers and providers.
  • Align incentives so everyone is working together toward the same goals.


Q: How does ICP operate?

A: Integrated Care Partners is run by physicians, who work together to enhance established best practices. Committees made up of community physicians determine requirements for participation. Participants in the organization are expected to provide data and be accountable for meeting performance standards that are established by physician members themselves. Members also agree to participate in all contracts held by the organization. Physicians set organizational objectives, define performance objectives and quality standards, develop the infrastructure support plan, and are self-governing. Participating physicians hold each other accountable for performance against agreed-upon clinical performance and efficiency standards.


Q: Does a physician have to join ICP to continue to be affiliated with Hartford HealthCare?

A: No, physicians can continue to be part of Hartford HealthCare hospital medical staffs if they are not part of Integrated Care Partners. However, they will not be able to participate in Integrated Care Partners' contracts if they are not members and will not have access to data to demonstrate the quality and cost of care they deliver. They also will not be able to access resources to coordinate care.


Q: How will joining affect a physician's practice and income?

A: Physicians who join Integrated Care Partners are signaling their commitment to be part of a clinically integrated model of care. ICP supports physicians by helping them use technology to document and report the care they provide and helps practices that are not currently practicing according to evidence-based standards so that those practices can achieve ICP performance goals. ICP’s objective is to reward providers for delivering the right care at the right time in the right setting. Physician compensation is determined by the degree to which we all can achieve these goals. ICP works with physicians to ease these transitions and try to assure that everyone meets the organization's goals for high-quality, efficient care. ICP has several shared-savings agreements with commercial and government payers which will benefit members who meet the goals of these agreements.


Q: Won't standards of care restrict my ability to care for my patients?

A: Standards of care based on best practices have been shown to result in better patient outcomes for populations of patients. Following evidence-based treatment protocols doesn't mean a care giver must personally respond to every patient in the exact same manner but it does mean that the same proven treatments are provided for specific diseases. This should result in safer care and less variation in patient outcomes overall, while allowing providers to use their clinical judgment in making exceptions to established best-practice standards of care.


Q: What are the information technology requirements?

A: Members of Integrated Care Partners are not required to use similar electronic health records systems but patient information must be shared so that care can be coordinated effectively. Data must be made available to demonstrate performance around quality and value. Data is used to facilitate better patient care. This reduces duplicative testing and medication errors and improves care coordination. Hartford HealthCare is moving to a single-platform electronic health record (EPIC). Affiliated private practice physicians are not required to change their current electronic health records unless they desire to do so. Integrated Care Partners will commit to connecting their practices through a Health Information Exchange.


Q: Who pays for IT upgrades?

A: Integrated Care Partners works within the federal guidelines to minimize the financial impact of IT solutions on our affiliated providers.


Q: What functions does Integrated Care Partners perform?

A: The organization performs the following:

  • Establishes evidence-based standards of care and holds members accountable to meet those standards.
  • Provides physicians with tools to capture and analyze performance data.
  • Provides proactive support for chronic conditions.
  • Identifies opportunities for improvement and supports practices in making those improvements.
  • Provides case-management support to practices for helping patients participate in meeting standards of care.
  • Contracts for value-based compensation that rewards high-quality, efficient practice performance.

The organization does NOT employ physicians or manage physician practices.


Q: Will this organization monitor my practice?

A: All members of the organization are held accountable for meeting the performance standards established by organization members.


Q: Will I be compared to other doctors?

A: Physician performance is compared to the established standards. As we make progress in measuring and improving the quality of care we provide across the organization, Integrated Care Partners will make our progress in that journey transparent and available to the public.


Q: Will quality information be publicly available?

A: Yes. Integrated Care Partners aspires to share with the public our progress toward meeting our established standards of care. One model of the kind of reporting we expect to provide to the public is the Advocate Health Report. Internally, reports comparing physicians' performance will be shared with ICP members.


Q: How do our patients benefit from this?

A: Patients benefit from use of established standards of care in many ways, including:

  • One point of focus (the patient).
  • One source of patient information (integrated care record).
  • One standard of quality (defined by collaborating clinicians).
  • One population (everyone is focused on care improvement).

Patients also benefit from improved care management and coordination.


Q: Why should a physician join the organization?

A: For private-practice physicians, Integrated Care Partners assists with population management and provides support in creating patient-centered medical home practices. For specialists, Integrated Care Partners helps them become part of the Patient-Centered Medical Home Neighborhood and connects them more effectively with the teams of clinicians caring for their patients. Also, by documenting their success in achieving high-quality standards of care, member physicians can promote that information and increase their referral base. For more information, view Membership Has Its Benefits.


Q: How does this organization benefit physicians?

A: Integrated Care Partners provides physicians with the tools they need to succeed in the new world of payment for value (quality at a reasonable cost), rather than fee for service. The organization supports embedded care coordination within practices; supports deployment of analytics to assist in care delivery; provides an enhanced Health Information Exchange (HIE) so that patient information can be shared more efficiently and effectively; sets up disease registries; identifies gaps in care; identifies high-risk patients and patients with chronic illnesses; and collects data on physician performance that is accurate, meaningful and trusted.

Physicians also benefit from:

  • Rewards for high quality and initiatives.
  • Care-management support.
  • Capabilities to measure and monitor quality and performance.
  • Access to contracts and patients as preferred providers.
  • Tools to help drive better outcomes.
  • Financial support for IT investments.


Q: Is the organization contracting with health plans?

A: Integrated Care Partners already has several contracts in place with health plans and has been actively engaged with payers to develop innovative reimbursement models that align financial incentives with our quality goals. The Integrated Care Partners Board of Directors is responsible for approving all contracts offered to its members. If you are a member of Integrated Care Partners, you agree to participate in all contracts within the organization's portfolio.


Q: Where can I get more information?

A: You can send questions or comments to IntegratedCarePartners@hhchealth.org.

You also can contact ICP provider relations specialists, who are totally focused on working with ICP members:

 

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