Feature | Implementing ACC’s Health Systems Strategy: The Role of MedAxiom

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Earlier this year, the ACC expanded its footprint by acquiring MedAxiom, a cardiovascular services and consulting firm. The decision was grounded in the need to help cardiovascular clinicians and care team members thrive in today's constantly evolving health care environment that increasingly involves an understanding of business, governance, leadership and other nonclinical competencies, in addition to the clinical aspects of cardiovascular medicine.

Cardiology Magazine ImageTim Attebery, DSc, MBA, FACHE

ACC CEO Tim Attebery, DSc, MBA, FACHE, summed it up best when he noted during the acquisition announcement that: "By welcoming MedAxiom into the ACC family, clinicians, practices, health systems and hospitals can take advantage of the strengths and expertise of both groups to optimize cardiovascular care and patient outcomes."

The new relationship also comes as the College continues to embark on the first year of its new Strategic Plan, which includes a focus on increasing the relevance of the ACC as the cardiovascular professional home, as well as advancing quality, equity and value of cardiovascular care. Executing a comprehensive health systems strategy is one of the key Strategic Imperatives, particularly for 2019.

Why MedAxiom?

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So, how does MedAxiom fit into a health systems strategy? Founded in 2001, MedAxiom is the nation's leading cardiovascular performance community focused on providing transformational expertise in consulting, networking and membership services, including data analytics, program excellence tools and educational events to improve business and patient care outcomes. Its mission: to advance the cardiovascular health care community by improving organizations and promoting patient centricity through thought-leadership, experiences and knowledge/data sharing.

The MedAxiom community is comprised of more than 400 U.S. cardiovascular care provider organizations in the private, academic and hospital-owned practice settings across more than 1,800 locations in 46 states.

Approximately 80 percent of its members are in integrated or academic models and about 20 percent are in private models. MedAxiom's membership represents about 6,800 physicians, 3,500 C-suite leaders, 700 cardiovascular coders and 460 coding managers.

MedAxiom also provides cardiovascular-specific consulting services to more than 360 clients. Consulting services range from care team development and contract negotiations to market analysis and strategic planning.

In addition to consulting, the company connects dozens of industry innovators with the nation's leading cardiovascular provider community and helps them effectively communicate with physicians, practices and hospitals to ensure a successful dyad relationship.

What's Next?

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ACC and MedAxiom members and clients will each see tangible benefits in the months and years ahead. Not only does the acquisition help better equip cardiovascular professionals to navigate increasing administrative burdens, it will also help increase engagement with hospitals and health systems that employ a growing number of ACC members, and open pathways to developing innovative products and services.

The recent announcement of a new president and management board are the among the latest steps in this effort (see sidebar). "MedAxiom, as a new ACC company, is committed to securing outstanding governance and leadership that will build on the company's strengths and propel it into the future," says Attebery.

"The recent president and board appointments reflect this commitment and will ensure MedAxiom continues to grow in its mission to advance the cardiovascular health care community and improve business and patient care outcomes."

Cardiology Magazine ImageAndrew Miller, MD, FACC

Additionally, MedAxiom's recent CV Transforum spring meeting in Amelia Island, FL, provided a glimpse of opportunities ahead. "If you have not been to a MedAxiom meeting, you are missing a rich community built around sharing best practices laid upon data to help you succeed in the nonclinical competencies," says Andrew Miller, MD, FACC, immediate past chair of the ACC's Board of Governors.

According to Miller, some of the meeting highlights included focused discussions on the nuts and bolts of practice operations, understanding hospital financial reporting and importance of succession planning; and breakout sessions on topics ranging from remote monitoring to understanding bundled payments (see sidebar for more details).

Whether its through meetings like the Spring and Fall CV Transforum, consulting services or webinars and other tools, MedAxiom offers powerful tools to help navigate today's cardiovascular environment. These activities complement the ACC's education and clinical tools and resources.

Most recently, the ACC and MedAxiom joined forces with Archway Health to offer a free Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Advanced Opportunity Assessment that would provide cardiovascular groups and health systems with an initial analysis of potential cost savings and areas for quality improvement and help prepare for the open window of BPCI Advanced Cohort 2, a program of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The BPCI Advanced Opportunity Assessment features provider- and peer-benchmarked clinical and financial data using multiple sources and analytical tools, powered jointly by Archway, MedAxiom and the ACC. The off-site, timely analysis offers providers a view of their performance relative to peers on metrics including annual volume by MS-DRG, skilled nursing facility payment percentage, patient case mix, 90-day readmission rate, average episode payment and outpatient ER rate, among other measures.

