Archive for the ‘Health Risk Assessment’ Category

Food for Thought: Nutrition Programs Reduce Hospital Visits and Readmissions by Vulnerable Populations

August 18th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Malnutrition is a social determinant of health that negatively impacts health outcomes.

It’s a difficult statistic to digest: one in three people enter the hospital malnourished or at risk of malnutrition, a state that impacts their recovery and increases their risk of health complications and rehospitalizations.

Two studies this week highlight the clinical benefits of addressing patients’ nutrition needs before and during hospital stays as well as savings that can result from identification of social determinants of health (SDOH) like access to nutrition that drive 85 percent of health outcomes.

In the first, a study of elderly Maryland residents by Benefits Data Trust, a national nonprofit based in Philadelphia, found that when it comes to low-income seniors, access to quality food via food stamps can also save money by reducing the number and duration of hospital visits and nursing home admissions.

In the second, research published in American Health & Drug Benefits journal and supported by Abbott found that when Advocate Health Care implemented a nutrition care program at four of its Chicago area hospitals, it showed more than $4.8 million in cost savings due to shorter hospital stays and lower readmission rates.

The Benefits Data Trust research found that participation by low-income seniors in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cut their odds of hospital admissions by 14 percent. The food stamps also reduced the need for ER visits by 10 percent, and cut their likelihood of going into a nursing home by nearly one quarter.

Finally, SNAP participation also led to an 8 to 10 percent drop in the number of days a patient who was admitted remained in one of these facilities.

As a result, hospitals and health care systems such as Advocate Health Care are looking at the value of nutrition to improve care and help patients get back to living a healthier life.

Starting in 2014, Advocate Health Care, the largest health system in Illinois and one of the largest accountable care organizations (ACO) in the country, implemented two models of a nutrition care program for patients at risk of malnutrition. The nutrition-focused quality improvement program, which targeted malnourished hospitalized patients, consisted of screening patients with a validated screening tool at admission, rapidly administering oral nutritional supplements, and educating patients on supplement adherence.

The leader in population health found that by doing so, it reduced 30-day readmission rates by 27 percent and the average hospital stay by nearly two days.

More recently, to evaluate the cost-savings of the Advocate approach, researchers used a novel, web-based budget impact model to assess the potential cost savings from the avoided readmissions and reduced time in hospital. Compared to the hospitals’ previous readmission rates and patients’ average length of stay, researchers found that optimizing nutrition care in the four hospitals resulted in roughly $3,800 cost savings per patient treated for malnutrition.

Given the healthcare industry’s appetite for value- and quality-based programs, SDOH screenings and the fortification of nutrition programs in both community and inpatient settings appear to be just what the doctor ordered. However, while a 2017 study on Social Determinants of Health identified widespread adoption of SDOH screenings by providers, it also documented a scarcity of supportive community services for SDOH-positive individuals.

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.

Infographic: Evidence-based Guidelines for Managing Low-Back Pain

February 15th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Evidence-based Guidelines for Managing Low-Back Pain

The complexity and intensity of treatment for lower back pain may vary depending on how likely it is that the patient will have a good, functional outcome, according to a new infographic by BMJ Publishing Group.

The infographic provide care pathways for patients by expected outcome.

When success in a fee-for-value reimbursement framework calls for a care coordination vision focused on the highest-risk, highest-cost patients, an organization must be able to identify this critical population.

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Stratifying High-Risk Patients captures the latest tools and practices employed by healthcare organizations across the care continuum as they risk-stratify patients and health plan members in preparation for care management.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today. Have an infographic you’d like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.

Use Annual Wellness Visit to Screen for Social Determinants of Health in High-Risk Medicare Population

December 13th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

The social determinant of social isolation carries the same health risk as smoking, and double that of obesity.

With about a third of health outcomes determined by human behavior choices, according to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study, improving population health should be as straightforward as fostering healthy behaviors in patients and health plan members.

But what’s unstated in that data point is that the remaining 70 percent of health outcomes are determined by social determinants of health—areas that involve an individual’s social and environmental condition as well as experiences that directly impact health and health status.

By addressing social determinants, healthcare organizations can dramatically impact patient outcomes as well as their own financial success under value-based care, advised Dr. Randall Williams, chief executive officer, Pharos Innovations, during Social Determinants and Population Health: Moving Beyond Clinical Data in a Value-Based Healthcare System, a December 2016 webinar now available for replay.

