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Researchers offer expertise to Kentucky’s Medicaid Services for improving healthcare

Chris Johnson Ph.D. Bert Little Image
Chris Johnson, Ph.DJ'Aime Jennings, Ph.DBert Little, Ph.D

A new collaboration between the School of Public Health and Information Sciences (SPHIS) and Kentucky’s Medicaid Services aims to provide insights for healthcare improvement and cost reductions. 

SPHIS has been awarded two contracts from the Department of Medicaid Services (DMS) within the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. One project seeks to identify high-risk diabetes patients for more aggressive early preventive measures, while the second directly addresses the capacity of providers to be responsive to emerging value-based purchasing incentives. Faculty in the SPHIS Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences proposed these initiatives based on needs specified by the state.  

“We are enthusiastic about the Medicaid initiatives we’ve been asked to work on with our state partners. Both projects are innovative and have the potential to improve the quality and efficiencies of the care provided to Medicaid recipients in Kentucky,” said Craig Blakely, Ph.D., dean of the School of Public Health and Information Sciences. 

“Our collaboration with UofL leverages the breadth of expertise at the university. The analysis that will be conducted through these two contracts will inform our decisions at the state level for delivery of the best, cost-efficient care to our most vulnerable population,” said Gilbert Liu, M.D., medical director for the Kentucky Department of Medicaid Services and professor of pediatrics at UofL. 

The total value of both contracts over a two-year period is nearly $950,000. The financing is structured as a 50/50 match. Half the funding comes from Kentucky’s allocation of Federal Financial Participation funds – money available to external agencies like universities collaborating on Medicaid-related activities. The remainder of the project cost is paid for through the SPHIS Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences and UofL’s Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky (CIK), an entity of SPHIS. The contracts will be administered by the Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences’ Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT), a National Science Foundation-funded center focused on improving patient care and service, efficiency, and maximizing their capabilities while preserving resources. 

More about the projects: 

Type 2 Diabetes among Medicaid Beneficiaries in Kentucky
Led by Bert Little, Ph.D., professor, SPHIS Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences and CIK scholar, this project will perform longitudinal analyses of Kentucky Medicaid claims to develop predictive algorithms. This work will help identify factors that can predict which beneficiaries with type 2 diabetes need more intensive medical intervention. Individuals identified with high probability of need can receive early treatment to delay or prevent severe complications of type 2 diabetes, which include blindness, kidney failure and heart disease. The expected goal is improved quality of life, along with reduced long-term care costs. 

Evaluating Provider Readiness to Implement Core Quality Measures
This study is led by two faculty in the SPHIS Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences – J’Aime Jennings, Ph.D., assistant professor, and Christopher Johnson, Ph.D., chair of the department. Jennings and Johnson also are CIK scholars and co-directors of CHOT. 

Jennings and Johnson will review a provider readiness survey instrument and assess the state’s capacity for implementing quality measures outlined by Kentucky’s Performance Measures Alignment Committee (PMAC) in five key areas: pediatrics, chronic and acute care, preventive health, behavioral health and cost/utilization. 

The results of the comprehensive analysis will include a quality improvement proposal that focuses on the development of a strategic plan to accomplish quality measure implementation across Kentucky.

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