For Immediate Release - February 19, 2015

HPC Highlights Accomplishments from First Phase of Community Hospital Investment Program

CHART Program Supports Community Hospitals, Helps Deliver Quality and Effective Care

BOSTON – Thursday, January 29, 2015 – The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) recently presented key accomplishments from participants in Phase One of the Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, and Transformation (CHART) Investment Program, a four-year community hospital program aimed at enhancing their delivery of efficient, effective care. The accomplishments were highlighted at the January 20, 2015 Board Meeting, where the board also voted to release its 2014 Annual Health Care Cost Trends Report (available here). The report builds off of the preliminary findings issued at the December 17, 2014 meeting (available here), and makes strong policy recommendations for market participants and other government agencies, as well as commitments for the HPC in 2015.

“Our partnership with community hospitals is a critical part of HPC’s efforts to achieve the Commonwealth’s cost containment and quality improvement goals,” said David Seltz, Executive Director of the HPC. “These early accomplishments from Phase One show that the program is working. We look forward to continuing to build a more coordinated and affordable health care system in all corners of Massachusetts.”

The CHART Investment Program is a four-year program that makes phased investments for certain Massachusetts community hospitals to enhance their delivery of efficient, effective care. In October 2013, the HPC made $10 million available for Phase One investments and in January 2014 awarded 28 community hospitals with funds to enhance the delivery of efficient, effective health care across Massachusetts.

As part of Phase One, two hospitals in the Hallmark Health System, Melrose-Wakefield Hospital and Lawrence Memorial Hospital, received awards to support a series of initiatives to enhance care for patients presenting to the emergency department with back pain by promoting alternatives to opioid use. Hallmark Health has implemented standardized care protocols for back pain patients in its emergency departments and urgent care centers, aiming to improve the consistency and quality of care provided to patients and to address public health concerns about the abuse of opioid prescriptions, which can lead to increased healthcare costs resulting from additional healthcare treatment required for substance abuse issues. Early findings suggest that these programs have substantially reduced opioid prescription use in emergency departments, by 26% from baseline at the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital and 43% at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

“Hallmark Health System, Inc. has historically maintained a strong commitment to emergency care and to behavioral health services, including substance abuse, at both hospitals. We have seen significant increases in our facilities of patients who become trapped in opioid addition due to chronic pain conditions. Changes in treatment are necessary,” said Michael V. Sack, Hallmark Health System President and Chief Executive Officer. “Through the recognition and creative responsiveness of the Health Policy Commission to provide funding for new, creative programs, our practitioners, led by Dr. Stephen Sbardella, Emergency Dept, and Ms. Carol Plotkin, Behavioral Health Director, created a unique treatment protocol for the Emergency Dept through Chart I funding, that achieved impressive results. We look forward to using HPC Chart II funding support to extend this treatment protocol further into community physician offices.”

“I am proud that Hallmark has taken a leadership role in promoting alternatives to opioid use to address pain,” said State Representative Paul Brodeur (D-Melrose). “The CHART program has been instrumental in helping community hospitals like Melrose-Wakefield and Lawrence Memorial do this important work, and I look forward to future progress as a result of the Phase Two award to continue its progress in controlling opioid use.”

CHART-wide accomplishments for Phase One include:

  • More than 2,200 hospital employees trained;
  • 27 hospitals primed for a system transformation;
  • Approximately 160,000 patients have been positively impacted by Phase One initiative;
  • More than 300 community partnerships were formed or enhanced by Phase One awardees; and
  • More than 400 hours of direct technical assistance given to Phase One awardees.

In October 2014, HPC announced awards to 28 community hospitals with a groundbreaking $60 million in investments to improve community-oriented care for patients with complex social and medical needs, and to increase access to high quality behavioral health services through CHART Phase Two. A complete listing of awards is located here.

As part of the Phase Two awards, Hallmark Health Systems was awarded $2.5 million to support the development and implementation of a “high utilizer” multi-disciplinary outreach team with a behavioral health focus - and particularly pain management and opioid prevention - across community-based care sites. This award builds and expands on the initiatives from Phase One and its success.

Additionally, Hallmark Health Systems was part of an HPC case study, showcasing the work CHART hospitals have done to use data in a high-value, effective manner, and to instill good project management practices. Additional information on the case study can be found here.

The 2014 Annual Cost Trends Report includes specific commitments from the HPC and recommendations to market participants and other state agencies to help foster a value-based market, promote high-quality and efficient health care delivery, continue advancing alternative payment methods (APMs), and enhance transparency and data availability. During the December 17, 2014 meeting, the HPC presented key findings, including 2013 overall health care cost growth of 2.3%, below the 3.6% benchmark, and presented opportunities to reduce costs and improve the Massachusetts health care system (press release available here).



The HPC is an independent state agency that monitors reform in the health care delivery and payment systems and develops policies to reduce overall cost growth while improving the quality of patient care. To learn more, please visit or follow us on Twitter @Mass_HPC.