Pressured by Healthcare Reform? This Quickbase Builder Is Making It Easy to Adapt

Written By: Jessica Hawley
January 29, 2019
9 min read

Megan Albertson’s passion is all about improving the health and well-being of residents in Jackson, Michigan and beyond. See how she’s making a difference with data-driven systems and process improvement strategy powered by the Quickbase platform.

In 2011, Henry Ford Allegiance Health (HFAH) in Jackson, Michigan hired Megan into the role of Population Impact Project Manager. As a certified Six Sigma professional with a master’s degree in Public Health and proven analytical expertise, she was ideally positioned to help the hospital and its subsidiary, Jackson Health Network (JHN), drive industry-led healthcare reform.

HFAH is a 475-bed community hospital supported by over 400 local physicians and other health professionals. JHN was formed to help the institution and its affiliates get ahead of the curve on one of the biggest changes in healthcare reform: a transition from fee-for-service payments to value-based reimbursement.

As one of the first Clinically Integrated Networks (CINs) in the state, JHN’s objective is to demonstrate improved quality and efficiency year after year while engaging in joint contracting that aligns payment methods with an integrated system of care.

The Emergence of Accountable Care Organizations

What are Clinically Integrated Networks?

Clinically Integrated Networks (CINs) are new and rapidly expanding legal entities that are addressing healthcare reform’s shift in the way care is delivered and compensated.

CIN members include hospitals, physicians, and specialists committed to improving the patient care experience, population health, and efficiencies that reduce the cost of care.

The coordinated efforts of CINS—led by data-backed evidence of accessible, cost effective, quality care—are designed to create new funding methods that incentivize the development and implementation of clinical practice guidelines to improve care.

Unlocking potential with the right tech

Megan knew the way to help JHN accomplish its goals would be impossible with manual, hard to share spreadsheets. Off-the-shelf managed care software solutions weren’t an option either. Their rigidity made them incapable of the flexibility needed to format, track, and report on the membership data in ways that would facilitate successful CIN operations and improvement initiatives.

Then she learned about Quickbase through a colleague in another part of the Henry Ford Allegiance Health. He was using the no-code apps he built in the online database platform to manage and automate help desk tickets and workflow. A quick demo was all it took for her to recognize that she had found her solution.

“I immediately became obsessed with Quickbase,” explains Megan. “I report directly to the Executive Director of both the Jackson Health Network and the HFAH Prevention and Community Health department, and I realized very quickly that I could use this platform to bring information together in a meaningful way across every single realm in my work.

The clinically integrated network is also so emergent—it’s evolving every day and has real-life implications as to how our information system is laid out. That’s why it’s such a good use case for an easily modifiable platform like Quickbase.”

Quickly learning the ropes

Megan set out to learn everything she could about Quickbase capabilities over a holiday break in 2013, and soon she was building her own apps.

“I have worked with data my whole life, but I’m not interested in getting into countless hours of coding to develop tools,” she says, “That’s why I love Quickbase. It facilitates the most tedious components of the build, so I don’t have to write 1,000 lines of code just to set up a basic user interface for a database. Instead, I could focus my thoughts on how to architect a compelling operations optimization strategy. And once I had that design in my head, I was able to build really fast.”

“That’s why I love Quickbase. It facilitates the most tedious components of the build, so I don’t have to write 1,000 lines of code just to set up a basic user interface for a database.”

Turning great ideas into custom apps

Within the Henry Ford Allegiance Health Quickbase account, Megan developed, and now manages, six different Quickbase apps that help both the hospital, CIN (JHN) and community network of partners keep pace with healthcare reform as it continues to develop and change.

“Before Quickbase, there was no way for us to store the three-dimensional data we required about physician membership,” explains Megan. “We couldn’t calculate provider scores or track which providers we were getting paid where. We would literally be at audit with an independent auditor paying out a million dollars, and it would take us hours to find and pull the supplemental data he requested. Those were heady days filled with a lot of stress.”

CIN and physician support apps

Everything became seamless and transparent after Megan built her first CIN app with Quickbase, which manages the day to day operations of JHN. It not only features dynamic provider rosters and quarterly scorecards that encompass 60+ metrics for 400 members, but also tracks quality-based provider payments across multiple payor contracts to members in clinics and offices throughout the community.

