Issue Briefs

Want to read more? Our issue briefs allow you to dig into the topics and hear the stories directly from the experts.

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Date Title Download
July, 2017

Telehealth has potential to bridge access gaps, but first it must overcome its own challenges

From sophisticated specialty consultations to simple texts, telehealth is beginning to transform community health. It holds particular promise for patients without ready access to health care. But before telehealth can fully achieve its potential, it must overcome an array of challenges. Adequate provider reimbursement and patient access to broadband are significant barriers.

Learn how local and national leaders are working to overcome those barriers in this issue brief, which features these experts:

  • Dale Alverson, MD, medical director, Center for Telehealth at the University of New Mexico;
  • Kim Fairley, care management supervisor, North Colorado Health Alliance; and
  • Janie Dunckley, former director of business development at Northwest Colorado Health.
April, 2017

Listen to those who don’t hear: Members of Colorado’s Deaf community demand equal and effective communication

You’re at a medical appointment, trying to explain your abdominal pain to the physician. She doesn’t understand you, and the more you try to communicate, the more impatient she becomes. You’ve asked for an interpreter, but your request was ignored. You’d probably want to walk out, right? But you are sick and need the care. So you suck it up.

That’s the situation many Deaf people face when they deal with the health care system. But that may be changing: In Colorado, members of the Deaf community are coming together to support and advocate for each other, and to educate providers. 
This issue brief features two members of Colorado's Deaf community; they explain the barriers to effective communication and offer insights into how practices can overcome those barriers. They are joined by a certified ASL interpreter.
  • Jana Glassmeyer, member, Larimer County Bridging Communication Group; advocate for Deaf community
  • Sandy Smith, member, Larimer County Bridging Communication Group; advocate for Deaf community
  • Jenny Miller, deaf services specialist with Disabled Resource Services; certified ASL interpreter
February, 2017

Prescription: Read -- By supporting early literacy, pediatric practices improve health and well-being of individuals and communities

The most effective way to improve a child’s reading ability is to improve access to the written word. But preschoolers from low-income families have far less access to age-appropriate books than do their more affluent peers. That’s why it’s essential to get books into the hands of parents and their children as soon as possible. Reach Out and Read Colorado does that, partnering with health care providers to give new books at pediatric checkups to children from 6 months to 5 years of age. It’s an evidence-based approach to improving community health and well-being.

This issue brief features two leaders explaining the value of early literacy and its impact on individual and community health and well-being:

V. Fan Tait, MD, FAAP, chief medical officer of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Meredith Hintze, executive director of Reach Out and Read Colorado

December, 2016

Issue brief: Being accountable means working upstream

Building and sustaining an accountable community involves addressing social determinants of health. Social and environmental factors are often at the root of illness; at the very least, they can have a profound impact on health. The question is how to address and mitigate the issues they create. What’s needed is a health system that has the will and the ability to identify, and then address, these issues. A health system that looks beyond the medical model, beyond symptoms and improves health where it begins: where we live, eat, work, learn and play--where we spend the majority of our lives.

This issue brief features two leaders calling for just such a system:

  • Mary Willy, DO, FAAP, of Western Colorado Pediatric Associates is an advocate and practitioner of trauma-informed care;
  • Rishi Manchanda, MD, is a practicing physician, an “upstreamist” and president of HealthBegins, which supports clinicians as they work to improve health--where it begins.
November, 2016

A Home for Patient Data: Data follows the patients in a new model of health information exchange

Would you like to take a look at your complete medical record? You probably can't. And, probably, neither can your provider. If you're like most people, you've probably moved from one community to another several times. Health events don't always happen close to home. When you get care in a new place, it's like Dorothy leaving Kansas. You might as well be in Oz. The doctor there won't have access to your Kansas records and, if you ever get back, your Kansas doctor won't have a record of the care you received in Oz.
The solution: Let the data follow the patient. That's the concept behind the Patient Centered Data Home™ (PCDH). The system enables providers to close the loop: They are automatically notified when one of their patients receives care outside their normal "home," and they can initiate a simple targeted query across state or other geopolitical lines to access real-time information.
This issue brief discusses the development and deployment of the PCDH, and explores how it could transform health care delivery.
Featured in this issue brief:
David Kendrick, MD, MPH, CEO of MyHealth Access Network
Marc Lassaux, Chief Technical Officer, Quality Health Network
Dick Thompson, Executive Director and CEO, Quality Health Network 
June, 2016

Connected, accountable and coordinated: Whole-person, whole-community care

In an accountable health community, access to high-quality health care is not sufficient; individuals need support with social determinants and other real-life factors that affect their health--across a connected community that has a stake in their well being.

