lhcqf logo 2016

e-News | March 2015

e-News | Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum - March 2015

YouTube LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Hammond-Area Clinic Receives National Quality Recognition

North Oaks Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN) and its affiliate, North Oaks Rural Health Clinic, recently earned a national distinction for demonstrating a commitment to patient-focused care while working to improve clinical quality, becoming the first practices in the state to receive Patient-Centered Specialty Practice (PCSP) recognition through the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum.
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) awards PCSP recognition to specialty practices that successfully meet a set of point-based standards, elements and factors set forth by the committee. These include tracking and coordinating referrals, providing access and communication and measuring and improving performance. NCQA established guidelines for PCSP recognition in 2013. It stands as a counterpart to the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition, which is issued to primary care practices (PCPs) that meet similar requirements.
Lemar Marshall, Practice Administrator for North Oaks OB/GYN and former Quality Forum board member, served as a key supporter of the facility seeking the recognition.
“We think it’s awesome. Our team invested a lot of time and effort to make this happen. We could not have done it without the Quality Forum’s support; the partnership was outstanding. As the industry changes to more quality measures, we feel that we will be out front. Employers and insurance companies alike will at some point make NCQA certification a premium for selecting providers, so we wanted to position our practice for the future,” Marshall said.
Jody Talkington, PCMH Practice Transformation Consultant for the Quality Forum, worked with both clinics on submitting their facilities for consideration by NCQA. She called their accomplishment “the first step toward establishing patient-centered care throughout the state’s health care system.”
“Being able to work with North Oaks OB/GYN and North Oaks Rural Health in achieving PCSP recognition has been an enlightening experience. Their efforts to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with primary care practices on behalf of patients help set the standard for how we ultimately hope to close the gap between specialists and PCPs, driving improvements in care coordination,” Talkington said.
Marcia Blanchard, Vice President of Operations for the Quality Forum, said each facility’s achievement is a testament to “the dedication of their medical and office staff and to Jody’s expertise in the transformation process.”
“We are very pleased with their success,” Blanchard said. “They were fully committed to the process from start to finish and worked closely with Jody at every step. North Oaks OB/GYN and Rural Health’s PCSP status will be a benefit to them as well as to their patients.”
For more information about North Oaks OB/GYN, click here. To learn more about the Quality Forum’s PCMH initiative, click here.

Quality Forum Readies For HIMSS Conference

Several members of the Quality Forum staff will be among the more than 35,000 health information technology (IT) professionals expected to convene next month for the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference in Chicago.
Every spring, the event brings together professionals, executives and clinicians from across the globe to network and participate in educational sessions with industry leaders aimed toward improving care outcomes through the use of health IT.
The conference also hosts an exhibition, allowing companies to showcase the latest products and IT solutions developed to support advanced integration in the health care system.
Those attending from the Quality Forum include Nadine Robin, Health IT Program Director; Allen Abshire, Health IT Operations Director; Darren Cavalier, Program Manager; Michael Efferson, Implementation Services Manager; John Fielding, Analytics Project Manager; Jamie Martin, Marketing & Communications Manager and Phil Catalano.
Robin, who also serves as the president of the Louisiana chapter of HIMSS, says, “Each year this assembly provides a unique opportunity for us to engage in thought-provoking discussions on the challenges facing our industry while examining new approaches to solving them. We are excited about the trajectory of health IT and the innovative ways it is being incorporated into the health care delivery system. Our team strives to contribute to this effort through the work we do and looks forward to the joint sharing of experiences with our peers.”
Marcia Blanchard, VP of Operations, says, “The success of our work hinges on our ability to stay abreast of the ever-transforming landscape of the health IT industry and our ability to integrate those changes into our business structure.”
In recognition of the annual HIMSS conference, Blanchard recently penned a blog that delves into the challenges facing the nation’s health care system and how health IT may be the answer to lowering costs and achieving interoperability among care providers. Her commentary is the first in a series of health IT-themed blogs that will be featured on the Quality Forum’s website in the weeks leading up to the HIMSS conference. The series currently includes, “The Future of Patient Engagement,” by Robin, and “The Future of Big Data,” by John Fielding, Analytics Project Manager.
For more information on the 2015 HIMSS Annual Conference, click here.

