Archive for the ‘Care Transitions’ Category

Infographic: Malnutrition Care Needs to Be Integrated Into Care Transitions

August 17th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Malnutrition is a pervasive, but often under-diagnosed, condition in the United States. This prevalence is exacerbated among those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and gastrointestinal, pulmonary, heart, and chronic kidney disease and their treatments can result in changes in nutrient intake and ability to use nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition, according to a new infographic by Defeat Malnutrition Today, a coalition of over 75 organizations and stakeholders working to defeat older adult malnutrition.

The infographic provides details on malnutrition prevalence across care settings, existing patient care transitions pathways and recommendations to integrate malnutrition care into care transitions.

Innovative Community Health Partnerships: Clinical Alliances to Reduce Health Disparities in Underserved PopulationsAs one of the poorest urban congressional districts in the country, the Bronx, a New York City borough, was also rated as the last county (#62) in New York for health outcomes and health factors by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In reaction, the Bronx Health REACH initiative formed the “#Not62,” campaign to transform the health of the community.

Innovative Community Health Partnerships: Clinical Alliances to Reduce Health Disparities in Underserved Populations highlights the models of change and key initiatives developed through Bronx Health REACH’s community health transformation project.

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Guest Post: The Provider’s Responsibility for Building Patient Relationships

July 31st, 2018 by Dr. Delanor Doyle

A foundational element of healthcare is the relationship between a patient and their PCP.

One of the foundational elements of healthcare is, or at least should be, the relationship between a patient and their primary care physician (PCP). And yet, it seems many Americans are not fully utilizing their PCP and instead are turning to emergency rooms or urgent care clinics for non-urgent conditions and illnesses. In fact, only 9 percent of emergency department visits result in a hospital admission. This means it is likely that many of these cases could have been avoided by seeking the care of a PCP.

Emergency department visits not only result in hefty costs to the patient and their employer, but also create wastes of time and resources in the healthcare system. The impact in terms of costs, for the patients can have many down-stream consequences. In fact, a recent report by the U.S. Federal Reserve found that four out of 10 adults in the United States could not cover an unexpected $400 expense. In some cases, this amount can easily be reached for a single emergency room visit between out-of-pocket costs for the visit, medications and laboratory services —especially when dealing with out-of-network issues. Providers should work to keep patients out of emergency rooms and urgent care facilities and to emphasize the importance and purpose of the PCP in the patient’s healthcare journey.

Until the 1940s, about 40 percent of all physician visits were house calls and while today patients don’t have this same expectation, providers should treat patients with that same level of personalized, individual care that builds a strong relationship. Providers can consider implementing the following best practices with their patients:

Every Discharge Deserves a Follow-Up

In many cases the PCP is not the provider who admitted or cared for the patient while in the hospital. However, it is imperative that the PCP insist on receiving information about the patient’s admission, so that he or she can be a part of the discharge plan. The patient should be seen back in the practice within three to five days after discharge —even if they were seen just prior to going into the hospital. In fact, this should be scheduled for the patient prior to hospital discharge. Timely follow-up appointments have been associated with a decreased risk of readmission. A converse association also exists. A study published in Clinical Interventions of Aging found only half of patients discharged following heart failure had a follow-up appointment scheduled and the readmission rate was significantly higher in those that had no follow-up scheduled.

Follow-up appointments allow for the provider to engage or re-engage the patient and ensures the patient is aware of any care transition recommendations. Concerns regarding disease process, expectations and convalescence should be addressed at this time. Working to schedule all patients for timely follow-up post discharge eliminates the risk of the patient forgetting to schedule the appointments themselves. Many patients report a higher sense of satisfaction with the communication between themselves and their provider and with their overall care.

Encourage Virtual Care Options

For after-hours needs, do your patients know there are virtual care options they can use in lieu of going to the emergency room or urgent care clinics for non-urgent concerns? Many patients are simply unaware of these services or aren’t sure how to use them so they don’t consider it as an option. According to the National Business Group on Health, only 8 percent of employees utilize telemedicine services, yet the cost of healthcare benefits is expected to increase an average of 5 percent due in part to pharmaceutical costs but also to site of service issues as well. Spend a few minutes during the visit to educate patients on the services available as well as when to use them.

Promote Health Plan Resources

Unfortunately, many patients are also not familiar with the services or programs offered by their health plans. These materials are good resources for preventative care measures and offer proactive suggestions for patients. For example, their insurance provider might offer diabetes educational materials and resources. Most health plans have programs for diabetes and other chronic conditions. If members are encouraged to access the materials available online, telephonically and in print they might be more likely to seek out that information and if contacted by the health plan they will be much more likely to engage. It is important that patients begin to get a sense that the health plan and the providers are collaborating for the patient’s benefit.

