Direct Contracting with Employers for Health Care: Henry Ford Health System Shares Insights on Ground-breaking Program with General Motors

Council of Accountable Physician Practices Principles Undergird Historic Partnership

Washington, DC – November 14, 2019 – A panel discussion on lessons learned in direct contracting at the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchasers’ Annual Forum in Washington, D.C. provided insight into the “direct to employer” healthcare contract announced last year between Henry Ford Health System and General Motors.

Chelsea Pollet, director of Direct-to-Employer Relationships at Henry Ford, participated in the Nov. 12 panel discussion and spoke of how patient experience, quality of care and care management served as the foundation for the agreement.

Henry Ford is an active participant in the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP), a coalition of visionary medical groups and health systems that support integrated health care delivery.

“The CAPP pillars of care coordination, connected technology, evidence-based treatment decisions, physician leadership and pay-for-performance are the underpinnings of the Henry Ford-GM program,” noted Stephen Parodi, M.D., Chair of CAPP and Associate Executive Director of The Permanente Medical Group. “These principles are shared by the 30-plus members of CAPP, which together include more than 80,000 physicians. When these concepts are incorporated into health care delivery, quality goes up and costs are better managed.”  

“Our experience in other risk-based contracts, including Next Generation ACO and Medicare Advantage, was critical in preparing us to design a program that directly served the needs of GM salaried employees and their families,” Pollet said. “We approached the agreement as a slightly different way to do population health. We worked with GM to determine what was most important to them and their workforce. We knew from our experience with risk-based contracts that we could have success implementing value-based care.”  

Pollet said three areas emerged as being of significant value to GM and helped shape the program’s design:

  • Delivering a seamless customer experience. For GM members who chose the “ConnectedCare” plan option, Henry Ford created a dedicated concierge call center. 
  • Innovative and coordinated care management. The concept of customer experience went beyond the employee-facing services and encompassed the patient’s entire journey, including care navigation for episodes of illness and changes in health status. With a healthy, commercial population, Henry Ford created new ways to perform care management.
  • Expansive network. The Henry Ford Physician Network expanded to meet network adequacy requirements, ensuring that GM employees and their families eligible for “ConnectedCare” had access to care.

Pollet noted that the program was a first for both Henry Ford and GM, and required a high degree of collaboration, transparency and mutual learning. Having clear goals, an understanding of the population, and certain plan design elements in place were essential. She said collaborative teamwork was the key ingredient for success. 

Additional panelists included Bob McCollins, Managing Director, Employers’ Advanced Cooperative on Healthcare; Gary Rost, Executive Director, Savannah Business Group; and Peter Hayes, President and CEO, Healthcare Purchaser Alliance of Maine. 

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