Partnering to Strengthen Clinical Care Delivery

By: Paul H. Dworkin, MD and Donna L. O’Shea, MD

As leaders at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and UnitedHealthcare, we recognize the critical need to do more to ensure the optimal health and development of children than merely providing and paying for healthcare. We know we have a responsibility to do all we can to promote healthy development and are proud to partner together on that journey.

Three years ago, UnitedHealthcare provided a $1 million grant and other company resources to Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health (the Office.) At the time, the Office was just getting off the ground. The grant provided a tremendous opportunity for the Office to expand programs and initiatives to reach far more children and families.

The successes that have come from this partnership are numerous and we are highlighting them in a newly released report and video, both of which you can view here.

The grant allowed the Office to create a pilot program in Connecticut Children’s Emergency Department to locally address what has become a critical nationwide problem, which is the increased reliance on ED’s for mental health crisis intervention. The program provides enhanced care coordination services to ensure patients have established care plans; connect them to community-based support services upon release; and reduce future returns to the ED for chief mental health complaints. We are pleased that the program has already served more than 500 children. It is our hope the program will not only continue at Connecticut Children’s, but also be expanded to other ED’s around the country.

Other successes from our partnership include expanding the Practice Quality Improvement (PQI) and Co-Management programs, both of which are overseen by the Office. PQI provides training to primary care physicians to enhance the care and services that are provided to children. The program now has 24 data-driven projects, such as identifying children with autism and other developmental or behavioral concerns; and implementing best practices in managing asthma. Co-Management expands the capacity of primary care providers to address more than 30 high-volume, low-acuity conditions, such as headaches and obesity, rather than referring such cases for subspecialist care.

In the past, relationships between healthcare providers and payers were far from harmonious. We are thankful times have changed. The results of our partnership demonstrate the value of working together. We hope to serve as an example for other hospitals and insurers to follow. We have learned through our partnership that we can accomplish so much more together to improve the health of vulnerable populations than we ever could as individual organizations.

Paul H. Dworkin, MD is the executive vice president for community child health at Connecticut Children’s, the director of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health and the founding director of the Help Me Grow® National Center. Dr. Dworkin is also a professor of pediatrics at UConn School of Medicine.

Donna L. O’Shea, MD is the national senior medical director of population health management at UnitedHealthcare. Dr. O’Shea is also a member of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health’s Advisory Board.

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