We are still in a fee-for-service world but moving toward fee-for-value. This is being driven by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and all the major health plans. To be successful in this new world, improved patient outcomes should be a major focus for providers. Strategies that engage the patient and simplify the healthcare experience when and where it is needed most are going to be produce the winners in this new era. The literature is replete with strategies that can produce population health success, but few are shown to be consistently correlated to economic success combined with improved patient satisfaction and outcomes. The exceptions have been those that employ heavy care coordination in a face-to-face venue and that address the social determinants of disease.

Fully leveraging these strategies is going to require the development of trust between the patient and provider so that patients know we are not just treating a disease but caring for the whole person. When that level of trust is reached it becomes easier to influence utilization of the PCP practice and other more appropriate levels of care instead of the ED. Similarly, it becomes easier to impact the readmission rate in one’s own panel of patients.

About the Author:

Dr. Delanor Doyle

Dr. Delanor Doyle

Dr. Delanor Doyle is the chief medical officer of Texas Health Aetna. Leveraging the strengths of two leading organizations, Texas Health Aetna is blurring the lines of traditional health care plans and health systems to create a truly integrated solution that’s simple to navigate and puts the member’s experience first. The local health plan is committed to providing affordable, high-quality health care services and delivering customized care to members throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. For more information about Texas Health Aetna, visit www.texashealthaetna.com.

Infographic: Skilled Nursing Facilities Focus on Quality and Partnerships

July 13th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Focus on performing well in the CMS Five-Star Quality program has become a business imperative for skilled nursing facilities—it’s essential to keeping occupancy rates up, according to a new infographic by the Health Industry Distributors Association.

The infographic examines how skilled nursing facilities are working with the hospitals in their communities to reduce readmission rates and gain referral volume.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Post-Acute CareValue-based healthcare payment models, such as clinical integration, shared savings, bundled payments, shared risk and full capitation, as well as the need to coordinate care across the acute and post-acute care (PAC) continuum, are reshaping the PAC landscape. And, with the start of Medicare readmission penalties for skilled nursing facilities starting in October of this year, PAC providers will continue to examine strategies for improving care quality and reducing costs.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Post-Acute Care is the second comprehensive analysis of the PAC market by the Healthcare Intelligence Network, capturing such key metrics as PAC initiatives, strategies, challenges, tools used to manage PAC, results and ROI.

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Infographic: Sepsis Alert

July 4th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in United States’ hospitals today. Moreover, 62 percent of patients hospitalized with sepsis are re-hospitalized within 30 days, according to a new infographic by TigerConnect, Inc.

The infographic examines how a secure communication solution can speed sepsis response times for better patient outcomes.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Remote Patient MonitoringArtificial intelligence. Automation. Blockchain. Robotics. Once the domain of science fiction, these telehealth technologies have begun to transform the fabric of healthcare delivery systems. As further proof of telehealth’s explosive growth, the use of wearable health-tracking devices and remote patient monitoring has proliferated, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has added several new provider telehealth billing codes for calendar year 2018.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Remote Patient Monitoring delivers the latest actionable telehealth and remote patient monitoring metrics on tools, applications, challenges, successes and ROI from healthcare organizations across the care spectrum. This 60-page report, now in its fifth edition, documents benchmarks on current and planned telehealth and remote patient monitoring initiatives as well as the use of emerging technologies in the healthcare space.

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Infographic: Focus on Care Transitions to Reduce Readmissions and Boost Your Bottom Line

May 30th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Decreased hospital readmissions leads to improved patient outcomes, which improves brand reputation, ultimately leading to increased patient volume and market share. Reducing readmissions begins with creating a seamless care transition plan for what will happen within the hospital as well as after discharge, according to a new infographic by the Studer Group.

The infographic examines how reducing readmissions impacts a hospital’s bottom line and techniques to improve care transitions.

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI A care transitions management program operated by Sun Health since 2011 has significantly reduced hospital readmissions for nearly 12,000 Medicare patients, resulting in $14.8 million in savings to the Medicare program. Using home visits as a core strategy, the Sun Health Care Transitions program was a top performer in CMS’s recently concluded Community-Based Care Transitions (CBCT) demonstration project, which was launched in 2012 to explore new solutions for reducing hospital readmissions, improving quality and achieving measurable savings for Medicare.

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI explores the critical five pillars of the Arizona non-profit’s leading care transitions management initiative, adapted from the Coleman Care Transitions Intervention®.

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Integrated Case Management Scripts Keep MSKCC Patient Care Team on Same Page

February 1st, 2018 by Patricia Donovan
Healthcare Scripting

MSKCC scripting improved the consistency of patient communication and staff efficiency.

To help ensure its patients receive consistent messages, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) has developed a series of scripts for use by its integrated case management team. Here, Laura Ostrowsky, RN, CCM, MUP, MSKCC director of case management, describes some scripting scenarios employed by the state-of-the-art specialty hospital.

