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MCS Launches ‘Conexión de Salud’ to Halt Puerto Rico’s Medical Brain Drain

By on October 5, 2018

Editor’s note: The following originally appeared in the Oct. 4-10, 2018, issue of Caribbean Business.

MCS, a leading health insurance provider in Puerto Rico, announced the initiative Conexión de Salud as part of its new Vivela MCS campaign to put the brakes on the medical brain drain that is adversely impacting the health sector and improve the quality of healthcare and life in Puerto Rico.

The three-fold initiative originating from MCS’s C-Suite in San Juan’s Hato Rey community will provide health-related information and edutainment for the general public and continuing education to healthcare providers, institute a value-based compensation model for primary and specialty physicians, as well as provide a cutting-edge information technology platform for improved patient care.

“This is an integrated focus. Our intent is to improve patient outcomes in partnership with providers and in summary provide the best healthcare,” said MCS Chief Medical Officer Inés Hernández-Roses, in an exclusive interview with Caribbean Business.

Puerto Rico is enduring a medical brain drain because young medical graduates tend to leave for the U.S. mainland in search of better-paying working conditions. Hernández-Roses said that while there are enough doctors in urban areas, a shortage can be experienced in rural areas and in some medical specializations, such as geneticists. The MCS network of healthcare providers remains strong, she said.

MCS’s Conexión de Salud will make Puerto Rico more competitive and help retain doctors. With different events and on several information channels, MCS will share relevant information about currents trends in healthcare, healthy lifestyles and general well-being. It will also include continuing medical education (CME) activities for providers, to help them maintain the highest level of quality and effectiveness in care delivery. MCS will increase compensation in 2019 for its highest quality physicians.

Hernández-Roses said one of the reasons cited by doctors for leaving the island is compensation. Puerto Rico pays less to its doctors than those in the mainland U.S. because the island receives less healthcare funding. The model of value-based compensation to those doctors, who provide a high level of quality care to patients, has proven to help retain doctors. “Quality healthcare also helps to reduce healthcare costs. The doctor who provides the best healthcare helps reduce hospitalizations and the use of emergency healthcare,” she said.

Together with other industry players and MMAPA (Medicaid & Medicare Advantage Products Association of Puerto Rico), MCS is supporting Bill 6809 sponsored by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González, which is suggesting higher healthcare funding for the island under the condition that a significant portion of the funds is mandated to be used to pay healthcare providers. MCS also entered into a partnership with DataLink to implement the Carebook software tool to improve patient care by transparently obtaining information on patients, medical practices and costs.

“We don’t emphasize doctors using electronic records as a metric because we already have a lot of information. We focus on the platform that provides a profile on the insured and the providers,” Hernández-Roses said. The use of a value-based care for compensation is not new. In the past, it was called “pay for performance,” but now it is focused on the entire healthcare system, she said.

The first event of MCS’s Conexión de Salud is slated for Oct. 18 at Aguadilla’s Courtyard by Marriott. The symposium, “Integrated Mental Health & Chronic Disease Management: Challenges & Opportunities,” brings together renowned field experts to analyze mental health issues from various perspectives and elucidates the negative impact that mental issues may have on physical health.

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