Archive for January, 2018

Infographic: The Evolution of Smart Healthcare

January 31st, 2018 by Melanie Matthews


Healthcare efficiency improves and waste declines as the use of smart healthcare expands, according to a new infographic by Deloitte.

The infographic defines “smart healthcare,” and examines what’s driving the move toward smart care and the impact of technology on these drivers.

Remote Patient Monitoring for Chronic Condition Management: Leveraging Technology in a Value-Based System Encouraged by early success in coaching 23 patients to wellness at home via remote monitoring, CHRISTUS Health expanded its remote patient monitoring (RPM) enrollment to 170 high-risk, high-cost patients. At that scaling-up juncture, the challenge for CHRISTUS shifted to balancing its mission of keeping patients healthy and in their homes with maintaining revenue streams sufficient to keep its doors open in a largely fee-for-service environment.

Remote Patient Monitoring for Chronic Condition Management: Leveraging Technology in a Value-Based System chronicles the evolution of the CHRISTUS RPM pilot, which is framed around a Bluetooth®-enabled monitoring kit sent home with patients at hospital discharge.

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Infographic: Medicare Home Health Beneficiaries

January 29th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Home healthcare patients are among the poorest, sickest and most vulnerable beneficiaries in the Medicare program, according to a new infographic by the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.

The infographic compares a traditional Medicare beneficiary with a Medicare home health beneficiary and factors that demonstrate why Medicare home health beneficiaries are financially vulnerable.

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI A care transitions management program operated by Sun Health since 2011 has significantly reduced hospital readmissions for nearly 12,000 Medicare patients, resulting in $14.8 million in savings to the Medicare program. Using home visits as a core strategy, the Sun Health Care Transitions program was a top performer in CMS’s recently concluded Community-Based Care Transitions (CBCT) demonstration project, which was launched in 2012 to explore new solutions for reducing hospital readmissions, improving quality and achieving measurable savings for Medicare.

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI explores the critical five pillars of the Arizona non-profit’s leading care transitions management initiative, adapted from the Coleman Care Transitions Intervention®.

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Infographic: State Telehealth Laws and Medicaid Program Policies

January 26th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Forty-nine states have a definition for telehealth or telemedicine, according to a new infographic by the Center for Connected Health.

The infographic examines Medicaid reimbursement for telehealth along with features of telehealth programs and program requirements.

Real-time remote management of high-risk populations curbed hospitalizations, hospital readmissions and ER visits for more than 80 percent of respondents and boosted self-management levels for nearly all remotely monitored patients, according to 2014 market data from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN).

Remote Monitoring of High-Risk Patients: Telehealth Protocols for Chronic Care Management profiles a successful eight-year initiative by New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s (NYCHHC) House Calls Telehealth Program that significantly lowered patients’ A1C blood glucose levels.

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8 Findings from CMS Medicare Chronic Care Management Assessment

January 26th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

YNHHS embedded care coordination

Medicare Chronic Care Management services reduced healthcare utilization and likelihood of hospital admissions for CCM recipients, according to a new CMS report.

Beneficiaries who received Chronic Care Management (CCM) services experienced a lower growth rate in healthcare expenditures compared to those who did not receive CCM services, according to a new evaluation report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The lower rate of growth in total Medicare per beneficiary per month (PBPM) expenditures ranged from $28 to $74, after removing the average monthly CCM fee of $29.

The Medicare and Medicaid payor released the report on the diffusion and impact of CCM payment during the program’s first two years of implementation.

In January 2015, CMS introduced a separately billable non-face-to-face Chronic Care Management service (CPT code 99490). The goal of CCM is to improve Medicare beneficiaries’ access to chronic care management in primary care.

Here are seven more findings from the evaluation report:

