Relationships the secret to value-based health care success

Lehigh erikjohnsonheadshotValley Health Network (LVHN) executives believe no doctor, hospital or insurance company can stand alone and succeed in value-based care. That’s why the Pennsylvania-based system’s leadership emphasizes building relationships with internal staff and external partners — each of whom influences how the others perform.

In the Spring/Summer edition of Optum RISKMATTERS, LVHN CEO Brian Nester, MD, shares how relationship-building improves information sharing, fosters cross-functional cooperation and supports population health measures.

LVHN leaders began by conducting carefully planned reviews of internal and external relationships to increase care quality, improve outcomes and boost financial returns. They realized many organizational concepts held true by providers needed to evolve. To that end, they created internal programs that, among others, include:

  • A physician hospital organization (PHO) where physicians are able to create clearer pathways for shared data and information—giving each care provider extended capabilities to pinpoint and positively adjust their care decisions.
  • A physician incentive structure to reward providers on participation and quality metrics, which helped LVHN move to value-based compensation.
  • The Populytics Academy, which educates internal staff on population health and the value of predictive data analytics to drive interventions.

Lehigh Valley leaders also took external communications to another level by engaging vendors, patients, provider networks, payers and employers to break down the “us vs. them” mentality often found within those groups. LVHN teams used Optum One to show how analytics identify high-risk patients, gaps in care and opportunities to improve value. Such analyses help external partners better understand how LVHN’s population health measures benefit all involved, especially patients, Dr. Nester said.

LVHN’s model is one worthy of emulation. It currently has five hospital campuses and 12 health centers with 95 clinical specialties, 40 primary and specialty clinics and more than 1,300 providers. Lehigh has been named a high-performing hospital in regional markets by U.S. News & World Report for 20 years.

To learn more about how Lehigh Valley Health Network is leveraging relationships and communication to make the most of value-based care, download the latest edition of RISKMATTERS here.


About the Author:

Erik Johnson, MBA

VP for Health Management Consulting

Erik is a VP for Health Management Consulting. He has broad experience in designing population health strategies for a broad array of providers. He was most recently Senior Vice President at Avalere Health, where he ran its Healthcare Networks consulting practice and oversaw new product development. Erik assisted healthcare systems in determining how to adopt and assess accountable care and bundled payment models, and guiding overall strategy. Erik also worked with health IT companies in responding to emergent issues around EHRs and data exchange.

Erik has an BA with honors and distinction from Stanford University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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