Archive for November, 2007

Wooing Physicians to Practice Concierge Medicine

November 8th, 2007 by Melanie Matthews

In an EverythingHealth post this week, Dr. Toni Brayer analyzes the growing trend of concierge medicine. The steady stream of invitations she receives sound more like time share pitches than professional recruitment, promising vacations, meals and museum visits for any physician that will entertain the idea of being set up as a concierge, retainer medical practice.

The invitations are sexy, appealing and seem to be coming at a rapid clip. MDVIP is one of a handful of companies that know primary care physicians are in demand and they know patients are fed up with the long waits, quick visits and difficulty in even seeing the doctor. They know the doctor is burned out, disgusted with the hassles of insurance paperwork and discount rates. The dream of caring for the patient has turned into the nightmare of patient “panels” of 2500 people.

Is this where physicians will head if the industry doesn’t right itself? It’s very tempting.

Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative Touts Medical Home

November 7th, 2007 by Melanie Matthews

I spent the better part of today listening in on the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) Summit. Over the course of the conference, physician organizations, health plans and employers described how they are working toward a new model of healthcare delivery focused on the patient centered medical home. We’ve been hearing about this for a while now — when HIN conducted an online survey over a year ago, many healthcare organizations had not heard of the medical home model or confused it with a physical structure.

Today, however, it seems to be an accepted trend in healthcare, with metrics and measurements for medical homes in development. One presenter said many practices are jumping on the bandwagon and calling themselves medical homes when in fact they are not. While there were many reminders that physicians expect to be reimbursed for embracing this healthcare model with references to a “blended” payments, all agreed that under the auspices of a medical home, access to and quality of care are improved and healthcare costs go down.

If you access the Presentation Materials link from the PCPCC Web site, you can review some of the pilots already underway. BlueCross Blue Shield, Wellpoint and UnitedHealthcare are just some of the payers with some skin in the game. Also very interesting was a presentation from TransforMED on its national demonstration project, which begins to define what practices need to do to follow the tenets of the medical home model — e.g. the specifics of providing access to care and information. It is clear that IT in general and electronic medical records in particular are vital to the success of medical homes.

Also presenting from the employer perspective were two pharmaceutical companies (Walgreens and Medco) and MinuteClinic. (It was pointed out that Walgreens and Medco probably fill about half of the prescriptions in the country and will be part of the data sharing that is essential to this model’s success.) While the retail clinic player MinuteClinic doesn’t aspire to become a medical home, it does refer patients to medical homes and forwards outcome data and patient information to its’ clients’ medical homes if they have them.

As metrics and measurements for the establishment of medical homes crystalize, it will be interesting to see how this initative reshapes primary care, physician practices and traditional reimbursement models.

The New York Times also analyzes the Summit’s intention to present new options for providers that expand traditional models of patient care.

Millions of Americans Affected by Arthritis

November 6th, 2007 by Melanie Matthews
  • More than two million Americans live with Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Osteoarthritis affects 21 million Americans.
  • Over 300,000 children have some form of juvenile arthritis.
  • If these facts are a little alarming, consider this: 19 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis, whether they fall into the categories above, or another form of the disease.

    In the “Rheumatoid Arthritis – Causes and Treatment” blog, blogger Franchis Adam offers up some alternatives to traditional arthritis pain relievers with these intriguing home remedies.

    Millions of Americans Affected by Arthritis

    November 6th, 2007 by Melanie Matthews
  • More than two million Americans live with Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Osteoarthritis affects 21 million Americans.
  • Over 300,000 children have some form of juvenile arthritis.
  • If these facts are a little alarming, consider this: 19 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis, whether they fall into the categories above, or another form of the disease.

    In the “Rheumatoid Arthritis – Causes and Treatment” blog, blogger Franchis Adam offers up some alternatives to traditional arthritis pain relievers with these intriguing home remedies.

    Social Networks: A “Second Life” for the Healthcare Industry?

