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Network Optimization Starts With Knowing “Why”

Network Optimization Starts With Knowing “Why”

by Jeff Hayes, EVP and Co-founder, Koan Health

A patient’s use of a in-network or “preferred” group of providers can have a large impact on ACO performance. A preferred network can be based on quality and cost performance, ownership or another type of affiliation.  But regardless how the network is defined, tracking and managing the compliance with this network is an important component of any ACO.

Network optimization allows attributed physicians better line of site to spend and outcomes for the populations they are responsible. This enables the overall network to perform more effectively at cost containment (savings, utilization, etc) while improving the health of their populations.  

Such was the case with one of our ACO clients that has designated a set of acute care facilities with which they have preferred terms.  With Koan Health’s analytics, they track the usage of out-of-network facilities for patients seeking surgical care. They knew a number of patients were seeking surgical care and wanted to get a better understanding. In particular, they wanted to get at the root of why that was happening. Why are patients motivated to see care outside of their network for specific types of surgeries? Who is performing them? Who is the patient’s primary care provider?

They were able to pinpoint two large drivers of out-of-network use. The first is location. In some cases, there simply aren’t the right providers or facilities nearby, so patients opt for a location that is closer to home and more convenient. Second, attributed providers may drive patients out of the network through referrals.

So what can you do with this type of information? ACOs can optimize their networks and close leakage by having simple conversations based on data with the attributed providers and providing them with tools to address patterns of referrals and keep care within the network. Regarding location, it may be an issue of future planning to address access issues by providing services or facilities in areas that may be underserved by the network. These, of course, are the simple answers, but it gives you an idea of how to begin to address the issue.

Network management is just one example of how Koan Health analytics can provide actionable insights to help ACOs achieve financial transformation. Knowing where to start is half the battle.