Michelle Wincell O'Leary
Touchstone Mental Health’s Rising Cedar Apartments, located in Minneapolis, is meeting a demand for person-centered, comprehensive home care services for people with mental health and chronic conditions through an AL model. The company also provides home care in the community, care coordination and case management programs, and intensive residential treatment programs.
Touchstone recently joined neighboring mental health agencies to form the Minnesota Health Care Network Group. Five different agencies together are submitting a request for proposal (RFP) to become part of the Integrated Health Partnerships (IHP) Demonstration in Minnesota.
The goal of the IHP demonstration is to deliver higher-quality and lower-cost health care through innovative approaches to care and payment. It was developed as a result of the state legislature mandating that the Minnesota Department of Human Services in 2010 develop and implement a demonstration testing alternative health care delivery system, which includes ACOs.
In its first year of participation, delivery systems can share in savings, and after the first year, they also share the risk for losses. The total costs for these delivery systems to care for individuals receiving Medical Assistance (Medicaid) are measured against targets for cost and quality.

Working Toward A Common Goal

While the exact outcome of the RFP is yet to be determined, Michelle Wincell O’Leary, vice president of outpatient, integrative, and housing services at Touchstone Mental Health, says the process has been synergic for each provider.
“It’s really the chief executive officers [CEOs] of each of those five agencies that have had the most contact with one another,” O’Leary says. “Any five CEOS coming together to leverage the power of a group have a lot of decision making to do.”

Finding Partners

O’Leary says that the group saw the opportunity early on, when Minnesota was chosen as a demonstration state and had the foresight to band agencies together and think of a strategy.

“We all have a similar population that we serve, and that was important for us,” she says.

Taking the first step proved to be the most important, O’Leary says.

“Most business owners know who the other players are in their marketplace, they know who their competitors might be and who plays well together. For us it was about opening up and starting those conversations with others that had an interest in working together and creating a change in the marketplace for people.”

O’Leary says that there’s opportunity for AL providers to bundle a set of services for a period of time for individuals to help them get what they need and then move on to a more independent setting.

“Folks are staying in nursing care centers for shorter stays,” O’Leary says. “What they are looking to do is use more time in assisted living, which is a different level of care. People who come to our assisted living community aren’t planning to live the rest of their lives there.”