CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hundreds of healthcare professionals gathered at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center on Tuesday for a chance to learn from one another and network.
The West Virginia Health Network Spring Conference was held for the first time since fall 2019, due to COVID-19, and featured lectures, case presentations and educational sessions on a variety of issues facing health care professionals today.
The one-day conference featured speakers in the morning such as state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Secretary Bill Crouch, Dr. Sherri Young, the Associate Chief Medical Officer CAMC Health System and West Virginia Health Network President Michelle Coon. The focus was on current trends in value-based care and population health management.
“We’ve brought together providers throughout the state of West Virginia in an effort to educate, collaborate and continue to work improving the overall health of our population,” Coon told MetroNews.
Throughout the morning and afternoon, booths were set up around the convention center floor with information from hospital systems, primary specialty care groups, post-acute providers, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and insurance providers.
Young told MetroNews the three tracks, breakout sessions, in the afternoon were divided into subjects around billing and coding, how to take care of patients by closing the quality gaps and how to bring the whole picture together. Track 1 was ‘Care Management,’ Track 2 was ‘Quality.’ and Track 3 was ‘Deeper Dive.’ Participants included physicians, nurses, and all allied health professionals involved in population health care and management.
Young said all sessions touched on, some deeper than others, the importance of annual wellness visits. She said wellness visits fell off during the COVID-19 pandemic and people went without care. She said from those visits, plans can be put together for a patient that may save their life.
“Sit down with a patient, talk about your plan for the year, do screenings such as depression, screenings for falling. Things that keep them safe at home but also address their medical needs moving forward,” Young said.
Coon agreed with Young and spoke on why annual wellness visits are crucial for the provider and patient.
“The annual wellness visit is the one time a year where the primary care provider is sitting across from their member or patient and able to look at everything going on in the patient’s life,” Coon said.
Along with wellness visits ramping back up, Young said many health care providers are shifting resources that had been taken away by the pandemic due to mass testing and vaccination.
She said health departments can now get back to normal resource levels for services such as restaurant inspections, environmental issues, and diseases such as STDs and HIV.
“Now that we’re in a more manageable state, people are returning to their older jobs and titles. The good thing about it is everybody is cross-trained if we were to have another surge. But we’re really returning back to the heart of where we need to be and that’s focusing on patient care and population health,” Young said.
Coon said the West Virginia Health Network is a statewide network covering over 110,000 beneficiaries.