Archive for the ‘Accountable Care Organizations’ Category

Guest Post: Innovative, Specialized Palliative Care Programs Help ACOs Improve Patient Care, Achieve Success in Medicare Shared Savings Program

September 13th, 2018 by Greer Myers

Home-based Palliative Care

A structured, systematized approach to home-based palliative care: One of the most effective ways to manage and enhance care delivery for vulnerable, costly populations.

Under the new Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will be required to take on more risk as a rule of engagement and participation. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is also shrinking the amount of time ACOs can be in an upside-only model to two years, putting additional pressure on ACO leaders to initiate changes. Currently, 82 percent of ACOs participating in the MSSP are in an upside-only model.

This has prompted many organizations to seek innovative strategies that will enable them to remain in the program and achieve success. One proven approach involves the adoption of a structured and systematized home-based palliative care program designed to identify patients with serious or advanced illness earlier in the disease process and offer them services outside of the hospital setting.

The palliative care team, primarily specially trained nurses and social workers, addresses the unique needs of the patient and family, taking into consideration their culture and values when developing a patient-centered approach to care. The team coordinates patient care across the continuum, which may include specialty care, acute, post-acute and community-based care needs.

For ACOs facing tight timeframes for implementing programmatic changes, this structured approach to community-based palliative care can be rapidly deployed in any geographic area and quickly scaled for larger populations.

Supporting the Medical Home

Home-based palliative care programs align with the medical home model through the provision of specialized care for people living with serious or advanced illness. Sharing priorities with the medical home, both emphasize the importance of care in the home, providing appropriate social services, clinical assessments and referrals, and partnering with physicians to deliver a solution that is patient-centered, data-driven and evidence-based.

A structured, systematized approach to home-based palliative care is one of the most effective ways to manage and enhance care delivery within this vulnerable, costly population. Quality controls and reporting are essential to improving quality and decreasing cost. Programs offering modular continuing education to palliative care team members, as well as guided tools and electronic patient assessments, enable highly skilled clinicians to maximize the impact of member outreach, enrollment and engagement.

Palliative care teams extend the reach and frequency of patient engagement, establishing collaborative relationships and reporting with the medical home that further strengthen care coordination. This level of connectivity and interaction with the medical home represents a significant opportunity to affect quality and cost.

Advantages for Patients and ACOs

Populations burdened by a serious or advanced illness place incredible strain on ACO resources, compromising the organization’s ability to improve care while generating shared savings under the MSSP model. By adopting the medical home/home-based palliative care approach, ACOs can turn this high cost population into an opportunity: improving quality and patient satisfaction while reducing cost and generating shared savings through reduced unnecessary hospital admissions, readmissions and ICU stays. Furthermore, this approach avoids over-medicalized care and high-cost services that may not align with the patient’s goals of care.

Integrating home-based palliative care within the medical home model ensures that each member is treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. This leads to a better quality of life, thanks to strong and trusting engagement with specialized palliative care professionals. Overall, this integrated model aims to improve quality and care coordination, so that individuals access care in the right place, at the right time, and in the manner that best suits a patient’s goals of care.

What’s more, specially trained palliative clinicians act as an extension of the primary treating physician and strengthen the medical home. The palliative nurses and social workers establish goals of care, provide supportive home-based care and assess patient and caregiver status, reporting relevant information to the primary treating physician to fill gaps in care and better align goals with care received.

Innovation in the Real World

Let’s consider a typical patient experience that is all too familiar: An 89-year old man with congestive heart failure (CHF) experienced five emergency room visits and five hospital admissions in one year before his condition worsened and he was intubated in the ICU. Prior to this, he had been seeing his cardiologist and primary care provider for adjustments to his medications, which he was unable to manage at home.

