Banner-University Health Plans CEO: 360-degree view of patient possible with new tool

In September, Banner-University Health Plans, the managed Medicaid organization of Phoenix-based Banner Health, debuted a care coordination platform to safely share data between physicians and behavioral health providers caring for some of the state's most vulnerable patients.

The platform, called the Banner Navigation Accelerator, is the product of 30 "think tank" sessions with Arizona's Medicaid community —  physicians, emergency medical service providers, law enforcement and members alike. During the sessions, clinical and justice system stakeholders requested more access to complete histories of members' physical, mental, medication and social determinant needs, while members asked for easier access to in-network providers.

Compelled by the insight, Banner-University Health Plans, which is Arizona's largest Medicaid provider, partnered with technology company HealthBI to try and create stakeholders' ideal solution. The web-based Banner Navigation Accelerator application uses HealthBI's technology to extract, aggregate and normalize data from sources like claims, Arizona's health information exchange and care plans to create a 360-degree view of the member.

"The core functionality of the tool is the development of the complete care plan," Kathleen Oestreich, vice president and CEO of Banner-University Health Plans, told Becker's. The complete care plan "is a physical and behavioral health collaborative care plan that will include patients' social determinants of health information, their physical health diagnoses, their behavioral health diagnoses" and more to help providers identify a member's needs — whether they're the first or fifth care professional to see the patient.

The accelerator operates separately from Banner's EHR. Ms. Oestreich told Becker's that Banner and HealthBI are working on the functionality to easily move data from the tool into providers' EHRs. Ms. Oestreich said for some behavioral health providers, the accelerator is a more comprehensive IT tool than they currently use for patients. Notably, providers can use the Banner Navigation Accelerator to manage referrals among in-network providers, ensuring patients aren't waiting months to see a provider only to find out he or she is out of network.

Ultimately, Ms. Oestreich hopes the Banner Navigation Accelerator will reduce unnecessary emergency department visits, readmissions, redundant services and overuse of services among managed Medicaid members. Banner-University Health Plans even hopes to "break the glass" for EMS, fire and police officials, so they can access information if they're called into a situation where a patient can't speak for his or herself. Instead of dropping the patient off at an ED or jail, the officials said a few data points can help them transport the patient to a more appropriate location, such as a behavioral health crisis center — saving the health system and taxpayers time and resources.

"It was important for us to remove arbitrary barriers. There's a lot of bureaucracy that exists in the payer world. We felt [with] the development of this tool, we have a line of sight on what is occurring with our members, and we don't have to have mounds of medical records faxed, scanned and transferred from provider to provider," Ms. Oestreich said.

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