Archive for May, 2018

Guest Post: 3 Steps to Successfully Model Hospital-Payer Contracts

May 24th, 2018 by Brad Olin

Allowing your healthcare organization time to prepare for modeling long-term contracts can be the difference in maintaining revenue integrity.

When a hospital’s financial success is largely based on its ability to accurately collect reimbursement, allowing your healthcare organization time to prepare for modeling long-term contracts can be the difference in maintaining revenue integrity.

But how can you be absolutely sure your organization isn’t leaving money on the table?

One way (and probably the most direct route to the answer) is to start with contract governance by establishing a foundation of accuracy to (re)evaluate the current process your organization has for modeling contracts. This allows your organization to take a deeper dive into your payer contracts and determine the root cause(s) of your current issues.

Because without accurate data and analytics supporting your current contracts, how can you be expected to confidently predict future reimbursement and outcomes?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I understand my current contract composition?
  • Am I benchmarking against competing payers’ overall performance, current market rate, leadership dependencies, etc.?
  • Has my organization implemented a scorecard to measure its performance?

Initiating the Negotiation

Let’s begin with understanding the components within your current contracts.

Ask yourself “What don’t I know about my current contracts?”

While knowing which specific areas of care you need to address is certainly important to discuss prior to (re)negotiations, being aware of what you don’t know lets you gain a more comprehensive understanding of other aspects of care you may be neglecting, but have significant impact on your reimbursement rates (i.e. reimbursement rate schedule, claims adjustment schedule, etc.)

Before the negotiations begin, it’s important to look at all options for negotiating the conversation and identify any barriers that may hinder your organization’s ability to leverage any power in the negotiation. For example, some contracts include provisions with a notice window prior to its auto-renewal.

Keep in mind, however, that if both parties are on good terms and mutually agree to discuss payer contracts, negotiations can still take place despite what the contract may say.

The next step is to reassess the contract terms of the base agreement and its amendments, regardless of the date of those initial agreements. Take note that generic language and changes during prior negotiations do not necessarily dictate future contract terms. Then, you can isolate which areas of care within your organization are most important to your organization that is not a provision of the current contract.

Setting Benchmarks

After an organization has done their homework and prepared a list of objectives to achieve during the negotiations, the next step is to figure out with the payer how you’re currently performing under the current contracts.

Using a set of predetermined contract performance metrics, you can compare projected and current conditions side-by-side to determine what financial improvements you can realistically expect to see in the near future.

While every hospital comes with its own unique set of challenges, here is a list of common performance benchmarks any organization can use to establish a basis for how they should be performing in specific areas of care:

  • Benchmark against original projections—Comparing actual performance against what was projected when negotiated.
  • Benchmark against current/projected high-volume services—Mining your claims data and assess the current revenue value per service, particularly those that are growing in volume.
  • Benchmark against industry benchmarks—Convert proprietary contract reimbursements to a percentage or charge equivalent and a Medicare relativity to assess the playing field.
  • Benchmark against leadership dependencies—Establish what role this payer needs to play in supporting your organization.
  • Benchmark against competing payers’ overall performance—Revisit against competing payers’ overall performance.

By combining industry benchmarks with accurate data to gain a clearer understanding of your projected financial impact, the hospital can gain a clearer understanding of how they’ll execute their goals and eventually develop a consistent routine for modeling future payer contracts as well.

Using Scorecards to Measure Payer Performance

After you’ve established set goals and a realistic plan for executing those goals, the final step involves measuring the success of your payer contracts using a variety of standardized metrics. These metrics include:

  • Year-over-year collections
  • Collections by payer
  • Collections by month
  • Collections by service code

Through the use of a scorecard, hospitals can engage in more proactive negotiations with the payer by presenting accurate data metrics to justify future contracts and mapping out any areas that are falling short of expectations. Then, hospitals can focus on why it did not meet expectations and use that information to be better prepared for the next set of payer negotiations.

Any organization can make a list of things they need to improve on for future contract negotiations, but without accurate data driving each negotiation, hospitals can’t confidently make realistic predictions on how it will affect their financial standing, say, a year from now.

At the end of the day, what all the negotiations really comes down to is whether or not your organization is able to maintain revenue integrity year-in and year-out. Building on a foundation of accurate data, hospitals can prepare for negotiations by learning how to properly initiate the negotiation, set benchmarks, and measure the payer performance. This, in turn, will allow your organization to meet their financial goals and produce more predictable results.

Brad Olin

Brad Olin

About the Author:

Brad Olin is the Marketing Communications Specialist at PMMC, a leading provider of revenue cycle management solutions for hospitals and healthcare systems across the U.S. Brad offers a modern outlook into the evolution of the healthcare industry and general practices used to grow an organization’s revenue integrity.