“The challenge is that few healthcare systems are currently equipped to identify individuals within their populations who have social determinant challenges,” said Dr. Williams, “And few are still are structured to coordinate both medical and nonmedical support needs.”

The Medicare annual wellness visit is an ideal opportunity to screen beneficiaries for social determinants—particularly rising and high-risk patients, who frequently face a higher percentage of social determinant challenges.

Primary social determinants include the individual’s access to healthcare, their socio- and economic conditions, and factors related to their living environment such as air or water quality, availability of food, and transportation.

Dr. Williams presented several patient scenarios illustrating key social determinants, including social isolation, in which individuals, particularly the elderly, are lonely, lack companionship and frequently suffer from depression. “Social isolation carries the same health risk as smoking and double that of obesity,” he said.

While technology is useful in reducing social isolation, studies by the Pew Research Center determined that segments of the population with the highest percentage of chronic illness tend to be least connected to the Internet or even to mobile technologies.

“Accountable care organizations (ACOs) and other organizations managing populations must continue to push technology-enhanced care models,” said Dr. Williams, “But they also have to understand and assess technology barriers and inequalities in their populations, especially among those with chronic conditions.”

In another patient scenario, loss of transportation severely hampered an eighty-year-old woman’s ability to complete physical rehabilitation following a knee replacement.

Dr. Williams then described multiple approaches for healthcare organizations to begin to address social determinants in population health, including patients’ cultural biases, which may make them more or less open to specific care options. This fundamental care redesign should include an environmental assessment to catalog available social and community resources, he said, providing several examples.

“This is not the kind of information you’re going to find in a traditional electronic health record or even care management platforms,” he concluded.

Providers and ACO Data Analytics: Too Much Information Is Not Helpful

November 22nd, 2016 by Patricia Donovan
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Collaborative Health Systems believes the health data it distributes to its physicians should speak to the challenges providers see in the market.

As the largest sponsor of Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) accountable care organizations (ACOs), Collaborative Health Systems (CHS) has learned a number of lessons about the integration of data analytics and technology. Here, Elena Tkachev, CHS director of ACO analytics, outlines three challenges her organization has faced in the rollout of health analytics to its provider base, and some CHS approaches to these hurdles.

What are some of the challenges we have identified, and some solutions? Number one is the availability and access to timely and accurate data. This has been a challenge for us. As an insurance company, we have a very strong expertise and access to the claims information Medicare provides to us, but we did face the challenge of incorporating electronic medical records (EMRs) into our data. We have been taking a phased approach, where we continue only adding and enhancing our data. If you are not at a point where you’re ready to consume everything, it doesn’t mean you should not do it until you have all the pieces together. It’s better to start with something and then you can grow from that point and improve it.

The second is related to the technology and capability—the ability to aggregate all this different data from different resources and have it be meaningful. For us, it’s really an investment in having strong technology data architect subject matter experts as well as the tools that can help us with that.

The third is display of meaningful results. This has been a challenge and we’ve reiterated it. Since I first started at CHS, the reports have drastically changed, because we learned from our providers that too much information is not helpful; just giving someone a spreadsheet with a lot of columns is not very useful.

Providers would rather see information summarized, and less is more. It’s really important to have information be very clear. The data needs to speak to the challenges the providers see in the market.

Source: Health Analytics in Accountable Care: Leveraging Data to Transform ACO Performance and Results

http://hin.3dcartstores.com/Health-Analytics-in-Accountable-Care-Leveraging-Data-to-Transform-ACO-Performance-and-Results-_p_5185.html

Health Analytics in Accountable Care: Leveraging Data to Transform ACO Performance and Results documents the accomplishments of CHS’s 24 ACOs under the MSSP program, the crucial role of data analytics in CHS operations, and the many lessons learned as an early trailblazer in value-based care delivery.

Home Visits Validate Predictive Analytics and 10 More 2016 Risk Stratification Trends

August 30th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Assuring data integrity is the top challenge to health risk stratification, according to a July 2016 healthcare benchmarks survey.


Two key trends emerging from a July 2016 survey on Stratifying High-Risk Patients highlight the need to occasionally eschew sophisticated tools in favor of basic, face-to-face care coordination.

As one survey respondent noted, “A key element [of stratifying high-risk patients] is building a trusting face-to-face relationship with each patient, knowing what they want to work on, coaching them and activating them.”

The first learning gleaned from the survey’s 112 respondents is that, despite the prevalence of high-end risk predictors, algorithms and monitoring tools, clinicians must occasionally step into the patient’s world—that is, literally enter their home—in order to capture the individual’s total health picture.

