YMCA and athenahealth partner on community integrated health

July 11, 2016

The USA YMCA (Y-USA) and athenahealtha announced the organizations will work together to support and strengthen the role of the community-based organization in the delivery of preventive services, including the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program (YMCA’s DPP).  Together, Y-USA and athenahealth will support local Ys as their health care partners as they manage and refer patients with prediabetes to the YMCA’s DPP.  The YMCA’s DPP is a twelve-month behavioral and lifestyle intervention initiative targeting adults at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. athenahealth’s health information network and services will allow the Y to connect its proven programs to over 78,000 clinical providers and expand the services and support it provides to health-seekers in thousands of communities across the U.S.

News of athenahealth and Y-USA’s partnership coincides with an announcement made at a YMCA in Cleveland, OH, this morning by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.  As per draft rules released today, HHS intends to expand Medicare benefits to include coverage for the YMCA’s DPP and all other equivalent DPP programs recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The HHS announcement comes on the heels of a recently released Certification of Cost Savings issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in which the YMCA’s DPP was shown to produce $2,650 per participant in cost savings in just 15 months.  Both HHS announcements represent historic “firsts,” as the YMCA’s DPP is the first community-based preventive service proven to reduce health care costs and improve health outcomes.

“The YMCA’s DPP is one of the most tangible examples of how community integrated health can reduce health care costs and help prevent chronic diseases like diabetes,” said Dr. Matt Longjohn, National Health Officer, Y-USA.  “Today, in preparation for the YMCA’s DPP’s coverage by Medicare, the Y is proud to announce that we will be partnering with athenahealth to better engage clinicians in making medical referrals to this and other proven programs.  athenahealth is an organization that can further increase the clinical integration of evidence-based Y programs, and whose services we consider essential for the longevity and sustainability of the YMCA’s DPP.  By integrating program data with athenahealth’s network-enabled EHR and patient engagement services, our programs will become more accessible to health care providers, and better able to coordinate care at the community level with data-backed, targeted precision.  Today’s announcement from HHS demonstrates that we must continue to build the infrastructure for Ys to become stronger parts of a community-integrated health care system. athenahealth is the natural, most future-proof partner for the job, and this new collaboration is certain to help the Y advance its nearly 170-year-old mission in an era of health care transformation.”

“Y -USA’s work in community integrated health is indicative of a trend we’ve seen across the health care continuum,” said Jonathan Bush, CEO, athenahealth.  “Care is moving out of the hospital and into more accessible, convenient, and cost effective venues.  The YMCA’s DPP is proof that community integrated health, delivered outside of traditional clinical settings, is highly effective in delivering strong health outcomes.  The Y is a disruptive force shaking up the way that we treat the most insidious chronic diseases. We look forward to working in the community with this venerable institution to manage chronic disease natively with the most forward-looking technology, and we are committed to generating results.  The Y’s mission to address gaps in care, in order to improve outcomes while lowering cost, is shared by athenahealth and is essential to unbreak health care.”