Merit-based Incentive Payment System Alternative Payment Models that use population health strategies can reduce patient costs and add benefits for hospitals and health systems, Lee McCall, CEO of Neshoba County General Hospital in Philadelphia, MS, and Don Wee, CEO of Tri-State Memorial Hospital in Clarkston, WA, said today during a session at the AHA Rural Health Care Leadership Conference. The panelists demonstrated how rural hospitals engaged in the Magnolia Evergreen Accountable Care Organization, a Medicare Shared Savings Program Track 1 (MIPS) ACO, reduced overall Medicare spending by more than 8 percent. They shared a number of strategies for better managing population health and navigating value-based reimbursement. "In our case, you can drill down to see who are the sickest of the sick and why they're driving health care costs in our community," McCall said. The information has empowered his and other organizations in the ACO to take a proactive, preventive approach to care. This has been bolstered by clinician and patient engagement and from encouraging patients to be more accountable for their own care and health. "In chronic care management, you can really partner with the patient and become their advocate," he said.

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On a separate panel yesterday, leaders from CHI St. Gabriel's Health – a critical access hospital in Little Falls, MN – shared their efforts related to creating a community task force to tackle the opioid crisis. The organization collaborated with the local police department, social workers, schools and public health alliances to target the social factors around opioid substance use disorders in their community while also implementing clinical measures to address the issue. These have resulted in significant improvements, including reducing prescription opioid use for more than 350 people. Lee Boyles, president and CEO of CHI St. Gabriel's Health, said that community collaboration and communication have been key to their success. "You have to have the utmost transparency with that information sharing if you're going to have success," he said. The program, which also included clinical measures such as avoiding early refills, incorporating prescription drug management programs, reviewing patient charts in a more coordinated fashion and conducting urine screens, was the recipient of a 2017 AHA Nova Award.