The Cedar Rapids Healthcare Alliance (CRHA) was formed in 2005 through a federal grant awarded to Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa and Kirkwood Community College*. The purpose of the grant was to establish a Community Anticoagulation Therapy (CAT) Clinic available to all patients within our service area referred by a physician. The CAT Clinic served over 400 patients, saved physician offices approximately $75,000 annually, and has achieved national recognition. The CRHA oversaw the CAT Clinic.
Other activities that the CRHA has successfully engaged in over the past few years include:
- Quarterly leadership forums have been organized and hosted by the CRHA since 2005 to address healthcare topics of interest to the community.
- In 2008, the CRHA received a grant from the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care to use Lean kaizen events to study common healthcare administration processes in hospitals and provider offices. This grant has allowed 6 teams to study and make significant improvements in several areas, including referrals, electronic transfer of information, collection, patient registration, red flag issues, and human resources processes. The teams have made a significant contribution to the community with estimated savings of over $200,000.
- The CRHA strategic plan outlines several areas of interest that should be addressed at a community level, including linking electronic medical records among providers, decreasing community acquired infections that are resistant to antibiotics, decreasing childhood obesity and diabetes, decreasing adverse drug events in the elderly by establishing consistent community medication reconciliation at times of transition from one point of care to another, and increasing disease prevention strategies by promoting employer- based wellness programs.
- CRHA participants have made numerous presentations at local, state, and national meetings over the last three years and have published eight articles in major healthcare journals. CRHA work on health literacy resulted in a very popular handbook for patients on warfarin. This handbook, entitled Your Guide to Coumadin®/warfarin Therapy, has been reprinted several times with over 400,000 English and Spanish copies published and distributed nationally by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
- In July, 2009 and again in May, 2010, several community business and healthcare leaders, including CRHA board members, were invited to participate in meetings in Washington, DC, conducted by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Using national data from Medicare, a select group of communities, including Cedar Rapids, were found to have the highest quality and lowest cost healthcare in the nation. A recent NY Times article summarized this quite well:
“If the rest of America could achieve the performances of regions like these, our health care cost crisis would be over. Their quality scores are well above average. Yet they spend more than $1,500 (16 percent) less per Medicare patient than the national average and have a slower real annual growth rate (3 percent versus 3.5 percent nationwide).”
This recognition is a distinct honor for our community and will position Cedar Rapids to be competitive for federal project support such as becoming an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) or developing a community health information exchange (HIE) with the ability to link healthcare information systems among providers within our community.
In May 2010, several planning sessions were held to determine strategic direction for the CRHA. The conclusion that emerged from the sessions was that the CRHA could provide value to the community by addressing the following key themes:
- Provide a forum to coordinate care among different provider groups and inform stakeholders of care options and programs within the community.
- Work to improve collaboration among stakeholder groups within the community, including employers, providers, payers and patients.
- Provide educational sessions to inform and educate stakeholders on topics of interest, including:
- Wellness and preventive care
- Chronic disease management and mental health
- Community and public health (Project Access, community health needs assessment)
- Data and cost of healthcare (employer, payer, provider sources)
- Sponsor and conduct projects such as the Community Anticoagulation Therapy Clinic and the IFMC Lean process project.
- Monitor community opportunities in potential healthcare IT projects such as electronic health records and information exchanges.
- Search for grant opportunities to support the above.
We believe the CRHA has created the infrastructure for these types of community projects. Our wide stakeholder group and significant experience within the community positions the CRHA as a model community organization with great potential to take advantage of the federal stimulus money which will be available to support such healthcare-related projects.
In order to continue the projects described above and take advantage of upcoming federal funding opportunities, the CRHA will need community support. We are asking for your contribution in order to continue the mission of the CRHA. All contributions are tax deductible.
* Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Partnerships in Implementing Patient Safety: Improving Warfarin Management in Competitive Healthcare Using ISO 9001 Principles / Grant No.: HSO15830-01