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Dallas-Area Employers And Local Providers Teaming Up With Mercer To Provide Advanced Health Care

Village Health Partners and HealthTexas Provider Network have collaborated with local consulting firm Mercer on behalf of employers to successfully launch a unique, high-quality primary care model catering to individuals with complex health conditions.

This advanced care program is called CareConnect. Unlike traditional patient-centered “medical homes” emerging throughout the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, this primary care model matches a very select group of high-performing physicians with chronically ill patients who require “salient caring” – intensive, tailored care.

CareConnect is being used by one national employer with large numbers of employees in Dallas and will be made available to other employers in the Dallas market. The initiative is based on successful programs piloted in other parts of the US, results of which were published by Mercer physician adviser Arnold Milstein, MD, in the policy journal Health Affairs’ blog ( http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2009/10/20/are-higher-value-care-models-replicable/#more-2518). First-year results were dramatic, with a 20% reduction in cost (net of plan expenses), 15% or greater improvements in physical and mental functioning, and a 45% reduction in absenteeism.

“The return on investment is remarkable considering that while studies of other, more traditional patient-centered medical homes have also shown gains in quality, savings results have been mixed,” said Mercer’s Eric Bassett, senior partner based in Dallas. “This advanced-care approach is extremely promising as a way to improve quality of care, health care status and costs.”

“What makes this model so effective is that it is driven by physicians and nurses chosen specifically for their ability to deliver better care and to work closely with patients to address their concerns in a highly caring manner. As a result, the care the patients receive through CareConnect from a select panel of primary care physicians is characterized by what has been called ‘salient caring’,” said Neil Smithline, MD, a Mercer physician consultant who has been instrumental in developing the program.

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