Transforming the health system in Rhode Island to achieve the “Triple Aim” of better care, healthier people, and smarter spending is the Rhode Island State Innovation Model (SIM) project’s goal. UMass Medical School’s Office of Program Development (OPD) is starting its second year of working with the state on this federally-funded program. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is supporting this and similar innovation efforts in 23 other states.
OPD won the project management and consulting contract from Rhode Island’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services. In addition to project management specialists, the team fielded by OPD includes subject-matter experts in population health, behavioral health, and payer/provider healthcare quality measures. This team provided initial project management to SIM’s strategic planning effort, and now project support for SIM implementation.
“Following our success supporting Vermont’s SIM project, we were eager to work with Rhode Island to assist their ambitious and visionary effort to improve the state’s health system,” said Louise Eichman, OPD executive director. “We were delighted to receive the award, and to have the opportunity again to work with staff and leadership from across the health and human services agencies in their state.” Separately, OPD has been supporting Rhode Island’s Patient Centered Medical Home initiative for more than six years.
Rhode Island’s goal is to make progress toward the triple aim and to improve population health. Rhode Island SIM plans to do this by empowering patients, supporting providers, and addressing the social and environmental determinants of health. Their vision for improved population health includes integrated physical health (including oral health) and behavioral health (including mental health and substance use). Rhode Island’s efforts focus on: 1) investing in Rhode Island’s healthcare workforce, supporting physical and behavioral health practice transformation; 2) fostering patient engagement and empowerment; and 3) increasing healthcare data capability and data expertise within the state.
The desired system transformations sought included:
- Psychiatric consultation for primary care providers serving children in the community;
- Expanded availability of Community Health Teams and Screening, Brief Interventions, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for substance use to primary care providers;
- Supporting the patient-centered medical home primary care model for children;
- Improving collection, management, and distribution of health care data for providers, payers and policymakers;
- Providing services that will empower patients to be more effective self-advocates on behalf of their health care needs, including a focus on persons with end-of-life health concerns;
- Creating a statewide common provider directory, with information about providers across the state; and
- Creating a state data ecosystem, linking multiple data repositories together to gain an enhanced understanding of Rhode Islanders’ population health.
With these principles and system innovations in mind, the OPD’s vendors worked with RI SIM staff to write its Integrated Population Health Plan and Operational Plan. OPD staff helped staff a series of workgroups on integrated population health, patient engagement, community behavioral health centers, standardized quality measures for payers and providers, and healthcare workforce transformation.
The OPD team is also supporting an effort by the state’s health and human services agencies and community agencies to integrate and align their parallel efforts on common healthcare issues. These include chronic disease, obesity, and tobacco cessation. The objective is to share resources, reduce costs, improve coordination and reach more Rhode Islanders.
A core value held by RI SIM leadership is community input and participation, and all the workgroups are public. The OPD also supports staff who embark upon statewide “Outreach and Engagement” meetings with community groups to talk about how SIM projects will transform healthcare in Rhode Island and to identify their needs and concerns.