Archive for the ‘Care Management’ Category

Guest Post: Value-Based Care is Dying—But Longitudinal Patient Data Can Revive It

November 16th, 2017 by William D. Kirsh, DO, MPH, CMO at Sentry Data Systems

In 2013, Harvard Business Review (HBR) called value-based care “the strategy that will fix healthcare.” And the concept goes back even further than that—Michael Porter and Elizabeth Teisberg introduced the value agenda in their book, Redefining Health Care, in 2006, accord to HBR. Yet years later, value-based care is still struggling to survive, still in limbo, not quite breathing on its own. At this point, you might say it’s in critical condition.

More than a decade after Porter and Teisberg’s book, the industry is still talking about the “transition” to value-based care. In January of this year, CMS and HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) issued a vision for the continued shift to value-based care. In April, CEOs from Kaiser Permanente, Medtronic, Novartis and others, along with the Netherlands’ health minister, the head of England’s National Health Service, and Harvard economics professor Michael Porter (author of the 2006 book mentioned above) called for a new approach that would embrace patient-centered care and focus on outcomes.

Also in April, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group, released a report, Value in Healthcare: Laying the Foundation for Health-System Transformation. Why are we still seeing words like “a new approach” and “laying the foundation” after all the time we’ve had, as an industry, to embrace value-based care?

After much wandering, it’s apparently a destination we still haven’t found on the map.

Resisting Change

According to a report from professional services organization EY (Ernst & Young) in July, about a fourth of 700 respondents (chief medical officers, clinical quality executives and chief financial officers at U.S.-based healthcare providers with annual revenue of $100 million and higher) polled said they had no value-based reimbursement initiatives planned for 2017. And that’s despite figures stating that healthcare spending in the United States “has now risen to 17.8 percent of GDP,” as the EY report says. So, what’s stopping physicians and hospitals from acting on value-based care?

As Modern Healthcare notes, the EY report points to “the escalating cost of care, a lack of standardization in how quality is defined, a disengaged workforce that leads to more medical errors, and a lack of trust and transparency between providers, payers and regulators,“ as some of the barriers. A 2016 article from Deloitte Insights adds that physician compensation may be part of the problem, stating, “Currently, there is little focus on value in physician compensation, and physicians are generally reluctant to bear financial risk for care delivery…86 percent of physicians reported being compensated under fee-for-service (FFS) or salary arrangements.” Deloitte recommends, “At least 20 percent of a physician’s compensation should be tied to performance goals. Current financial incentive levels for physicians are not adequate.”

But financial incentives alone are not enough. “Regardless of financial incentives to reduce costs and improve care quality, physicians would have a difficult time meeting these goals if they lack data-driven tools,” Deloitte says. “These tools can give them insight on cost and quality metrics, and can help them make care decisions that are consistent with effective clinical practice.”

Achieving Quality Outcomes

The EY report seems to come to the same conclusion as Deloitte about the lack of metrics and data. “Clinical outcomes and healthcare quality are often measured inconsistently by healthcare providers — if they are measured at all,” EY says. One way for hospitals to change that—a vital step in the value-based payment model—is through access to and analysis of longitudinal patient data, which is data that tracks the same patients over multiple episodes of care over the course of many years.

The problem is that hospitals and physicians often do not see the outcomes of particular treatment protocols (prescriptions, diagnostic tests, surgeries, etc.) for a long time, and capturing clinical data with this level of accuracy has historically been the industry’s blind spot. Without having a comparison population, each institution can only compare its data to real-world experience within their own data depository. A critical need is to use a de-identified real-world census population to compare protocols, best practices or specific utilization by National Drug Codes to help identify patterns of interventions that create value consistently across multiple systems, physicians, and patients. To truly answer these challenging questions about value in a meaningful way, hospitals need a comparison longitudinal patient data set.

There are countless questions about patient cohorts that physicians might want answered as they seek to make the best treatment decisions: What treatment protocol will result in the highest quality outcomes for a 50-year-old female diabetic patient with kidney failure? Which medications most effectively keep children with asthma from repeat visits to the ER? What comorbidities and symptoms are seen among patients with acute myelocytic leukemia (AML) in their earliest visits to the ER, and how can that information result in earlier diagnosis or different treatment options down the line? Quality historical longitudinal patient data may answer all these questions.