Fifty-six percent of respondents make home visits to risk-stratified patients; a half dozen identified the home visit as its most successful intervention for risk-stratified populations.

That inside look at the patient environment illuminates data points an electronic health records (EHRs) might never bring to light, including socioeconomic factors like limited mobility that could prevent a patient from keeping a follow-up appointment.

“I never know until the moment I enter the home and actually see what the environment is like whether we correctly predicted the need for high intervention (and get a return on it),” commented one respondent.

The second trend in risk stratification is the emerging laser focus on ‘rising risk’ patients, an activity reported by 72 percent of respondents. This scrutiny of rising risk populations helps to prevention their migration to high-risk status, where complex and costly health episodes prevail.

Other data points identified by the 2016 Stratifying High-Risk Patients survey include the following:

  • Almost four-fifths of 2016 respondents have programs to stratify high-risk patients, and the infrastructures of more than half of these initiatives utilize clinical analytics, predictive algorithms, EHRs and other IT tools to manage care for high-risk patients.
  • The reigning health risk calculator continues to be the LACE tool (Length of stay, Acute admission, Charleston Comorbidity score, ED visits), used by 45 percent in 2016, versus 33 percent two years ago.
  • For more than a quarter of 2016 respondents, assuring data integrity remains a key challenge to risk prediction.
  • A case manager typically has primary responsibility for risk stratification, say 52 percent of respondents.
  • Diabetes is the most prevalent clinical condition among high-risk patients, say 47 percent.
  • At least 70 percent report reductions in hospitalizations and ER visits related to risk stratification efforts.
  • Improvement in the highly desirable metric of patient engagement is reported by 74 percent of respondents.

Click here to download an executive summary of survey results: Stratifying High-Risk Patients in 2016: As Risk Prediction Prevails, Industry Eyes Social Determinants, Rising Risk.

6 Population Health Strategies to Set Stage for Physician Reimbursement

May 12th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Robert Fortini, PNP

A team-based, top-of-license approach is key to population health success, says Robert Fortini, PNP, Bon Secours Medical Group chief clinical officer.

In the last six years, Bon Secours Medical Group (BSMG) has deployed a half-dozen population health strategies as groundwork for its Next Generation Healthcare offering. Here, Robert Fortini, PNP, BSMG chief clinical officer, identifies the tactics his organization leverages to effect health behavior change.

The specific population health strategies Bon Secours has deployed over the last six years start with the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) concept. I’m an avid believer in the concept of a team of professionals working together, along with that ‘top of license’ aspect, where it’s not just the sole domain of the independent ‘cowboy’ physician taking care of the patients. It’s pharmacists, nurses, social workers, and registered dietitians. It’s the entire team, with everyone having a vested responsibility for practicing to the top of his or her license.

Next, access is huge. It is ridiculous to think we can manage chronic disease in four 15-minute visits a year scheduled between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, while closing at lunchtime. It’s absolutely ludicrous. We are blowing that up by opening weekends and evenings and using technology to expand access, which is critical to affecting that behavioral change.

Third, know your population. Identifying effectively those who are most at risk with advanced analytics to make your efforts more efficient is very important.

Next is managed care contracting—aggressively coming to the table with our payors to help guide the conversations and craft the contracts and benefit designs that are attainable and achievable. That has been a new experience for Bon Secours in the last five years in particular. We have a CMS-based Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) Accountable Care Organization (ACO) covering about 30,000 attributed lives. We also have a number of commercial ACO-type contractual relationships with our commercial payors.

Fifth on the list: aggressive growth for palliative and hospice. We have invested very significantly in management of advanced illness that occurs at the end of life. The Medicare numbers around that are staggering: 40 percent of Medicare spend occurs in the last two years of life, and the pain, suffering, and emotional angst that occurs for patients and their families is incredible. Investing in the resources necessary to manage that effectively has been our strategic initiative at Bon Secours. We have a very large, well-versed palliative program that provides inpatient, outpatient and even home-based palliative services. And our hospice agency, which I am responsible for in addition to our medical group, has quadrupled in size in the last two years alone.

Then, finally, we manage the white space with powered care coordination, which includes health promotion, chronic disease management, care transition management, and more.

