New Market Data: Physicians Ahead in Dual Eligibles Care Management

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

Health coaching, home visits, case management and transitional care are key components of care coordination for the dually eligible.

Physician practices are more advanced in care coordination of Medicare-Medicaid beneficiaries and much further along in duals program development than the industry as a whole, according to physician practices that responded to the 2013 Healthcare Intelligence Network Survey on Dual Eligibles Care Coordination.

Not only do nearly 86 percent of participating practices have a care coordination program tailored to dual eligibles (versus 54 percent of overall respondents), but fully 100 percent of remaining respondents in this sector say they’ll launch a duals-focused care effort in the coming year.

The physician practice sector, which comprised 17 percent of overall respondents, is more dedicated to disease management and transitional care, with 100 percent of responding practices offering these services in duals care coordination, versus 77 percent and 68 percent, respectively, in programs of overall respondents.

With physician practices so far ahead in this area, reporting significant impact and ROI from interventions aimed at Medicare-Medicaid beneficiaries, their approach merits a closer look. An examination of the data reveals that it’s not so much that the practices are doing things differently; certainly, the majority of respondents are using case management, educational tools and transitional care to improve population health in dually eligibles.

However, practices are doing a great deal more of everything — from being fully engaged in disease management and coordination of care transitions to employing health coaching and visiting patients at home. These strategies are translating into improved outcomes and less utilization on the part of these patients. And the physician is taking the lead on care coordination interventions.

A word about the home visits: in a concurrent survey on Home Visits, 75 percent of responding healthcare organizations say they visit their health plan members and patients in their home — mostly to check on these individuals following discharge from the hospital but also to perform home assessments. For the dually eligible, these assessments can be essential in uncovering some of the unique psychosocial issues these beneficiaries face.

“Critical to this population is the home component,” notes Dr. Timothy Schwab, the former chief medical officer of SCAN Health Plan and now president and CEO of Tim Schwab Healthcare Solutions, Inc. SCAN, a not-for-profit California-based health plan, has a history of successful care management of dual eligibles, having developed a multi-pronged, member-specific approach to reaching dual eligibles that has earned kudos from the healthcare industry.

“You must develop a model that includes what’s happening in the home,” continues Dr. Schwab, “Because the social and home environment impacts everything, including compliance with medications and the physician’s medical advice. It encompasses nutrition and transportation issues. If the person lives where they have no access to transportation, you’ll have to be able to provide that.”

The community connection is essential as well, contributes Pamme Taylor, WellCare’s vice president of advocacy and community-based programs. The philosophy that healthcare is local — and therefore, care needs to be local and community-based — forms the core of WellCare’s efforts to connect its dually eligible population to health services, Ms. Taylor explains. The Tampa-based healthcare company takes a culturally competent approach to assessing duals’ unique personal circumstances, insuring their “soft landing” into WellCare’s care coordination system.

Care managers at the heart of WellCare’s multidisciplinary team, conducting a comprehensive needs assessment with each Medicare-Medicaid beneficiary and driving the resulting care plan, ensure duals’ complex care needs are met at the most appropriate time and level.

Click here for an executive summary of the Dual Eligibles survey results.

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