HHS Announces Health Care Innovation Awards

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced June 15, 81 new Health Care Innovation Awards recipients, bringing the total number of awards to 107 in the past two months. The awards will fund diverse projects in all 50 states, as well as in Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, for the purpose of delivering high-quality medical care, enhancing the health care workforce, and reducing costs. HHS will award up to $900 million for such projects over the next three years.

Awardees were chosen “for their innovative solutions to the health care challenges facing their communities and for their focus on creating a well-trained health care workforce that is equipped to meet the need for new jobs in the 21st century health system,” according to an HHS press release. A sample of projects to win the latest round of awards includes:

“Comprehensive community-based approach to reducing inappropriate imaging”

Geographic Reach: Michigan

Funding Amount: $8,366,178

Estimated 3-Year Savings: $33,237,555

Summary: This multifaceted intervention will establish a data-exchange system between primary care and imaging facilities to increase evidence-based decision-making among physicians ordering magnetic resonance images (MRIs) and computed tomography  (CT) in the lumbar-spine, cervical-spine, lower extremities, shoulder, head, chest, and abdomen. The goal is to reduce CT volume by 17.4 percent and MRI volume by 13.4 percent over three years, resulting in a 17 percent reduction in imaging costs without any loss in diagnostic accuracy or restrictions on the ordering of tests.

“Expand Atlantic General Hospital’s infrastructure to create a patient-centered medical home”

Geographic Reach: Maryland

Funding Amount: $1,097,512

Estimated 3-Year Savings: $3,522,000

Summary: Atlantic General Hospital Corporation is receiving a grant to improve care for Medicare beneficiaries with either a primary or admitting diagnosis of congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or diabetes who currently rely on high-cost emergency room (ER) visits and acute care admissions. The corporation plans to expand infrastructure and create a patient-centered medical home, increasing access for patients needing non-emergency episodic care and reducing hospital admission rates and ER visits.

“Care team integration of the home-based workforce”

Geographic Reach: California

Funding Amount: $11,831,445

Estimated 3-Year Savings: $24,957,836

Summary: This award has been granted to integrate personal care attendants into the health care system. This intervention will serve beneficiaries of California’s Medicaid personal care services program, the In-Home Support Services (IHSS). All beneficiaries are disabled and 85 percent are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. The program will train IHSS personal and home care attendants to assume key roles in the patient’s health, including health monitor, coach, communicator, navigator, and care aide. The goal is to reduce ER visits by 23 percent and hospital admissions from the ER by 23 percent over three years.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has contracted with an external organization to administer the award review process. For more information on the awards selection process, visit the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation website.

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