An accountable health community fosters collaboration and cooperation across the community and connects existing resources for whole-person care. Building such a community can be difficult, but it can--and must--be done. That's the theme of the latest issue brief from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, Connected, accountable and coordinated: Whole-person, whole-community care.

Featured in this brief:
Kathryn Jantz, senior consultant with The Steadman Group and former Accountable Care Collaborative strategy lead at the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing

Kavita Patel, MD, fellow and managing director at the Brookings Institution; practicing primary care physician at Johns Hopkins Medicine; former director of policy at the White House; former senior advisor to Sen. Edward Kennedy 

December, 2015

Accountable and connected community: Dallas initiative builds networks around mental, physical and social needs

The research increasingly shows environmental and social factors are root causes of a host of health problems. "We have to network existing community resources around patients and clients in a new way," explains Patrick Gordon, associate vice president of Rocky Mountain Health Plans. That means connecting organizations that are often at the periphery of the health care system.

That's the goal of the Dallas Information Exchange Portal: to be a seamless, secure network for sharing relevant patient-approved data across medical and social service sectors in real time. It was built to connect all of the community's resources--hospitals, clinics, shelters, food aid, employment, recovery programs, etc.--around the patient.
In the brief, Ruben Amarasingham, MD, MBA, president and CEO of Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation, discusses how he and his colleagues came up with the solution and were able to bring so many entities on board.
July, 2015

No more data blocking: Why the proposed Meaningful Use rule has potential to improve outcomes and support patient engagement

Lack of interoperability hampers the potential of EHRs to enhance health care delivery and improve outcomes. What's needed? Data portability, patient access to data, health IT-supported care coordination and an end to data blocking. This new issue brief explores the dangers of data blocking and how the proposed Meaningful Use Stage 3 rule begins to address it.

Expert voices:

Patrick Gordon, MPA,  associate vice president, Rocky Mountain Health Plans

Kate Kiefert, Colorado Health Implementation Coordinator, State HIT Coordinator​

Jason Greer, CEO, Community Managed Care Network

David Kendrick, MD, MPH, CEO of MyHealth Access Network

Chloe Bailey, PA-C, family physician assistant, CCMCN’s current chief medical information officer


June, 2015

Ten lessons for the path forward: What fosters sustainable primary care transformation? What stands in the way?

Innovative approaches to comprehensive primary care have emerged in Colorado and around the country. But how do we know what works? What fosters sustainable primary care transformation? In this new issue brief from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, four thought leaders take on these questions:

  • Lisa Dulsky Watkins, MD, formerly with the Vermont Blueprint for Health, now leads the Milbank Memorial Fund-supported Multi-State Collaborative.
  • Patrick Gordon, associate vice president at Rocky Mountain Health Plans, serves on the State Innovations Model (SIM) Advisory Board in Colorado, and the Accountable Care Collaborative in Western Colorado, an initiative to transform Colorado Medicaid.
  • Lisa Letourneau, MD, is executive director of Maine Quality Counts.
  • Jenney Samuelson leads the Vermont Blueprint for Health’s Expansion and Quality Improvement Program.
April, 2015

Better health, better care: Colorado payers collaborate on data-integration and -access tool

Industry alignment in a competitive market can produce powerful results. In 2014, a group of Colorado payers, including Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Colorado Medicaid and Rocky Mountain Health Plans, convened to explore a data aggregation solution that would better meet the needs of payers, providers and patients. This year, they will release a jointly funded analytic tool for use by advanced primary care practices--a tool that could transform the way data is used, creating value across the Colorado health care market.

Expert voices:

  • Judy Zerzan, MD, MPH, chief medical officer and deputy director, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
  • Kelly Henry, MBA, network director, payment innovation programs at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Pam Curtis, deputy director of the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University
  • Patrick Gordon, associate vice, president,  Rocky Mountain Health Plans