Guest Blog Series: Part 1: How The Nine C’s Help Accountable Providers Engage Accountable Consumers

As consumers begin to accept accountability for their health, payers and providers have the opportunity to build trust and improve their experience and engagement. Equipped with new tools and information to compare costs and coordinate care, accountable physicians have financial incentives to deliver better quality care and lower costs. By redefining patient advocacy and equalizing the relationship between patients and care teams, providers can motivate healthy behaviors and earn consumer loyalty.

In a post on The Health Care Blog, I discussed how the Nine C’s help providers move from a volume- to a value-based model. Since then, our model has matured to guide accountable providers in enhancing the patient experience of care and engaging consumers in becoming more accountable for their health care.

In this blog, I’m focusing attention on the first three of the Nine C’s, and how they can help PCPs empower patient accountability. In two subsequent blogs, I will discuss the remaining C’s, and how they can be incorporated into population health management.

C1—First contact: Encourage and equip patients to reach you first about all things health-related. In order to make first contact a convenient reality, the PCP’s office staff should offer open-access scheduling, same-day appointments for urgent problems, and email and telephone care. It should be explained to patients that the practice is ready to assist by either providing care or coordinating more appropriate sources of care.

Dr. Sean McLaughlin, an accountable care internist, says, “I first explain to patients that I am going to be their primary care doctor and their main link to health care. The primary relationship will be me and you, working together to improve your health and restore it when you’re ill. I want you to have specialists who are accountable to both you and me in order for you to get good results.”

C2Comprehensive care: Create a “one-stop shopping” experience of care. A PCP’s staff should make appointments for half-hour visits so the PCP can take care of problems, as well as allow time for comprehensive health-risk assessments, prevention, minor procedures like joint injections and skin biopsies, health coaching, and self-management education.

C3Continuous, longitudinal, person-focused care: Honor patients’ preferences and values.During office visits, PCPs shouldinquire about and listen carefully to the expectations of patients and family members, and ask about financial preferences and whether patients want to minimize cost of care where feasible. Patients should be aware that the PCP wants to accommodate their needs and values, and the provider should describe how personalized care plans that address prevention, screening goals and advanced care planning are created.

The patient’s experience should be one that is welcome, inviting and collaborative, and it starts with the very first contact with the PCP’s office. The appointment should be long enough to address all of the patient’s needs and questions, and during the visit, the PCP and members of the care team should listen carefully to the patient and family members.

In subsequent blogs, I will discuss how providers can build trust with their patients, and incorporate tools and information into their care teams’ practices for more consumer engagement. It’s important to remember that the purpose of value-based contracts is to incentivize providers to increase their quality of care, at reduced cost, by engaging and collaborating with the patient. This is vital to the success of population health management and to achieving the Triple Aim Plus One: increased quality of care, at reduced cost, with increased patient plus physician satisfaction.