Archive for April, 2009

Swine Flu Pandemic

April 30th, 2009 by Melanie Matthews

The country — and the world at large — has been swept up by the recent swine flu outbreak that has killed over 150 Mexicans and infected numerous Americans. Find out what the FDA is doing to contain the disease in this week’s DM Update.

Achieving ROI in DM

April 30th, 2009 by Melanie Matthews

In the chronic care model, “the more you do, the more you get” approach to reimbursement does not always work, says Dr. Dexter Shurney, medical director for Vanderbilt University and Medical Center. And according to Dr. Ariel Linden, president of Linden Consulting Group, DISincentives do not work when motivating patients to change behaviors linked to chronic conditions. Dr. Shurney and Dr. Linden provided details on maximizing DM ROI, using incentives within a medical home environment and more in HIN’s webinar “The Strategic Ongoing Role of Disease Management in the Healthcare Continuum: Achieving the ROI.”

A Challenge of Epidemic Proportions: Getting Healthy Behaviors to Stick

April 27th, 2009 by Melanie Matthews

While world leaders take measures to head off a global pandemic of swine flu, I’ve been re-reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point for my book club. In his examination of social epidemics, the author defines the “stickiness factor” of a message — the characteristics that cause it to remain active in recipients’ minds. Gladwell, who covered the AIDs epidemic for the Washington Post, says that the environment must be right for a message to spread. In a featured story in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update, Duke University’s Ruth Wolever advises health coaches on the value of motivational interviewing: “Understand the client’s competing commitments and allow space for the individual to explore them and resolve their ambivalence so that healthier behaviors will ‘stick.'”

Gladwell also devotes a chapter to the “stickiness” of smoking among teenagers and the genetic disposition of this age group to imitate others and try on new behaviors and attitudes. While Gladwell presents an epidemic approach to solving this problem, a coalition of Oregon health groups have another strategy described in another of this week’s stories: launch an ad campaign touting the 60-cent increase in the state’s cigarette tax.

If tobacco use is an issue for your organization, don’t miss this week’s featured download, Putting out the Addiction — Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Programs.

It’s in Your Genes

April 23rd, 2009 by Melanie Matthews

Nature versus nurture may still be up for debate across all areas of science, but one thing is for sure: Two studies in this week’s Disease Management Update confirm that some conditions really are in your genes. Read this week’s issue to find out which ones.

L.I.F.E. Program Helps Hospital Shed Unwanted Obesity Costs

April 22nd, 2009 by Melanie Matthews

Hammered by increasing healthcare costs and their impact on a company’s bottom line, many employers are investing in and seeing results from wellness programs to reduce these costs. Take Florida Hospital’s Lifestyle Incentives for Employees (L.I.F.E.) program, which has been credited with reducing its healthcare costs by $28.24 PMPM over three years in a time frame when most organizations reported healthcare costs increases. Read about the L.I.F.E. program in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update. Prior to implementing the program, Florida Hospital’s health benefits costs were increasing 11 to 15 percent each year. Beyond the costs savings, the L.I.F.E. program also helped the employees of Florida Hospital adopt healthy behaviors, which will continue to pay-off the employees and Florida Hospital.

The L.I.F.E. program is just one of the case studies profiled in Obesity & Weight Management Benchmarks and Case Studies, which presents four weight management programs and provides comparative data from nearly 300 respondents on obesity and weight management program components.

Social Networking Can Send Prevention Message to Adolescents

April 14th, 2009 by Melanie Matthews

As the parent of an adolescent and a 20-year-old, I was heartened last week to read that more parents are having substance-abuse related conversations with their adolescents, a practice associated with reduced substance abuse in this age group. Unfortunately, this SAMHSA report (a featured story in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update) also found that adolescents are receiving fewer prevention messages through media sources.

Could it be that these messages are being placed in all the wrong places? According to a recent article in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescence, more than 90 percent of adolescents have Internet access and approximately 50 percent use social networking sites. In my unscientific opinion, they’re also watching less TV — recording what they want to watch and then fast-forwarding through the commercials. Instead, public service organizations should create a presence on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social networking sites to deliver prevention messages where this vulnerable age group is — and rely on them to spread the word virally, which is what they do best. You can create special interest groups, pages, quizzes, videos, applications and more to get their attention and that of their friends and followers.

If you haven’t yet tried these sites, you can start by following us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In time, your organization may “Like This.”

Disease Prevention

April 9th, 2009 by Melanie Matthews

Prevention, while just as important as treatment, is too often overlooked by providers and patients when it comes to managing their health. This week’s Disease Management Update showcases a new device that may help predict cardiac events and the effect stress management can have on some cancer patients.

Taking Care with Care Transitions Can Reduce Rehospitalizations

April 6th, 2009 by Melanie Matthews

About a third of Medicare beneficiaries who are hospitalized wind up back in the hospital within 30 days, a phenomenon that costs Medicare about $17.4 billion each year, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and featured in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update. The researchers recommend more attention to transitions in care from one healthcare site to another, such as during discharge from the hospital. To quote from the study: “From a system perspective, a safe transition from a hospital to the community or a nursing home requires care that centers on the patient and transcends organizational boundaries. Our purpose in this report has been to strengthen the empirical foundation for designing and providing such care.”

Planning a patient’s care transitions and closing the gaps in care from one healthcare setting to another can significantly affect health outcomes, ER utilization, cost to patients, providers and insurers and burdens on caregivers and family members. Take the new HIN survey on managing care transitions across sites and receive an e-summary of the results once the survey is completed. The survey will identify targeted populations, components of care transition programs, roles of care transition teams, benefits and challenges of care transition programs and more.

Disease Registry Key Tool in Medical Home, Say IBM and Aetna

April 2nd, 2009 by Melanie Matthews

Even if they can’t afford an EMR, physician practices should use a disease registry if they hope to succeed as a medical home, agree IBM and Aetna thought leaders. Both George Chedraoui, IBM health leader and former president of Bridges to Excellence, and Dr. Don Liss, an Aetna regional medical director, noted that the patient registry can help physician practices transform to a medical home.

Chedraoui said a disease registry is one of IBM’s essentials for PCMH, along with e-prescribing and secure email communication. Dr. Liss says a patient registry is also a requirement for a Philadephia pilot of the PCMH, in which Aetna is participating. Chedraoui went a step further to note that technology alone does not make a practice a medical home; that underlying processes must be addressed.

Chedraoui and Dr. Liss presented at yesterday’s webinar on Medical Home ROI: Metrics and Measurements.

The Cost of Alzheimer’s Disease

April 2nd, 2009 by Melanie Matthews

An estimated 2.4 million to 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. This week’s DM Update looks at the healthcare costs for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and a link between a patient’s memory and parental history of dementia.