Quality Conference Day 3: Celebrating Health Equity Successes and Committing to Value

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2019 CMS Quality Conference Thursday Grand Plenary - January 31

Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative

Wrapping up the 2019 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Conference on January 31, Dr. Paul Rosen, medical officer for CMS’ Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (TCPI), said he discovered the secret to improving health care, and it was just four simple words: Listen to the patient.” 

Rosen and Robert Flemming, Ph.D.— director of TCPI — discussed how the initiative has impacted over 70 million patients in just four years, improving their health outcomes and overall experience. 

From the over 140,000 clinicians we’ve worked with, we’ve learned that the most successful ones have started with the classic Socratic question — why? Why should we lead in practice transformation,’” said Flemming. Transformation begins with answering the call to be human and knowing we’re connected.” 

Health Equity

Dr. Cara James, director of CMS’ Office of Minority Health, presented the agency’s second annual Health Equity Awards, which recognize individuals and organizations working to reduce health disparities among vulnerable populations.

HealthPartners received an award for embedding health equity to reduce disparities across settings. Specifically, the Minnesota-based integrated health care organization implemented a number of interventions to reduce racial and financial class disparities in colorectal cancer screening and anti-depression medication adherence.

Meanwhile, Centene Corporation won an award for improving physical accessibility in providers’ offices. For instance, at an addiction treatment center in Illinois, the Medicaid Managed Care Organization built ramps for easier access to the building. At other facilities, Centene increased the number of accessible exam tables for individuals who use wheelchairs. 

Rural Health

Rural health also was a focus of the Day 3 plenary. Dr. Karen Minyard, director of the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University, discussed the importance of understanding a community before telling them what to do. Based on her experience working in a rural area of Georgia, Minyard learned about the key factors affecting rural communities, as well as their distinct health challenges, including opioid usage and suicide. She described a four-step process to understanding the rural landscape.

Commitment to Value

In line with the theme of the conference, Michael Leavitt — former Secretary of Health and Human Services (2005-2009) — talked about value-based health care and the importance of making a commitment to it. We have an economic imperative to do so,” he said, noting that health care contributes to the American leadership equation. It’s not possible for us to lead when we spend so much on health,” said Leavitt.

Closing Remarks

Lastly, Dennis Wagner, director of the Quality Improvement and Innovation Group (QIIG) within CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ), took the stage to wind up — not wind down — the conference. Wagner shared statements that stuck with him throughout the conference, including a patient who had said, Teaming with patients is reuniting the head with the heart in our work.” 

Wagner’s closing request for attendees was that they be leaders in health care quality. Leaders, like buttons, hold things together,” he said.

Stream the full Day 3 Plenary here