Source: Physician Reimbursement in 2016: 4 Billable Medicare Events to Maximize Care Management Revenue and Results

http://hin.3dcartstores.com/Physician-Reimbursement-in-2016-4-Billable-Medicare-Events-to-Maximize-Care-Management-Revenue-and-Results_p_5143.html

Physician Reimbursement in 2016: 4 Billable Medicare Events to Maximize Care Management Revenue and Results details the ways in which Bon Secours Medical Group (BSMG) leverages a team-based care approach, expanded care access and technology to capitalize on four Medicare billing events: transitional care management, chronic care management, Medicare annual wellness visits and advance care planning.

CHS on Data Analytics in Accountable Care: “No Matter What Happens, This Change is Coming”

February 11th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Collaborative Health Systems, the largest sponsor of Medicare ACOs in the United States, recently rolled out an analytics and dashboard portal for its 3,200 providers.

Attention, please. Two aggressive milestones to migrate Medicare providers to value-based healthcare are on the horizon:

  • In 2016, CMS expects 30 percent of Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement to be tied to alternative payment models such as accountable care and bundled payments.
  • Also this year, the federal payor wants 85 percent of Medicare FFS payments to be based upon quality metrics.

“If you are a provider, or working with providers who accept Medicare beneficiaries, it’s really important to know these changes are coming,” advises Elena Tkachev, director of ACO analytics for Collaborative Health Systems (CHS). “It will be the responsibility of physicians to participate in these payments because no matter what happens, this change is coming.”

Ms. Tkachev detailed the power of data analytics to drive CHS’s success in accountable care during Data Analytics in Accountable Care: Strategies and Case Studies, a January 2016 webinar from the Healthcare Intelligence Network now available for replay.

As the largest sponsor of Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACOs in the United States, CHS has a firm handle on HHS’s value-based agenda. The organization manages 24 MSSP ACOs, nine of which generated savings of nearly $27 million in 2014, and one that has been accepted as a Next Generation ACO, the newest Medicare accountable care model.

And with CMS expectations for value-based reimbursement slated to rise over the next two years, expectations for data analytics to improve care and costs related to Medicare beneficiaries have never been higher.

“Today, physicians are being measured through claims and the clinical metrics on the population they serve. We see the main responsibility of analytics as providing simple access to actionable, timely and relevant information to help clinicians make better decisions, improve quality of care and enhance the patient experience.”

Despite the magnitude of its enterprise, CHS believes its future in accountable care rests upon its primary care physicians (PCPs), which it views as “quarterbacks of care” for its more than 280,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

To foster quality improvement, CHS equips PCPs with an arsenal of analytics capabilities. So that its 3,200 providers can tap into CHS’s massive storehouse of CMS, claims, lab, risk stratification and care coordination data collected on its 24 Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACOs, the health system recently rolled out an analytics and dashboard portal.

These tools enable providers to monitor the aggregate health of their populations as well as their own performance, even giving providers the ability to track their own performance over time and contrast it with other clinicians’—a capability that pleases CHS’s more competitive physicians, Ms. Tkachev notes.

Frequent webinar training keeps provider analytics’ use sharp, and dashboard-generated reports and scorecards help physicians to monitor and enhance quality performance and improve patient outreach, Ms. Tkachev explained.

Despite its significant success, CHS still encounters the perennial challenges of access to timely and accurate data, aggregation abilities, and the display of meaningful results. Ms. Tkachev shared some CHS tactics to resolve these issues, including soliciting feedback on the tools from providers who use them.

Listen to an interview with Elena Tkachev on data analytic’s potential to drive annual wellness visits and boost beneficiary attribution.

Health Risk Stratification Model: How Well Do You Manage ‘Falling Risk’ Populations?

November 3rd, 2015 by Patricia Donovan

Health risk stratification is scalable, according to the experience of Ochsner Health System, whose scaling and centralization of risk stratification and care coordination protocols across its nine-hospital system drive ROI and improve clinical outcomes and efficiency.

Here, Mark Green, system AVP of transition management at Ochsner Health System, explains why health plans and providers need better control over ‘falling risk’ patients.

Regardless of your patient population, no matter how small or large, you’ve got a segment of your population that are healthy patients. You’ve got a certain percentage, about 40 percent, who are at very low risk.

About 20 percent of your population falls into a ‘rising risk’ segment. Those are patients with chronic diseases who are somewhat adherent and compliant. You’ve got some that are newly diagnosed with depression, and a comorbidity. Then you’ve got this very top 3 to 5 percent, which are your poorly controlled multiple comorbidities that need your absolute highest touch, whether it’s through complex case managers or other programs that are the highest touch of those patients.