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 remains with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

Infographic: Provider Appointment Wait Times

May 23rd, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

With an on-demand economy, patients value convenience in their healthcare experience, according to a new infographic by athenahealth, Inc.

The infographic examines patients’ perceptions and the impact of provider appointment wait times, along with ways to reduce these wait times.

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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Infographic: The Journey to Population Wellness

May 21st, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Population health has become a puzzle of processes and technologies to improve health outcomes, enhance the physician-patient experience, and reduce costs. The healthcare industry must work together to chart a path toward interoperability, analytics and care tools that will impact the future of population health and wellness, according to a new infographic by Transcend Insights.

The infographic helps convey this journey in alignment with key findings from a Healthcare Financial Management Association executive survey on population health.

Care Coordination in an ACO: Population Health Management from Wellness to End-of-LifeWhen acknowledging its position as a top-ranking Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), Memorial Hermann is quick to credit its own physicians—who in 2007 lobbied for a clinically integrated network that formed the foundation of the current Memorial Hermann accountable care organization (ACO). Now, collaboration and integration continue to be the engines driving the ACO’s cost savings, reduced utilization and healthy patient engagement rates associated with Memorial Hermann ACO’s highest-risk population.

Care Coordination in an ACO: Population Health Management from Wellness to End-of-Life details Memorial Hermann’s carefully executed journey to quality and the culmination of the ACO’s community-based care management program.

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Infographic: Hospital Adoption of Alternative Payment and Delivery Models

May 18th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Hospitals and health systems continue to test and adopt alternative payment and delivery models, such as ACOs, medical homes, and performance-based payment, according to a new infographic by the American Hospital Association.

The infographic examines market trends for value-based payment and delivery models.

Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS SuccessA laser focus on population health interventions and processes can generate immediate revenue streams for fledgling accountable care organizations that support the hard work of creating a sustainable ACO business model. This population health priority has proven a lucrative strategy for Caravan Health, whose 23 ACO clients saved more than $26 million across approximately 250,000 covered lives in 2016 under the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success examines Caravan Health’s population health-focused approach for ACOs and its potential for positioning ACOs for success under MSSP and MACRA’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

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10 Critical Care Coordination Model Elements for Medicaid Managed Care Members

May 17th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

There are 10 critical elements of the care coordination model for Independent Health Care Plan (iCare) Medicaid managed care members, according to Lisa Holden, vice president of accountable care, iCare.

The first element and touchpoint for Medicaid managed care members is their care coordinator. “Every single one of our incoming SSI Medicaid members is assigned to a care coordinator,” Holden told participants in the May 2018 webinar, Medicaid Member Engagement: A Telephonic Care Coordination Relationship-Building Strategy, now available for replay. “That person is responsible for everything to do with that member’s coordination of care.”

Care coordinators are assigned to every Medicaid member and are responsible for engaging and coordinating member’s care needs.

“We want our care coordinators to make an initial phone call as early as a couple of days after the member is enrolled in our plan,” she said. “If the member is interested in having a conversation, we offer to conduct a health risk assessment. But if the timing isn’t right, then we offer to schedule another appointment. There’s no pressure except that we want them to feel engaged by us.”

Once completed, the health risk assessment forms the basis of an interdisciplinary individualized care plan created by the care coordinator with the member.

The care coordinator, who is a social worker by background, has access to a nurse, who is available for medically complex members, said Holden.

iCare also relies on health coaches. Health coaches are now teaming up with a care coordinator as much as, if not more than, the nurses are historically, Holden said.

“Our health coaches are literally assigned to work in the community to become very familiar with the resources that are available,” she added. “They are becoming steeped in the communities in which they serve. Each one is assigned to a neighborhood, and we’ve asked them, ‘Get to know the police. Get to know the fire. Get to know the food organizations and food pantries. Get to know the housing specialists in your area.'”

The health coaches also help the care coordinators locate difficult-to-contact members by being in the community as a boots on the ground force. They’re also focused on assessing and addressing social determinants of health.

“We really believe that health coaches are going to be the key to our success in this year and in years to come,” Holden explained.

In addition to the care coordinators, health coaches and nurses, the care coordination team includes two specialized positions…a trauma-informed intervention specialist and a mental health and substance abuse intervention specialist. “We brought those two specialties into this program for our Medicaid members because we know that there’s a high instance of behavioral health conditions, which usually has another diagnosis of alcohol and drug use, not always, but quite often. We wanted to have the team ready to engage the member,” said Holden.

Once the member is engaged, iCare’s care coordination team begins to identify unmet needs, she explained. “We want to know, ‘Is their life going well? Do they have appropriate medical care? Are they in a relationship with a primary care provider that they feel is co-respectful? Are they getting their answers to their questions?'”

