Archive for the ‘Accountable Care Organizations’ Category

Infographic: Healthcare Technology Trends 2017

July 12th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

With it’s renewed focus on patient engagement and experience, the healthcare industry is adopting the latest in digital technologies to enhance the quality of patient care, data security, and cost control, according to a new infographic by Experion Technologies.

The infographic examines how nine key technology trends are impacting the industry.

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Digital HealthDigital health, also referred to as ‘connected health,’ leverages technology to help identify, track and manage health problems and challenges faced by patients. Person-centric health management is slowly acknowledging the device-driven lives of patients and health plan members and incorporating these tools into care delivery and management efforts.

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Digital Health examines program goals, platforms, components, development strategies, target populations and health conditions, patient engagement metrics, results and challenges reported by more than 100 healthcare organizations responding to the February 2016 Digital Health survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

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In Montefiore Social Determinants of Health Screening, Patients’ Needs Shape SDOH Workflow

July 11th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan
 Clinical factors drive 15 percent of a patient's well-being; social determinants of health like finances drive the rest.


Clinical factors drive 15 percent of a patient’s well-being; social determinants of health like finances drive the rest.

In Dr. Amanda Parsons’ twenty-something years in healthcare, she has never implemented a program as widely embraced as Montefiore Health System’s Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) screening.

“It was one of the few times in my career that I didn’t encounter physician resistance,” said Dr. Parsons, Montefiore’s vice president of community and population health. The health system’s screening assesses patients for a host of SDOH factors that drive 85 percent of their well-being, including housing, food security, access to care or medications, finances, transportation and violence.

Following assessment, the goal is to connect individuals who screen positively for SDOHs with assistance from the area’s robust network of community organizations.

Dr. Parsons outlined her organization’s SDOH screening process, findings, challenges, and future plans during Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Collecting and Responding to Data in the Primary Care Setting, a June 2017 webcast by the Healthcare Intelligence Network now available for rebroadcast.

To get started, Montefiore piggybacked on the efforts of a few provider sites already screening for SDOHs. It then offered providers a choice of two validated screening tools, the first developed at a fifth-grade reading level, the second a more sophisticated “stressor” screen. Thirdly, it built a two-tiered triage system that leveraged social workers for individuals with very high SDOH needs, and community health workers to assist with lower-level needs.

Referrals would come from existing data banks or a host of new online referral tools, many of which Dr. Parsons mentioned during the webcast.

Interestingly, while Montefiore is fully live on an EPIC® electronic health record, SDOH screenings are currently conducted on paper, noted Dr. Parsons. This decision was one of multiple considerations in workflow creation, including respect for patient privacy.

For the time being, each Montefiore provider site selects a unique population to screen—or opts not to screen at all, if staffing is lacking. For example, one site screens all patients scheduled for annual physicals, while another screens patients recently discharged from the hospital.

In an initial readout of both screens, SDOH positivity was highest for housing and finances.

By the end of 2017, Montefiore expects to have completed more than 10,000 screenings. The health system, which serves some 700,000 patients, also plans to boost its ranks of community health workers, broadening its referral network.

Looking ahead, Montefiore will address a number of key administrative and emotional barriers. Some patient issues, like overcoming the stigma of seeing a social worker, can be minimized with a simple scripting change. Others, like alleviating an individual’s financial pain or putting a roof over a family’s head, are much more complicated.

Also needed is a process to confirm a patient has “gone that last mile” and obtained the recommended support, Dr. Parsons added.

As it expands SDOH screening, Montefiore is banking on that swell of engaged providers. As part of its mission to provide comprehensive, ‘cradle-to-grave’ care for its mostly Medicaid and otherwise government-insured population, Montefiore “intervenes even when there is no payment structure for that work,” said Dr. Parsons.

Falling into that category is SDOH screening. “Much of the Social Determinants of Health work is not very billable in the traditional paper service model, but it is incredibly important to do, regardless.”

Listen to an interview with Dr. Parsons on adapting SDOH screenings for different populations.
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2017 ACO Snapshot: As Adoption Swells, Social Determinants of Health High on Accountable Care Agenda

June 29th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Nearly two-thirds of 2017 ACO Survey respondents attribute a reduction in hospital readmissions to accountable care activity.

Healthcare organizations may have been wary back in 2011, when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) first introduced the accountable care organization (ACO) model. The HHS viewed the ACO framework as a tool to contain skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Fast-forward six years, and most resistance to ACOs appears to have dissipated. According to 2017 ACO metrics from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN), ACO adoption more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, with the number of healthcare organizations participating in ACOs rising from 34 to 71 percent.

During that same period, the percentage of ACOs using shared savings models to reimburse its providers increased from 22 to 33 percent, HIN’s fourth comprehensive ACO snapshot found.

And in the spirit of delivering patient-centered, value-based care, ACOs have embraced a whole-person approach. In new ACO benchmarks identified this year, 37 percent of ACOs assess members for social determinants of health (SDOH). In support of that trend, the 2017 survey also found that one-third of responding ACOs include behavioral health providers.