Now consider the vastly better approach of in-home palliative care: This same patient would have informed providers he did not want to go to the hospital or have intubation. When his health deteriorated, his social worker would have met with him and his family to discuss palliative care and supportive care options. He would have also been placed on the palliative care program with home visits made by palliative care specialists as needed. When the time came, his palliative care specialist would have evaluated hospice options with the patient and his family, and he would have died in the manner of his choosing – peacefully at home.

An innovative palliative care approach provides specialized patient/caregiver support and enhances communication with the primary treating physician. This facilitates a shared decision-making model, which results in better congruence between a patient’s individual goals of care and medical care received. It is a recipe for improving quality of life and satisfaction with the care that is delivered.

Greer Myers

Greer Myers

About the Author: Greer Myers is the president, Turn-Key Health and executive vice president, chief development officer, Enclara Pharmacia. With more than 20 years of healthcare experience, Mr. Myers joined Enclara Healthcare in 2014, and maintains dual roles as its President of Turn-Key Health and its EVP of Corporate Development of Enclara Pharmacia. Bringing strengths in post-acute operations, mergers and acquisitions, pharmacy benefits management, strategy and business development, he also has strong vertical experience in payer, provider and healthcare IT verticals.

Infographic: Proposed Changes to ACO Involvement in the Medicare Shared Savings Program

August 29th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed a new “Pathways to Success” rule to increase the financial risk doctors and hospitals participating in the Medicare Shared
Savings Program take on to increase accountability of healthcare quality and spending for patients, according to a new infographic by the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations.

The infographic examines the key changes proposed in the “Pathways to Success” rule.

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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Guest Post: Lab Data is the Missing Link in Healthcare Risk Adjustment

June 19th, 2018 by Jason Bhan, MD

Data informing risk adjustment programs is critical under value-based healthcare reimbursement models.

For health plans, value-based care means a continuous need to innovate and improve their risk adjustment, clinical quality, and care management programs. Unless payers identify and receive the correct amount of reimbursement, it is difficult for them to invest appropriately into member care programs for better outcomes while remaining financially successful.

The data informing risk adjustment programs are critical, as they build the foundation for accurate member risk stratification. In that respect, those data sources are directly related to the correct amount of reimbursement payers receive and can invest in proactive care management. In other words, high-quality clinical data delivered quickly enough for a plan to get a member into a care management program early enough is important to the health of the member and the business. The approach leads to improved clinical outcomes and reduced costs in emergency room visits, hospitalizations and chronic condition management.

Lab Data: An Untapped Resource

To achieve such clinical granularity, at scale, plans can turn to diagnostics—or lab—data. Lab data drives approximately 70 percent of medical decisions and, unlike claims data, is available in near real-time. It also provides an unrivaled level of specificity for clinical conditions. When lab data is integrated into plans’ claims- and chart-based programs, it enables earlier, more comprehensive and accurate clinical insights to benefit care management of both existing and new members. Utilizing the same information that clinicians use to make decisions, within the same timeframe, provides a powerful and unique opportunity to intervene and impact a patient’s health.

What Can Lab Data Do for You?

Expanding and improving their clinical data supply with diagnostics data can help health plans to:

  • Provide historical insights on members where claims are unavailable to improve risk adjustment. For new enrollees, this enables the health plan to get new members into the appropriate care/disease management programs from day one.
  • Serve as an early detection system for care management of all enrollees. Plans can identify patients in need of additional or alternative therapy from lab data earlier than from any other data source. For existing members, the detailed results uncover needs that may have been overlooked based on a claims analysis alone.
  • Identify high-risk members for case management and provider interventions from lab data. Optimized risk adjustment aligns reimbursements to health status, enabling the plan to more heavily invest in member care programs.

Applying AI Solutions

When it comes to gaining actionable insights from diagnostics data, plans can benefit from partnering with healthcare artificial intelligence (AI) specialists in the field. Healthcare AI organizations use techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing—coupled with massive computational power—on big data sets, to make sense out of non-standard, complex, and heterogeneous data.

