Cindy Munn, MHA, CEO of the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum (LHCQF) addressed members of the Gonzales Rotary during its regular meeting held on January 20. With the advent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare, there have been tremendous impacts on the way in which healthcare is both provided and received.

Cindy Munn, MHA, CEO of the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum (LHCQF) addressed members of the Gonzales Rotary during its regular meeting held on January 20.  With the advent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare, there have been tremendous impacts on the way in which healthcare is both provided and received.  The Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum was formed prior to the PPACA after Hurricane Katrina.  According to Munn, Governor Kathleen Blanco saw the need for healthcare redesign in the wake of the hurricane during which patient care information was lost and treating patients from the affected areas proved to be a challenge.  This effort eventually resulted in the creation of the Forum. 

The Health Care Forum is a private, non-profit organization which works with healthcare providers, payors, and consumers.  “The aims of the healthcare forum is three-fold,” explained Munn.  “They are: to better health for populations, to better care for individuals, and to work toward cost containment.” 

One of the big challenges of improving healthcare for both individuals and for populations has been the lack of patient data.  So, for instance, if a patient happens to go to an emergency room for chest pain, he or she may be treated and told to follow-up with a cardiologist and his or her primary care physician.  In many cases, however, a patient having been treated and feeling better will choose not to follow-up.  If another episode occurs later and the patient visits a cardiologist or his or her primary care physician, neither of these physicians have any knowledge of the patient’s past history or treatment.  And, often when follow-up care is delayed, the patient’s condition is more severe, more difficult and more expensive to treat.

To address this issue the LHQF has created the Louisiana Health Information Exchange (LaHIE), a system which helps with sharing of patient information.  In addition, LHQF is helping healthcare providers across the state to establish electronic health records which are connected to the LaHIE.  “Electronic health records help reduce having to complete paper forms, provides for better tracking of medications, is more secure, and provides ready availability of records in an emergency,” said Munn.  “Coupled with connection to the data sharing provided by LaHIE, information from electronic health records has provided for the expansion of analytical capabilities which has been useful in improving treatment and in helping to contain healthcare costs,” she said.

Such benefits are particularly important to healthcare providers who are now operating under new payment models.  The PPACA has transitioned so-called “fee for service” to “pay for performance” in which providers are reimbursed based on patient outcomes.  “It is the intention of the forum to support providers move from fee for service to pay for performance through information technology and implementation of electronic health records, care management coordination, and performance reporting and improvement,” she said.