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Jim Rickards to focus on health strategy for Yamhill CCO

Jim Rickards to focus on health strategy for Yamhill CCO

From the beginning, Jim Rickards, MD, has been a key part of Yamhill Community Care Organization, first as a member of the board of directors and now as health strategy officer, a part-time staff position. He continues to practice as a radiologist with McMinnville Imaging Associates.

The new position means Dr. Rickards can play a more active role in helping the Yamhill community address some of the causes of the problems he identifies as a radiologist.

“So many of the problems that I finally saw on a CT scan or an X-ray really could be addressed medically, but the root cause of the problem was something deeper,” he says. “They were related to some type of social determinate of health, either related to some behavioral problem or maybe an employment problem or perhaps the patient lacked insurance and went ages and ages without getting something addressed.

“As radiologists, we see the end result of a lot of these problems. And we always struggle with that knowing that we can diagnose and treat disease, but if you really want to help people you got to go upstream.

“In my mind the CCOs were really an opportunity to start taking what I have been seeing all along and having a platform.”

In assessing the needs of the community, Yamhill Community Care Organization is seeking to address some of these upstream issues. One example is to fund the SNACKS program to address childhood obesity.

“Often times obesity results in another chronic condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, so on and so forth,” Dr. Rickards says. “SNACKS is a program that is going to be run through one of the primary care clinics. It works to help kids with education around healthy lifestyle choices, encouraging exercise, working with them on developing healthy lifetime habits so they don’t become overweight and obese and start to develop those chronic conditions.

“We are going to support a coordinator to run this program, enroll the children, work with the educators, and then track them over time.”
Dr. Rickards job is to act as an interface and help align the CCO with community partners and providers.

“There is a lot of energy in the community about wanting to make the CCO successful, and a lot of people have a lot of ideas around what they want to do,” he says.

“Because I still practice, I have a pretty good pulse on what’s going on in the community. I’m on the front lines, so I see a lot of the issues, the problems. Because I’m a physician, I have a pretty good idea of the providers in the network, the patients, so I see a lot of opportunities and challenges in that.

"What I am most excited about is we are still staying within budget, we haven’t exceeded the MFR—the Medical Factor Ratio—that we are supposed to stick within. And we are seeing decreased ED utilization and increased primary care utilization.

“Then, regarding the financial and quality metrics, we hit I think 14 or maybe 15 of the 17 of them,” he says. “The final ones are still yet to come out, but so we have shown real improvement in things like colorectal cancer screening, which is something that we did actively work on.”