Archive for the ‘Healthcare Costs’ Category

Infographic: 18 Million Non-Urgent ED Visits

June 3rd, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Many states are moving toward co-payments for Medicaid patients who visit emergency departments for reasons classified as "non-urgent," according to a new infographic by Policy Prescriptions.

The infographic examines key characteristics of these non-urgent ED visits.

Industry reforms, expanded coverage under insurance exchanges, Medicaid expansion, and shifting healthcare delivery models continue to influence emergency room utilization. In response, healthcare organizations employ a variety of strategies to reduce avoidable ER use.

2014 Healthcare Benchmarks: Reducing Avoidable ER Visits delivers actionable metrics from 125 healthcare organizations on their efforts to foster appropriate use of hospital emergency departments.

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Are You MACRA-Ready? Physician Groups Prep Members for Medicare Payment Modernization

May 16th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Physician groups digested the 962-page MACRA notice of proposed rule-making in order to distill the notice for their members.

As they digest the HHS's momentous proposal to modernize how Medicare provider payments are tied to the cost and quality of patient care, physician organizations are assembling arsenals of educational tools to de-mystify MACRA.

The federal government's first step in implementing certain provisions of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) was detailed in an April 2016 announcement.

Just nine days after that bulletin, the AAFP arranged a town hall meeting for its members with two high-ranking CMS officials to discuss the law that will greatly influence how physicians are paid. Comments provided by CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt via conference call are detailed here.

While the HHS window to receive feedback on the proposal remains open through June 27, 2016, the AMA has created an extensive set of online resources to support physician preparations for a post-MACRA Medicare. The resources include a guide to physician-focused payment models, key points of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and five things providers can do now to prepare for the legislation, among other resources, according to a May 2016 press release.

“The core policy elements in MACRA are surfacing in other public and private insurance programs, so understanding these policies will be essential for most physician practices,” said AMA President Steven J. Stack, MD.

The AMA's MACRA support tools were announced in conjunction with the release of its new interactive module on practicing value-based care authored by Grace Terrell, MD, an internal medicine physician and president of Cornerstone Health Care, who shares the proven steps her clinic used to focus on patients at the center of care.

The value-based care module is the latest in the AMA’s STEPS Forward™ collection of physician-developed practice improvement strategies.

Also readying its membership for MACRA is the AAFP, which last week launched a comprehensive member communication and education effort related to the proposed legislation. The AAFP's MACRA Ready site is a one-stop shop filled with resources family physicians can use right now such as the following:

  • A timeline of important MACRA dates;
  • A list of acronyms to help digest the alphabet soup associated with MACRA's complicated regulations;
  • A "MACRA in a Minute" 60-second overview video;
  • A deep-dive review of what value-based payment means to family physicians;
  • and much more.

In announcing the MACRA tools, AAFP President Wanda Filer, MD, MB, told family physicians that the academy's MACRA communication plan "is designed to help simplify the transition and provide the guidance that you will need to realize the benefits of MACRA and value-based payments."

A recent AAFP survey indicated that some 40 percent of family physicians already were involved in some kind of value-based payment system, she noted.

As she related the history of MACRA, Dr. Filer reminded members that the legislation not only repealed the sustainable growth rate (SGR) but also established an annual positive or flat-fee payment for the next 10 years as well as a two-track program (the MIPS, and Alternative Payment Models, referred to as APMs) for calculating Medicare payments beginning in 2019.

Infographic: Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

January 15th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Between 1999 and 2015, employer-sponsored health insurance premiums increased by 203 percent, outpacing both inflation and workers' earnings. However, growth of premiums for family coverage slowed toward the end of that time period, from an average of 11 percent a year between 1999 and 2005, to 5 percent between 2005 and 2015, according to a new Visualizing Health Policy infographic by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The infographic also looks at the average annual premium for family coverage and how employers are responding to high-cost health plans.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2016: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare IndustryFrom cost pressures, consumerism and consolidation to a proliferation of patient-centered, value-based delivery and payment models, the state of healthcare continues to challenge organizations in the industry.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2016: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry, HIN's 12th annual business forecast, pins down the trends destined to impact the industry in the year to come and proposes tactics C-suite executives can employ to distinguish their operations in a dynamic marketplace.

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Guest Post: Delivering Value-Based Healthcare Starts at the Top

January 7th, 2016 by Nicholas Christiano, National Managing Partner, Healthcare, Tatum

The healthcare industry has long been characterized by change and evolution. Yet, new requirements introduced by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as changing demands and expectations among patients, have created new pressures for today’s healthcare organizations. Healthcare providers that fail to address this new reality and meet the call for more value-based healthcare that focuses on the patient will struggle to remain sustainable in this changing world.

So, what can healthcare management do to prepare their organizations to deliver more customer-centric care? Although a recent study found that the vast majority of healthcare CEOs plan to improve their ability to innovate, change technology investments and better manage data, very few have made significant headway in these areas. As with any large-scale change, the move to customer-centric healthcare needs to start at the top. To ensure an effective transition, C-level executives, whether the CEO or chief medical officer (CMO), must take the lead to get their teams on board and ensure they can create a sustainable model for the future.

A New Approach to Patient Care

Today’s patients have greater choice in the care they receive, meaning that organizations that don’t provide a positive experience for their patients will struggle to compete. The onus to improve falls on the CEO and CMO, who must revamp the typical patient experience of waiting a long time, only to spend five to seven minutes with the physician. Healthcare leaders can improve the process by making the operation more like a concierge service—scheduling appointments at literal points in time to minimize waiting, enabling patients to enter their information only once and treating patients as valued customers. They should also strive to offer more flexibility by way of extended hours, home visits and telehealth programs that enable patients to have a remote, video-based conversation with their physician.

