Medicare $9.7M innovation award to Intermountain sees $67M in medical care cost savings

Intermountain Healthcare awarded federal funds from Medicare Medicaid program for innovative healthcare, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 15, 2012 | Graphic by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced a $9.7 million contract with Intermountain Healthcare as part of its Health Care Innovation Awards initiative.

Intermountain’s release states that this funding will be used in part to create 12 new health information technology-related jobs in Utah and in part to further its work in transforming how healthcare is delivered to improve the quality of patient care while helping hold healthcare costs down.

Medical cost savings from the three-year project are estimated at more than $67 million.

Daron Cowley, spokesperson for Intermountain, said that the funding comes from the federal government, which will then realize savings to Medicare and Medicaid. “So they’re basically investing with plans to get the larger amount back,” Cowley said.

The program purposes to improve care with the idea of prevention, Cowley said, “care with the idea that we keep people out of the hospital.”

“Initially it will start out as a pilot program with just a few clinics in the Salt Lake area,” Cowley said, “and as we improve the process then we’ll roll it out statewide.” No date certain is set for when the program reaches Intermountain’s Southwest Region; when it does, it is expected to be implemented through the Intermountain clinics not through the hospital.

According to Intermountain, the effort will accelerate its nationally recognized work toward developing new care delivery models using information technology-based tools.

For one example, a computerized medical decision-support tool will help doctors and patients in an Intermountain clinical setting decide together what treatments and care decisions will be most effective, considering each patient’s medical history and health risks.

The software is rich in graphics, Cowley said.

For another example, Cowley said that if a patient is experiencing knee problems, the clinician can pull up graphics and educational material demonstrating various options for the patient; these might include knee replacement or using weights and physical therapy exercises to rehabilitate the knee rather than replacing it. The alternative option, if followed, could result in cost savings to Medicare or Medicaid.

Intermountain will further enhance its existing medical decision-support tools to include the risk of depression.

It will also develop new ways to deliver population-based data to primary care doctors to help patients with chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.

Results and processes developed through this initiative will be reported and shared with other U.S. healthcare systems in collaboration with CMS. While other contracts were issued throughout the U.S., this contract was awarded solely to Utah.

Intermountain Healthcare is a Utah-based system of nonprofit hospitals, clinics, and physicians. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in clinical quality improvement and in efficient healthcare delivery.  For more information, visit

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Email: jkuzmanic@stgnews.com

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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1 Comment

  • Marge June 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    This sounds like a great idea.. Instead of a visit with a Doctor, your care will be decided by a computer based on a ten page questionnaire givin to you at the receptionists desk by a teenager in surical scrubs called a Medical Assistant. All of your information will then be disseminated to the entire world including a clearing house for telemarketing in India. I could go on and on and really want to but most of you already get it. My experience and suggestion is to avoid IHC at all costs!

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