Since that first accountable care foray by HHS, the number of ACO models has proliferated. The May 2017 HIN survey found that, of current ACO initiatives, the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) remains the front runner, with MSSP participation hovering near the same 66 percent level attained in HIN’s 2013 ACO snapshot.

Looking ahead to ACO models launching in 2018, 24 percent of respondents will embrace the Medicare ACO Track 1+ Model, a payment design that incorporates more limited downside risk.

This 2017 accountable care snapshot, which reflects feedback from 104 hospitals, health systems, payors, physician practices and others, also captured the following trends:

  • More than half—57 percent—participate in the Medicare Chronic Care Management program;
  • Cost and provider reimbursement are the top ACO challenges for 18 percent of 2017 respondents;
  • Clinical outcomes are the most telling measure of ACO success, say 83 percent of responding ACOs;
  • Twenty-nine percent of respondents not currently administering an ACO expect to launch an accountable care organization in the coming year;
  • 75 percent expect CMS to try and proactively assign Medicare beneficiaries to physician ACO panels to boost patient and provider participation.

Download HIN’s latest white paper, “Accountable Care Organizations in 2017: ACO Adoption Doubles in 4 Years As Shared Savings Gain Favor,” for a summary of May 2017 feedback from 104 hospitals and health systems, multi-specialty physician practices, health plans, and others on ACO activity.

Improve Medication Adherence, and Payors Pay Attention

June 20th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan
medication adherence

Training in motivational interviewing helps Novant health set medication adherence goals that are meaningful to patients.

Seeking additional dollars from managed care contracts? Work harder at getting patients to adhere to medication therapies, advises Rebecca Bean, director of population health pharmacy for Novant Health. Here, Ms. Bean describes ways her organization is improving medication adherence, including pharmacist referrals, while enhancing Novant Health’s bottom line.

Medication adherence is a huge focus for our organization. There are some quality measures related to adherence, including CMS Star measures. They are triple-weighted, which indicates they mean a lot to payors. Often, medication adherence is a way to get additional dollars through managed care contracts. Our pharmacists work hard at helping patients adhere to medication therapies.

We have found some benefit to using adherence estimators. Adherence estimators give you a better feel for what is causing the patient to have difficulty with taking their medication. The other finding is that oftentimes providers are unaware; they have no idea patients aren’t taking medications. This becomes a safety issue; providers may keep adding blood pressure medications because they are not getting that blood pressure to goal. If for whatever reason the patient suddenly decides to take a medication they weren’t taking before, there could be a serious issue with taking all of those blood pressure medicines at one time.

The other benefit to estimating adherence and identifying root causes is that it frames the discussion with the patient. I don’t want to spend an hour talking to a patient about why it’s important to take this blood pressure medicine when it’s actually a financial issue. If I know it’s a financial issue, then I can make recommendations on cost-saving alternatives. It helps you to be more efficient in your conversation with the patient.

The other challenge of adherence is that patients are reluctant to be honest about this issue. You have to be creative to get the answers you need or get to the truth about adherence. If you flat out ask a patient if they’re taking their medications, most of the time they will say yes.

One other helpful strategy when working with patients to set adherence goals is to have them set goals that mean something to them. It’s not helpful for me to set a goal for a patient. If I ask them to tell me what they’re going to do, then they’re accountable for that. It is very helpful to get your staff trained in motivational interviewing. This trains them to meet the patients where they are and to understand what is important to that patient, which helps you frame the medication therapy discussion.

Source: Leveraging Pharmacists to Reduce Cost and Improve Medication Adherence in High-Risk Populations

pharmacists and medication adherence

Leveraging Pharmacists to Reduce Cost and Improve Medication Adherence in High-Risk Populations examines Novant Health’s deployment of pharmacists as part of its five-pronged strategy to deliver healthcare value through medication management services.

Infographic: Anatomy of the ACO Market

May 31st, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Since the first accountable care organization (ACO) came to market in 2010, the size and shape of the market has changed drastically, according to a new infographic by Oliver Wyman.

There are now 630+ ACOs in the market, plus hundreds of additional pilots being tested. The infographic presents a comprehensive analysis of the ACO market. From overall size of the market to regional differences, “winners” by type, and trends in risk-based models.

The accountable care organization, or ACO, has become a cornerstone of healthcare delivery system and payment reform by raising the bar on healthcare quality and reducing unnecessary costs. There are now more than 700 ACOs in existence today, by a 2017 SK&A estimate.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Accountable Care Organizations, HIN’s fifth compendium of metrics on ACOs, captures ACO operation in today’s value- and quality-focused healthcare environment.

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Infographic: Improving Health Literacy with Data

May 10th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Individuals are not solely responsible for increasing their health literacy, healthcare organizations are accountable too, according to a new infographic by Sagitec.

The infographic examines health literacy trends, implications, possibilities and solutions.

Framework for Patient Engagement: 6 Stages to Success in a Value-Based Health SystemIntermountain Healthcare’s strategic six-point patient engagement framework not only has transformed patient care delivered by the Salt Lake City-based organization but also has fostered an attitude of shared accountability throughout the not-for-profit health system.

