HMC Promotes John Kovalchik to Director of ACO Operations

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) announced the promotion of John Kovalchik to director of ACO Operations. 

With extensive experience leading healthcare-management initiatives (most recently as manager of the Center for Behavioral Health at HMC), Kovalchik is well-positioned to bring the facility to the next level by improving quality of care, meeting measurable benchmarks, accurately reflecting the hospital’s population’s health risks, and maintaining lower overall healthcare costs — all mandates of value-based ACO models, said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems Inc.

“We are thrilled to welcome John to this key role,” Hatiras said. “John brings a wealth of experience to this position and an enthusiasm for integrating the management of patient care and cost-saving initiatives which are vital to our community.”

ACOs, or accountable-care organizations, are provider-led organizations that support new federal and state initiatives to shift from the previous model of fee-for-service healthcare to a value-based system that puts more of the risk on the provider, Kovalchik explained. The overall goals of ACOs are to improve quality of care and patient health outcomes by meeting measurable benchmarks, ensuring patients are accessing healthcare at the appropriate levels, and controlling the overall costs of healthcare by working within population-based models.

In his new position, Kovalchik is overseeing management initiatives for the two ACOs in which HMC participates. The first is through a unique partnership with UMass Memorial Medical Center, involving 50,000 lives split among seven hospitals, four federally qualified health centers, and several private physicians’ offices, covering Central and Western Mass. The second is a statewide ACO participating in a major new demonstration to support a value-based restructuring of MassHealth’s healthcare delivery and payment system. For this initiative, HMC partners with the Boston Accountable Care Organization and BMC Healthnet Plan to form an ACO named the BMC Healthnet Plan Community Alliance. 

Kovalchik is also overseeing HMC’s $750,000 CHART grant from the Health Policy Commission, which provides medication-assisted treatment to patients struggling with opiate addiction with the goal of preventing recidivism and “helping patients to survive and thrive,” he said.

“System change is very exciting, and this is all in the service of providing great and more efficient healthcare,” said Kovalchik, who holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Connecticut with a focus on healthcare administration, and has directed clinical programming and served in management roles at several local organizations. In his previous role as manager of Behavioral Health at HMC, he participated in ACO planning discussions and sees his new position as a natural transition.

“A significant portion of our patients fall into one of the public-payer buckets [Medicare and MassHealth]. We have a great team of dedicated nurses, patient navigators, quality/analytic professionals, community health workers, and physicians helping these patient populations on a daily basis,” he said. “We also help people with housing, nutrition, obesity, food insecurity … we’re trying to get people to the right levels of care at the right time, and control the ever-rising costs of healthcare.”