It’s an unfortunate and all-too-common reality for a number of high-risk individuals in Placer County to have repeated incidents of avoidable emergency department or hospital admissions or to bounce from one care provider to another – without each of those providers connecting to help them get well. It can cause frustration for patients and health care providers alike, not to mention its costly impacts.
But there is a promising new model of care emerging, and Placer County is among the leaders in the trend. The county has been selected by the California Department of Health Care Services to participate in a five-year project to implement the state’s Whole Person Care pilot program, which is designed to better coordinate physical health, behavioral health and social services for high users of multiple care systems who have poor health outcomes – and to increase their access to housing and supportive services.
“This pilot project aims to reduce costs and improve outcomes through greater collaboration between local hospitals, community partners and county agencies such as the criminal justice system,” said Placer County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Oldham. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to change the lives of some of our most vulnerable residents.”
On Oct. 25, the Placer County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the county’s application to DHCS to participate in the pilot program. The county was one of 14 counties invited by the state Oct. 24 to participate in the program. Through the program, the county will receive a match in federal dollars of up to $10 million over the course of the pilot. Implementation of the program is expected to begin in 2017.
The pilot program will connect Placer County resources such the Department of Health and Human Services, the criminal justice system and homeless service providers with area hospitals, clinics, health insurance plans, first responders and community-based organizations to help identify target populations and share information between systems. This will allow pilot program partners to coordinate care for individuals in real-time and evaluate individual and population progress resulting in the best treatment possible under one umbrella of care, all while reducing costs.
Additionally, the program will have a more intensive, holistic approach to targeting homelessness, establishing a dedicated multidisciplinary team to engage with individuals, and providing housing assistance and respite care, including a five-bed medical unit.
Expected outcomes of the WPC pilot program include:
- increasing integration among county agencies, health plans, providers and other entities that serve high-risk, high-using beneficiaries and developing an infrastructure that will ensure local collaboration among the entities participating in the WPC pilot over the long term;
- increasing coordination and appropriate access to care for the most vulnerable Medi-Cal beneficiaries;
- reducing inappropriate emergency department and inpatient use;
- improving data collection and sharing among local entities;
- achieving targeted quality and administrative improvement benchmarks;
- increasing access to housing and supportive services; and
- improving health outcomes for the WPC population.
Placer County’s Department of Health and Human Services will provide leadership, coordination and monitoring for this WPC pilot program. HHS includes behavioral health, public health, human services and the Public Housing Authority.