“Market forces are moving the industry toward a new paradigm; one in which delivering the highest value is an organization’s defining goal,” notes the EY report. “Optimizing patient experiences across the continuum of care while industrializing quality requires more than episodic effort.” This is the crux of value-based care. The only way to bring all stakeholders together and keep value-based care alive is by leveraging real-world, longitudinal patient data and using that information to make actionable treatment and prescribing decisions that lead to overall wellness and financial value, instead of focusing on just acute-care treatment.

William D. Kirsh, DO, MPH, CMO at Sentry Data Systems

About the Author: William D. Kirsh, DO, MPH, is chief medical officer at Sentry Data Systems and a practicing physician, clinically certified in family practice, geriatrics, hospice and palliative medicine. Sentry Data Systems, a pioneer in automated pharmacy procurement, utilization management and 340B compliance, is leading the healthcare industry in turning real-time data into real-world evidence through Comparative Rapid Cycle Analytics™ to reduce total cost of care, improve quality, and provide better results for all.

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

SNF Visits to High-Risk Patients Break Down Barriers to Care Transitions

September 21st, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

For patients recently discharged from the hospital, a SNF visit covers the same ground as a home visit: medications, health status, preparing for physician conversations and care planning.

The care transitions intervention developed by the Council on Aging (COA) of Southwestern Ohio for high-risk patients starts off in the hospital with a visit by an embedded coach, and includes a home visit.

Additionally, to reduce the likelihood of a readmission, patients discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) also can expect a COA field coach to stop by within 10 days of SNF admission. Here, Danielle Amrine, transitional care business manager for the COA of Southwestern Ohio, describes the typical SNF visit and her organization’s innovative solution for staffing these visits.

We conduct the home visit within 24 to 72 hours. We go over medication management, the personal health record (PHR), and follow-up with specialists and red flags. At the SNF, we do the same things with those patients, but in regards to the nursing facility: specifically, do you know what medications you’re taking? Do you know how to find out that information, especially for family members and caregivers? Do you know the status of your loved one’s care at this point? Do you know the right person to speak to about any concerns or issues?

We also ask the patients to define their goals for their SNF stay. What are your therapy goals? What discharge planning do you need? We set our SNF visit within 10 calendar days, because normally within three days, they’ve just gotten there. They’re not settled. There haven’t been any care conferences yet. We set the visit at 10 calendar days to make sure that everything is on track, to see if this person is going to stay at the SNF long-term. Our goal is to have them transition out. We provide them with all of the support, resources and program information to help them transition from the nursing facility back to independent living.

For our nursing facility visits, we also utilize the LACE readmissions tool (an index based on Length of stay, Acute admission through the emergency department (ED), Comorbidities and Emergency department visits in the past six months) to see if that person would need a visit post-discharge.

For our CMS contract, we are paid for only one visit. Generally we’re only paid for the visit we complete in the nursing home, but through our intern pilot, our interns do that second visit to the home once the patient is discharged from the nursing home. We don’t pay for our interns, and we don’t get paid for the visit. We thought that was a perfect match to impact these patients who may have a hard time transitioning from the nursing facility to home.

Source: Post-Discharge Home Visits: 5 Pillars to Reduce Readmissions and Engage High-Risk Patients

home visits

In Post-Discharge Home Visits: 5 Pillars to Reduce Readmissions and Engage High-Risk Patients, Danielle Amrine, transitional care business manager at the Council on Aging (COA) of Southwestern Ohio, describes her organization’s home visit intervention, which is designed to encourage and empower patients of any age and their caregivers to assert a more active role during their care transition and avoid breakdowns in post-discharge care.

18 Success Strategies from Seasoned Healthcare Case Managers for New Hires

September 14th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Advice from case management trenches: “Don’t do more work for your patient than they are willing to do for themselves.”

What does it take to succeed as a healthcare case manager? For starters, patience, flexibility and mastery of motivational interviewing, say veterans from case management trenches.

As part of its 2017 Healthcare Benchmarks Survey on Case Management, the Healthcare Intelligence Network asked experienced case managers what guidance they would offer to new hires in the field. Respondents were thoughtful and generous with their advice, highlights of which are shared here.