Framework for Patient Engagement: 6 Stages to Success in a Value-Based Health System details Intermountain’s multilayered approach and how it supports its corporate mission: Helping people live the healthiest lives possible.

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CMS Quality Payment Program: Clinicians Should Expect MIPS Participation Status Letter This Month

May 4th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

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CMS has specified two key criteria for MIPS participation.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is reviewing claims and letting practices know which clinicians need to take part in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), according to information on MLNConnects, the CMS Medical Learning Network.

MIPS is an important part of the new Quality Payment Program (QPP). In late April through May, clinicians will get a letter from their Medicare administrative contractor that processes Medicare Part B claims, providing the participation status of each MIPS clinician associated with their Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

Clinicians should participate in MIPS in the 2017 transition year if they meet the following conditions:

  • Bill more than $30,000 in Medicare Part B allowed charges a year; and
  • Provide care for more than 100 Part B-enrolled Medicare beneficiaries a year.

The QPP intends to shift reimbursement from the volume of services provided toward a payment system that rewards clinicians for their overall work in delivering the best care for patients. It replaces the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and streamlines the “Legacy Programs:” Physician Quality Reporting System, the Value-based Payment Modifier, and the Medicare Electronic Health Records Incentive Program.

During this first year of the QPP program, CMS said it is committed to working with clinicians to streamline the process as much as possible. The federal payor stated that its goal is to further reduce burdensome requirements so that providers can deliver the best possible care to patients.

Infographic: Healthcare Scorecards Versus Dashboards

April 3rd, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Healthcare organizations use scorecards and dashboards to measure and sustain outcomes improvement, according to a new infographic by HealthCatalyst.

The infographic examines how organizations use dashboards versus scorecards and the key features of each.

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Data Analytics and IntegrationThe 2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Data Analytics and Integration assembles hundreds of metrics on data analytics and integration from hospitals, health plans, physician practices and other responding organizations, charting the impact of data analytics on population health management, health outcomes, utilization and cost.

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Data Analytics and Integration examines the goals, data types, collection processes, program elements, challenges and successes shared by healthcare organizations responding to the January 2016 Data Analytics survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network. Click here for more information.

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How a Data Dive Makes a Difference in ACO Care Coordination Efficiency

March 30th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

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UTSACN used data analytics to trim its home health network from more than 1,200 agencies to 20 highly efficient home health providers.

How does UT Southwestern Accountable Care Network (UTSACN) use information to inform and advance care coordination programming? As UT Southwestern’s Director of Care Coordination Cathy Bryan explains, a closer look at doctors’ attitudes toward a Medicare home health form initiated a retooling of the ACO’s home health approach.

We realized our home health spend was two times the national average. When we reviewed just the prior 12 months, we identified more than 1,200 unique agencies that serviced at least one of our patients. With this huge number of disparate home health agencies, it was difficult to get a handle on the problem.

Our primary care doctors told us they found the CMS 485 Home Health Certification and Plan of Care form to be too long. The font on the form is four-point type; it’s complex, so they don’t understand it. However, because they don’t want a family member or patient to call them because they took away their home care, they often sign the form without worrying about it.

As we began looking at these findings, we wondered what they really told us. Are some agencies better than others, and how do we begin to create a narrow network or preferred network for home care? We knew we couldn’t work with 1,200 agencies efficiently; even 20 agencies is a lot to work with.

We began to analyze the claims. My skilled analyst created an internal efficiency score. She risk-adjusted various pieces of data, like average length of stay. For home health, there were a number of consecutive recertifications. We looked at average spend per recertification, and the number of patients they had on each agency. We risk-adjusted this data, because some agencies may actually get sicker patients because they have higher skill sets within their nursing staff.

We created a risk-adjusted efficiency score based on claims. We narrowed down the list by only looking at agencies with 80 percent or higher efficiency. That left us with about 80 agencies; we then narrowed our search to 90 percent efficiency and above, and still had 44. That was still too many, so we cross-walked these with CMS Star ratings to narrow it even more. Finally, after looking at our geographic distribution for agencies that serviced at least 20 patients, we eliminated those with one and two patients. We sought agencies that had some population moving through them.

Ultimately, we reduced our final home health network to about 20 agencies that were not creating a lot of additional spend, and not holding patients on service for an incredibly long period of time.

Source: Advanced Care Coordination: Bridging the Gap Between Appropriate Levels of Care and Care Plan Adherence for ACO Attributed Lives

advanced care coordination

During Advanced Care Coordination: Bridging the Gap Between Appropriate Levels of Care and Care Plan Adherence for ACO Attributed Lives, a 2016 webinar available for replay, Cathy Bryan, director, care coordination at UT Southwestern, shares how her organization’s care coordination model manages utilization while achieving its mission of bridging the gap from where patients are to where they need to be to adhere to their care plan.

Infographic: Top Accountable Care Organizations

March 24th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

There are over 700 accountable care organizations (ACOs) across the country, according to a new infographic by SK&A, with California leading the way with the most ACOs.

The infographic examines each state’s ACO ranking by the number of ACOs as well as the top five ACOs by the total number of participating physicians.

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, eight years later, 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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