In 2019, OneCare Vermont (OneCare) Accountable Care Organization (ACO) has awarded $1,065,181 in competitive grant funding, over two funding cycles, to providers in the ACO Network and their partners, with the goal of improving the quality, cost, and experience of healthcare for Vermonters.
In May 2019, OneCare released the request for proposals (RFP) for the second round of funding for the Innovation Fund. In July 2019, 36 proposals were submitted from across ten of Vermont’s 14 health service areas. The selections were made by OneCare’s Board of Managers’ Population Health Strategy Committee. This committee includes representatives from throughout the state and the full spectrum of care providers. In the first round of funding, three proposals were selected, and in the second round of funding five proposals have been awarded.
“2019 was the inaugural year for the Innovation Fund, and we have been impressed by the quality and breadth of proposals we have received from across the state,” said Sara Barry, OneCare Chief Operating Officer. “The selected projects represent the best ideas from providers for how to improve health for community members by working together in new and creative ways to solve old problems. We look forward to learning from their progress as they get underway and recognizing the outcomes they achieve.”
Selected projects include:
Submitted by Brattleboro Memorial Hospital (BMH), Wellness Plus is a program for patients at risk for developing cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. “We are thrilled that Brattleboro Memorial Hospital’s Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Department has received this Innovation Grant from OneCare Vermont,” said Burton Tepfer, MD, BMH’s Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Medical Director. “These funds will enable us to realize a long cherished dream of creating a Wellness Plus program at our hospital. Our expertise over the last 35 years with cardiac and pulmonary rehab programs for patients who have suffered acute cardiac and pulmonary events will now be applied to preventing the development of heart problems in high risk patients and helping them to avoid life threatening events like heart attacks. The Wellness Plus program will help patients become more fit, stronger, and better able to make healthy choices about diet, weight loss, smoking, exercise, and stress reduction, all things that contribute to the development of heart disease.”
TeleFriend: An Automated Tele-health Intervention:
The Brattleboro Retreat’s TeleFriend project will provide individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) a personalized tablet-based, tele-health intervention during their first 30 days post-discharge from inpatient psychiatric treatment. The goal of the TeleFriend Project is to reduce hospital readmissions and improve patient outcomes for people with SMI. Dr. Simha Ravven, Senior Medical Director, Brattleboro Retreat, said her team is “enormously excited by the opportunity to implement this innovative strategy to help patients succeed in the community and prevent re-hospitalization.” The TeleFriend tablet is a wireless, automated, handheld device, similar to an iPad, with touch screen navigation and a cellular connection. The device has been used for over a decade with people with chronic and unstable medical conditions and has been piloted for use in outpatient mental health care settings for people with SMI, but this will be the first application of TeleFriend to help patients transition from inpatient psychiatric care to the community.
Child Psychiatry Consultation Clinic:
Through this project, Community Health Centers of Burlington (CHCB) will conduct psychiatric evaluation and consultation for children and adolescents, and provide diagnostic evaluation and treatment recommendations to their primary care providers in order to promote optimal mental health outcomes and reduce child psychiatric waitlists throughout the state. “CHCB is very excited to be the recipient of this OneCare Vermont Innovation Fund grant for our Child Psychiatry Consultation Clinic. As our community grapples with how to add layers of child psychiatric services, it is heartening to know that our Accountable Care Organization shares in our mission to increase access to this underserved population,” says Dr. Harris Strokoff, CHCB’s Medical Director of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.
The Howard Center in Burlington and the University of Vermont Health Network Home Health and Hospice (UVMHN HHH) in Colchester are partnering to use technology to offer 24- hour remote monitoring with in-person professional support to individuals transitioning from hospital to home. TeleCare Connection (TCC) is an integration of Howard Center’s overnight Tele-support Solution and UVMHN HHH’s Tele-monitoring Program. “As a recipient of the Innovation Fund, we are proud to partner with UVMHN HHH to provide this innovative program to patients transitioning from hospital to home. Our aim is to provide exceptional care, prevent crises, and reduce hospital readmissions and healthcare costs,” says Cathie Buscaglia, Director of Innovation at the Howard Center.
Telemonitoring and Home Health Collaboration for ALS Patients:
The UVM Medical Center Neurology department in Burlington and UVM Health Network Home Health & Hospice in Colchester are partnering to provide home-based, patient-centered care to patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neuro-degenerative disease. The proposal uses a combination of telemedicine and in-home care by a visiting nurse to allow patients with ALS from across Vermont to receive care and connect with their specialists without the need to travel. Speaking on behalf of the project team, Dr. Waqar Waheed, Vice Chair of the UVMMC Neurology department, said, “Our goal of implementing telemedicine is to help eliminate some of the barriers that our ALS patients and their caregivers face; moreover, we also will be incorporating education and training for our local home health providers. Utilizing telemedicine in the patients’ homes will enable us to continue to provide high-quality care, and reduce the burden on the patient and caregiver to travel and attend clinic in person.”