End-Of-Life Care Takes Center Stage For National Healthcare Decisions Day

The Louisiana Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (LaPOST) Coalition will join hundreds of health care-related organizations across the country on April 16 in support of National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), a nationwide initiative to increase awareness about advance care planning.
“We seek to increase the number of Louisiana residents who have completed advance care planning by educating and empowering the public with information about the available resources,” says Susan Nelson, MD, LaPOST Coalition Chair.
LaPOST is conducting several promotional activities in recognition of NHDD. With the help of local ABC affiliate WBRZ, LaPOST will run two public service announcements leading up to April 16, encouraging people to discuss their end-of-life plans and treatment preferences with loved ones.
The Quality Forum website will feature a blog post later this month highlighting the importance of advance care planning. In addition, Dr. Nelson has filmed a special video message that includes a call to action for families to have end-of-life care conversations. She also details the advance care planning options available to Louisiana residents and where they can find additional information. LaPOST will send out a link to the video through its social media pages.
Other state agencies and organizations participating in NHDD include:
  • Amedisys Hospice Care (Baton Rouge)
  • Delta Healthcare Management
  • Hospice Associates
  • Hospice of Acadiana
  • Life Source Hospice
  • Louisiana-Mississippi Hospice & Palliative Care Organization
  • Our Lady of the Lake
  • Palliative Care Institute of Southeast Louisiana
  • Pointe Coupee General Hospital (New Roads)
  • Social Work Service, VA Medical Center
  • St. Elizabeth Hospital
  • St. Tammany Parish Hospital
LaPOST is also providing an article about advance care planning in Louisiana for state organizations to publish in their internal or external communications. All those interested should contact Cynthia Michael, Community Relations Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
LaPOST will also host an NHDD-themed Twitter chat next month. The session will consist of an open discussion on the importance of advance care planning. Susan Nelson, MD, LaPOST Coalition Chair, will serve as the featured guest and will answer participants’ questions and advise on the tools and resources available to patients and their families.
The LaPOST Twitter chat will be held Thursday, Apr. 16, at noon CST. Visit @LouisianaPOLST for updates and be sure to use #NHDDchat to follow the conversation.
To learn more about National Healthcare Decisions Day, visit For more information about LaPOST, click here.

CMS Extends Attestation Deadline for Medicare Eligible Professionals

Eligible professionals have been granted an additional three weeks to attest to Meaningful Use for the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program 2014 reporting year.
CMS extended the deadline to March 20 at 11:59 pm ET, allowing providers more time to submit their data.
The extension also allows eligible professionals, who have not already done so, to use their one program “switch” (from Medicare to Medicaid, or vice versa) for the 2014 payment year, until March 20.
Providers who successfully attest for the 2014 program year will receive an incentive payment and avoid the Medicare payment adjustment, which will be applied Jan. 1, 2016.

DHH Issues Report On Tackling Obesity, Diabetes

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has issued an annual report and action plan to address two major health crises plaguing state residents: obesity and diabetes.
The agency issues the report, which focuses on Medicaid recipients in the Bayou Health Plan, to the Senate and House committees on Health and Welfare in accordance with a state legislative requirement.
DHH refers to both obesity and diabetes as critical public health concerns in Louisiana, citing that in 2013, more than 37,500 Bayou Health recipients alone were diagnosed as obese. The report also found type 2 diabetes to be the most costly complication for those identified as obese, at a price of more than $9.4 million.
The agency has made several recommendations to support those dealing with obesity and diabetes and to improve health outcomes. One involves funding outpatient nutritional services provided by registered dieticians to help educate children and adults on making better eating choices.
DHH also supports the implementation of educational reforms to improve diabetes and obesity outcomes, such as enforcing the state’s physical activity law and funding school systems to teach basic nutrition to students in the classroom.
To read the full report, click here.

