Archive for the ‘Care Coordination’ Category

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: Reducing Childhood Obesity Through Medicaid-Public Health Collaboration

January 5th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Nearly one in six children in the U.S. is obese, representing a serious public health problem. Children covered by Medicaid are particularly at risk, with this population nearly six times more likely to be treated for obesity than those who are privately insured. Partnerships between public health and Medicaid can leverage each entity’s strengths to advance interventions aimed at reducing obesity, according to a new infographic by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS).

The infographic describes cross-sector interventions tested by five states participating in CHCS’ Innovations in Childhood Obesity initiative, as well as opportunities for the field.

Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Screening Tools, Triage and Workflows to Link High-Risk Patients to Community ServicesLeveraging the experience of several physician practices already screening patients for social determinants of health (SDOH), Montefiore Health System recently rolled out a two-tiered assessment program to measure SDOH positivity in its predominantly high-risk, government-insured population.

Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Screening Tools, Triage and Workflows to Link High-Risk Patients to Community Services outlines Montefiore’s approach to identifying SDOH markers such as housing, finances, healthcare access and violence that drive 85 percent of patients” well-being, and then connecting high-need individuals to community-based services. Click here for more information.

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LVHN Portal Places Healthcare Control in Patients’ Hands, Liberates Staff

November 30th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

patient portal rolloutConsumers accustomed to communicating, shopping, banking and booking travel online increasingly expect those same conveniences from their healthcare providers.

And as Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) has learned, despite the myriad of benefits a patient portal offers, the most important reason to incorporate this interactive tool into a physician practice is because patients want it.

“As much as we emphasize the marketing aspect of [the portal], having a nice, functional technology that we get in other aspects of our life has really been an enabler,” notes Michael Sheinberg, M.D., medical director, medical informatics, Epic transformation at LVHN. Many LVHN patients found the portal on their own, independent of the tool’s formal introduction, he adds. “Patients really wanted this. Our patients want to be engaged, they want to have access, and they want to own their medical information.”

Dr. Sheinberg and Lindsay Altimare, director of operations for Lehigh Valley Physician Group at LVHN, walked through the rollout of the LVHN portal to its ambulatory care providers during Patient Portal Roll-Out Strategy: Activating and Engaging Patients in Self-Care and Population Health, a November 2017 webinar now available for rebroadcast.

The 2015 launch of LVHN’s patient portal and its continued user growth has earned it the distinction of being the fastest growing patient portal on the Epic® platform.

As Ms. Altimare explained, LVHN first launched its portal with limited functionality in February 2015 as part of the Epic electronic health record that had gone live two years earlier. But even given the portal’s limited feature set, LVHN quickly recognized the tool’s potential to enhance efficiency, education, communication and revenue outside of traditional doctor’s office visits.

At its providers’ request, however, LVHN first piloted the portal within 14 of its 160+ physician practices, using feedback from providers in the two-month trial to further tweak the portal before next rolling it out to its remaining clinicians, and finally to patients.

LVHN supported each rollout phase with targeted marketing and education materials.

Today, LVHN patients and staff embrace the functionality of the portal, which offers an experience similar to that of an online airline check-in. Via the portal, LVHN patients can self-schedule appointments, complete medical questionnaires and forms, even participate in select e-visits with physicians—all in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.

Not only are about 45 percent of LVHN’s 420,000 patients enrolled in the portal, but self-scheduling doubled in the first six months of use. Additionally, upon examining a segment of portal participants over 12 months, LVHN identified a steady rise in portal utilization for common tasks like medication renewals and medical history completion.

The portal “liberates our patients from the need to access our providers in the traditional way,” says Dr. Sheinberg. Appreciation of this freedom is reflected in improved patient experience scores, he adds.

“The portal is a patient satisfier, and certainly a staff satisfier, because it reduces patient ‘no-shows’ and liberates our staff from more manual processes, putting them in the hands of our patients.”


Community Health Partnerships Can Change the Culture of Poverty: 2017 Benchmarks

November 28th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Community health partnerships address unmet needs, providing services related to transportation, housing, nutrition and behavioral health.