"MedAxiom and the ACC are excited to work with Archway Health in bringing together, for the first time, quality and payment data to help our respective members and clients prepare for and ultimately succeed in the transition from a volume to value-based environment," says Attebery.

"As payment reform continues to evolve, ensuring that cardiovascular practices are prepared from a data perspective is key to guiding efforts toward clinical and operational excellence. This is a great example of the ways we can work towards transforming cardiovascular care – together."

Learn more at ACC.org/MedAxiom or MedAxiom.com.

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Meet MedAxiom's New Leaders

Cardiology Magazine ImageGerald (Jerry) Blackwell, MD, MBA, FACC
Cardiology Magazine ImageCathleen Biga, MSN, RN, FACC

Gerald (Jerry) Blackwell, MD, MBA, FACC, takes the helm of MedAxiom this month as its first-ever physician president and chief medical officer. Blackwell, a noninvasive cardiologist with Ballad Health in Johnson City, TN, will work closely with ACC and MedAxiom CEO Tim Attebery, DSc, MBA, FACHE, to lead the company.

"I'm honored to be named president of MedAxiom and play this important role in helping members of the broader health care community achieve the Quadruple Aim of Health Care," says Blackwell. "With the help of our new board and our quality-focused members, I will strive to realize MedAxiom's mission of improving organizations and promoting patient centricity."

Blackwell graduated from Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in 1983 and completed a residency at The Ohio State University Medical Center. He brings more than 35 years of experience in cardiovascular medicine to his new role.

He has also been actively involved in both the ACC and MedAxiom, serving as chair of ACC's Health Affairs Committee, as past governor of ACC's Tennessee Chapter and as member of the Cardiology Advocacy Alliance board.

In addition to Blackwell, a new seven-member board, led by Chair Cathleen Biga, MSN, RN, FACC, has also been named. The board, made up of the following individuals, will report to ACC's Board of Trustees and serve terms of up to three years:

  • Cathleen Biga, MSN, RN, FACC, Chair (ACC Trustee), 2019-2020
  • Vance M. Chunn, DSc, Member, 2019-2020
  • John P. Erwin, III, MD, FACC, Member, 2019-2022
  • Edward T. A. Fry, MD, FACC, Member (ACC Trustee), 2019-2021
  • Ann E. Honeycutt, MSN, Member, 2019-2022
  • Geoffrey A. Rose, MD, FACC, Member, 2019-2022
  • Howard T. Walpole Jr., MD, MBA, FACC, Ex-Officio (ACC Treasurer), 2019-2021

"I am excited about the opportunities to work with the entire board, as well as MedAxiom staff and executive leadership, to execute a long-term strategy that leverages the combined strengths of MedAxiom and the ACC to meet the needs of cardiovascular clinicians, practices, hospitals and health systems now and into the future," says Biga.

Visit MedAxiom.com to learn more about MedAxiom's new leaders.

Key Takeaways from CV Transforum Spring '19

Andrew Miller, MD, FACC, immediate-past Board of Governors chair, offers these take-home "pearls" from MedAxiom's Spring CV Transforum in Amelia Island, FL. The three-day event brought together the MedAxiom community for a look at latest trends in the health care space and opportunities for discussions on topics ranging from the business of medicine, to leadership, to artificial intelligence (AI).

Succession planning is key, especially with 70 percent of cardiologists saying they will retire in the next 10 years. This is a workforce crisis!

Some best practices include setting up a governance structure within a practice; adding term limits and early career or "junior" board seats to build the bench; creating a diverse nominating committee; supporting hospital level leadership positions by physician leaders; incorporating vice-chairs who allow for training pathways and opportunities to learn from predecessors. At the end of the day, "own your future or be disrupted by it!"

Cardiology Magazine ImageJohn Rumsfeld, MD, PhD, FACC

Not unlike ACC members, top-of-mind issues for MedAxiom members include staffing and operation efficiencies; team-based care and how best to use the talents of advanced practice professionals; and recruitment and workforce issues.

ACC Chief Innovation Officer John Rumsfeld, MD, PhD, FACC, dazzled participants with a reality-based tour of 120 years of Moore's law that promised hope for AI to facilitate clinical decision making in imaging, algorithms, risk prediction and eventually diagnosis and treatment. He cautioned that we need AI to be designed for clinical workflow, to be evidence based first, and to align with payment models before we can implement it.

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Cost Savings, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S., Patient Readmission, Quality Improvement, Leadership, Outpatients, Negotiating, Information Dissemination, Medicare, Medicaid, Diagnosis-Related Groups, Physicians, Cohort Studies

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