Quality Forum Team Member Set To Retire

A member of the Quality Forum’s Louisiana Health Information Exchange (LaHIE) team has announced her plans to retire at the end of March.
Tracy Finnegan has served as the HIE Project Coordinator for four years, where she has been responsible for the development and management of numerous health IT projects. Prior to joining the Quality Forum, she spent 11 years in the health care industry and worked as the head legal assistant for a Baton Rouge law firm.
Brian Richmond, Chief Technology Officer, has worked directly with Finnegan since she joined the LaHIE team and says her character, as well as her work ethic, will be greatly missed.
“For the past four years, Tracy has provided critical support to LaHIE, spending countless hours preparing contracts and annual plan updates. She has always approached her role with determination and has always had an encouraging word or smile for all,” says Richmond.
“Tracy has been such an asset to our organization by providing not only proficient work but by extending her warm and caring nature to everyone she encounters. Her contributions to the success of our HIE program are immeasurable. We appreciate her unwavering commitment to the Quality Forum and wish her the absolute best in this next phase of her life,” says Cindy Munn, Chief Executive Officer.
“Our organization is so fortunate to have benefitted from having an employee as competent, thorough and hard-working as Tracy. Her dedication to the success of our state’s health information exchange is evident in the high-quality work she performed throughout her tenure with us. We appreciate Tracy for her years of service,” adds Marcia Blanchard, Vice President of Operations.
When asked what she has enjoyed most during her time at the Quality Forum, Finnegan cites working with “a great team of people” as well as the “opportunity and challenge of our endeavor, and seeing the progress and accomplishments [the Quality Forum] has made.”
Finnegan says she has no plans on slowing down upon retiring and looks forward to this new chapter and the adventures it will bring.
Congratulations, Tracy!

  • The Advocate published an article March 9 about the launch of the Louisiana Health Information Exchange (LaHIE) Patient Portal. Read it here.
  • HIStalk Practice also published a link March 10 to the Patient Portal press release on the Quality Forum website. See it here. Other media outlets that published stories regarding the Patient Portal launch include BIZ magazine, the Healthcare Journal of Baton Rouge and the Healthcare Journal of New Orleans.
  • Cindy Munn, Quality Forum CEO, gave a presentation March 13 during the Network for Regional Health Improvement (NRHI) member webinar on sustainability in a competitive landscape. She provided insight and strategies on how to successfully increase one’s client base and methods used to develop a rich and diversified funding stream.
  • Brian Richmond, Chief Technology Officer of the Quality Forum, served as the featured speaker during a webinar with eHealth Initiative and sponsored byOrion Health March 5. It focused on ways to leverage health information exchanges (HIEs) to better manage population health.
  • Susan Nelson, MD, was a featured speaker at the Prism of Possibilities Summit for Post Acute/Integrated Care Leaders in New Orleans March 1-3 at the Loews New Orleans Hotel.
  • Lonnie Dufour, Director of Client Services for LaHIE and Project Coordinator for TexLa Telehealth Resource, hosted a seminar Feb. 26 in Baton Rouge to educate providers on incorporating telehealth into their clinical practices. Carson Scott from TexLa gave the Telehealth 101 presentation, Dr. Donald Hines provided an overview of LARHIX and Dufour gave a presentation on LaHIE. A mock telehealth consult was also conducted.
  • Bonny Kennedy, Lead Implementation Specialist with the Louisiana Health Information Technology (LHIT) Resource Center, will present Stage 2 Meaningful Use information at the CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital Office Managers luncheon in Alexandria on March 24.
  • Nadine Robin, Health IT Program Director, will present Stage 2 Meaningful Use information at the National Association of Rural Health Clinics Conference in San Antonio, Texas, on March 31.
  • Lisa Skemp, professor of nursing atOur Lady of the Lake College, was honored by the American Academy of Nursing for her leadership in health education, and by the Gerontological Society of America for her contributions to the field. Skemp is representing Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System in a partnership with the Quality Forum.

e-News aims to bring you a monthly summary of news about the Forum, its initiatives and related topics as we work together to shape health care in Louisiana. Your comments regarding current stories as well as ideas for future content are appreciated. Please address your feedback to Jill Washington at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..