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HRSA's November Quality Improvement Grantee Spotlight

Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization: Coordinating High Quality Healthcare for Veterans and Military Families

Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization logo.

This month, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Quality Improvement website highlights the work of the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO), a non-profit health network in Northern New York State.  Fort Drum is one of the nation’s largest military installations and home to nearly 19,605 active duty military and 19,820 military family members Fort Drum and FDRHPO work together to enhance access to healthcare services for Fort Drum soldiers and families, and the surrounding veteran and civilian community.

Instead of providing direct health care services, FDRHPO works closely with Northern New York’s health care system to evaluate and facilitate partnerships to ensure high quality healthcare access for the Fort Drum community. One example of this military-private partnership is the use of health information technology (IT) and health information exchange to electronically connect the Fort Drum area’s healthcare partners and facilitate their use of quality improvement tools and clinical quality measures to evaluate health outcomes in their patients with chronic disease. FDRHPO’s work demonstrates the growing role of HRSA grantees and safety net providers in serving the healthcare needs of veterans and military families.

About the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization

Established as a Department of Defense (DoD) 721 pilot program (PDF - 314 KB) exit disclaimer, the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) is a unique military-civilian healthcare partnership that coordinates heath care for military personal. FDRHPO is a grant recipient of HRSA’s Office of Rural Health Policy’s Rural Health Information Technology Network Development Program. Additionally, FDRHPO works closely with a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) which was previously designated as an FQHC look-alike but recently received designation as an FQHC. Below is a diagram of how FDRHPO’s framework meets DoD program requirements, while leveraging provider and Fort Drum stakeholder relationships to improve quality, integrate, and lower the accost of care.

Diagram displays how FDRHPO’s framework meets DoD program requirements, while leveraging provider and Fort Drum stakeholder relationships to improve quality, integrate, and lower the accost of care.

The COPD Story: Coordinating Care and Improving Health Outcomes in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Through its focused work with patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), FDRHPO has demonstrated success in coordinating health care services and improving health outcomes within the Fort Drum community. The National Institutes of Health, defines COPD as a “progressive disease that makes it hard to breath…[COPD] is a major cause of disability, and the third leading cause of death in the United States.”  Currently, millions of people are diagnosed with COPD and many more people are unaware that they have COPD. In upstate New York, where Fort Drum is located, the hospital admission rate for patients with COPD is 168 percent and the mortality rate is nearly double the state average for patients with COPD.

As a result of these statistics, COPD stood out as an important chronic disease to target within FDRHPO’s patient community. FDRHPO began their intervention by developing clinical quality measures, in accordance to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease exit disclaimer, to assess, processes, and determine COPD health related outcomes within their patient population.  In addition, FDRHPO leveraged their health IT infrastructure, such as patient registries and electronic health records to coordinate care and collect patient data from their provider partners. The ability to collect patient data on health indicators such as flu shots and smoking status, enabled FDRHPO’s partners to target patients in need of health interventions.  Furthermore, through a regional health information exchange, primary care providers are able to view patient health information as soon as a patient was admitted to a partner hospital.  This supported enhanced care coordination across all practitioners within the patient’s care team. The diagram below illustrates how FDRHPO utilizes a group of measures within their health IT system to collect data for COPD measures.

The diagram illustrates how FDRHPO utilizes a group of measures within their health IT system to collect data for COPD measures.

Conclusion: The Growing Role of Safety Net Providers within Veteran and Military Family Healthcare

Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization exemplifies how HRSA grantees and safety net providers are playing an active and growing role in providing or coordinating care to Americans serving in America’s military service. HRSA grantees and safety net providers, such as health centers, critical access hospitals, and rural health clinics, provide care to over 200,000 veterans annually and provide primary care to countless military families. Although, most military families receive their care directly from a Department of Defense (DoD) healthcare facility, military personnel and their families may seek health care from multiple sources to meet their increased social and clinical needs. Service members and their families not covered by the Veterans Administration (VA) or DoD rely on private or government-funded civilian insurance programs and frequently seek care in civilian settings such as federally qualified health centers. HRSA, the DoD, and VA have begun collaborating to better understand how safety net providers can continue to enhance care coordination and improve the quality of care provided to military families and veterans.

Please contact Corey Zeigler, Director of the FDRHPO Health Information Technology Program, at czeigler@fdrhpo.org, for more information.