IH Establishes New Company to Help Physicians Achieve Excellence

Independent Health Establishes New Company to Help Physicians Achieve Excellence as the Health Care Industry Quickly Moves to a Value-based Model of Care

James Walleshauser, senior vice president for health care operations at Independent Health, has been named president of Evolve Practice Partners

Williamsville, NY, June 22, 2017 – Independent Health today announced it has established Evolve Practice Partners, a new company that will help primary care physicians achieve excellence in care and best patient outcomes, while also remaining independent as the health care industry quickly transitions to a value-based model of care. James Walleshauser, currently senior vice president for health care operations at Independent Health, will serve as president of Evolve Practice Partners

“Evolve Practice Partners will accelerate our path on the fulfillment of our mission and strategy to align with high-performing practices, providing them with the tools and capabilities to accelerate their performance improvement in the new value-based environment,” said Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO, Independent Health.

“We have been on this path for 20 years working with physicians as partners to help revitalize and grow primary care, sharing information with them to define what excellence looks like. That kind of trust and that kind of experience really gives us an advantage starting this organization,” said Dr. Cropp.

In 2012, Independent Health helped establish The Primary Connection, a collaborative of more than 200 like-minded physicians from 33 practice groups to improve the way care is delivered, resulting in better coordination with specialists and other providers. And last month, Independent Health helped lead the collaborative efforts to secure the selection of the Greater Buffalo region to participate in Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Comprehensive Primary Care Plus initiative, an advanced medical home model aimed at strengthening primary care to support improved care, better population health and lower health costs.

Walleshauser said Evolve Practice Partners will support all 33 practices in the Primary Connection, to help them achieve what is now being called the “quadruple aim” of better health, better care, lower costs, and provider vitality.”

“Practices today are faced with many challenges that increase their administrative burden as health care moves to a more value-based payment structure. Providing physicians with data analytics for performance and population health management for their entire practice panel will help them to focus more on the clinical care needs of their patients and less on administrative functions and operations,” said Walleshauser.

Evolve Practice Partners will serve the total patient panel of The Primary Connection practices with assistance in managing multi-payer risk contracts; achievement of quality and cost of care metrics and performance tracking; guidance with process improvement; Electronic Medical Records (EMR) optimization; population health management and performance management data analytics; and administrative expense optimization.

The rapid shift to value-based care and reimbursement models is being driven in large part by the federal government as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seeks to tie 50 percent of Medicare payments to quality or value through alternative payment models by the end of 2018. The passage of the bipartisan Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) supports the ongoing transformation of health care delivery by furthering the development of the new Medicare payment and delivery models for physicians and other clinicians.

A recent Deloitte survey found 80 percent of all physicians surveyed expect MACRA to drive increased consolidation, forcing them to join larger organizations or networks. Half of those surveyed also said financial pressures are the number driver of consolidation.

“Many physician practices – other than large, mega-practices or accountable care organizations – will be challenged to comply with the data collection, infrastructure and reporting requirements associated with the move to value-based care,” said Dr. Cropp.

Walleshauser said the shift to value-based care is not an easy transition. “Critical to achieving success in this new world of provider reimbursement is the ability and willingness of providers and health plans to share claims, clinical data, insight on practice patterns and other metrics, including electronic health record information.”

  • Fuad Sheriff, M.D., FACP, Amherst Medical Associates credits Independent Health for establishing a relationship with physicians based on trust, transparency and insight between providers and health plans into what is best for the patient. “The leadership at Independent Health was visionary and proactive in talking with primary care physicians about the change that is occurring,” said Dr. Sheriff. “Transparency and trust are the foundation for moving forward.”

  • Colleen Mattimore M.D., FAAP, Western New York Pediatrics, said Independent Health is different from other health plans. “They really partner with physicians and by virtue of investing in this new company and bringing it to the physicians early and at the onset, they’re already acknowledging they want physicians at the table from the beginning. They listen to our input.”

  • “Evolve Practice Partners will help improve physician and staff satisfaction, and patient outcomes by enabling practices to focus more on the clinical care of their patient population and less on administrative function and operations,” said Dr. Cropp. “This will further help transform health care in Western New York.”

Evolve Practice Partners will operate as part of the Independent Health Corporation (IHC), a for-profit, wholly owned subsidiary of Independent Health. The other companies under IHC are Nova Healthcare Administrators, a third-party administrator of self-funded benefits, Pharmacy Benefit Dimensions, a pharmacy benefit manager, and RelianceRx, a specialty pharmacy manager and distributor.