It’s important to note that in total, a half dozen veterans identified motivational interviewing as an essential case management skill.

We hope you find these tips useful. We invite all experienced case managers to add your tips in the Comments below.

  • “It’s hard work but satisfying. It takes a good year to get all resources and process, so don’t give up.”
  • “Learn the integrated case management model and get ongoing coaching in motivational interviewing.”
  • “Listen, think, develop, coordinate, adhere to plan benefits, and be honest.”
  • “Communicating and developing a relationship with members are key.”
  • “Be aware of and utilize telemedicine.”
  • “Be prepared to help patients with non-medical matters. Develop a trust bond, almost as a family member, and your medical-focused concerns will be that much easier to handle.”
  • “Always remain flexible. Listen and meet the patient where they are at in their disease and life process.”
  • “Understand both the clinical and financial impacts of healthcare on the patient.”
  • “Establish a good working relationship with your manager. Ensure you understand job expectations and identify a mentor.”
  • “Time management is crucial.”
  • “Stay visible within the practice; interact regularly with the care team; share examples of success stories.”
  • “Compassion and empathy are a must.”
  • “Don’t become overwhelmed by all that needs to be learned. Strive for sure and steady progress in gaining the knowledge needed.”
  • “Don’t let a fear of the unknown hold you back. Learn all that you can.”
  • “Get a good understanding of the population of patients you are working with. Study motivational interviewing and harm reduction.”
  • “This is a wide body of knowledge. Each case is different. It takes six months to a year to be fully comfortable in the practice.”
  • “Establish boundaries with your patients, and don’t do more work for your patient than they are willing to do for themselves.”
  • “Earn the trust of your patients and providers. LISTEN to your patients.”

One respondent geared her advice to case management hiring managers:

  • “Hire for coaching mentality and chronic disease experience.”

Excerpted From: 2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Case Management

2017 case management benchmarks

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Case Management provides actionable information from 78 healthcare organizations on the role of case management in the healthcare continuum, from targeted populations and conditions to the advantages and challenges of embedded case management to CM hiring and evaluation standards. Assessment of case management ROI and impact on key care components are also provided.

5 Practitioner Tactics for Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

August 15th, 2017 by Susan Butterworth, PhD, and Amanda Sharp, MPH, Q-Consult LLC
opioids

There is promising evidence that motivational interviewing can successfully reduce both the use of non-medical opioid use and overdose risk behaviors for prescription opioids.

Despite evidence and guidelines to the contrary, including significant risk of addiction, there remains a widespread belief among many clinicians and patients alike that opioid medication is a viable and effective first option for multiple chronic pain conditions. Practitioners feel pressure to provide opioids upon patient request, yet many have neither the resources nor the skill set to manage the physiological and psychological complications that can arise when treating a patient with opioids long-term.

As one qualitative study found, it can be awkward at best, and confrontational at worst, when refusing a patient’s request for opioids. Thus, clinicians are faced with the challenging balancing act of providing pain relief for their patients while simultaneously managing the potential for addiction and misuse – with most clinicians ill-equipped for the herculean task.

“Not providing the [opioid] prescription is very hard. It takes time to do the research on the patient. Confronting the patient with a problem is emotionally draining. Doing it 5-10 times in one shift is not only a reality, it is downright crippling. It sucks out [sic] last bit of energy out of your soul. Rather than confronting patients and arguing, it’s far easier to write a prescription for narcotics and move on to the next patient. This is the mindset of thousands of physicians.”
Anonymous Physician, April 25, 2013

Along with knowledge about alternative treatments, a valuable skill set for clinicians in this situation is an effective communication approach to address the possible scenarios that emerge:

  • Engaging patients in discussions about the risks of opioids;
  • Validating the frustration of chronic pain;
  • Evoking commitment to try alternative modalities;
  • Eliciting honesty about unhealthy/drug-seeking behaviors; and

Sharing concerns and resources for opioid addiction.

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based communication approach that has been adapted for the brief healthcare setting to address many lifestyle management issues, including chronic pain. There is one promising clinical trial that used a single MI session in an emergency department to successfully reduce both the use of non-medical opioid use and overdose risk behaviors for prescription opioids as compared to a control group. Even beginning proficiency in MI equips practitioners with the confidence and skills needed to engage patients in conversations that generally lead to outcomes of being able to maintain rapport and successfully incorporate best practice guidelines for chronic pain treatment.

Consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1: Your patient has recently hurt their back and has requested strong pain medication.

Scenario 2: You suspect your patient may have an addiction to opioids.

In both cases, a practitioner, competent in the MI approach, would be able to use the following strategies to successfully navigate these challenging waters. These principles and strategies are based on Miller and Rollnick’s description of MI practice.

Engage and Partner

Taking a minute or two to build rapport with the patient may be counter-intuitive to a busy clinician. However, consider the time that is spent in unproductive arguments and power struggles. Research has shown that taking a more patient-centered approach is more time-efficient in the long run. Although the clinician is an expert in clinical aspects, the patient is the expert of their life, and the only one with the ability to commit to the suggested treatment plan. By stepping out of the authoritarian role, ideally, the clinician can partner with the patient in a collaborative way to problem-solve together. When a person helps to identify the best treatment course for themselves, they feel more ownership and are more committed; thus, are more likely to follow through.

Express Empathy

A core component of engaging is being able to express empathy, or the ability to convey accurate understanding through the eyes of the patient. This takes compassion, effort, genuine interest, and reflective listening. The clinician does not need to become a counselor to provide a meaningful statement that lets the patient know that the practitioner “gets it”. When the patient feels understood and accepted, they are more receptive to the clinician’s advice and guidance.

Share Concerns while Supporting Autonomy

In MI, the clinician is not simply following the patient but is a full partner. After establishing rapport and trust, it is not amiss to share any concerns that the provider has, if patient autonomy is concretely verbalized. The patient can always go to another doctor to get what they want; by acknowledging that it is the patient’s choice to pursue what they feel is best for them, the patient relaxes. This allows the clinician to share their concern in a way that does not elicit defensiveness.

Manage Expectations

It is important to manage the expectations of the patient. By clearly and transparently stating up front what the clinician feels is best practice and ethically viable, the patient is not disappointed later. Openly share that alternative treatment options may not address the pain as completely as opioids might initially, or, in the case of addiction, that there may be withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing the medication. Honesty preserves trust and conveys the clinician’s desire to support the patient as fully as possible, while still maintaining his integrity of practice.

Provide Decision Support with Menu of Options

Now the patient is ready for a menu of options with the pros and cons succinctly laid out. These include therapies such as non-opioid meds, stretching, and alternative treatments. Some of these options may be those that the clinician is not prepared to provide; e.g., if the patient is still favoring the option of more opioids. The clinician has been transparent about which options he feels are best and is willing to provide; however, the patient is in the driver’s seat to choose the best treatment course for himself. In most cases, the clinician can positively influence the patient’s decision. If not, the discussion remains professional, rapport is not lost, and the patient will feel comfortable returning to this provider. This keeps the door open to further dialogue about the situation.

There are many resources available for those who are interested in getting trained in MI, and the approach can be used for any lifestyle management or treatment adherent situation. However, a fair warning that MI is a complex skill set and cannot be learned in a one-and-done workshop. Just like learning to speak a foreign language or play a musical instrument, it takes practice and feedback from an expert over time to develop a meaningful proficiency. As many clinicians can attest though, this is one hard-earned competency that is more than worth it — for the practitioner, the patient and society!

Susan Butterworth, PhD

Amanda Sharp, MPH

About the Authors: Susan Butterworth, PhD, is principal and Amanda Sharp, MPH is program manager for Q-Consult LLC. Both are both members of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers. Please visit Q-Consult, LLC their blog and find out more about patient-centered initiatives that increase patient engagement and improve clinical outcomes.

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

Montefiore SDOH Screenings Leverage Learnings from Existing Pilots

August 3rd, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Montefiore Health Systems screens patients for social determinants of health, which drive 85 percent of a person’s well-being.

Montefiore Health System’s two-tiered assessment screening program to measure social determinants of health (SDOH) positivity in its predominantly high-risk, government-insured population is inspired by existing initiatives within its own organization. Here, Amanda Parsons, MD, MBA, vice president of community and population health at Montefiore Health System, describes the planning that preceded Montefiore’s SDOH screening rollout.

