By Jennifer J. Salopek
In an event yesterday in Los Angeles, representatives of the UCLA Institute for Innovation in Health highlighted regional health care ingenuity as they released the results of the first “innovation scan.” The event, “Los Angeles Innovates: Meeting New Demands for Access to Health Care,” showcased many of these solutions in an Innovation Gallery at Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Hospital.
“The goal of the scan was to find innovations that radically improve cost and access, but can also transfer and scale across diverse marketplaces,” says Molly Joel Coye, MD, MPH, chief innovation officer of UCLA Health System and director of the Institute. Researchers sought projects with documented evidence of meaningful savings (roughly 20 percent reduction in total cost per patient group) and improved patient access and/or clinical outcomes.
The initial group of projects ranges from a low-cost, in-home fall prevention program for frail seniors; to case management for chronically ill homeless patients; to telemonitoring support for patients with depression. They were sourced primarily through the LA Health Innovators Forum, convened by UCLA Health in 2013, which brings together hospitals, health systems, physician groups, and health plans to exchange information and collaborate on new solutions to expand health care access. Participants include the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, the Veterans Administration, Cedars-Sinai, the California Healthcare Foundation, and Partners for Health, among others.
“I wanted to know what other institutions were doing, and realized that the best way to learn was to convene a diverse group,” says Coye. The group focuses on population health management: “Access and affordability are the greatest challenges in Los Angeles County,” Coye says.
One of the projects included in the innovation scan is eConsult, a system in which primary care physicians can receive electronic consultation and advice from specialists. Funded by LA Care Health Plan, eConsult was developed by the LA County Department of Health Services. Paul Giboney, MD, is director of specialty care at LA DHS; he submitted the initiative and is an enthusiastic Innovators Forum participant.
“To my knowledge, the Forum is the first regional group convened around innovation in health care,” he says. “It offers us great cross-pollination of ideas and approaches as we seek to use our resources well to serve this massive, populous region.”
Interested parties from all corners of the health care system are invited to submit new innovations. Institute staff evaluate each initiative on the basis of inclusion criteria; for example, utilization savings must be achievable within three years of implementation; and innovations must have been implemented by at least two delivery system or health plan users. In addition, there are criteria for exclusion, such as declines in patient access or outcomes. Detailed write-ups for each program provide a description, problems addressed, and how it works, as well as thumbnail assessments of complexity, savings, access, patient experience, and outcomes.
“We are most interested in innovations that have demonstrated significant success but have not highly penetrated” the marketplace, says Coye, noting that DHS’s eConsult project demonstrated results in only 12 months, including reduced wait times by more than 50 percent in some specialties. Specialists were able to manage 35 percent of patients without face-to-face visits.
For more information or to submit an innovation, visit www.uclainnovates.org.