Healthcare AI, when applied to diagnostics clinical lab data, improves risk stratification by identifying diagnoses earlier in the year versus waiting for the claim or searching charts. Rich in clinical details, it presents a more complete picture of the member’s health. Better risk stratification leads to better care management programs; and successful programs have been shown to reduce costs by targeting those most likely to benefit and keeping intervention costs low.

Dr. Jason Bhan

About the Author: Jason Bhan, MD, is co-founder and Chief Medical Officer at Prognos, an innovator in applying AI to clinical lab diagnostics. More than half of the Prognos team is made of engineers, data scientists, and clinicians. Prognos aims to increase the usefulness of disparate healthcare data to better inform clinical decisions and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

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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Infographic: Medicaid ACO State Activity Map

March 2nd, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

State-based Medicaid accountable care organizations (ACOs) are becoming increasingly prevalent across the country, with more and more states pursuing ACOs as a way to improve health outcomes and control costs through greater provider accountability, according to the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS).

CHCS has created an interactive map that offers an ongoing update of Medicaid ACO activities by state, including governance structure, scope of services, and payment model.

Care Coordination of Highest-Risk Patients: Business Case for Managing Complex PopulationsAsked by its C-suite to quantify contributions of its multidisciplinary care team for its highest-risk patients, AltaMed Health Services Corporation readily identified seven key performance metrics associated with the team. Having demonstrated the team’s bottom line impact on specialty costs, emergency room visits, and HEDIS® measures, among other areas, the largest independent federally qualified community health center (FQHC) was granted additional staff to expand care management for its safety net population.

The Care Coordination of Highest-Risk Patients: Business Case for Managing Complex Populations chronicles AltaMed’s four-phase rollout of care coordination for dual eligibles—a population with higher hospitalization and utilization and care costs twice those of any other population served by AltaMed.

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Population Health Tactics to Boost an ACO’s Medicare Annual Wellness Visit Rates

February 9th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

One of the most important revenue opportunities for primary care physicians, and for population health nurses under their direct supervision, is the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit (AWV), advises Tim Gronninger, senior vice president of development and strategy, Caravan Health. The AWV offers an opportunity to check a number of Medicare quality boxes, including preventive check-ins, vaccinations and health screenings, to help make sure that a beneficiary’s medical needs are being met.

Here, Gronninger suggests ways that physician practices can improve all-important AWV rates.

Much of increasing annual wellness visit rates is about how to manage expectations of the practice and of the patient. You’ll be chasing your tail a lot if you are looking at your data and saying, “Well, these 1,000 patients haven’t had an annual wellness visit. I’m going to make a thousand phone calls, and then I’m going to make a thousand follow-up phone calls to try to schedule them all.”

It is very important for a practice to create a process where you have the time, the space and the plan, so that when a patient comes in the door for an Evaluation and Management (E&M) visit, the patient is handed off seamlessly to a nurse coordinator to complete an annual wellness visit at the same time. Obviously, different patients will require different handling. But we have found a very high acceptance rate from that approach among patients of clients that we work with.

It’s something that many patients take for granted, that their clinician knows this about them already. However, many times, the physician in practice doesn’t know whether the patient is up to date on their mammograms or other types of screenings.

Editor’s Note: Caravan Health’s ACOs saved more than $26 million in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and achieved higher than average quality scores and quality reporting scores in 2016.

Source: Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success

ACO population health

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).

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.

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.”

Infographic: Medicare Advantage Trends

January 10th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

As medical groups and large systems transition to risk-based models, they expect nearly 60 percent of federal revenues will come from risk-based products (bundled payment, Medicare Advantage (MA), Medicaid Managed Care Organizations, and Medicare Accountable Care Organizations) by 2019, according to a new infographic by AMGA.

The infographic shows the anticipated the growth of MA as well as what this means for healthcare providers.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2018: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare IndustryGiven the powerful patterns disrupting healthcare, what will it take to succeed as a high-velocity healthcare organization in 2018?

Healthcare 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.

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