From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: A year of progress toward affordable, available healthcare that works

DHW’s Living Strategic Plan: A year of progress toward ensuring affordable, available healthcare that works

Each year, the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), along with all other State of Idaho agencies, submits a five-year Strategic Plan to the Division of Financial Management. Our Strategic Plan is our roadmap. We use it as a tool to define and share who we are as an agency, what our goals are, and how we plan to get there. We are currently in the process of making our final reflections on our 2021 – 2025 plan, as we work toward the publication of our 2022 – 2026 Strategic Plan in July.

Over the past year, we have worked hard to take our roadmap one step further in our mission of strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. We have reimagined our Strategic Plan as a “living” document – imagine, rather than the old days of a printed MapQuest page, we are now in the age of a GPS Google Map that follows our progress in real time and allows us to problem-solve and find new opportunities as we move forward on our journey.

The department’s leadership team has led this effort towards a living Strategic Plan by never letting the dust settle; we take our plan off the shelf each week to review our progress as a department, and we work as a team to set and achieve ambitious accountability targets throughout the year.

In this blog post, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight and celebrate some of the key achievements over the past year that have been accomplished as part of the first of our four strategic goals. Throughout June, I will continue this reflection with blog posts focusing on our second, third, and fourth strategic goals.

Making progress toward Strategic Goal 1: Ensure affordable, available healthcare that works

Objective 1.1: Slow the Growth Rate of Healthcare Costs in Idaho

  • The first of three tasks in this objective that we have completed was to identify the percent of payments made to healthcare providers in value-based arrangements. Value-based payment agreements reward providers for helping patients to receive appropriate health screenings, benefit from preventive healthcare, improve their health, reduce the impact of chronic diseases, and live overall healthier lives.
  • The second task was to develop a report to help advance telehealth in Idaho. The availability of telehealth greatly improves access to care for all Idahoans, and in particular, those in rural areas. This telehealth report has been especially timely, as widespread telehealth use unexpectedly became a reality during the pandemic.
  • The third task was to establish a healthcare directive registry system. Healthcare directives are documents such as a living will or power of attorney for healthcare, which will give instructions to caregivers so they can understand someone’s wishes in a situation when they can’t speak for themself due to injury or illness. In order for these to be accessed when they are needed, they need to be stored online in a healthcare directive registry system. Over the past year, the department took over this responsibility from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office. The department has successfully established a contract with a vendor to implement the system, and the work to implement the system is well under way.

Objective 1.2: Shift Medicaid spending payments to providers that deliver better health results and more efficient care

  • The first task in this objective was to initiate a statewide value-based payment program for hospitals and primary care providers. This involves teaming up with hospitals and primary healthcare providers in a groundbreaking new program that rewards providers when they provide high-quality and cost-effective healthcare. We are calling this new approach “Healthy Connections Value Care.” This work is underway, and we are now receiving and finalizing contracts with partners.
  • The second task in this objective was to implement a system to measure health quality for Idahoans eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid who are enrolled in a Medicaid managed care plan. This is an important population to focus on in our goal of delivering better health results, as these people often have serious health conditions – high rates of chronic and comorbid illness, long-term care needs, and socioeconomic risk factors that contribute to poor health. These people generally have four times the healthcare costs of the average Medicare recipient. We have developed three measures that will help us to improve quality, efficient care for this population.

Objective 1.3: Improve the children’s mental health system in Idaho by providing treatment and support to children, youth, and their families

  • The first task in this objective relates to the Idaho children’s mental health system. The task to develop a collaborative implementation plan is currently underway.
  • This objective includes a commitment to provide a full range of case management options to children with serious emotional disturbance that enable every family to successfully navigate the Idaho system of care for children with mental health needs, Work on this task is underway, and the new array of case/care management will be available under the new Idaho Behavioral Healthcare Plan contract when it is implemented.
  • The third task in this objective is to complete implementation of the Youth Empowerment Services implementation plan, which will result in a better system in Idaho for meeting the needs of children with serious emotional and behavioral health disorders. Work on this is underway, and completion is anticipated by Dec. 31, 2022.

As we reflect on the progress and completion of these tasks and objectives in the first of the department’s four strategic goals, I am filled with gratitude and admiration for the hard work put in every day by DHW staff, and by the countless partners who continue to help us along the way. As we prepare to move our focus toward the next five years, I am confident that we will continue to innovate and collaborate in our work together to serve Idahoans.

You can follow DHW’s work toward our mission, and read more about our Strategic Plan on our website.

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