Targets for preventative healthcare measures for different segments of the population (such as high-risk cardiac patients) can be quickly set up and adjusted based on evidence-based research and payer requirements. Information about physician performance is easily collected in the field by JHN staff using mobile devices and tracked and analyzed within the app to ensure care thresholds are met.

Having all that information at our fingertips has been the most profoundly impactful thing we have done in the CIN with Quickbase, by far,” says Megan.

“What JHN realized, is that part of the value of a high functioning, clinically integrated network is the ability to support and guide physicians’ efforts in this new pay-for-performance world.”

The data collected about physician performance also became the inspiration for Megan’s second Quickbase app called “Customers 2.0”. Focused on direct patient care delivery, it helps further strengthen the effectiveness of the CIN’s mission by enabling JHN’s Practice Transformation Specialists to act on data-driven insights to help identify patient populations due for preventive care. This not only supports community members in receiving the best quality care, but also secures maximum reimbursement for physician members.

“What JHN realized, is that part of the value of a high functioning, clinically integrated network is the ability to support and guide physicians’ efforts in this new value-based world,” explains Megan.

“JHN Practice Transformation Specialists round with providers and do what we call ‘work the gap’. This means they use physician performance data to proactively identify populations of attributed patients that have gaps in their recommended preventative care. For example, a Specialist might identify that 50% of a physician’s patients with diabetes have not yet received their annual testing. The Specialist would identify that gap in care for that population and work with the physician and their office to design at strategy to get those patients in for a visit. With our Customers 2.0 app, we now have instant access to dashboards and alerts that empower the JHN team to consistently deliver this high-quality service to our docs. This means our providers have data-driven support in identifying priority needs for their patients. And since the JHN contracts pay based on this type of quality care delivery, it’s good for business too.”

Another interesting thing these Quickbase apps help JHN achieve is detailed compliance.

“There are lots of regulations about how CIN can behave. It is essential that we maintain compliance in everything we do. Readily accessible, up-to-date records that provide proof of compliance with payers’ parameters and federal and state laws are the best strategy. And the regulations change, so our record keeping needs to be able to keep up,” says Megan.

A powerful app for improving community health

The third Quickbase app Megan built is one that supports the HFAH Prevention and Community Health department and its community-facing collaborative network. The primary goal of this network of 500 people across 200 organizations is to improve the systems of care that serve Jackson residents to create greater well-being. One of the ways HFAH supports the network is to host and administer the information management tools, all built in Quickbase.

“Our values are equity, authentic engagement, and continuous learning,” says Megan. “What we’re trying to do is better understand the community’s public health from the perspective of equity and health disparities, and work to reduce those inequities. To do that you have to create information systems that give people access to data and allow iterative feedback loops. Quickbase, as far as I know, is the only tool that enables you to really build a complex, adaptive system engine in a community.”

“When you find a tool like Quickbase—one that helps you meet a need you value for people that you care about—the work becomes very empowering and impactful.”

Advice for successfully navigating healthcare reform

These days, healthcare reform is a top of mind challenge for leadership in the healthcare industry. With existing fee-for-service payment rapidly being replaced by preventative, pay-for-performance models, the question of “Should we change?” is being replaced by “How do we adapt?”.

“This industry is constantly changing and evolving, and healthcare reform just adds fuel to the fire,” says Megan. “What’s important to understand is that as the payment structure changes, how the work comes together changes too. We have new departments popping up because of that. If, for example, there is increasing focus on care management as part of healthcare reform and reimbursement, then you need to have a care management department in place and an information system to support it. And you have to do it fast.

I think two of the things that make Jackson’s network, from the CIN to the community partners, so highly functioning is good leadership and Quickbase. The scale of systems change that is required by healthcare reform necessitates a tool that enables you to freely build, adjust, and modify in step with all the changes taking placing. And when you find a tool like Quickbase—one that helps you meet a need you value for people that you care about—the work becomes very empowering and impactful.”

The use of Quickbase has since expanded to support a regional “Super CIN”, an integrated network comprising seven other local clinically integrated networks, including JHN. The platform is helping to facilitate healthcare reform on a broader scale, and that in turn is helping these organizations get and keep more people healthy while using dollars more efficiently.

In addition to her work with Henry Ford Allegiance Health, Megan also owns Fetch Data, a Certified Quickbase Partner. She leads a team of talented developers to support clients with building and maintaining custom applications.

Written By: Jessica Hawley
Jessica Hawley is a marketing manager at Quickbase, focused on SEO, content and social media.