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Discovery receives the 2016 Starfield Award for testing the effectiveness of primary care coordination

20 April 2016 Dr Jonathan Broomberg, Discovery Health
Dr Jonathan Broomberg, CEO of Discovery Health.

Dr Jonathan Broomberg, CEO of Discovery Health.

The ACG® System Team announced Discovery Health as the winner of the 2016 Starfield Award in recognition of Discovery’s use of the Johns Hopkins Adjusted Clinical Groups (ACG) System. The award, that recognises work on addressing multi-morbidity, reducing disparities in the delivery of primary healthcare, and improving population health, was presented during the ACG international Conference in San Diego, USA. Discovery Health received this honour for a project entitled “Improving Patient Coordination through Effective Primary Care Management” and authored by Lizelle Steenkamp and Sharon Naidoo.

“We are immensely honoured to receive this award in recognition of a project using the ACG System to measure the impact of primary care provider allocation,” said Dr Jonathan Broomberg, CEO of Discovery Health. “For Discovery it is critical that we continue to maximise value for patients. Projects such as these make excellent use of tools such as the ACG System and support our efforts to move towards a patient-centred healthcare system, which aims to achieve the best patient outcomes at the lowest possible cost,” Broomberg continued.

By modifying the ACG System Coordination Risk Score to better suit the South African population and patterns of care, Discovery Health measured the impact of primary care provider allocation.

“Results from this project demonstrated that coordinated care, by assigning a primary care doctor to a patient, lowered overall healthcare costs and improved patient outcomes,” confirmed Broomberg. Commenting on their work in coordinated care, he said, “Discovery Health places great emphasis on coordination of patient care and the subsequent evidence of improved care and costs. Measured by a decreased number of specialist visits and hospital admissions and readmissions, this project also showed that our patient-care strategy using the Discovery Health Premier Practice model is effective,” he added.

The findings of this project support the Discovery Health Premier Practice model that encourages care coordination through a selective network of general practitioners. These practitioners follow evidence-based pathways for the management of patients with the following conditions: diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia or coronary artery disease. The Premier Practice Network is unique in that it incentives doctors to manage care, and it is coupled with Discovery’s wellness programme, Vitality, to encourage patients to reach particular health goals.

Through this project using the ACG System, improvements were also seen in process measures recorded within diabetes and healthy heart management. Other interesting findings included that the specialty of the doctor providing the majority of care is less important than the strength of the relationship between the patient and the provider in achieving successful care coordination. Patients with strong relationships with their primary care providers had better experiences, independent of their health plan options. These patients also experienced lower hospital admission or readmission rates.

“Recognition of our success in this vision to create a coordinated care system to improve quality and lower healthcare costs shows that South Africa’s private healthcare system is starting to align with international thinking around patient and cost management,” Broomberg said.

“Given Professor Starfield’s conviction of the importance of coordinated care as well as her input during the creation of the ACG System Coordination Markers, it is truly fitting that the work of this year’s Starfield Award winner focuses on these aspects,” said Karen Kinder PhD, MBA; Executive Director, ACG System.

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