That is the typical model in the United States where you see this segmentation. In this country, we do a relatively good job of understanding ‘rising risk’ patients. Those are your patients that are diabetic, and suddenly you see their A1C go out of control. You know they’re going off-track for some reason, whether it’s compliance, adherence, needing medication adjustments, or some other social interactions happening outside your care model. These are your ‘rising risk’ patients.

As the country begins to understand this risk stratification, it understands the ‘falling risk’ patients, too. For example, we had a congestive heart failure (CHF) clinic that was pretty successful in managing patients; they had approximately 100 patients in their CHF clinic. They were taking these complex CHF patients and sending them through education and hooking them up with complex case managers. Pretty soon they filled their entire clinic up and didn’t have any more access for new patients. It failed pretty quickly because they weren’t able to churn these patients.

As we began to do a root cause analysis of why this happened, to understand why we didn’t see the sustainability in this program, we realized it was because we never moved patients down that risk stratification model. We kept them in there forever. We received them, we managed them and we got them better. But we never moved them down, so we never had room for another newly diagnosed, out-of-control CHF patient.

That’s a really critical step to understand: managing not only your rising risk but also your falling risk patient population within the sub-categories of your overall risk segmentation. It’s a living organism moving in and out of these different components.

Source: Scalable Models in Health Risk Stratification: Results from Cross-Continuum Care Coordination

http://hin.3dcartstores.com/Rethinking-Readmissions-Patient-Centered-Collaborations-in-Care-Transition-Management_p_4646.html

Scalable Models in Health Risk Stratification: Results from Cross-Continuum Care Coordination explores Ochsner’s approach, in which standardized scripts, tools and workflows are applied along the care continuum, from post-hospital and ER discharge telephonic follow-up to capture of complex cases for outpatient management.

Longitudinal Care Plans, Risk Scores Raise Patient Engagement for MSSP ACO’s Complex Population

October 6th, 2015 by Patricia Donovan

A top-performing MSSP in 2014, the Memorial Hermann ACO has successfully engaged its Complex Care population via a collaborative care coordination approach.

The Memorial Hermann ACO may have been one of 2014’s top-performing Medicare Shared Savings Programs (MSSPs), but the health system’s commitment to achieving quality outcomes was solidified more than eight years ago, when its own physicians asked for a clinically integrated physician network.

Memorial Hermann complied, developing a set of tools, training and care models to not only support the physicians but also reflect payors’ needs: chief among them, initiatives that could boost patient engagement.

Today, the Memorial Hermann ACO has a patient-centered care delivery strategy built on teamwork and collaboration. The Texas ACO is proud to point to a patient engagement rate of 74 percent for individuals enrolled in Complex Care, an initiative for individuals with long-term, multiple chronic conditions that has significantly reduced cost and hospital lengths of stay for participants.

This patient engagement measure represents members who consent to participate in the program and remain engaged for 30 days, explained Mary Folladori, RN, MSN, FACM, CMAC, system director of care management at Memorial Hermann Physician Network and ACO, during Care Coordination in an ACO: Managing the Population Health Continuum from Wellness to End-of-Life, a September 2015 webinar from the Healthcare Intelligence Network now available for replay.

Ms. Folladori provided an overview of the ACO’s care coordination strategy that in 2014 generated savings of nearly $53 million in the MSSP program, resulting in a health system payout of almost $23 million. The ACO’s performance earned Memorial Hermann a MSSP quality score of 88 percent.

Some high points from Memorial Hermann’s ACO strategy include the following:

  • Embedding of care coordinators into the ‘micro culture’ of a physician practice, its community and the members served by the practice;
  • Strategic use of a data warehouse to identify vulnerable members early and link them with needed health services;
  • Development of comprehensive risk scores derived from multiple sources for Complex Care patients; and
  • Creation of longitudinal care plans that follow Complex Care patients for up to 18 months and help to transition them back to a baseline level of functioning.

In wrapping up observations on Memorial Hermann’s quality-driven approach, Ms. Folladori quoted its CEO, Chris Lloyd: “The success that has been found within our ACO is deeply based on a collaborative approach to care. It has been cultivated over eight years with our commitment to clinical integration. We all strongly believe that without that strong clinically integrated physician network, without our physicians driving those quality outcomes, we would not have been as successful as we have.”

With so much emphasis on quality and outcomes, it’s no wonder participation today in the Memorial Hermann ACO is by invitation only—and only after a practice has passed an assessment.