For residents of some locales, community health partnerships (CHP) —alliances between healthcare providers and local organizations to address unmet needs—can mean the difference between surviving and thriving, according to new CHP metrics from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN).

“We could not survive without community partnerships. Our patients thrive because of them. They are critical to help change the culture of poverty that remains in our community,” noted a respondent to HIN’s 2017 survey on Community Health Partnerships.

Partnerships can also mean the difference between housing and homelessness. According to the survey, more than a quarter of community health partnerships (26 percent) address environmental and social determinants of health (SDOH) like housing and transportation that can have a deleterious effect on population health.

“To date, we have housed 49 families/individuals who were formally homeless or near homelessness,” added another respondent.

“Social health determinants are more important than ever to managing care,” said another. “Community health partnerships make a big impact when it comes to rounding out care.”

Motivated to improve population health, healthcare providers are joining forces with community groups such food banks, schools and faith-based organizations to bridge care gaps and deliver needed services. The majority of community health partnerships are designed to improve access to healthcare, say 70 percent of survey respondents.

Eighty-one organizations shared details on community health partnerships, which range from collaborating with a local food bank to educate food pantries on diabetes to the planting of community gardens to launching an asthma population health management program for students.

Seventy-one percent conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) to identify potential areas for local health partnerships. Priority candidates for 36 percent of these partnerships are high-risk populations, defined as those having two or more chronic medical conditions.

Overall, the survey found that 95 percent of respondents have initiated community health partnerships, with half of those remaining preparing to launch partnerships in the coming year.

Other community health partnership metrics identified by the 2017 survey include the following:

  • Local organizations such as food banks top the list of community health partners, say 79 percent.
  • The population health manager typically has primary responsibility for community health partnerships forged by 30 percent of respondents.
  • Foundations are the chief funding source for services offered through community health partnerships, say 23 percent. However, funding remains the chief barrier to community health partnerships, say 41 percent.
  • Forty-five percent have forged community health partnerships to enhance behavioral health services.
  • Two-thirds attributed increases in clinical outcomes and quality of care to community health partnerships.
  • Forty-four percent reported a drop in hospital ER visits after launching community health partnerships.

Download an executive summary of results from the 2017 Community Health Partnerships survey.

Infographic: Monitoring and Managing Chronic Disease

November 22nd, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Patients with chronic conditions rely on their healthcare teams to help them manage their health, according to a new infographic by West Corporation.

The infographic examines the steps providers can take to monitor and manage chronic disease among their patient populations.

In the sphere of value-based healthcare, chronic care management (CCM) is a critical component of primary care and population health management. Targeting the Triple Aim goals of better health and care for individuals while reducing spending, CCM is viewed as a stepping-stone to success under Medicare’s Quality Payment Program that launched January 1, 2017.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Chronic Care captures tools, practices and lessons learned by the healthcare industry related to the management of chronic disease.

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4 Ways CMS 2018 Quality Payment Program Supports ‘Patients Over Paperwork’ Pledge

November 6th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

“Patients Over Paperwork” is committed to removing regulatory obstacles that get in the way of providers spending time with patients.

Year 2 of the CMS Quality Payment Program promises continued flexibility and reduced provider burden, according to the program’s final rule with comment issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last week.

The Quality Payment Program (QPP), established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), is a quality payment incentive program for physicians and other eligible clinicians that rewards value and outcomes in one of two ways: through the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs).

A QPP Year 2 fact sheet issued by CMS highlights 2018 changes for providers under the QPP’s MIPS and APM tracks. The Year 2 fact sheet noted that stakeholder feedback helped to shape policies for QPP Year 2, and that  “CMS is continuing many of its transition year policies while introducing modest changes.”