  • Over 684,000 beneficiaries received CCM services from January 2015 to December 2016, the first two years of the new payment policy.
  • The decreased rate of growth was driven by decreases in expenditures for inpatient hospital services, skilled nursing facility services, and outpatient services; the decreased expenditures were partially offset by increased expenditures of home health and professional services. Researchers similarly found a lower rate of growth among CCM beneficiaries in hospitalizations and all-cause emergency department visits.
  • Receipt of CCM services was also associated with a reduced likelihood of an admission for the ambulatory care sensitive conditions of diabetes, congestive heart failure, urinary tract infection, and pneumonia among CCM beneficiaries, relative to the comparison beneficiaries.
  • A total of 16,549 individual healthcare providers billed for a total of $105.8 million in CCM fees in the first two years of the new payment policy.
  • Chronic Care Management beneficiaries were generally concentrated in the South and had poorer health status than the general Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) population.
  • About 19 percent of beneficiaries only received one month of CCM services; however the majority of beneficiaries received between four and ten months of CCM services, on average.
  • Primary care physicians (PCPs) billed for 68 percent of CCM claims and 42 percent of CCM billers were solo practitioners. Individual providers billed for $105.8 million in CCM fees during the first 24 months of the program and, on average, managed about 47 patients per month. However, the median number of patients was 10, indicating that the average was skewed by a small number of providers delivering CCM services to many beneficiaries. This translates to about $300 in CCM fees per month for providers furnishing CCM services to 10 beneficiaries.

The report did not examine the impact of 2017 CCM policy revisions that significantly increased payment for providing CCM to more medically complex patients.

Read the complete CMS Chronic Care Management evaluation report.

In Successful ACOs, Population Health Focus Paves Way for Shared Savings Payouts

January 25th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

Physician practices toiling in fledgling ACOs and obsessing over shared savings that have not yet materialized, take heart: population health offers multiple revenue streams for accountable care organizations waiting for the “gravy” of accountable care.

“Gravy” is the way Tim Gronniger, senior vice president of development and strategy for Caravan Health, refers to ACO shared savings payouts, which he says can take considerable time to accrue.

“It is literally two years from the time you jump into an ACO before you have even the chance of a shared savings payout,” Gronniger told participants in Generating Population Health Revenue: ACO Best Practices for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success, a January 2018 webcast now available for replay.

Obsessing over shared savings is one of the biggest mistakes hospitals in ACOs can make, he added.

This delay is one reason Caravan Health urges its ACOs to adopt a population health focus, whether pursuing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Payment Program (QPP) Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

Gronniger’s advice is predicated on his organization’s experience of mentoring 38 ACOs. In 2016, Caravan Health’s ACOs saved more than $26 million in the MSSP program and achieved higher than average quality scores and quality reporting scores, according to recently released CMS data.

Walking attendees through a MACRA primer, Gronniger underscored the challenges of the MIPS program, one of three tracks offered under the Quality Payment Program. “Barring a really exceptional performance on MIPS, you can’t even break even over the next few years on physician compensation,” he said.

In the meantime, ACOs should utilize recently rolled out Medicare billing codes, from the annual wellness visit (AWV) to advanced care planning, to generate wellness revenue. With proper planning, reengineering of staffing and clinical work flows, a practice could generate anywhere from five hundred to one thousand dollars annually per eligible Medicare patient, Gronniger estimates—monies that offset the cost of constructing a sustainable ACO business model.

To back up this population health rationale, Gronniger pointed to data from an ACO client demonstrating the impact of a cohesive PHM approach, including the use of trained population health nurses, on completion rates for preventive screenings. For less top-of-mind screenings like falls assessment and smoking cessation, completion rates rose from negligible to near-universal levels, he said.

“These are recommended sets of screens that are required by CMS, but that also help ACOs with quality measures,” he added.

Gronniger also shared examples of dashboards, scorecards and roadmaps Caravan Health employs to help keep client ACOs on track. An ACO success strategy involves “a lot of dashboarding, checking in, and discussion of problems and barriers, discussion of solutions, and monthly and quarterly measurement and reporting back,” he said.

Beyond coveted shared savings, ACO participation offers significant non-financial benefits, including quality improvements under both MSSP and MIPS standards, availability of ACO-specific waivers, and access to proprietary performance data.

Overall, ACO participation can make providers more attractive both to commercial contractors and to potential patients perusing Physician Compare ratings in greater numbers.

Gronniger ended by weighing in on the recent recommendation by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to repeal and replace the MIPS program.

Infographic: 3 Simplified Hospital Case Costing Methods

January 24th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

To assess hospital profitability, you must know your hospital costs, according to a new infographic by MediSolv.

The infographic highlights three common hospital case costing methodologies.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2018: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare IndustryHealthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2018: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry, HIN’s 14th annual business forecast, is designed to support healthcare C-suite planning as leaders react to presidential priorities and seek new strategies for engaging providers, patients and health plan members in value-based care.