I’d like to explain how we came to implement the social determinants of health screening. Many of us in New York State participate in the delivery system or full-on incentive program. It is that program that has enabled us to step back and think about using Medicaid waiver dollars to invest in the things that make a difference.

I need not tell anybody in this industry: many studies have looked at what contributes to health. We know that clinical health in and of itself contributes somewhere between 10 to 15 percent of a person’s well-being; however, so much more of their health and well-being is driven by other factors, like their environment and patient behaviors. And yet, we had not had a chance in the healthcare system to really think about what we wanted to do about that. It was really the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program that has allowed us to start exploring these new areas and think about how we want to collectively address them in our practices.

The way we structured our program was quite simple. We said, “If we’re going to do something about social determinants of health, let’s recognize that they are important and must be addressed, and that we have many different community-based organizations that surround or are embedded in our community that stand poised and ready to help our patients. We’re just not doing a very good job of connecting them to those organizations, so let’s backtrack and say, ‘First, we have to screen our patients using a validated survey instrument.’”

There were different sites at Montefiore that had already launched various pilots. We said, “Let’s make sure we leverage the experience and the learnings from these pilots. Then let’s think about who’s going to deal with those patients, which means we have to triage them.” For example, if somebody screens positive for domestic violence that is occurring in their home right now in the presence of children, that might require a different response from us than someone who says, “I have some difficulty paying my utilities.”

Source: Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Screening Tools, Triage and Workflows to Link High-Risk Patients to Community Services

sdoh high risk patients

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.

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.

HINfographic: Care Coordination Trends: Oversight of Complex Comorbid Spans Continuum

May 17th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Care coordinators organize patient care activities and share information among vested participants to achieve safer and more effective care, per the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). And for 86 percent of respondents to the 2016 Care Coordination survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network, care coordination takes place across all care settings, including the patient’s home.

A new infographic by HIN examines patient care coordination touchpoints, patients by diagnoses prioritized for care coordination and care coordination touchpoint frequency and reimbursement models.

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Care CoordinationCare coordination involves deliberately organizing patient care activities and sharing information among all participants concerned with a patient’s care to achieve safer and more effective care, as defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Care Coordination examines care coordination settings, strategies, targeted populations, supporting technologies, results and ROI, based on responses from 114 healthcare organizations to the September 2016 Care Coordination survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

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Top 2017 Chronic Care Management Modes and 13 More CCM Trends

May 2nd, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Availability of chronic care management rose 14 percent from 2015 to 2017, according to new metrics from the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

The majority of chronic care management (CCM) outreach is conducted telephonically, say 88 percent of respondents to a 2017 Chronic Care Management survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN), followed by face-to-face visits (65 percent) and home visits (44 percent).

This preference for telephonic CCM has remained unchanged since 2015, when HIN first canvassed healthcare executives on chronic care management practices. More than one hundred healthcare companies completed the 2017 CCM survey.

In addition, the April 2017 CCM survey captured a 14 percent increase in chronic care management programs over the two-year-span: from 55 percent in 2015 to 69 percent in 2017. Three-fourths of 2017 responding CCM programs target either Medicare beneficiaries or individuals with chronic comorbid conditions, with management of care transitions the top CCM component for 86 percent of programs.

In terms of reimbursement, payment levels for CCM services remained steady at 35 percent from 2015 to 2017. However, HIN’s second comprehensive CCM survey determined that 32 percent of respondents currently bill Medicare using CMS Chronic Care Management codes introduced in 2015.

Forty percent of these Medicare CCM participants believe CMS’s 2017 program changes will reduce administrative burden associated with CCM, the survey documented.

Other metrics from HIN’s 2017 CCM survey include the following:

  • A diagnosis of diabetes remains the leading criterion for CCM admission, said 92 percent;
  • Use of healthcare claims as the top tool for identifying or risk-stratifying individuals for CCM continues at 2015’s 70-percent levels;
  • Seventy percent of respondents target individuals with behavioral health diagnoses for CCM interventions;
  • Patient engagement remains the top challenge of chronic care management, with just under one-third of 2017 respondents reporting this obstacle
  • Responsibilities of RN care managers for CCM rose over two years, with 43 percent of 2017 respondents assigning primary CCM responsibility to these professionals (up from 29 percent in 2015); and
  • Two-thirds of respondents observed a drop in hospitalizations that they attribute to chronic care management.

