Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

Population Health Management a Priority at Mercy Medical Center

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The wartime British prime minister and world-class orator Winston Churchill is credited with the observation, "Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have." Spoken during a BBC broadcast in 1943, these prophetic words have special meaning for us today as we consider ways to transform and improve health care delivery by providing more services beyond the walls of our hospitals. 

This new approach - which challenges us to keep advancing care even as we continue to focus on access, quality, efficiency and cost containment - is in line with the "triple aim" of better care for individuals, better care for populations of patients and slower growth in health care spending.

At Mercy Medical Center, we recognize these challenges provide numerous opportunities for growth and innovation through successful population health management. 

In a departure from traditional healthcare that focuses on care only when patients are sick, population health management supports the foundation of primary care by calling on providers to deliver high quality, value-based care across the continuum, so that members of the community may achieve and maximize good health. And, when mental, physical, spiritual, and socio-economic needs are taken into consideration, whether the individual is actively seeking care or not, the clinical focus shifts to keeping people well and making sure patients are being cared for in the most appropriate setting, thereby lowering costs.

The work being done through Mercy's partnership with Live Well Springfield, a multi-sector, community-based coalition that includes over 26 organizations working in the city, not only provides an example of such outreach to the community, it also demonstrates our commitment to community stakeholders who share our vision for grassroots neighborhood improvement.

With a $2.5 million grant under Trinity Health's (Mercy's parent organization) Transforming Communities Initiative, Mercy and Live Well Springfield are using an innovative approach to change policies, systems, and environments that create barriers to healthy eating and active living, by advocating for pedestrian-friendly complete streets, nutritious Breakfast in the Classroom in schools and raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21. By addressing social determinants of health, Transforming Communities expects to measurably reduce rates of smoking, youth obesity, and health disparities while improving rates of breastfeeding, access to nutrition and physical activity opportunities, and enhancing community wellness and resiliency.

Improving access to outpatient health-care services and appropriate care management are also important aspects of population health management. With the addition of RiverBend Medical Group, we have seen significant growth in our Provider Network Organization, and that growth has prompted new physician alignments that share a commitment to clinical excellence and are designed to put patients at the center of everything we do.

In order to attain this goal, we have built a comprehensive support system for the practices that not only provides business and clinical support, but soon will also bring outpatient and inpatients services together under Epic, healthcare's most reliable electronic medical record. Our vision for patients of Mercy's Provider Network Organiation is simple: we will deliver the highest quality of care, utilize cutting-edge technology and provide an inspiring patient experience.

Mercy Medical Center is also a proud member of Trinity Health - New England, our regional health ministry that includes four Connecticut hospitals, St. Francis Hospital and Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital in Hartford, Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs and St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury. By coming together, we are able to leverage our common culture to increase efficiency and focus on our shared vision for strategic growth through clinical collaboration. Transforming our operations in this way is a tremendous undertaking, but the end result will be worthwhile. For patients, this regional integration will mean better care closer to home with improved access to clinical expertise in Massachusetts and Connecticut. 

In every aspect of life, doing the "right thing" often prompts a ripple effect of benefits - everything simply falls into place. Population health management is not only in line with Mercy Medical Center's deeply ingrained mission to serve as a "transforming, healing presence" in the local community, it also reflects our commitment to ensuring patients always receive the right care, the right way, at the right time. Most importantly, it's the right thing to do for our patients - because staying healthy allows them to enjoy a significantly better quality of life.

Dr. Scott Wolf is president of Mercy Medical Center and the Sisters of Providence Health System. To learn more about Mercy and the health system, visit mercycares.com/springfield.

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