North Country Commission Prepares to Release Recommendations for Improving Health Systems In Adirondacks

ALBANY – (March 21, 2014) - The North Country Health Systems Redesign Commission has drafted a set of recommendations that promise to stabilize the delivery of health care in the northern region of New York State while improving population health.

The Commission will present the recommendations on March 31 as part of its report to State Health Commissioner, Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH.

Dr. Shah formed the Commission in December and charged the group with creatingan effective, integrated health care delivery system in communities throughout the nine-county region. The Commission held four public meetings that have led to these recommendations.

"The Commission was given a very challenging task, and in a short amount of time, have succeeded in compiling what promises to be a substantive and thorough report," Dr. Shah said. "They are to be commended for their hard work and due diligence. I look forward to reading the full report, including the recommendations, at the end of next week."

The recommendations were based on the State Health Innovation Plan (SHIP), New York State's roadmap for achieving the Triple Aim – improved patient care, better population health and reduced costs.

Among the recommendations in the final report:

  • Expansion of primary care using the Advanced Primary Care model proposed in the SHIP as well as the medical home pilot in the Eastern Adirondacks
  • Creation of Regional Health Improvement Collaboratives (RHICs) to promote regional leadership and population health-based approach to health system resource evaluation and development
  • Regulatory flexibility to facilitate Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) projects
  • Integration of behavioral health care services with primary care
  • Creation of a new funding category called Essential Community Health Networks, for essential health care facilities that are financially distressed as a result of their transformation activities
  • Expansion of assisted living facilities throughout the region
  • Development of programs and initiatives to build up the health care workforce throughout the region
  • Expansion of telehealth services throughout the region

Daniel Sisto, the chairman of the Commission, said the four-month process was an intensive one that involved multiple stakeholders from diverse backgrounds. The group held its third and final meeting on March 13 in Plattsburgh.

"I am very pleased with the recommendations that have emerged from this effort, and believe they will have a significant impact on improving health care in this challenging region of our state, both for providers and patients, as well as payors," Sisto said.

The North Country's health care delivery system is undergoing significant stress amid multiple health care reforms at both the state and federal levels. The problems are compounded by the region's aging population, growing rates of chronic disease and shortage of health care workers.

The report will outline possible ways to overcome these challenges and build a sustainable health care system in a region challenged by vast geography and small populations.