In keeping with the federal payor’s recently launched “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative, QPP Year 2 reflects the following changes:

    • More options for small practices (groups of 15 or fewer clinicians). Options include exclusions for individual MIPS-eligible clinicians or groups with less than or equal to $90,000 in Part B allowed charges or less than or equal to 200 Part B beneficiaries, opportunities to earn additional points, and the choice to form or join a virtual group.
    • Addresses extreme and uncontrollable circumstances, such as hurricanes and other natural disasters, for both the 2017 transition year and the 2018 MIPS performance period, by offering hardship exception applications and limited exemptions.
    • Includes virtual groups as another participation option for Year 2. A virtual group is a combination of two more taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) made up of solo practitioners and groups of 10 or fewer eligible clinicians who come together ‘virtually’ (no matter specialty or location) to participate in MIPS for a performance period of a year. A CMS Virtual Groups Toolkit provides more information, including the election process to become a virtual group.
    • Makes it easier for clinicians to qualify for incentive payments by participating in Advanced APMs that begin or end in the middle of a year. Updated QPP policies for 2018 further encourage and reward participation in APMs in Medicare.
  • CMS describes its Patients Over Paperwork effort as “a cross-cutting, collaborative process that evaluates and streamlines regulations with a goal to reduce unnecessary burden, increase efficiencies and improve the beneficiary experience. This effort emphasizes a commitment to removing regulatory obstacles that get in the way of providers spending time with patients.”

    Healthcare Hotwire: Care Coordination

    November 2nd, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

    Care coordination organizes patient care activities and information for safer and more effective care.

    Care coordination involves deliberately organizing patient care activities and sharing information among all vested participants to achieve safer and more effective care, per the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

    These patient care activities span all care settings, including the patient’s home, according to the Healthcare Intelligence Network’s Benchmark Survey on Care Coordination.

    Initiatives aimed at coordinating care for high-risk patients are reporting healthcare cost savings, reductions in expensive sites of care and improvements in quality, outcomes and patient satisfaction.

    In the new edition of Healthcare Hotwire, you’ll get details on enhanced care coordination Medicare savings, reducing emergency department utilization through care coordination and the impact of care coordination efforts on patient and provider satisfaction.

    HIN’s newly launched Healthcare Hotwire tracks trending topics in the industry for strategic planning. Subscribe today.

    2016 ACO Results: Majority of Next Generation and Pioneer ACOs Earn Shared Savings

    October 20th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

    Six of eight Pioneer ACOs and eleven of eighteen Next Generation ACOs earned shared savings in separate initiatives in 2016, according to newly released quality and financial data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

    In 2016 Performance Year Five of the Pioneer ACO program, one of several new accountable care organization (ACO) payment and service delivery models introduced by CMS to serve a range of provider organizations, only Monarch HealthCare and Partners HealthCare were not among shared savings earners.

    Banner Health Network emerged as the top 2016 Pioneer ACO performer, earning nearly $11 million in shared savings based on care provided to its more than 42,000 beneficiaries.

    In order to receive savings or owe losses in a given year, Pioneer ACO expenditures must be outside a minimum corridor set by the ACO’s minimum savings rate (MSR) and minimum loss rate (MLR).

    The Pioneer ACO model is designed for healthcare organizations and providers already experienced in coordinating care for patients across care settings. It allowed these provider groups to move more rapidly from a shared savings payment model to a population-based payment model on a track consistent with but separate from the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

    The Pioneer ACO Model began with 32 ACOs in 2012 and concluded December 31, 2016 with eight ACOs participating.

    Meanwhile, at the conclusion of 2016 Performance Year One of the Next Generation ACO model, Baroma, Triad and Iowa Health topped the list of ACO earners in this program, with each organization accumulating more than $10 million shared savings.

    Building upon experience from the Pioneer ACO Model and the Medicare Shared Savings Program, CMS’s Next Generation ACO Model sets predictable financial targets, enables providers and beneficiaries greater opportunities to coordinate care, and aims to attain the highest quality standards of care.

    According to a CMS fact sheet, 18 ACOs participated in the Next Generation ACO Model for the 2016 performance year, and 28 ACOs are joining the Model for 2017, bringing the total number of Next Generation ACOs to 45. The Next Generation ACO Model will consist of three initial performance years and two optional one-year extensions.

    CMS’s ACO models are one of seven Innovation categories designed to incentivize healthcare providers to become accountable for a patient population and to invest in infrastructure and redesigned care processes that provide for coordinated care, high quality and efficient service delivery.

