Business challenge

As part of its journey toward population health management, Floyd health care system wanted to optimize the way it used the IBM Phytel® solution from Watson Health and take advantage of its analytical tools.


With help from a Watson Health CAA, Floyd expanded its IBM solutions and used the unique capabilities to progress toward a more robust population healthcare model.


Achieves Level 3 recognition

for a national quality assurance standard for primary care

Up to 41% increase

in the number of patients undergoing preventive cancer screenings

Average 6% improvement

in key diabetic process measures across 10 offices

Business challenge story

Transforming primary care

As part of its move toward population health management, Floyd wanted to obtain National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition. This program is a widely recognized model for transforming primary care practices in ways that mutually benefit patients and providers while improving patient outcomes. The process of becoming recognized is extremely rigorous and requires a strong commitment from caregivers and administrators alike.

To achieve PCMH recognition, organizations must demonstrate improvement in six process measures comprising three clinical measures, one resource use or care coordination measure, one patient or family experience measure, and one measure focused on vulnerable populations.

Floyd was already using IBM Phytel Outreach and IBM Phytel Remind offerings from the Watson Health Patient Engagement solution. Together, these products helped Floyd improve the way it communicated with its patients, automating reminder calls and improving patient engagement through tailored communications.

However, the Floyd team knew that the IBM Phytel portfolio could also play an important role in its journey toward PCMH recognition. For example, the Phytel solution is among the first technologies that the NCQA prevalidated for the 2014 PCMH criteria. For Floyd, that meant automatically claiming a total of 14 points across 15 factors simply by using the Phytel portfolio. Further, the Phytel portfolio’s support for patient summaries offered Floyd an ideal opportunity to begin using previsit planning as a way to fulfill the PCMH care coordination requirement while improving several key process measures.

Our mission was to show our primary care practices how IBM Watson Health could help them, and IBM made that very easy to do.

Jennifer Harveston, Population Health Data Analyst, Floyd health care system

Transformation story

Optimizing use

To help Floyd realize the solution’s full potential, the Watson Health team provided the organization with a dedicated resource, a CAA. As part of a large team of Watson Health support staff, the CAA began the engagement by meeting with the Floyd team for several hours each week to define the organization’s vision and develop a plan for making it a reality. Then the CAA visited Floyd’s offices and spent several days working with staff members to determine what they needed from the Watson Health Patient Engagement solution.

Together, the Floyd staff and the Watson Health CAA decided to expand Floyd’s Phytel portfolio and help bring the organization closer to PCMH recognition.

First, Floyd used its expanded Phytel solution to support and encourage the use of patient summaries for previsit planning. Introducing this new step to busy healthcare providers was a challenge for Kristy Hunt, Director of the Population Health Department, and her colleague Jennifer Harveston, Population Health Data Analyst. Hunt and Harveston began by working to increase buy-in, explaining to caregivers that running patient summaries wouldn’t necessarily increase their already heavy workloads. Says Harveston: “We were able to tell them, ‘We hear you, we understand, and this isn’t something you as a nurse or a medical assistant have to do.’ It was as simple as me granting access to office staff, giving them a brief training on the product and showing them how easy it was to batch print all of the reports on a daily basis.”

Floyd identified three preventive clinical measures as targets for improvement through the previsit planning initiative: breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening and colorectal screening. The team also identified 16 diabetic measures, including glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) tests at six months and one year, blood pressure control, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) testing and control. By focusing on these measures, Floyd hoped to improve patient health and make steady progress toward getting all of its offices PCMH recognition.

Once more offices began using patient summaries for previsit planning, Harveston says, the next step was to “go out and show the practices how IBM Watson Health was helping them, and IBM made that very easy to do. Within Coordinate and Insight, we can pull analytics very easily, and they’re easy to understand. I was able to run reports and analytics for these offices every day and show them how, over time, their numbers had changed and how they were helping their patients improve.” These visits helped build momentum throughout the Floyd network, reinforcing the value of previsit planning.

Results story

Improving patient care

Nine months after engaging with the Watson Health CAA, Floyd was pleased to find that previsit planning had become a habit at all of Floyd’s offices. As a result, the number of patients who underwent preventive screenings increased by as much as 41 percent in some offices, with an overall average improvement of 22 percent. Diabetes process measures were up an average of nearly 6 percent, with one office seeing an increase of 18.6 percent. These improvements, along with the IBM Phytel portfolio’s autocredit program, helped Floyd achieve Level 3 PCMH recognition in September 2016. Obtaining that recognition, says Hunt, “was very hard, very stressful and very, very rewarding.”

Overall, says Hunt, the engagement was a resounding success, and Floyd is happy with the capabilities that IBM provides. Hunt is careful to point out that the Watson Health CAA was an important part of the project’s success. “He helped us achieve our goals, got us where we needed to be and was always there for us. We felt like he was a true partner, and he was in it for the long haul.”

About Floyd health care system

Established in 1942 as a 70-bed medical facility in Rome, Georgia, Floyd now encompasses a 304-bed acute-care hospital and a regional referral center that covers more than 40 medical specialties, a behavioral health center, an outpatient surgery center, a physical therapy and rehabilitation center, and more. The organization employs approximately 3,000 people and serves more than 350,000 patients across six counties in northern Georgia and Alabama.

About Watson Health

For more than a century, IBM has been creating innovations that matter. And with Watson Health, we are committed to help build smarter health ecosystems. This means working with you to help you achieve simpler processes, better care insights, faster breakthroughs, and improved experiences for people around the world. Our core strengths combined — deep industry expertise in health, data and analytics, actionable insights, and our reputation for trust and security — can enable us to deliver support for our clients. Together with our clients and partners, IBM is putting smart to work. For more information, visit

Solution components

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