PCMS Plays Leadership Role in Military/Civilian Health Forum

Bruce Ehrle makes introductory remarks and introduces Col. Place

The South Sound Military and Communities Partnership conducted the Inaugural Military and Civilian Health Care Provider Forum in Lakewood on October 26, 2016.  PCMS played a leading role in the forum that was filled to capacity with Executive Director Bruce Ehrle serving as master of ceremonies and moderating the event.  He was also heavily involved with the planning of the forum as Vice Chair of the Partnership’s Health Care Working Group.  President Brian Mulhall, MD, offered two presentations as part of the program including speaking about his experiences as a Madigan physician earlier in his career, caring for military personnel and their dependents now as a civilian physician, how Pierce County is an ideal place to seek collaboration between the military and civilian provider communities, and some of the challenges faced by military personnel and veterans when seeking care from civilian providers such as the rates of reimbursement and lack of capacity. 

The purpose of the unique forum was to bring together leaders in the military and civilian health care provider communities in Pierce County to learn from each other and to develop a collaborative action plan. 

Colonel Michael Place, MD, Commanding Officer of Madigan Army Medical Center, welcomed attendees to the forum stressing the importance of the mission of looking after our troops given how much they look out for us.  Bruce Ehrle backed that message up with his own opening comments where he stated that with as much as our service members are willing to sacrifice for us, we owe active duty troops, their dependents, and veterans our best efforts to provide for their health care even if that means making some level of sacrifice ourselves.  In order to illustrate the point on a personal level, he read from an e-mail that a 19 year old Army Specialist had written to his parents just days before he was killed in action that was filled with noble sentiments of service and sacrifice.  In the photo at right, Bruce Ehrle makes his opening remarks and introduces Colonel Place. 

Attendees at the forum received presentations from representatives of the various payers that insure active duty personnel and veterans including United Healthcare and TriWest who outlined the types of benefits that permit that patient population to see civilian providers for care. 

Colonel Jay Erickson, MD, Deputy Commander for Medical Services at Madigan, provided an update about the full range of care offered at the medical center, initiatives aimed at improving quality including adoption within the next year of a new HIT system that will unify all branches of the military on one EHR--with future capabilities planned that will permit the system to communicate with VA and civilian EHRs.  He also noted recent accolades and awards that Madigan has received for achievement in high quality of care delivery. 

PCMS Member Jared Capouya, MD, Medical Director for Quality (Pediatrics) at MultiCare/Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital provided a presentation about the movement away from fee-for-service in the civilian provider sector toward a payment system based on quality and value that will include expanded roles for physicians such as involvement in the social determinants of health that impact patient outcomes to a larger degree than what transpires in the clinical setting.

These back-to-back presentations allowed participants at the forum to understand the tracks toward patient-centered care that both the military and civilian provider sectors are experiencing in the evolution of their respective delivery systems.

Attendees developed ideas for collaboration moving forward in to the next year including improving communication and coordination between providers seeing military and veteran patients, Madigan, the VA, and the payers that insure that patient population with the goal of expeditious sharing of patient information to provide for accurate care, feedback between providers about a patient’s outcomes, and making sure that reimbursements are filled out correctly to prevent avoidable delays in processing and payment.  Other collaborative areas discussed were seeking additional civilian providers to schedule appointments for troops, veterans, and their dependents, attempting to get Congress to raise reimbursement rates for the programs that cover troops and veterans, and identifying ways for civilian and military physicians to share learnings to promote innovation spread across the two provider sectors as widely as possible.

The Pierce County Medical Society is proud to have been part of the forum and looks forward to helping maintain positive momentum on the wide-ranging areas of cooperative collaboration between the military and civilian providers in our community on behalf of our local troops and veterans—patriots who are also our neighbors.