    November 5th, 2007 by Melanie Matthews

    Facebook. MySpace. Friendster…and Social MD?

    Today, social networking is everywhere, and the healthcare arena is no exception. Whether you are a student, a patient, a doctor or otherwise, somewhere on the Information Superhighway there is a network for you.

    Social networking Web sites are now available to healthcare professionals. Social MD is a network open to med students, residents, fellows and physicians and is geared toward facilitating the free-flow of information between these participants.

    And they’re not the only ones jumping on this virtual bandwagon. Stanford University is becoming a part of the social networking craze by offering its 30,000 students, faculty and staff members an online community that aims to promote healthy living.

    The American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are putting an interesting twist on another popular virtual reality site, Second Life, by “renting” virtual “land” on the site on which to open a “virtual office” to host events and businesses. ACS raised $40,000 for its Relay for Life event through this virtual office. The CDC has also hosted some virtual events via Second Life.

    And the social network bug has also bitten patients. The Wellness Community (TWC) brings social networking to teens with cancer through Group Loop, a site providing online support for these teens as well as their parents.

    Visit HIN’s bookstore and check out NOT ur parents’ healthcare anymore: The 411 on selling health via new media, our special report in which three healthcare marketers divulge how novel marketing and product development tactics are grabbing the attention of Generation X and Generation Y who are becoming less responsive to traditional healthcare and health insurance products.

    MRSA’s Mini-Lesson in Crisis Management

    November 5th, 2007 by Melanie Matthews

    Our local schools are scrubbing and sanitizing facilities in the wake of several cases of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus – known as MRSA – in the student population. From our school Web site, parents can access a Public Health MRSA Fact Sheet and two separate communications on this issue. How is your organization responding to MRSA, and what steps are you taking to educate your population and prevent new cases? Take the survey on MRSA Prevention and Education by November 30 and you’ll receive a free e-summary of the results.

    And while final results are pending, your responses to the October healthcare trends e-survey indicate that wellness is both a huge challenge and an opportunity to launch some of your most successful programs. Wellness experts are often asked whether employees’ spouses should be included in corporate wellness initiatives. In this week’s news, IBM has gone a step further and unveiled its Children’s Health Rebate to encourage the development of healthy habits in employees’ children. This is a great step toward stemming rising obesity rates in children.

    Healthcare Decision Support Tools–For Presidential Candidates, Not Physicians or Health Plans

    November 2nd, 2007 by Melanie Matthews

    Was reading some recent postings in Healthcare Blawg and came across a mention of a decision support tool to evaluate presidential candidates’ healthcare platforms and more. This is available from the the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health08.org site.

    Health Blawg’s Davd Harlow describes health08.org:

    Among other things, you can build a side-by-side comparison of the candidates’ health care plans, with links to source materials, and check out webcasts (live and archived) of candidate forums on their health plans.

    Education Key to Self-Management Success in the Chronically Ill?

    November 1st, 2007 by Melanie Matthews

    HealthBeat by Maggie Mahar poses an interesting question about the impact of a chronically ill individual’s education level and socioeconomic status on their ability to “adopt and adhere to complex new treatments” and self-manage the illness. This post uses diabetes as an example, but the idea really could apply to any chronic illness.

    From what health coaches and those whom manage coaching initiatives have told us, there are many other factors at play. Often, the chronicaly ill are also suffering from depression, which can seriously affect motivation levels. I think we will see more employers and health plans bring health and wellness coaches on board to reach out telephonically and virtually to these individuals. The questions in the diabetes questionnaire mentioned in this post are not unlike those that coaches use. We’re seeing more evidence that wellness programs will achieve stronger success when they’re motivating and modifying participant behavior in the context of a trusting relationship (that “relationship” being the coaching relationship). This trend is so new that I doubt there is data on the impact of a client’s education level on coaching success. If you’re involved in health coaching of the chronically ill, what are your thoughts?