Intermountain uses new report to inform future partnerships and programs

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published last week says equitable access to high quality primary care services will require significant change to payment models and integrated team-based care. 

Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Brenda Reiss-Brennan, director of mental health integration and principal investigator of integrated team-based care, acted as Intermountain’s representative for the report and is now assisting Intermountain in implementing needed changes through partnerships and program expansions to assist the primary care workforce. 

 

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The study reported that without immediate reform at the federal level, primary care disparities will continue to widen leading to poorer health outcomes for Americans. The report also found that the US spends 5% of its total health care costs on primary care even though primary care accounts for a third of all health care visits. The report says primary care requires more funding to fix inequalities and to operate in the best interest of Americans. 

Reiss-Brennan says the way forward for Intermountain is through more partnerships among health plans and clinics as well as a greater push for reform from the Utah state government and the federal government. 

“It is not only Intermountain’s responsibility to do this. It is the state of Utah, and this is a national perspective. It requires partnerships in the community and I think there are many systems in Utah that are already beginning to look at the community’s perspective and partnering to do that. The important issue to look at is what the economic incentive for Utah [would be] to spend more on primary care.” 

Reiss-Brennan says spending less on primary care results in poorer outcomes and vice versa. She says it is up to the state to invest more in primary care to allow health systems and clinics to implement key objectives to improve equity and care in the primary care sphere. 

Partnerships will allow Intermountain to fund primary care organizations to help meet implementation objectives highlighted in the report.

The report, released by the committee last week, outlined five key implementation objectives to achieve its vision of high quality primary care in the US. 

The most important, according to Reiss-Brennan, is the reformation of payment models. The report says public and private payers should shift from a fee-for-service model to a hybrid model where clinicians are paid by patient and outcomes rather than per visit. 

“That gets at the heart of the problem of how we need to begin to build an economic formula that really supports keeping people well.”

Another important objective highlighted by Reiss-Brennan is to train primary care teams where people live and work. The report stresses the importance of creating teams of different positions in the primary care workforce to create meaningful engagement with many different levels of expertise. 

Reiss-Brennan says these recommendations act as a roadmap to aid local and federal health systems and leaders in the implementation of best practices to care for the whole person.

“Everyone should have access to this trusted common good. Everyone should have a place where they can go to identify their health issues and begin their well-being journey through healing, trusted relationships that are connected to the best evidence and results. We can make this a reality by supporting the value of primary care and working together to implement the findings of this report.”