National Innovation Award Winner

A clinical practice improvement module developed at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) was one of five national winners in the inaugural Practice Innovation Challenge sponsored by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

The UTHSC “SafeMed” module, which is designed to encourage safe and effective medication use in an outpatient setting, may be used in clinics around the country in the future through the AMA’s STEPS Forward initiative, an online resource of educational modules to help physicians operate their practices more efficiently and economically while providing better care to patients.

Jim Bailey, MD, MPH, professor of Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine, and director of the Center for Health System Improvement at UTHSC, and Bonnie Binkley, MA, research manager for the center, authored the practice improvement module officially called “SafeMed: Building a Medical Home-based Care Transition Team.” It offers a step-by-step tool kit to help physicians extend primary care from hospital to home, reduce drug therapy problems, and prevent hospital readmissions.

Dr. Bailey said the module is based on “Project SafeMed,” a recently completed medication management project funded by a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Health Care Innovation Award, and tested locally by a team from UTHSC and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

In the CMS-funded project, a SafeMed team, consisting of a nurse practitioner, a pharmacist, a licensed practical nurse and a pharmacy technician, meet in the hospital with patients who are admitted multiple times over a period of a few months, Dr. Bailey said. The team gets to know the patient, and follows up in the home with visits and phone calls to ensure the patient makes it to clinic appointments, gets the medicines needed most on discharge, and understands how to take them properly.

“What we found is that the majority of this group of patients, who go in and out of the hospital again and again, don’t take their medications correctly when they get home, and they don’t get the rapid primary care follow-up they need,” Dr. Bailey said. “The SafeMed team is charged with helping sort out medications and keeping the patient on track with the plan.”

He said that preliminary UTHSC analysis of the results of the CMS-funded project indicate that “high-touch, personalized care for the sickest people” not only reduces readmissions, it improves care for patients and reduces costs dramatically.

Dr. Bailey said the practice module recognized by the AMA and MGMA outlines how to implement the “Project SafeMed” practices in a clinic or in a network of clinics. “We adapted the program to implement in the outpatient setting,” he said. “And I think one of the things I’m most proud of with the module is we showed how any clinic serving a medically and socially complex patient population could implement this model at very low cost, but with potential for huge savings for both patients and the health care system.”

The module was recognized at the recent 2015 MGMA annual meeting as one of five high-value, easy-to-adopt solutions to address practice challenges in today’s health care environment.

Sponsors of each of the five top medical solutions earned $10,000 and the opportunity to format their module to be offered nationwide through the AMA’s STEPS Forward platform.

Along with Dr. Bailey, Ilana Graetz, PhD, of the Department of Preventive Medicine at UTHSC, attended the MGMA meeting to represent the SafeMed team in accepting the award.

As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. Offering a broad range of postgraduate and selected baccalaureate training opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains cohorts of medicine, pharmacy and/or health professions students — in addition to medical residents and fellows — at its major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. Founded in 1911, during its more than 100 years, UT Health Science Center has educated and trained more than 57,000 health care professionals in academic settings and health care facilities across the state. For more information, visit Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

UTHSC’s Dr. Jim Bailey, right, accepts the award for his “SafeMed” practice improvement module at the recent 2015 Medical Group Management Association annual meeting.

This publication was made possible by Grant Number 1C1CMS331067-01-00 from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies.