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Optum Care OptimalCare

Kenneth Cohen, MD, FACP, Chief Medical Officer, New West Physicians

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Through continual focus on the mission to enhance the physical, mental and spiritual health of patients by delivering primary care with a coordinated, patient-centered approach, New West Physicians has been a leader for 25 years improving the quality of patients’ lives.

New West Physicians is a physician-led enterprise engaging more than 130 physicians in 22 locations throughout the Denver metro area, whose vision is to “change the face of healthcare delivery.”

The highly-qualified group of board certified family practice and internal medicine physicians, hospitalists, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, psychiatrist, endocrinologist, neurologist, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are committed to providing excellent service to every patient, every time.

Over the past 22 years, practicing at New West Physicians has meant constantly evolving with the best medical evidence. 

Embedded in our care model is a monthly review of literature that updates our clinicians with the most current, evidence-based medicine (EBM) and then reinforces follow-through on that evidence.

Our culture puts its trust in the evidence, and within weeks of issuing the Bench to Bedside publication, now referred to as Optimal Care, our clinicians are implementing these best practices in patient care. 

Efficiency in implementation parallels the wider goal of efficient, high-quality, low-waste bedside care.

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Why does Optimal Care matter?

Put simply, our health care system is congested with prodigious amounts of waste. One-third of the care we deliver provides no improvement in survival or quality of life. 

Making up this one-third are things that are relatively inexpensive but we do a lot, like superfluous scans and unnecessary screenings, and also things that are very expensive, but we do infrequently: high-cost cancer treatment in cases of futility. 

Using EBM allows clinicians to cut waste and engage in effective and efficient medical practice.

Optimal Care reveals the value our patients receive from specific types of care, and allows us to provide the best quality with our (and their) resources. 

Much of our push to do better by patients is predicated on two basic truths that we have come to know through two decades of practicing EBM: 

  1. There is no relationship between cost of care and quality of care, and 
  2. More care does not equal better care. In fact, it is often the reverse.
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Components of Optimal Care

Optimal Care is a vetted system of EBM adoption intended to address challenges and smooth roadblocks to improved care delivery. 

The opportunity to reduce waste and enhance quality and value for patients across the Optum Care network will include the same components of the New West program:

  • A bi-monthly newsletter containing short, accessible articles describing landmark studies from large, placebo-controlled, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in major journals. Clinicians read these practice updates and incorporate new evidence into their practice.
  • Algorithms verifying EBM practice at the referral desk. If referrals are not compatible with EBM, they will be sent back to the clinician with education on request-related EBM.
  • Comprehensive organ-system-based modules. Continuing medical education credit will be given for all clinicians who want to brush up on EBM. Newly hired clinicians will complete modules as part of onboarding.
  • Clinical algorithms will be updated to incorporate best evidence into care pathways, available as a resource to clinicians.

Growing Optimal Care from New West to Optum Care

New West Physicians has developed a structure and culture that can readily assimilate new evidence in medicine from journal to exam room in a matter of weeks. It is integral to our system that we improve with the science.

The benefits reaped by our patient population are many, including significantly lower rates of hospital admission, acute bed days, skilled nursing facility length-of-stays, and 30-day readmission rates.* 

With a trusted methodology this program stands to benefit clinicians and patients throughout the Optum Care network. 

Supported by the science of EBM, employed by clinicians eager to improve the health and lives of those they care for, Optimal Care will push us to cut waste by choosing the most effective pathways in medicine, making our system more sustainable and improving the health and lives of our patients.

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*Cohen K. Bench to Bedside: Use of evidence-based medicine to optimize quality and efficiency. Optum Care B2B Delivery Keynote. https://wdrv.it/8f6328719/reel. Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.

This publication is informational and for educational purposes for practitioners only. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Optum Care. The views and opinions expressed may change without notice.