BOWDITCH PRIZE WINNERS: From left, Weil, Ferris and Meyer
Navigating the complicated maze of patient care can be difficult for both patients and caregivers. Add to that equation a patient with multiple health problems and the maze becomes even more complicated.
On Sept. 24, Gregg Meyer, MD, senior vice president for the MGH/MGPO Center for Quality and Safety; Tim Ferris, MD, MPH, medical director of the MGPO; and Eric Weil, MD, associate chief for Clinical Affairs for the MGH General Medicine Unit and MGPO associate medical director for Primary Care, received the 2010 Nathaniel Bowditch Prize for their collaborative work helping patients navigate this difficult path with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Demonstration Project. The program improved the coordination of care for more than 4,000 of the MGHÕs sickest and most costly Medicare patients.
Meyer said that when he began as medical director of the MGPO, there were many excellent programs available to help patients better manage their diabetes or high blood pressure, but there was no program in place that helped patients with a multitude of medical issues. The CMS Demonstration Project was the answer that he, as a primary care provider, was looking for.
Working with MGH Case Management, Social Services, Information Systems, Psychiatry and other departments throughout the hospital, members of the CMS Demonstration Project were better able to anticipate and provide for the needs of these patients. "This program not only changed the way we deliver care here at the MGH, but it also created a national model," Meyer said.
Weil said his patients have noted the difference that coordinated care makes for them. "Several months ago, a patient actually told me that [the case manager] makes me a better doctor. Across the entire program we have a wonderful group of case managers and social workers who really raise the bar on the care we can provide."
Ferris, who presented the results of the project at the White House on Sept. 30, shared information that the team had just received about the financial benefits of the CMS Demonstration Project. By better coordinating care for the 4,000 patients, the MGH project cut Medicare costs by as much as 12 percent.
The Bowditch Prize has been given annually since 2000 to a person or persons who has or have completed significant work improving patient care while reducing costs, said Andrew Warshaw, MD, surgeon-in-chief, chair of the Department of Surgery and chair of the Bowditch Prize Committee. Those considered for the award are nominated by their peers, with the top idea earning a $5,000 cash prize. This year's recipients agreed that the cash award would be donated to the care managers who have made the program a success.
MGH President Peter L. Slavin, MD, nominated the CMS Demonstration Project team for this year's award. He praised the program for addressing one of society's greatest issues: the cost of health care. "By better integrating and coordinating care, we can make care better and more efficient," Slavin said. "I'm proud that this hospital has defined a path that others can follow."