What’s behind the move from retrospective to prospective risk adjustment?

Health plans across the country are recognizing the superior value of prospective risk adjustment programs, and rightfully so. These programs have impact at the point of care, as opposed to retrospective programs which are essentially chart reviews. Prospective risk adjustment programs permit timely, effective interventions. This includes presentation of suspected gaps in care and the opportunity to achieve thorough and accurate documentation, which supports coding to the highest degree of specificity.

Conversely, backward-looking retrospective risk adjustment programs limit effectiveness of code capture. A risk adjustment program consisting only of retrospective chart reviews is myopic and does not support the outcomes-driven, population health management focus inherent in most payment models today.

Which one is the optimal approach to risk adjustment? The answer: an effective mix of both. But most important is primary care physician (PCP) engagement. A winning risk adjustment strategy is heavily weighted towards prospective interventions but may need to include some retrospective elements to meet PCPs’ needs.

Prospective programs, while more operationally complex to deliver, are preferred because the ability to impact behavior at the point of care is powerful. It has significant cascading effects, including higher overall value, return on investment and reduced compliance risk. When coupled with PCP engagement, prospective risk adjustment can be the most effective method for obtaining comprehensive insight into the disease burden of a population. Prospective risk adjustment also enables forecasting the cost of care for your Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and commercial lines of business.

PCP engagement is the key to success across all risk adjustment strategies, especially prospective programs. PCP engagement improves care delivery and closes gaps in care by leveraging a proactive approach providing timely clinical and administrative support, education and performance management.

Ideally, health plans and physicians would collaborate to reduce costs and improve health, quality and outcomes. Additionally, members would self-advocate and proactively schedule preventive and wellness visits. Unfortunately, true engagement among all stakeholders in the healthcare continuum is rare and difficult to attain. Physician engagement requires timely, ongoing support. It is essential to augment practices with dedicated clinical resources who curate information to save the physician time by streamlining coding and surfacing gaps in care that require consideration during the encounter.

Furthermore, support staff who provide insights on performance and drive physician engagement are critical. Successful programs supply expertly trained people, easy-to-use technology, turnkey processes and aligned financial incentives to achieve and maintain physician engagement.

Lastly, member engagement is an important piece of the puzzle. Physicians are more likely to engage in programs that drive material clinical improvements for their patients, such as improved outcomes and quality of life.

Vatica Health is a compliance-first organization that enables a physician-centric approach to risk adjustment and clinical quality. We pair expert clinical teams with cutting-edge technology to work with physicians at the point of care. Vatica Health synthesizes EMR and health plan data to create the most comprehensive and complete view of each patient. We provide comprehensive PCP training as well as 100% clinical coding validation. All unsubstantiated codes are deleted prior to submission of the Vatica record to the health plan sponsor.

Our licensed registered nurses and administrative staff are dedicated to providing the best experience for PCPs and their office staff. Our attention to documentation and coding validation through Vatica’s quality improvement process improves accuracy and reduces compliance risk. Vatica’s clinical and administrative staff work closely with each practice to develop a custom workflow and process, achieving an ideal state that yields the best results with the least amount of effort for PCPs.

When health plans partner with Vatica Health, they ensure a comprehensive, collaborative and prospective risk adjustment program that’s a win-win for everyone, including patients. To learn more, visit vaticahealth.com.