Cigna shares data visually to aid provider improvement efforts

Cigna is using a new highly visual dynamic reporting program to work with Collaborative Accountable Care partners in delivering better care.

The analysis of data is intended to help the payer and providers work together to improve outcomes, reduce opioid prescriptions and target patients for preventive care.

According to Paul Van Dorpe, head of Cigna’s affordability solution team for information management and analytics, 50 percent of all Cigna’s payments are tied to an alternative payment model, so it is critical that the company look for ways to help guide its CAC partners.

Cigna began using Tableau software two years ago to create secure group-specific reports that are accessible via a multi-use Cigna web portal, Van Dorpe said on a March 12 webinar, hosted by Tableau. This new strategy enables CAC partners to drill into the data for actionable trends.

“We know that our collaborative arrangements are helping to control cost of care,” he said. The company’s engagement strategy plays a big part. Cigna surveys its providers and engages them with a high level of collaboration and consultation to manage population health.

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Van Dorpe said Cigna’s CAC saves the health plan 3 percent, with 88 percent of its members having access to a CAC. “Our CACs have improved compliance with these members by 5 percent in the couple years we have had Tableau available.”

Tableau’s software is extended beyond Cigna’s firewall to external physician group partners, enabling them to see in “creative visual ways” the areas where things are working, and where there is “room for opportunity,” Van Dorpe said.

Cigna has been a leader in the industry for medical cost trend reduction over the past five years, Van Dorpe contended. Van Dorpe attributes this success, in part, to the new visual analytics, which have also helped the plan tackle the opioid crisis.

In March 2018, Cigna announced a 25 percent reduction in prescription opioid use among its commercial customers, achieved in collaboration with more than 1.1 million prescribing clinicians. On June 21, Cigna announced a new goal to reduce opioid overdoses by 25 percent among its customers in targeted communities by year-end 2021.

JoAnn Bidwell, manager of informatics at Cigna, said over the last 10 years, Cigna has more than 550 collaborations in 32 states. The company continues to improve its CAC relationships and drive affordability with its analytics, she said.

According to Bidwell, Cigna used to use “rows and columns of numbers” to convey data to its CAC partners. “It’s a difficult thing to change the way you view data,” and Cigna did a slow transition to make sure the providers took hold of the new method. But it didn’t take long, because “nobody wants a thousand lines of data,” she said.

Cigna’s success with Tableau is leading the plan to expand to make value-based care arrangements with specialty groups, and the data will be organized to show episodes of care, such as knee and hip replacements. The program will show providers which facilities are providing savings, while improving outcomes, according to Van Dorpe.

“There’s a lot of money at stake,” he said, because, for example, outpatient knee surgeries are on average about half the cost of inpatient surgeries. In the past, the providers haven’t always known what to do to save in this area. Cigna is providing incentives and the guidance the doctors need through the Tableau dashboard.

Cigna also uses the platform to point out where to avoid complications and shows surgeons how they compare with other surgeons on complications statistics. The charts Cigna is able to provide on Tableau are not available on a providers’ electronic health record system, Van Dorpe said.

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