To begin talking about medical needs, the care coordination team has to establish trust, said Holden. “We have to talk with the member in an honest way that reflects our respect for them and also engages them in order for them to tell us how they really feel.”

iCare uses the Patient Activation Measure tool to help identify where the member is in a spectrum of four different levels of activation. iCare then tailors its member engagement approach to build a trusting relationship and provide member education by recognizing where they are in their activation level.

Following up on preventive measures are key for the iCare care coordination model. Care coordinators reach out to members for care plan updates. The care plan has to be alive and very member-centric, said Holden. The health risk assessment is repeated each year and the care plan is updated based on those results.

iCare is also focusing on social determinants of health with the recognition that they impact a members’ health more than clinical care. Clinical care attributes to only about 20 percent of somebody’s health outcomes; the rest of that 80 percent is made up of by health behaviors, social and economic factors, and physical environment. “If we don’t get underneath those issues, we can ask for things to improve, but we’re going to see minimal success,” Holden added.

During the webinar, Holden also shared: how the care coordinators helps Medicaid members overcome barriers to care; seven rising risk/acuity identification tools; readmission prevention initiatives for high-risk patients; three programs aimed at reducing high emergency department utilization; and details on a Follow-to-Home program for members who are homeless. Holden also shared: details on language to use…and not to use…when engaging members; advice on the best time to connect with members by phone, such as time of day, specific days of the months; the role of the specialist interventionist compared to the care coordinator; and the background of iCare’s care coordinators and health coaches.

Click here to view the webinar today or order a DVD or CD of the conference proceedings.

Infographic: Health as a Whole: How Does Your Community Measure Up?

May 16th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

The U.S. Census measured different facets of a community and ranked the best counties of the United States according to the health of those communities. The components used to measure community health can be used as a gauge for a community’s health, according to a new infographic by Pepid.

The infographic examines the 10 components used to rank community health as well as their weighted impact.

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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Guest Post: How States are Funding Better Care with Medicaid 1115 Waivers

May 15th, 2018 by Elizabeth Lagone

As a result of the shift toward value-based reimbursement models, states are designing and implementing innovative programs to reform how healthcare is delivered and reimbursed.

As healthcare transitions to value-based care models, optimal health system performance is being defined as enhancing the experience and outcome of the patient, improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare, also known as the triple aim in healthcare.

As a result of this shift, states are designing and implementing innovative programs to reform how healthcare is delivered and paid for. To fund innovation and provide more resources for collaboration and care management, many states have leveraged funds available under federal Section 1115 Medicaid demonstration waiver programs.

Many states such as California and New York have enacted successful initiatives to improve population health outcomes through better care coordination, population health, and patient engagement. Known as Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (“DSRIP”) Programs, many states are requesting funds under the 1115 waiver and are starting the process of encouraging enhanced collaboration to meet outcomes and satisfaction performance incentives. Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the federal government approved the first DSRIP initiatives in California.

As of February 2018, 10 states are using Section 1115 waivers to implement DSRIP initiatives.

As more states look to reduce unnecessary and costly healthcare utilization and improve patient outcomes through delivery reform, there are many ways that the funds can be used to drive success. From augmenting community resources such as affordable housing and transportation services to incentivizing better care management and coordination of health services, state organizations are taking positive steps to improve their community’s health. While taking these steps can be challenging, the potential rewards are massive.

Current DSRIP Programs are Improving Patient Care

States further along in their DSRIP journeys are seeing great success. To date, the funds have been used to deploy care management programs, such as in the case of New York State’s popular DSRIP program, 2di, healthcare coaching and navigation. Under this program, providers are helping provide patients with the tools necessary to take control of their care. With community referrals and care navigators, patient care is better managed and tailored to each individual’s needs.

Meanwhile, in California, project funds have already been shown to drive success in preventive care measures such as increasing cancer screening and flu vaccination rates among the older DSRIP-eligible patients. These early success indicators provide a baseline for what other states can achieve. As new states such as Texas and Washington take advantage of the 1115 waiver, there are many possibilities for how Medicaid patients may benefit from the grants and investments provided to participating providers.

What States Can Do to Take Full Advantage of the Waiver

As new states begin their own DSRIP journeys, understanding what criteria is most beneficial to meet, how to meet them, and how to report on them is critical. Specifically, there are three things that states should consider when implementing their programs—develop data-driven insights, manage implementation processes, and scale care coordination.

