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Northeast Georgia Health System to Participate in a $20.75 Million Health Care Innovation Challenge Grant

Published on July 16, 2012
July 16, 2012

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is participating in a $20.75 million Health Care Innovation Challenge grant for a multi-community partnership project involving VHA Inc., the national health care network; TransforMED, a not-for-profit subsidiary of the American Academy of Family Physicians; and, Phytel, Inc., a technology company that leads the field in automated, provider-led population health improvement solutions. The grant has been awarded by The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) and will fund the three-year project which will be spread among health care systems, hospitals and provider practices throughout 16 communities, including Northeast Georgia Health System.

The project deals with the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Concept. The PCMH concept is a promising model of healthcare delivery that aims to improve the overall quality and efficiency of care provided by primary care physicians.  The PCMH model focuses on better access to care, improved clinical outcomes – particularly for chronic conditions – and increased patient satisfaction.  NGHS' physician network, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group, is currently implementing the model in its physician practices and has received national recognition through the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for three of its current practices and was, in fact, only the third medical practice in the State of Georgia to achieve this recognition at the time of the initial award.

The goal of the project is to expand the concept of the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) to the Patient Centered Medical Neighborhood and connect acute care hospitals with primary care, specialty and subspecialty practices to drive better quality and superior patient experience at a more affordable cost.

The project, which will be led by TransforMED, will utilize Phytel's population health management solutions to automate care gap identification, patient outreach, care management, patient engagement, and performance evaluation. By involving specialists in the care teams that use these communication and coordination tools, applying TransforMED's expertise in building Patient Centered Medical Homes, and adding VHA's knowledge of quality management and ambulatory care strategies for hospitals, the joint initiative will boost clinical integration to a new level of effectiveness.

According to Peggy Naas, MD, MBA, VHA vice president for physician strategies, this collaborative approach to improving community health represents an important step in eliminating the historically solo approach to health care delivery. “Our project has the potential to be ground-breaking in a number of ways, not the least of which is moving the entire industry forward on population health management. Shifting the focus of health care to wellness, versus treating people once they are presented with illness or disease, can prove to be a powerful catalyst for reaching the triple aim of health care improvement outlined by CMS.”

The Health Care Innovation Challenge project encompasses participants in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma and West Virginia.  

“We are proud to be part of a multi-community, national analytics programs involving the Patient Centered Medical Home model we have been developing in our Northeast Georgia Physicians Group practices,” says Carol Burrell, NGHS President and CEO. “This opportunity will allow us to further enhance our work and gain best practice knowledge from the partnering healthcare organizations.”

In addition to this grant, NGHS is part of a second Health Care Innovation Challenge grant which uses a collaborative model to improve medical care in the North Georgia area. NGHS recently learned that a grant application they participated in with Emory University and other Atlanta area hospitals has been approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a separate $10.7 million Health Care Innovations Award. This grant, one of only 26 awarded nationwide, will fund a plan to build a collaborative network to support intensive care units in North Georgia. By combining specialty training for nurse practitioners and physician assistants with telemedicine intensive care services, the collaborative will improve critical care for patients in rural and underserved areas.

“We are very fortunate to be a part of two of the 107 Health Care Innovation Awards granted,” says Burrell. “I am told we are in a class of only a few across the country. This speaks highly of Northeast Georgia Health System’s reputation, our investment in information technology, and our ability to attract collaborative partnerships.”
About VHA Inc.
Based in Irving, Texas, VHA Inc. is a national network of not-for-profit health care organizations that work together to drive maximum savings in the supply chain arena, set new levels of clinical performance, and identify and implement best practices to improve operational efficiency and clinical outcomes. Since 1977, VHA has leveraged its expertise in analytics, contracting, consulting and networks to help members achieve their operational, clinical and financial objectives. In 2010, VHA delivered record savings and value of $1.7 billion to members. VHA serves more than 1,350 hospitals and more than 30,000 non-acute care providers nationwide, coordinating delivery of its programs and services through its 16 regional offices. VHA has been ranked as one of the best places to work in healthcare by Modern Healthcare since the publication introduced this list in 2008. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter (@VHAInc).
About TransforMED
The Leawood, Kan.-based TransforMED LLC is a non-profit, wholly-owned subsidiary of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Established in 2005, TransforMED provides ongoingconsultation and support to physicians looking to transform their practices to a new model of care that is based on the concept of a patient-centered medical home. TransforMED is an active member of primary care communities and recognizes and supports the unique value that primary care offers to patients and the health care system. TransforMED shares and supports the idealism and altruism of primary care physicians and the strong commitment to their communities and patients through continuing patient relationships and independent decision making. TransforMED offers practices both products and services, including consultation and advice on implementing the patient centered medical home model. To learn more about TransforMED, visit
About Phytel
The premier company empowering physician-led population health improvement, Phytel provides physicians with proven technology to deliver timely, coordinated care to their patients. Phytel's state-of-the-art registry, which now encompasses more than 20 million patients nationwide, uses evidence-based chronic and preventive care protocols to identify and notify patients due for service, while tracking compliance and measuring quality and financial results. For more information, please visit Follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.
About Northeast Georgia Health System

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is a not-for-profit community health system dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of the people of Northeast Georgia.  Through the services of a medical staff of more than 500 physiciansand more than 5,000 employees, the residents of Northeast Georgia enjoy access to the state's finest and most comprehensive medical services.  The Health System offers a full range of healthcare services through its fully accredited hospital in Gainesville, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, which was named one of the country's 100 Top Hospitals for 2009 by Thomson Reuters. Additional facilities in Hall County include:  three urgent care centersa mental health and substance abuse treatment centertwo outpatient imaging centerstwo long-term care centers; and outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy clinics. Facilities throughout northeast Georgia serve to extend NGHS' reach into the community, including:  Medical Plaza 1 in Braselton, a medical office building that houses numerous physician specialties, an urgent care center and outpatient services including imaging, lab and physical and occupational therapy; additional outpatient rehabilitation centers throughout Northeast Georgia offering physical, occupational and speech therapy; a satellite cancer treatment center; and in-home services such as hospice and Lifeline, a personal emergency response system.
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