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Major grant to transform region’s clinical practices

Oct. 1, 2015, 10:20 AM

Vanderbilt University has received a contract from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for up to $28 million over four years to help more than 4,000 clinicians in the Southeast transform their clinical practices in ways that improve quality of patient care and hold down costs.

The contract, announced Tuesday, Sept. 29, by CMS, is part of the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, which aims to help 140,000 clinician practices across the country develop comprehensive quality improvement strategies.

The Vanderbilt contract supports a partnership between Vanderbilt, the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network (VHAN) and the Safety Net Consortium of Middle Tennessee.

Called the Mid-South Practice Transformation Network (PTN), it will support quality improvement efforts that include reducing unnecessary testing, emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and will save millions of dollars.

Russell Rothman, M.D., MPP

“Participating in this initiative is a tremendous opportunity to work with clinicians, health systems and the community to improve quality of care for patients, families and our local population,” said Russell Rothman, M.D., MPP, principal investigator of the Mid-South PTN and assistant vice chancellor for Population Health Research at Vanderbilt.

VHAN ( is a physician-led population health resource organization with the goal of improving the health of communities in Tennessee and beyond by sharing expertise, resources and an effective framework across clinicians, hospitals and health systems. Currently the network includes more than 3,400 physicians, 225 practices and 30 hospitals.

The Safety Net Consortium of Middle TN ( supports safety net hospitals, community health centers and about 250 clinicians serving 100,000 patients in medically underserved communities.

The Mid-South Practice Transformation Network (PTN) will provide clinicians who serve a diverse array of patients in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas with informatics tools, training and community/stakeholder engagement to provide the best possible care to their communities.

“This project will provide an outstanding opportunity for us to continue to improve the quality of health care based on evidence-based best practices,” said Robert Dittus, M.D., MPH, associate vice chancellor for Public Health and Health Care. “It will greatly contribute to our ability to help patients achieve their best possible health.”

Many of the informatics tools that will be rolled out through this contract were developed at Vanderbilt to enhance collection and management of clinical and patient reported data, provide clinical decision support and share best practices. Some use other approaches including rapid quality improvement cycles and clinic redesign.

The PTN will utilize the resources of the Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network, also based at Vanderbilt and supported by the independent Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core, a partnership between Vanderbilt and Meharry Medical College.

The program will focus on improving care for patients with diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure and asthma, as well as boosting prevention efforts by encouraging vaccination and cancer screenings.

A major goal is to reduce unnecessary testing or treatments by 5 percent and hospital readmissions by 20 percent by the fourth year.

The Mid-South PTN is one of 39 health care networks and supporting organizations selected to participate in the $685 million Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, according to the announcement by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

“Supporting doctors and other health care professionals change the way they work is critical to improving quality and spending our health care dollars more wisely,” Burwell said in a news release.

“These awards will give patients more of the information they need to make informed decisions about their care and give clinicians access to information and support to improve care coordination and quality outcomes,” she said.

The awards are part of a comprehensive strategy advanced by the Affordable Care Act that enables new levels of coordination, continuity and integration of care, while transitioning volume-driven systems to value-based, patient-centered, health care services.

For more about the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, visit:

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