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Coordination to improve medical outcomes

Eric Lee Casillo
Access to Healthcare Network

Doctors, hospital administrators, county and state government, the banking industry, and other professionals in northern Nevada joined forces in 2007 to create Access to Healthcare Network (AHN), a non-profit working to make sure that low- to moderate-income Nevadans can get access to affordable healthcare.

The organization’s chief executive officer, Sherri Rice uses what she calls the “shared responsibility model” to unite our community’s citizens, medical providers, businesses and other groups so AHN can help uninsured and under-insured individuals achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Rice says that being part of a shared responsibility model means that everyone gives a little, and everyone benefits. AHN’s first program, its Medical Discount Program (MDP), follows this model. Participants pay a small, income-based monthly membership fee to get access to a network of 2,000 providers at discounted rates, and participating healthcare providers receive a timely, yet reduced, payment for treatment.

The MDP is the foundation of AHN, but it is also just one department within this fast growing non-profit that has a mission to provide access to healthcare through community-wide partnerships.

Health Savings Program

Another prime example of how AHN uses a shared responsibility model to improve health outcomes is through its Individual Development Account Health Savings Program, created with primary support from Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab Bank. A member of this program receives an AHN individual development health savings account that is eligible for up to $500 in matched funds that can be used only for healthcare costs. To be eligible for matched funds, members must deposit at least $25 per month into the account and attend a free financial literacy class taught by Wells Fargo and AHN. The program has served nearly 100 people who have saved approximately $80,000.

AHN’s Health Insurance Program

For those who choose to enroll in a health insurance plan through the government marketplace, AHN has a free full-service health insurance program. An individual can get help signing up for a plan in person or over the phone with one of AHN’s licensed health insurance brokers, and once enrolled, AHN provides members with free “personal healthcare coordination” to assist them every step of the way in using and getting the most out of their health insurance product.

“Care coordination is really what defines Access to Healthcare Network,” Rice says. “We pride ourselves on the trust and relationships we build with each of our members so they can feel comfortable and confident in achieving their health goals and staying healthy.”

Specialty Care Coordination

To AHN, having a personal healthcare coordinator means you have “a partner in managing your healthcare.” AHN’s care coordinators save individuals time and money when it comes to navigating the healthcare system, which in turn helps improve medical outcomes.

AHN’s specialty care coordination program is a partnership with Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center. With a goal of improving medical outcomes for high-risk patients, the hospital refers them to AHN for a hyper-focused form of care coordination. This program serves pregnant women as well as patients with chronic diseases like diabetes, COPD, CHF, and heart attacks.

“Care coordination is the future of healthcare,” Access to Healthcare Network Chief Operations Officer Trevor Rice said. “We’re at the forefront of this emerging healthcare service, and we have the data to prove that we are making a positive impact on health outcomes in our community.”

State of Nevada Programs Administered by AHN

Women’s Health Connection and the Nevada Colorectal Cancer Control Program

AHN’s care coordination services extend to the several state and federally awarded grant programs run by AHN. Its Women’s Health Connection (WHC) has coordinated thousands of free breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic tests to Nevada women since July 2001, and its Colorectal Cancer Control Program has provided thousands with free colon cancer screenings and colonoscopies.

These two programs alone potentially save hundreds of lives in our state yearly.

The State Health Insurance Program and Senior Medicare Patrol

Another program administered by AHN includes the Northern Nevada State Health Insurance Assistance Program and Senior Medicare Patrol, which provides help with using Medicare and helps prevent Medicare beneficiaries from being victims of fraud. The program boasts a large network of volunteers that work to serve northern Nevadans as they navigate the complex Medicare system.

The Aging and Disability Resource Center

Along the same lines, AHN’s Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) works to help seniors and/or disabled individuals get easy access to public and private long-term support and service programs. ADRC helps its clients sign up for Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP food program, energy bill assistance, caregiver support, and much more.

The ADRC also facilitates the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA). This allows AHN to help Nevadans apply for the “Medicare Savings Program”, which pays for Medicare Part B, and the “Extra Help” low-income subsidy, which helps pay for Medicare Part D. A Nevadan approved for both of these subsidies receives an average of $5,000 in savings per year.

AHN doesn’t stop there.

FREE Non-Emergency Transportation Services

This non-profit literally goes the extra mile by providing seniors, disabled and or low-income Washoe County residents with free non-emergency transportation services. AHN will take you to pick up a prescription, take you to your doctor’s appointment, or even grocery shopping and then drop you off back at your house.

HIV/AIDS Program (Ryan White Part B)

AHN also administers the Ryan White Part B Program, a statewide program that assists HIV/AIDS patients and their families with a variety of services. AHN is the Nevada program administrator and helps determine Ryan White Part B Program eligibility.

Sierra Pediatric Blood and Cancer Consortium

AHN led the charge in creating Sierra Pediatric Blood and Cancer Consortium to expand pediatric hematology oncology services for children and families in northern Nevada and the Eastern Sierras. AHN facilitated a first-of-its kind partnership with the creation of this consortium, uniting all the region’s major hospitals (Carson Tahoe Health, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, and Renown Health) and Washoe County for the first time.

“In our Shared Responsibility Model, everyone contributes something and no one group is unduly burdened,” Sherri Rice said. “The model continues to influence our actions as we evolve with the changing healthcare landscape.

As healthcare continues to change, we will change along with it to ensure that people throughout the state have access to the care they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.”

To learn more about AHN and how to find the right healthcare program for you and your family, please call CEO Sherri Rice at 775-284-9079.

Eric Lee Casillo has served as the marketing coordinator for Access to Healthcare Network for two years.