Expert Forum: Greater Buffalo Region Selected for Innovative Primary Care Initiative

Dr. Tom FoelsBy: Thomas J. Foels, M.D., MMM, Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Independent Health

At Independent Health, we have long believed the vitality of the primary care physician is critical to transforming the way health care is delivered.  That’s why we’re very excited that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently selected the Greater Buffalo region to participate in its Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) Initiative, an advanced medical home model aimed at strengthening primary care to support improved care, better population health, and lower health costs.

Through our collaborative efforts with BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Independent Health was able to help secure this pilot program and continue the transformation of Western New York into a high-performing health care community.

The Greater Buffalo region is one of 4 regions selected for the second phase of CPC+, which will begin in January 2018 (14 other regions across the county were part of the initial phase). The goal of this five-year initiative is to help primary care practices in Erie and Niagara Counties transform the way they deliver care in order to:

  • Support patients with serious or chronic diseases achieve their health goals;
  • Give patients 24-hour access to care and health information;
  • Deliver preventive care;
  • Engage patients and their families in their own care;
  • Work together with hospitals and other clinicians, including specialists, to provide better coordinated care.

In addition, CPC+ aims to move the health care system away from the traditional “fee for service” payment model, in which physicians get paid for every patient visit, and instead pay them based on the number of Medicare patients they see and the quality of care they provide. The CPC+ payment model gives practices the additional financial resources and flexibility to make investments toward improving quality of care and reducing the number of unnecessary services their patients receive.Independent Health

CPC+ is a continuation of Independent Health’s long history of partnerships with primary care physicians that includes a patient-centered medical home model that grew into The Primary Connection, an alliance established by Independent Health and forward-thinking primary care physicians in 2012. The Primary Connection is composed of a group of nearly 200 high-performing primary care physicians, who are committed to improving the patient’s care experience, transforming their relationships with specialists to achieve closer coordination of care, and accomplishing better outcomes, all of which will lead to lower costs.

Independent Health looks forward to using our experience with The Primary Connection practices and other provider partners to further revitalize and grow primary care here in Western New York by participating in the CPC+ initiative.

Disclaimer: The above commentary entails the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.