How the Cleveland Clinic has embraced value-based care

The Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit healthcare organization long known for clinical excellence in treating the "sickest of the sick," may face its biggest challenge yet as it delves into primary care delivery and chronic disease management to keep up with a rapidly changing healthcare landscape, the New York Times reported.  

The organization already has shown a capacity for internal transformation, FierceHealthcare has reported, as former Chief Experience Officer James Merlino noted in its effort that resulted in a dramatic rise in patient satisfaction scores. But the Cleveland Clinic must remake itself further to compete in an industry moving away from fee-for-service and hospital-based care, according to the Times.

One example of the organization's attempts to meet this challenge can be found in Cleveland, where it has replaced Huron Hospital with a family health center and plans to shutter another hospital that the clinic manages and the city owns. At the health center that replaced Huron, about 40 percent of the physicians' time is spent on primary care, and the facility also operates a walk-in clinic with expanded hours to fulfill patients' urgent-care needs.

On the financial side, the Cleveland Clinic has moved to avoid unnecessary lab tests and lower the costs of procedures by using fewer and more standard supplies, efforts that helped the organization cut its expenses by $500 million last year, according to the Times.

Meanwhile, the organization has expanded its footprint by joining a Medicare accountable care organization in December as well as pursuing strategic affiliations with organizations like the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New York, the Akron General Health System in Ohio and the Midwest Health Collaborative. Recently, the Cleveland Clinic also teamed up with the Department of Veterans Affairs to use veterans' electronic health records to provide better coordinated care, FierceHealthcare reported.

All of these changes mean the Cleveland Clinic should be prepared to handle the shift to value-based care models, CEO Toby Cosgrove, M.D., told the Times, a sentiment he echoed back in 2013 when he wrote that "after all, the providers who make the transition early will be rewarded with more satisfied patients, lower expenses and pride in a job well done."

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