HIN’s highly anticipated annual strategic playbook opens with perspectives from industry thought leader Brian Sanderson, managing principal, healthcare services, Crowe Horwath, who outlines a roadmap to healthcare provider success by examining the key issues, challenges and opportunities facing providers in the year to come. Following Sanderson’s outlook is guidance for healthcare payors from David Buchanan, president, Buchanan Strategies, on navigating seven hot button areas for insurers, from the future of Obamacare to the changing face of telehealth to the surprising role grocery stores might one day play in healthcare delivery. Click here for more information.

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Guest Post: Patient Engagement Technology Tool for Preventing Hospital Readmissions in Chronic Patients

January 23rd, 2018 by Allison Hart, Vice President of Marketing, TeleVox Solutions at West

While almost all chronic care patients say they need help managing their disease, less than one-third receive regular check-ins from healthcare providers.

During the past decade, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have increased the pressure on hospitals to prevent readmissions. In response to that pressure, many hospitals made changes that have led to declines in readmission rates. However, even with more measures in place to prevent readmissions than ever before, the risk of being readmitted to the hospital is still high for patients with chronic illnesses.

Studies have shown that the risk of adverse health effects increases with each hospitalization. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to keep chronic patients from readmitting once they have been hospitalized. Because of this, it is important that healthcare teams prioritize chronic disease management, and work to engage and support chronic patients. One tool that can help with this is the patient engagement technology many healthcare teams already have in place.

Survey responses indicate that chronic patients welcome efforts from their healthcare team that are aimed at managing disease and preventing hospital admissions and readmissions. A West survey found that 91 percent of chronic patients say they need help managing their disease, and at least 70 percent would like more resources or clarity on how to manage their condition. Additionally, 75 percent of chronic patients want their healthcare provider to touch base with them regularly so they can be alerted of potential issues.

Although patients with chronic conditions have expressed that they desire more assistance from their healthcare providers, they are not necessarily receiving it. For example, more than half (54 percent) of patients feel a weekly or twice-weekly check-in from their provider would be valuable, yet only 30 percent of patients report receiving regular check-ins. This shows that, in some cases, providers could be doing much more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Providers seem to be underestimating patients’ interest in chronic care and their desire to receive support. Patients have suggested that they not only want assistance with managing chronic conditions, they would also be willing to pay for that extra support. Many providers are unaware that their patients feel this way. When asked if their patients would agree to pay 10 dollars per month for additional chronic care support, just over half (53 percent) of providers answered “yes.” However, two-thirds of patients say they would be willing to pay a nominal amount for chronic care support. The eye-opening response from patients confirms that chronic disease management is in demand—more so than providers realize. It also suggests that some providers may need to do more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Chronic Care Management Enrollment

One way healthcare teams can better serve chronic patients and potentially prevent readmissions is by enrolling patients in chronic disease management programs. Chronic care programs, like Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program, require a lot of communication on the part of the healthcare team. Automating some of the communication and outreach makes it easier for providers to offer ongoing chronic care support. Healthcare teams can use their patient engagement technology to:

  • Send patients messages to invite them to enroll in a chronic care program. Using information from electronic health records, healthcare teams can identify patients that are eligible for chronic care management programs. (Patients must have two or more chronic conditions to enroll in Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program.) Then, they can use their patient engagement technology to send patients automated messages with information about the benefits of participating in a chronic care program, and instructions or links for patients to enroll or get further information.
  • Schedule disease-specific preventive screenings and tests. The Chronic Care Management program mandates that patients receive recommended preventive services. Care managers can schedule and send patients automated text messages, emails or voice messages to notify them when they are due for preventive screenings and tests. Patients with diabetes, for example, would automatically receive messages when they are due for an A1C test, foot exam or eye exam.
  • Send medication reminders and messages. Providers are required to manage and reconcile medications for patients enrolled in the Chronic Care Management program. Providers can assign medication reminders and send automated messages to ensure patients know how and when to take their medication, and that they don’t forget to take it.

Communication that engages chronic patients and aids them in disease management can result in better health outcomes and fewer readmissions. Engagement communications can be easily automated, meaning outreach does not require excessive time or resources. Hospitals and healthcare providers have incentives to reduce readmissions, and in many cases, they have the technology in place to make chronic disease management efficient and effective.

About the Author: Allison Hart is a regularly published advocate for utilizing technology-enabled communications to engage and activate patients beyond the clinical setting. She leads thought leadership efforts for West’s TeleVox Solutions, promoting the idea that engaging with patients between healthcare appointments in meaningful ways will encourage and inspire them to follow and embrace treatment plans – and that activating these positive behaviors ultimately leads to better outcomes for both healthcare organizations and patients. Hart currently serves as Vice President of Marketing for TeleVox Solutions at West, where the healthcare mission is to help organizations harness communications to expand the boundaries of where, when, and how healthcare is delivered.

