Advancing patient care

Utica Park Clinic drives clinical and operational success with protocol-driven IBM Phytel communications
by Karen Boush
6-minute read
UPC building exterior

Utica Park Clinic (UPC), one of Oklahoma’s largest multispecialty physician groups, is embracing value-based care, which is designed to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs by delivering the right care at the right time.

Part of Hillcrest HealthCare System (HHS), UPC providers practice across the greater Tulsa metropolitan area and work with eight HHS hospitals. UPC’s growth and success requires careful orchestration of its patient engagement and population health strategies.

“Our clinical charges are to better prepare our practices for population health management so that we can better partner with our health plans and better align with our hospitals to provide quality care,” explains Dr. Jeffrey Galles, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and a practicing physician at UPC.

When HHS announced plans to adopt a new electronic health record (EHR) software suite, Dr. Galles became concerned that even the new EHR patient portal module couldn’t meet all of UPC’s needs. “Patients must enroll through the online portal, but many never take that step,” he explains. “It can take years to grow your EHR portal patient database.” Even if individuals do enroll, he adds, a large percentage don’t actively use the tool, and therefore won’t benefit from appointment reminders and other important communications.

No-show rates reduced

5% - 8%

through automated, persistent multimodal appointment reminders

Annual patient visits boosted

30%

enabled in part by greater productivity

Watson Health did all of the implementation with minimal assistance from us. Right off the bat, that was very important.
Dr. Jeffrey Galles
Chief Medical Officer, Utica Park Clinic

The EHR portal also couldn’t provide UPC with the robust capabilities required to successfully support traditional fee-for-service (FFS) models but also value-based and pay-for-performance plans such as Medicare Advantage. For example, providers need to quickly identify gaps in care and perform outreach for individuals with complex, chronic conditions that require consistent, frequent care. UPC also had to be able to accurately measure and report on the quality of care within and across patient populations.

Woman using her laptop at home
Clinic staff member sitting at the front desk using smart phone to access patient information
We see our value-based revenues continuing to grow every year, which supports our population health CARE strategies, helps our healthcare system financially and allows us to be a community leader in this arena.
Dr. Jeffrey Galles
Chief Medical Officer, Utica Park Clinic
EHR enhanced with intuitive Phytel tools
We see our value-based revenues continuing to grow every year, which supports our population health CARE strategies, helps our healthcare system financially and allows us to be a community leader in this arena.
Dr. Jeffrey Galles
Chief Medical Officer, Utica Park Clinic

Dr. Galles had already used IBM® Phytel® software as a service (SaaS) solutions from IBM Watson Health® with UPC’s previous EHR platform for several years. He understood firsthand the solutions’ role in fostering clinical and operational success. To make a winning business case to HHS executives for combining Epic EHR software with Phytel tools, he conducted a gap analysis that compared the EHR patient portal with Phytel functionality across several categories. The results revealed multiple areas in which the EHR’s capabilities failed to meet UPC’s needs — from patient registry setup to maintaining pharmacy scripts to ROI analysis and reporting.

Watson Health took the lead in rapidly and seamlessly integrating the Phytel solutions with UPC’s EHR system. “Our IT team was so taxed with the process of rolling out the EHR that they were not able to help Watson Health,” comments Dr. Galles. “Watson Health did all of the implementation with minimal assistance from us. Right off the bat, that was very important.”

During a transition period of six months, UPC maintained average no-show rates. Relying on UPC’s established Phytel patient database, clinics continued the existing process of sending appointment reminders to enrolled patients. Clinical staff could also quickly enroll new patients because the Phytel solution requires only an individual’s phone number for enrollment.

UPC clinics can now use Phytel tools within their EHR workflows to drive quality of care within and across patient populations. With the IBM Phytel Remind solution, they can automatically send customized voice, text and email appointment reminders and confirmations. “Our patients come to depend on these automated reminders. They know they’re going to get a call, and they can count on that call,” says Dr. Galles.

With the IBM Phytel Outreach solution, clinical staff can proactively identify patients who are due for care and then initiate automated, customizable notifications for follow-up visits, tests and procedures. Phytel Outreach can also continue sending information using a multimodal approach that remains activated until the patient responds. With automated solutions running in the background, staff can have more time to personally reach out to less engaged, higher-risk patient populations.

In addition, UPC takes advantage of more than 20 of the approximately 200 prebuilt, evidence-based protocols in the Phytel Outreach solution. With the protocols, which run continuously, the organization sets expectations for physicians, advanced practice providers and patients around recommended care, including frequency and type. These automated protocols prove especially important in addressing care gaps for individuals with diabetes, hypertension and other high-risk medical conditions. They also help ensure patients receive appropriate preventive care, including immunizations and colon cancer screenings.

