Insight News

Feb 13th

NorthPoint event highlights ACA impact

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As part of the National Health Center Week, NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center, 1313 Penn Ave. N., hosted a Hennepin County Health Innovation Highlights event to discuss the improvements being made in public health care since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

stella whitney-west  rev2congressman keith ellisons official photoopat web 240jenniferdecubellisNorthPoint Health & Wellness Center is a multi-specialty medical, dental, mental health center and human service agency. The clinic administered through a partnership between Hennepin County and a Community Board of Directors comprising NorthPoint's patients and people who live and work in the community.

According to the center's mission, NorthPoint strives to improve the physical and socio-economic health of the North Minneapolis community through an integrated model of health and human services.

"Community clinics were set up to not only serve a medical need, but also to act as an economic engine in the community," said Stella Whitney-West, chief executive officer at NorthPoint. "Fifty-one percent of our board members are actually patients here and we're really proud of that."

Hennepin County provides health and human services to more than 200,000 residents through a cooperative network.

One innovative highlight is a new program called Hennepin Health, a partnership between the Metropolitan Health Plan, Hennepin County Medical Center, NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center, and Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health. The partnership is designed to better integrates health care and social services in order to reduce the barriers to care for adults who also deal with poverty, chronic illnesses and homelessness, often combined with mental and chemical health challenges.

The new program serves more than 8,800 adults who are not certified as disabled. Each member is matched with a team of coordinated care providers that assesses the member's needs, and works across disciplines to see that those needs are filled.

"We've found that for some complex patients, medical solutions need to be blended with social, behavioral and human services in order to be effective," said Hennepin County Board Chairman Mike Opat. "Locally, the approach has resulted in improved care at a lower long term cost. This is a model that should be replicated nationally. Hennepin Health patients are facing problems that are not unique to Hennepin County or Minnesota."

Hennepin County has also been exploring innovative funding structures and service integration that can roll cost savings back into making improvements in patient care, including vocational services to place members in jobs, providing interim housing for high-risk patients and increasing care coordination staff to serve more members inside the health care system as well as in the community.

Integration across systems also allows for better data sharing and helps to break down the barriers to better outcomes.

"I am a firm believer that there are enough dollars invested in health care," said Jennifer DeCubellis, Hennepin County assistant administrator for health. "What makes the biggest difference is how we leverage those dollars to ensure a continuum of services for members and that we are getting the outcomes we want to help our residents experience the best health possible."

These small changes have already had significant impacts on the overall health of Hennepin County residents. According to Hennepin Health, from 2012 to 2013 the use of expensive emergency room services has declined by more than 11 percent. Primary care engagement has increased and more members are receiving optimal care, services for diabetes, vascular conditions, and asthma. Hennepin County also found that members' satisfaction with the care they received improved from 85 percent to 88 percent.

"The most important aspect for me is that people in the system are feeling better about themselves," said Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-Minneapolis). "We need to build a constituency for health and wellness in the United States. Compassion doesn't have to be expensive; we can strive for the strategies that are cost-effective. I agree that there is plenty of money in the system, however, there isn't an efficient use of those dollars towards actually improving the overall health of the American people."

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