Reasons to Light a Fire Under Smoking Cessation Efforts

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that obesity is statistically a greater threat to overall public health than tobacco. However, there is still a burning need for programs to reduce tobacco use, according to findings from HIN’s 2010 survey on tobacco cessation and prevention efforts.

The percentage of respondents with programs focused on tobacco cessation and prevention remained constant (75 percent) from 2008 to 2010. However, 2010 respondents from more than 80 healthcare organizations are both planning future programs and adopting smoke-free policies in greater numbers, a trend perhaps fueled by federally mandated reimbursement of these programs.

There’s also another reason to light a fire under smoking cessation efforts: metrics on these preventive measures are increasingly included in value-based reimbursement models. In a recent interview, Dr. Mark Shields, senior medical director with Advocate Physician Partners, explained the business case behind the dedication of three of Advocate’s 41 physician performance measures to smoking cessation and prevention as part of its clinical integration effort:

“Smoking cessation is one of the very hot interventions. Our doctors know that it’s important, but don’t appreciate the major financial impact of this effort. We have documented that in our value report. Smoking cessation is a big deal as far as our ability to be successful at the bargaining table with managed care organizations. We point this out to our clinicians.

We have formal ways to gather the information about our performance and point this out. We have disease registries and patient and professional information that is Web-based and online for our providers, as well as face-to-face education programs for our providers.”

While 2010 survey respondents mostly rely on the honor system and self-reports to monitor relapses, 18 percent of respondents are reporting quit rates of 0 to 10 percent. That’s enough to extinguish some of the exorbitant healthcare costs associated with tobacco use.

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