Healthcare Business Week in Review: Childhood Obesity, Dual Eligibles, ACOs, Patient Activation Measures

Friday, November 1st, 2013
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Last year at this time we watched with disbelief as Hurricane Sandy pummeled our East coastline. Schools closed, power shut down, and Halloween was officially postponed until early November when it was considered safe for children to trick or treat.

Our own town is still recovering from the storm; scarred, vacant houses share the same block as rehabbed homes on stilt-like platforms; trailers double for once elegant restaurants and broken docks and abandoned boats patiently ride the crests of ocean waves.

It was a rocky year for healthcare as well, from an early surge in Medicare ACOs, to the embattled introduction of ACA-mandated health insurance exchanges during a government shutdown.

But many things remained the same; childhood obesity rates continued to climb , as did public health efforts to control it, including counseling and nutritional guidance, according to a new trends report from NCQA. Poverty continued to plague many Americans, particularly dual eligibles, but companies like Wellcare did their best to help them by closing social gaps with health-oriented community connections looking to “give back,” as its vice president of advocacy and community-based programs executive director Pamme Taylor demonstrates in this week’s featured book excerpt.

Organizations like HealthEast and Mercy utilized clinical analytics technologies from Optum to better understand and manage treatment for patients with chronic conditions, and advance performance for its newly formed accountable care organization (ACO).

And doctors’ policies toward accepting new Medicaid patients in the wake of expanded coverage will most likely stay the same, according to a study from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. The decade-plus study found that physicians might be more likely to stop accepting those patients who remain uninsured, however, as our story details.

And lastly, self-management continues to result in better patient outcomes, according to researchers from the Boston Medical Center. Patient activation, or having the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to manage one’s health, leads to better health following hospital discharge, and lower readmission rates. Screening for patient activation could not only help hospitals identify patients at risk for readmission, but also inform the development of tailored, cost-effective intervention plans.

How did your healthcare organization fare in 2013? And what plans do you have the future? Tell us by completing our ninth annual survey on Healthcare Trends for 2014 and you’ll receive a free executive summary of the results. One respondent will win a training DVD of the “2014 Healthcare Trends and Forecasts” webinar recorded on October 30, 2013.

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