With the comprehensive database and reporting capabilities of the Phytel Outreach solution, UPC can closely monitor and report on quality metrics, like those for the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative launched by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to strengthen primary care through better care coordination and other financial incentives.

UPC can also better track its quality metrics for Medicare Advantage plans. The Medicare STAR Rating System rates providers quality metrics in five categories, including preventive and wellness services and chronic condition management. Higher STAR ratings mean UPC receives more for services delivered to its 20,000 Medicare Advantage members.

“With Phytel tools, we can dial in our patient engagement strategies around the Medicare STAR metrics,” Dr. Galles explains. “We keep our providers and our patients engaged at a level that they’re hitting on all the different metrics that we’re challenged with reporting.”

Five-star results drive growth

UPC’s ongoing relationship with IBM Watson Health helped it achieve results in four key areas. First, UPC embraced innovative approaches to healthcare and became a more data-driven, quality-focused healthcare provider. The organization measures the benefits of using Phytel tools in multiple ways. Its practices maintain low no-show rates, ranging from 5% – 8%, depending on the specialty. In comparison, typical no-show rates in the US average 12% – 80% in various healthcare settingsExternal Link. These low rates also drive patient volumes for Fee for service (FFS) revenue streams.

Second, UPC can more easily build on its growth and leadership position. Since 2015, the organization boosted its annual patient visit volumes by approximately 30% and its number of practicing providers by 50%. With Phytel tools, UPC enhances productivity, quickly scales to accommodate patient registries for new practices, and saves costs associated with manually building and maintaining outreach protocols.

Third, UPC can attract new patients and improve patient outcomes and satisfaction with high quality metrics. For example, the organization has achieved pneumococcal vaccination rates of 80.1%, breast cancer screening rates of 74.5% and colon cancer screening rates of 73.1%. Among UPC patients with diabetes, blood glucose control rates, determined by A1C tests with a value of less than 9%, have reached 84%. In addition, because of UPC’s success, HHS has begun to use the Phytel software suite with its cardiology group — Oklahoma Heart Institute (OHI) — and in several outpatient radiology scheduling departments.

Finally, UPC consistently achieves four- and five-star ratings within the Medicare STAR system. It also scores high ratings for commercial pay-for-performance plans. “We see our value-based revenues continuing to grow by 30% – 40% annually over the past three to four years, which supports our population health strategies, helps our healthcare system financially and allows us to be a community leader in this arena,” says Dr. Galles.

Utica Park Clinic logo
About Utica Park Clinic

Based in the US in Tulsa, UPCExternal Link and Oklahoma Heart Institute (OHI) operate more than 70 clinics with approximately 370 primary and specialty care providers who deliver a comprehensive range of medical services to northeast Oklahoma residents though 650,000 annual patient visits. As part of Hillcrest HealthCare System (HHS), UPC also works with OHI and eight regional hospitals. Hillcrest’s parent company, Ardent Health Services, is a for-profit healthcare organization based in Nashville, Tennessee, with more than 30 hospitals nationwide.

About IBM Watson Health

Watson Health is a data, analytics, and technology partner for the health industry. Supported by the innovation of IBM and intelligence of Watson, we are committed to helping build smarter health ecosystems. Through the combination of our deep industry expertise in health, data and analytics, actionable insights, and reputation for security and trust, Watson Health is working together with its clients and partners to help them achieve simpler processes, better care insights, faster breakthroughs and improved experiences for people around the world. Learn more at ibm.com/watson-health.

Solution components
Utica Park Clinic logo
About Utica Park Clinic

Based in the US in Tulsa, UPCExternal Link and Oklahoma Heart Institute (OHI) operate more than 70 clinics with approximately 370 primary and specialty care providers who deliver a comprehensive range of medical services to northeast Oklahoma residents though 650,000 annual patient visits. As part of Hillcrest HealthCare System (HHS), UPC also works with OHI and eight regional hospitals. Hillcrest’s parent company, Ardent Health Services, is a for-profit healthcare organization based in Nashville, Tennessee, with more than 30 hospitals nationwide.

About IBM Watson Health

Watson Health is a data, analytics, and technology partner for the health industry. Supported by the innovation of IBM and intelligence of Watson, we are committed to helping build smarter health ecosystems. Through the combination of our deep industry expertise in health, data and analytics, actionable insights, and reputation for security and trust, Watson Health is working together with its clients and partners to help them achieve simpler processes, better care insights, faster breakthroughs and improved experiences for people around the world. Learn more at ibm.com/watson-health.

Solution components