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Patient Access Innovations: Integrating Patients Within the System of Care

Provider coordination is of paramount importance for healthcare organizations preparing for the industry’s shift in focus from volume to value. The most ambitious coordination model that has been developed to date is the clinically integrated network ("CIN")—a contractual collaboration among hospitals, physicians, and other providers to manage patients across the entire continuum of care. A CIN uses population health management tools, including care management techniques, to build value through improving patient outcomes and controlling costs. This innovative model offers providers access to value-based payment contracts and an opportunity to improve quality and reduce costs.

Despite the compelling benefits of clinical integration, this approach also poses risks. Value-based payment contracts hold CIN participants accountable for both clinical and financial outcomes, although the ability to influence these outcomes depends largely on patient choice and patient compliance. Whenever a patient leaves the CIN, even if the patient returns to the network for certain services, network providers lose the opportunity to fully manage the patient’s care and utilization, ultimately undercutting their ability to coordinate the patient’s care and accrue the benefits of improved clinical outcomes and reduced costs.

This risk makes it critically important for CINs to keep patients within their organized systems of care. CINs need to make sure patients can access the network easily and are motivated to stay connected, requiring a strategic focus on patient access and engagement.

Based on the experiences of leading CINs, strategies aimed at improving patient access tend to be most effective when they are focused on three primary objectives: expanding entry points to the network, making access more convenient and inexpensive, and keeping patients engaged in the care they receive from network providers. The following five strategies, in particular, have been proven effective for ensuring in-network access and strengthening patient engagement.

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 Patient Access, Clinically Integrated Networks

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