The Detroit Medical Center (DMC) has been selected to receive an award of $9,966,608 as part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Health Care Innovation Awards program. The Principal Investigator and DMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Suzanne White is one of only 39 recipients of about 3,000 applicants across the United States. The award will enable the DMC to test an innovative primary care and preventative health model that reaches patients who use some of Detroit’s busiest emergency departments.
The project, entitled _Gateway to Health: An Innovative Model for Primary Care Expansion in Detroit, _will make patient-centered medical care immediately accessible to individuals without existing primary care physicians, arriving to four DMC emergency departments at DMC Harper University Hospital, DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital, DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital and DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan. By embedding primary care services in those areas of highest emergency department use, the DMC project intends to meet patients where they are already seeking care to develop meaningful doctor-patient relationships, improve care coordination and implement strategies to promote wellness. The ultimate goals are to deliver improved health care access, quality and efficiency for the surrounding community.
“As a Detroit emergency physician, I understand the challenges and barriers our patients face as they try to access high quality primarycare services. I see each day how the system could be improved. Patients lack access to after hours care, unscheduled visits, transportation, and most importantly, a welcoming environment where they feel comfortable and safe,” said Dr. White. “This award is an incredible opportunity for DMC to create a culture of patient partnership, where we start by listening to each patient’s story, try to understand their unique challenges and goals, and then match them with the best health care team.”
The focus will be on improving the care provided to patients with diabetes, asthma, hypertension, heart failure, chronic lung disease, depression and HIV. Emergency department “super-utilizers” who have 10 or more visits annually are another program target group. Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries will be the dominant populations.
A multidisciplinary team of caregivers will work closely with each patient to help them achieve wellness through prevention and self-management of their conditions. Face-to-face visits, telephone contact and texting will all be used to better connect patients to the care team. Patient coaches and navigators are essential to the model as well.
“As part of the DMC’s ongoing strategy to improve the way our communities receive health care, we launched our DMC Path to Health campaign this year with the passing of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion in Michigan to help our uninsured patients and community members get enrolled. We also were chosen in 2011 to participate in the innovative new Medicare-operated ‘Pioneer Accountable Care Organization Model’ aimed at transforming health care for older patients. We also know these are only part of the solution,” said DMC CEO Joe Mullany. “We are grateful for this opportunity CMS has provided, because the ability to introduce this new primary care model means the next step in our adaption to this changing health care environment and mission to improve the way care is received in Detroit and area communities we serve every day, where we know there is great need.”
Seventy-one percent, or more than 500,000 Detroit residents and those in the immediately surrounding area are medically underserved and the burden of chronic disease is high. Wayne County has the lowest ranking health outcomes in the state. Through its emergency departments, DMC is actively screening for HIV, diabetes and pre-diabetes among patients who are unaware of their condition, finding pre-diabetes in 43 percent of those tested. While the number of visits to hospitals by those with diabetes is higher in Detroit than in other areas of the country, primary care office visits are much lower. As a result, more than 3,000 diabetes-related hospitalizations occur annually in Detroit.
The Health Care Innovation Awards are funding grants to applicants who will implement the most compelling new ideas to deliver better health, improved care and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP, particularly those with the highest health care needs. “The Health Care Innovation Awards support our ongoing work to drive down health care costs while providing high quality care to CMS beneficiaries,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. “These awards advance innovative solutions in delivering and improving care from all across our nation.”
The awards range from $2 million to $23.8 million over three years and are made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Funding this year totaled about $360 million for 39 recipients spanning 27 states and the District of Columbia.
The DMC’s new embedded primary care model will be implemented starting September 1. Those interested in more information on services provided by the Detroit Medical Center may call 1-888-DMC-2500 or visit

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