Download an executive summary of 2017 Chronic Care Management survey results.

HINfographic: Social Determinants of Health: Screenings Abound, But Support Services Scarce

April 26th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Social determinants of health like food insecurity, unsafe neighborhoods and even loneliness can impact quality of life and population health. Although more than two-thirds of healthcare organizations now screen populations for social determinants of health (SDOH) as part of ongoing care management, one-third are challenged by a lack of supportive services, according to the December 2016 SDOH survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

A new infographic by HIN examines priority populations for SDOH screening, the greatest SDOH need and SDOH integration and tools.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Social Determinants of HealthInitiatives such as CMS’ Accountable Health Communities Model and other population health platforms encourage healthcare organizations to tackle the broad range of social, economic and environmental factors that shape an individual’s health. To underscore the need to address social determinants of health, Healthy People 2020 included “Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all” among its four overarching goals for the decade.

In one measure of their impact, 2015 research by Brigham Young University found that the social determinants of loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Social Determinants of Health documents the efforts of more than 140 healthcare organizations to assess social, economic and environmental factors in patients and to begin to redesign care management to account for these factors.

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Touting ‘Magic’ of Home Visits, Sun Health Dispels 5 Care Transition Management Myths

April 4th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan


With an average of 299 warm, sunny days a year, Phoenix is a mecca for senior transplants. However, as Phoenix-based Sun Health knows well, when an aging population relocates far from their adult children, there’s a danger that if some of them experience cognitive decline or other health issues, no one will notice.

That’s one reason home visits are the cornerstone of Sun Health’s Care Transitions Management program. Visiting recently discharged patients at home not only tracks the individual’s progress with the hospitalization-related condition, but also pinpoints any social determinants of health (SDOH) that inhibit optimum health.

“There are a number of social determinants of health that, if not addressed, could adversely impact the medical issue,” explains Jennifer Drago, FACHE, executive vice president of population health for the Arizona non-profit organization. Ms. Drago outlined the program during A Leading Care Transitions Model: Addressing Social Health Determinants Through Targeted Home Visits, a March 2017 webinar now available for replay.

Identifying social determinants of health (SDOH) such as medication affordability, transportation, health literacy and social isolation are so important to Sun Health that SDOHs form the critical fifth pillar of its Care Transitions Program. Modeled on the Coleman Care Transitions Intervention®, SDOH identification and support balance Coleman’s four pillars of education, medication reconciliation, physician follow-up visits, and personalized plan of care.

The belief that organizations can effectively execute transitions of care programs pre-discharge or by phone only is one of five care transition myths Ms. Drago dispelled during the webinar. “You will have an impact [with phone calls], but it won’t be as great as a program incorporating dedicated staff and that home visit. I can’t tell you the magic that happens in a home visit.”

That “magic” contributed to Sun Health’s stellar performance in CMS’s recently concluded Community-Based Care Transitions Program demonstration. Sun Health was the national demo’s top performer, achieving a 56 percent reduction in Medicare 30-day readmissions—from 17.8 percent to 7.81 percent—as compared to the 14.5 percent readmission rate of other demonstration participants.

Sun Health’s multi-stepped intervention begins with a visit to the patient’s hospital bedside. “Patients are a captive audience while in the hospital,” explained Ms. Drago. That scripted bedside encounter, which boosted patients’ receptivity to the program, addresses not only the reason for the hospitalization (hip replacement, for example) but also co-occuring chronic conditions, she continued.

“The thing that will have the greatest chance of going out of whack or out of sync in their recovery period is their chronic disease, because they’re probably not eating the same, they’re more sedentary, and their medications likely have been disrupted.”

Ms. Drago went on to present some of the intervention’s tools, including care plans, daily patient check-ins, and the science behind her organization’s care transitions scripts.

After sharing six key lessons learned from care transitions management, Ms. Drago noted that while her organization participated as a mission-based endeavor, others could model Sun Health’s intervention and benefit from those readmissions savings. She also shared a video on the Sun Health Care Transitions Program:

Listen to an interview with Jennifer Drago on the science behind care transition management.