3 Essentials in Comprehensive Primary Care from Group Health Cooperative

Friday, October 5th, 2012
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

“Perhaps the most underutilized technology in modern medicine is the telephone,” says Michael Erikson, vice president of primary care services for Group Health Cooperative. To compensate, the health plan targeted call management as a primary strategy driving its Group Health Medical Home pilot, as we report on this week.

In related news, Group Health was one of the top ten performers on NCQA’s annual health plan ranking list, as published by Consumer Reports. Nonprofit health plans topped the list, which ranks plans according to 32 clinical performance measures. The NCQA found that contrary to the telephone, one of the most over-utilized technology tests was for lower back pain, despite evidence that they could be harmful, exposing patients to needless radiation while often leading to further tests and treatments and sometimes unecessary surgery, Consumer Reports notes.

And despite research showing that observation units in hospitals could save the United States over $3 billion a year, less than one third of hospitals in the country have such units, according to a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). When used as an alternative to inpatient admissions, the units are dedicated to caring for patients, usually for a 24-hour period, who have been discharged from the ED but are not ready to safely leave the hospital. Previous research has shown that care in these units is equal or better in quality compared to inpatient care for certain patient populations, BWH says.

And a recent survey revealed that physicians and pharmacists’ roles in diabetes treatment are not always aligned. At the recent Diabetes Innovation 2012 conference, delegates representing diabetes care and prevention stakeholders revealed conflicting opinions on key issues, such as the roles physicians and pharmacists should play with diabetes patients; how important pharmaceutically assisted innovations are to obesity management, and how important adherence and future screening should be for diabetics.

Read all of these stories in their entirety in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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