1. Manage Implementation Processes with a Goal for Sustainability: Many of the DSRIP initiatives encourage providers and community partners work together to align local needs and priorities. Since there is a significant administrative lift involved in reaching DSRIP initiatives, time and resources are key investments to ensure long-term success. This includes fostering stakeholder engagement and education; establishing IT, reporting, and reimbursement infrastructure; allocating resources dedicated to legal and financial administration of DSRIP entities; allocating appropriate resources for project selection, implementation, and ongoing management to support sustainability; and identifying and funding new services to empower partners in achieving their DSRIP goals. Although initial phases of DSRIP projects focus on building infrastructure, it is important to develop these processes with a focus on the long-term measurement and improvement of clinical processes and value-based payment models.

2. Engage Patients in a New Way: To encourage preventive health efforts, reduce avoidable hospitalizations and readmissions, and improve healthcare outcomes for low-income patients, providers need to engage patients in a new way while optimizing available resources. Enhancing communication and connectivity between patients and their care teams and improving the ability to navigate and obtain needed clinical and social services is critical for changing the Medicaid healthcare landscape. Simultaneously, it is essential that systems consider available resources (and constraints) and optimize available technologies. Through embracing workflow enhancements and innovation, systems will enhance their ability to outreach and engage high and at-risk patient populations.

3. Scale Care Coordination: Participating providers will need to work with multiple provider types across the care continuum to optimize project design, implementation, and funds flow. Since care management services and providers traditionally operate in silos, DSRIP entities must establish effective integrated care management systems with partners. This will mean needing to face interoperability issues head-on to effectively coordinate care and promote collaboration across different regional providers. As processes are created, it is key to develop clearly-defined roles for each partner type, expected activities, appropriate metrics and outcomes, and reimbursement methodology to promote interoperable communication and documentation systems.

In this era of value-based care, successful transformation of healthcare at the system and state levels requires trusted partnership across the care continuum. Healthcare organizations across the country can make the most of the funds through the 1115 waiver by putting the right people, processes, and technologies in place early on. It will be exciting to see over time how these programs aim to improve access, quality, and coordination of care for at-risk patient populations by enhancing care transitions between healthcare systems and community support services.

Liz Lagone

Liz Lagone

About the Author:

Elizabeth Lagone, MPH, is the Vice President of Government Programs at CipherHealth. Prior to her current role at CipherHealth, Lagone served as the Primary Care Strategy and Improvement Director for DSRIP Initiatives at One City Health, a subsidiary of NYC Health + Hospitals focused on population health, care management, and implementation of the state’s DSRIP program.

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 remains with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

Infographic: Big Data Healthcare Trends Will Improve Outcomes

May 14th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Improved technology will play a pivotal role in the collection and analysis of big data for healthcare facilities. Healthcare providers will have access to large data sets to help improve their patients’ overall well-being, according to a new infographic by Compliant Healthcare Technologies.

The infographic examines how big data analytics will drive healthcare forward.

Predictive Healthcare Analytics: Four Pillars for SuccessWith an increasing percentage of at-risk healthcare payments, the Allina Health System’s Minneapolis Heart Institute began to drill down on the reasons for clinical variations among its cardiovascular patients. The Heart Institute’s Center for Healthcare Delivery Innovation, charged with analyzing and reducing unnecessary clinical variation, has saved over $155 million by reducing this unnecessary clinical variation through its predictive analytics programs.

During Predictive Healthcare Analytics: Four Pillars for Success, a 45-minute webinar on March 29th now available for replay, Pam Rush, cardiovascular clinical service line program director at Allina Health, and Dr. Steven Bradley, cardiologist, Minneapolis Heart Institute (MHI) and associate director, MHI Healthcare Delivery Innovation Center, shared their organization’s four pillars of predictive analytics success…addressing population health issues, reducing clinical variation, testing new processes and leveraging an enterprise data warehouse. Click here for more information.

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Infographic: Health Systems Rely on Distribution

May 11th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Nearly all hospitals and health systems rely on healthcare distributors to optimize their supply chain, according to a new infographic by the Health Industry Distributors Association.

The infographic details supply chain executives’ satisfaction with distributors’ expertise, and other healthcare supply chain trends.

Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS SuccessA laser focus on population health interventions and processes can generate immediate revenue streams for fledgling accountable care organizations that support the hard work of creating a sustainable ACO business model. This population health priority has proven a lucrative strategy for Caravan Health, whose 23 ACO clients saved more than $26 million across approximately 250,000 covered lives in 2016 under the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success examines Caravan Health’s population health-focused approach for ACOs and its potential for positioning ACOs for success under MSSP and MACRA’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today.

Have an infographic you’d like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.

Infographic: Healthcare Access and Affordability

May 9th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Affordability of healthcare plays a key role in advancing access to care. Community and legislative efforts are increasingly focused on this issue.

A new infographic by the American Hospital Association examines healthcare affordability concerns.

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.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today.

Have an infographic you’d like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.