UMass Medical School and UConn Health Center receive Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative award from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

September 30, 2015

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, in partnership with the University of Connecticut Health Center, created one of the 39 health care collaborative networks selected for funding in the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, announced Sept. 29 by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.

The Southern New England Practice Transformation Network will receive up to $29.2 million to provide technical assistance support to help equip primary and specialty care clinicians in Massachusetts and Connecticut with tools, information, and network support needed to improve quality of care, increase patients’ access to information, and spend health care dollars more wisely.

“Supporting doctors and other health care professionals change the way they work is critical to improving quality and spending our health care dollars more wisely,” said Secretary Burwell. “These awards will give patients more of the information they need to make informed decisions about their care and give clinicians access to information and support to improve care coordination and quality outcomes.”

As a Practice Transformation Network, UMass Medical School and UConn Health Center will support efforts by 5,400 clinicians to expand their quality improvement capacity, learn from one another, and achieve common goals of improved care, better health, and reduced costs. Initial network partners include Baycare Health Partners, Baystate Health, Berkshire Health Systems, eHealthConnecticut, Qualis Health, Massachusetts eHealth Institute, Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, and UMass Memorial Health Care. Other eligible health care systems and clinical practices will be invited to join the network.

“Anchored by a partnership between Massachusetts’ and Connecticut’s public medical schools and four large regional health care systems, the Southern New England Practice Transformation Network is designing and implementing an improvement model that supports clinical practices in the transformation needed for success under alternative payment models,” said David Polakoff, MD, MSc, chief medical officer and associate dean of UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.

“Our network will focus its efforts on small, independent, rural practices, which have been historically underserved by transformation initiaitives,” Polakoff said.

The network will help participating clinicians meet clinical and operational results through coaching on clinical quality measures and new care delivery models, enhancing effective use of health information technology, strengthening the medical neighborhood through communication and coordination, disseminating best practices, and implementing payment methodologies that create long-term sustainability.

“Our families deserve access to quality, affordable health care and this partnership between UMass Medical School and the UConn Health Center will help to achieve that,” Congressman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said. “With this initiative, UMass Medical School will support healthy communities by helping health care providers to improve the quality of their care, increase patient access to information, and ensure we’re getting the most bang for our buck on health care spending. I am grateful to have a strong partner in HHS Secretary Burwell to invest in our communities and look forward to seeing all that UMass Medical School will achieve through this important initiative.”

These awards are part of a comprehensive strategy advanced by the Affordable Care Act that enables new levels of coordination, continuity, and integration of care, while transitioning volume-driven systems to value-based, patient-centered, health care services. It builds upon successful models and programs such as the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Organization Program, Partnership for Patients with Hospital Engagement Networks, and Accountable Care Organizations.  

More information on the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative is available by visting CMS.