HIN Disclaimer: The opinions, representations and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of the Healthcare Intelligence Network as a whole. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

Infographic: Rural Hospital Closures Since 2010

January 22nd, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

There have been 83 rural hospital closures since 2010 and 125 since 2005, according to a new infographic by Stroudwater.

The infographic breaks down the hospitals’ Medicare payment type, location, whether or not the hospitals are located in a Medicaid expansion state and the closure year.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Community Health PartnershipsIncreasingly, healthcare organizations are forging community partnerships to bridge care gaps and improve population health status. This alignment of care and resources ranges from providing transportation to doctors’ appointments to scheduling EMT visits to visit the homebound elderly following their hospitalization. Working in tandem with community groups addresses social determinants of health (SDOH) and produces clinical and financial benefits that are recognized and rewarded by today’s value-based healthcare reimbursement models.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Community Health Partnerships documents the efforts of 81 healthcare organizations to align clinical interventions with neighborhood collaborations to improve health, wellness and socioeconomic factors in the populations they serve. These metrics are compiled from responses to the October 2017 Community Health Partnerships survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network. Click here for more information.

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Infographic: Assessing Patient Communication

January 19th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Healthcare providers can increase the chance of their words having their desired effect by assessing their communication skills in the moment, according to a new infographic by Health Communication Partners.

The infographic gives you five essential patient communication elements and five questions you can ask about your communication.

UnityPoint Health has moved from a siloed approach to improving the patient experience at each of its locations to a system-wide approach that encompasses a consistent, baseline experience while still allowing for each institution to address its specific needs.

Armed with data from its Press Ganey and CAHPS® Hospital Survey scores, UnityPoint’s patient experience team developed a front-line staff-driven improvement action plan.

Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action Plan, a 45-minute webinar on July 27th, now available for replay, Paige Moore, director, patient experience at UnityPoint Health—Des Moines, shares how the organization switched from a top-down, leadership-driven patient experience improvement approach to one that engages front-line staff to own the process.

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Assessing MIPS’ Fate: “MedPAC Vote Would Not Affect 2018 Under Any Scenario”

January 18th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

Tim Gronniger

Tim Gronniger, Senior VP of Development and Strategy, Caravan Health

Amidst healthcare provider outcry over last week’s vote by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to repeal and replace the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), an industry thought leader sought to remind physician groups that no change to MIPS is imminent.

“MedPAC is an advisory body, not a legislative one,” said Tim Gronniger, senior vice president of development and strategy for Caravan Health, a provider solutions for healthcare organizations interested in value-based payment models, including accountable care organizations (ACOs).

“Congress would need to adopt MedPAC’s recommendations in order for the changes to go into effect. It is reasonable to expect MIPS to evolve over time, but that evolution will be gradual. [MedPAC’s vote on MIPS] would not affect 2018 under any scenario.”

Gronniger made his comments during Generating Population Health Revenue: ACO Best Practices for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success, a January 2018 webcast sponsored by the Healthcare Intelligence Network and now available for rebroadcast.

Earlier this month, MedPAC voted 14-2 to scrap the MIPS program, describing it in a presentation to members as “burdensome and complex.” According to the advisory commission, “MIPS will not succeed in helping beneficiaries choose clinicians, helping clinicians change practice patterns to improve value, or helping the Medicare program to reward clinicians based on value.”

MedPAC is expected to pass this recommendation along to Congress in coming months, along with a proposed alternative. In MIPS’s place, MedPAC is suggesting a voluntary value program (VVP) in which “group performance will be assessed using uniform population-based measures in the categories of clinical quality, patient experience, and value.”

MGMA’s Anders Gilberg reacts to the MedPAC ruling.

Among the provider groups reacting to MedPAC’s actions was the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). In a Twitter post, Anders Gilberg, MGMA’s senior vice president for government affairs, called the VVP alternative “a poor replacement,” claiming it “would conscript physician groups into virtual groups and grade them on broad claims-based measures.”

The day prior to the January 11 vote, MGMA had reached out in a letter to Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), requesting CMS to immediately release 2018 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) eligibility information, which it called “vital to the complex clinical and administrative coordination necessary to participate in MIPS.”