There are a variety of ways we’ve done scripting. For example, there was a time when a case manager would meet with a doctor and the doctor would say, “I think we need to set up hospice for this patient.” The case manager then would go into the patient’s room and say, “I’m here to help you to set up your discharge plan. I know you’ll be going to hospice.”

And then the patient would say, “What are you talking about?”

One thing all case managers know is that when you go into a patient’s room, especially if someone told you they said something to the patient, you first must confirm what the patient understands about that previous conversation. If it turns out that they didn’t understand what you were told to talk about, then you don’t have that conversation. You go back to the staff member that sent you in there and discuss it. Perhaps you schedule a family meeting to discuss that issue.

We also developed scripts not only for preadmission staff, but for all staff trying to get approvals from insurers for high-cost medications and for procedures. We work with them to identify how to answer questions from the insurance company or insurance case manager so that those tasks can be handled by the doctor’s office or admitting department rather than by case management.

The approach of our length of stay reduction teams, while not exactly scripted, is concerned about consistency of message. The teams came up with the steps and planned the patient education material with the imperative that we never overestimate a length of stay, but rather err on the short side.

The imperative is that everybody speaks to the patient the same way. The case managers make a point to tell the team, “Don’t make promises we can’t keep.” That’s not exactly scripting, but it keeps everybody on the same page. For example, don’t tell a patient they are going to have plenty of help at home. Or that they will get home care and someone will be there every day, because you don’t know if that is going to happen.

Instead, you can say to the patient, “We are going to see if you are eligible for home care. I am going to send the case manager in to see you. They will check your benefits and go over eligibility. We will do our best to get you the services you need.”

Source: Integrated Case Management: Elevating Quality and Clinical Metrics with Multidisciplinary Team-Based Care

integrated case management

Integrated Case Management: Elevating Quality and Clinical Metrics with Multidisciplinary Team-Based Care details the framework and implementation of the service-based multidisciplinary program MSKCC adopted to ensure that the care it provides to more than 25,000 admitted patients each year is both cost-effective and cost-efficient.

Infographic: Medicare Home Health Beneficiaries

January 29th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Home healthcare patients are among the poorest, sickest and most vulnerable beneficiaries in the Medicare program, according to a new infographic by the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.

The infographic compares a traditional Medicare beneficiary with a Medicare home health beneficiary and factors that demonstrate why Medicare home health beneficiaries are financially vulnerable.

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI A care transitions management program operated by Sun Health since 2011 has significantly reduced hospital readmissions for nearly 12,000 Medicare patients, resulting in $14.8 million in savings to the Medicare program. Using home visits as a core strategy, the Sun Health Care Transitions program was a top performer in CMS’s recently concluded Community-Based Care Transitions (CBCT) demonstration project, which was launched in 2012 to explore new solutions for reducing hospital readmissions, improving quality and achieving measurable savings for Medicare.

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI explores the critical five pillars of the Arizona non-profit’s leading care transitions management initiative, adapted from the Coleman Care Transitions Intervention®.

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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.

Chronic Care Plus for the Chronically Homeless: ‘Recuperative Care on Steroids’

September 28th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Chronic Care Plus is designed for ‘Joe,’ a prototypical vulnerable client and frequent hospital user who for some reason has not connected to either his community or healthcare system.

Illumination Foundation’s joint venture pilot, which began as an ER diversion project, now offers community-based stabilization following a hospital stay for medically vulnerable chronically homeless patients. Here, Illumination Foundation CEO Paul Leon describes the origins of Chronic Care Plus (CCP), which has been associated with a $7 million annual medical cost avoidance at all hospitals visited by the 38 CCP clients.

Back in 2008 when we first started, we began to realize that housing was healthcare. With many of the patients we were seeing, although we experienced great success, we ended up discharging them many times back into a shelter or into an assisted living or sober living situation. And although these options were better than being in the hospital or being discharged to the street, we knew we could improve on this.

So, in 2013, we implemented the Chronic Care Plus (CCP) program. Basically, CCP was recuperative care on steroids. It was recuperative care with more tightly wrapped social services and a longer length of stay. At that time, we began a pilot program in conjunction with UniHealth and St. Joseph’s Hospital in which we took the 28 most frequent users and kept them in housing for two years. We also brought these individuals through recuperative care, and wrapped them tightly with social services.

These efforts would eventually lead us to create our ‘Street2Home’ program, which we’re working on now. It implements more bridge housing and permanent supportive housing that is supplied not only by us but by collaboratives in the community. We are able to link to these collaboratives to take our individual, our ‘Joe,’ from a street to eventual permanent housing.

Source: Homelessness and Healthcare: Creating a Safety Net for Super Utilizers with Medical Bridge Housing

home visits

Homelessness and Healthcare: Creating a Safety Net for Super Utilizers with Medical Bridge Housing spotlights a California partnership that provides medical ‘bridge’ housing to homeless patients following hospitalization. This recuperative care initiative reduced avoidable hospital readmissions and ER visits and significantly lowered costs for the collaborating organizations.

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.