    Patient Engagement Prerequisite: School Staff in Patient Activation, Health Literacy

    October 19th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

    YNHHS embedded care coordinationEven after multiple years of patient engagement education, awareness training and related programming for its clinicians, PinnacleHealth Systems knew those efforts needed to continue if they were to move forward with new interventions. Here, Kathryn Shradley, director of population health, PinnacleHealth System, describes two key focus areas for clinician education.

    We wanted to level-set on the definitions of patient activation and health literacy and what these terms meant to the organization and to the teams within. In full transparency, I want to be very clear: I believe initiatives for health literacy, patient engagement, patient education and population health will be on our task list for as long as I’m employed, and that’s okay.

    We spent a lot of time educating front-line clinicians on health literacy, understanding who was using the Patient Activation Measure® (PAM®) and tools and attempting to broaden the language used around the health system. One of our initial goals was simply to have the words ‘health literacy’ be recognized and understood throughout the system. This is certainly still something we work on daily as a core piece of all of our engagement strategies. I’m happy to say that we have made progress.

    One of the ways we obtained buy-in for our patient engagement strategy was to talk about the financial bottom line of low levels of patient activation and low levels of patient health literacy. We demonstrated to our executive teams, directors and managers that no matter where they were building an initiative and what they were building, if they didn’t include an engagement strategy in their product or service line, they were likely to experience difficulty—a difficulty that could otherwise be mitigated if we addressed some of these issues in their programs.

    Source: Dual Approach to Patient Engagement: Activating High Utilizers and Coaching Clinicians

    patient engagement

    Dual Approach to Patient Engagement: Activating High Utilizers and Coaching Clinicians describes PinnacleHealth’s two-pronged strategy for prioritizing patient engagement among its clinicians and patient population, tactics that elevated key quality and clinical metrics in the process.

    Cityblock Health to Open First ‘Neighborhood Health Hub’ for Underserved Urban Populations in NYC

    October 6th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

    Cityblock Health neighborhood health hubs for underserved urban populations: “Where health and community converge.”

    Cityblock Health expects to open its first community-based clinic for underserved urban populations, known as a neighborhood health hub, in New York City in 2018, according to a Medium post this week by Cityblock Health Co-Founder and CEO Iyah Romm.

    Cityblock Health is a spinout of Sidewalk Labs focused on the root causes of health for underserved urban populations. Sidewalk Labs is an Alphabet company focused on accelerating urban innovation.

    The neighborhood health hub, where members can connect with care teams and access services, is one of several key member benefits outlined on the Cityblock Health web site. Other advantages include a personalized care team available 24/7, a personalized technology-supported Member Action Plan (MAP), and a designated Community Health Partner to help members navigate all aspects of their care.

    According to Romm, who brings a decade of healthcare experience to the initiative, the neighborhood hubs will be designed as visible, physical meeting spaces where health and community converge. Caregivers, members, and local organizations will use the hubs to engage with each other and address the many factors that affect health at the local level, Romm said.

    For example, Cityblock Health states it will offer members rides to the hub if needed. Transportation, care access, and finances are among multiple social determinants of health that drive health outcomes, particularly for populations in urban areas.

    Where possible, the hubs will be built within existing, trusted spaces operated by its partners and staffed with local hires, he added. Cityblock envisions offering a range health, educational, and social events, including support groups and fitness classes.

    The hubs are part of Cityblock Health’s larger vision to provide Medicaid and lower-income Medicare beneficiaries access to high-value, readily available personalized health services in a collaborative, team-based model, Romm explained in his post. The organization will partner with community-based organizations, health plans, and provider organizations to reconfigure the delivery of health and social services and apply “leading-edge care models that fully integrate primary care, behavioral health, and social services.”

    Three key health inequities related to underserved urban populations motivated the formation of Cityblock Health: disproportionately poor health outcomes, interventions coming much later in the care continuum, and the significantly higher cost of interventions in urban areas as compared to other populations.

    Cityblock Health will use its custom-built technology to enhance strong relationships between members and care teams, while simultaneously empowering and incentivizing the health system to do better, he added.