In addition to optimizing the patient experience, healthcare leaders must also change their cost structures. Rather than the typical process of determining prices behind closed doors and putting a margin on it, costs need to come down, be determined by performance and quality of service and be delivered with greater transparency. More and more, the industry is shifting to a value-based operating model. One such example is the accountable care organization (ACO) model, whereby healthcare providers join together to deliver a payment and care delivery approach that ties provider reimbursements to quality metrics, while driving down costs for an assigned patient population.

The ACO approach links payment to quality improvements that can reduce costs for patients; data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that the ACO model has led to savings of $417 million since the program began in 2012. As the model continues to evolve, healthcare organizations will be managing a particular portion of the population whom they see regularly. When patients are part of a healthcare organization and receive frequent care, fewer patients will need emergency room service, resulting in lower costs. The industry is increasingly moving towards value-based operating models, but as with any change, implementing the associated customer-centric practices may be easier said than done.

Best Practices to Deliver Customer-Centric Care

To ensure their organizations remain competitive and sustainable in the face of unprecedented change across the healthcare industry, the CEO and CMO must implement the strategies that can lead to positive transformation. Though large-scale changes don’t happen overnight and inevitably will be met with some resistance, healthcare leaders should consider the following best practices to deliver a customer-centric approach:

  1. Meet patients where they are: Today’s healthcare consumers increasingly expect the same level of service from their healthcare providers that they receive in other areas of life and business. Healthcare leaders must spearhead the process changes that meet this demand, by providing greater flexibility, extended hours, home visits and telehealth.
  2. Set the tone for employees: To implement effective change management and overcome employee resistance, CEOs and CMOs must provide strong guidance throughout. Working with other C-suite executives to identify transformation needs, communicate these changes, introduce tools that can facilitate the transition and explain how each employee can contribute to delivering customer-centric care is essential.
  3. Revamp cost structures: To be successful, CEOs and CMOs must deliver on two key priorities: keeping patients healthy and providing service at reasonable costs. This entails designing a fundamentally different operating model and driving down costs for activities that do not provide value – all while offering higher-quality care to their target population.
  4. Seek outside help when needed: Healthcare leaders might not always have the internal senior-level capacity and capability needed to accelerate change. Leveraging the help of an executive talent provider to ensure the organizations have the support and expertise to deliver a more customer-centric patient experience can make all the difference.

Meeting Demand for a New Level of Care

As the ACA has given more people greater access to healthcare—and more options in how they receive that care—healthcare leaders must rethink their current processes to deliver high quality care. If patients are unhappy, they can always switch to another provider. In this age of empowered patients and increased competition between providers, the CEO and CMO must communicate a transformative vision throughout their organizations. This starts with having qualified leadership at the top to guide these changes, the right technology to facilitate the processes and the best team to deliver on this goal. With these factors in place, healthcare organizations can deliver the customer-centric care necessary for success in today’s healthcare climate.


Nick Christiano

About the Author: Nick Christiano is responsible for the overall execution of the National Healthcare Practice for Tatum, a Randstad company. The Healthcare Practice provides executive leadership solutions to healthcare provider organizations, heath plans, private-equity backed bio-tech firms and affiliated organizations where subject matter expertise is critical to a successful client engagement. Christiano is recognized as a leader in the pursuit of optimum patient care, productivity, efficiencies, cost management and navigating new challenges in the healthcare field. He has an M.B.A. in MIS/Finance from the John Hagan School of Business – Iona College and a B.S. with a dual major in Computer Science/Electrical Engineering from N.Y.I.T.

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.

2015 Healthcare Headlines: Top Stories Trace Route to Value-Based Reimbursement and Care

December 28th, 2015 by Patricia Donovan

Month by month, the industry's top stories confirmed that value-based innovations and collaborations are here to stay.

A look back at the year's top healthcare stories captures the industry's commitment to enhance the quality and efficiency of care delivered while reining in cost. Nearly all of HIN's most-read stories fell into one of two categories: announcements of new value-based models or pilots, or results from existing quality-focused initiatives.

Here are the stories that captured the attention of healthcare executives in 2015:

HHS Announces Timetable, Goals for Medicare Value-Based Reimbursement
Medicare kicks off 2015 with the rollout of an ambitious multi-year agenda for a shift to value-based reimbursement and alternative payment models.

Cigna Collaborative Care Reduced Avoidable ER Visits by 16 Percent
The February release of Cigna’s second-year results from a collaborative care initiative with Granite Healthcare Network documented significant progress in improved health and affordability.

2015 Hospital Market Will Hasten Transition to Value-Based Payment Business Model
The early 2015 economic outlook for the hospital industry continued to favor the largest, most geographically diverse health systems in the market, according to this January 2015 forecast from BDC Advisors.

Medicare Discharge Planning Proposed Rule: More Focus on Patient Preferences, Follow-Up Care and Communication
CMS proposed in October a revision of discharge planning requirements that hospitals, including long-term care hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation facilities, critical access hospitals, and home health agencies, must meet in order to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Senate's Repeal of Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate Strengthens Move Toward Value-Based Physician Reimbursement
April 2015 saw the U.S. Senate's landmark repeal of the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Bill, otherwise known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), a mechanism used to calculate Medicare payments to physicians.

One-Fifth to Launch 'Next Generation ACO' in 2015
Twenty percent of healthcare organizations plan to participate in CMS’s new ‘Next Generation ACO' model in the coming year, according to 2015 Accountable Care Organization metrics compiled in May.

8 Wellmark Medicare ACOs Saved $17 Million in 2014, Boosted Quality by 8%
September saw the release of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s 2014 Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Shared Savings model data, in which eight participating ACOs improved their overall quality scores by 8 percent and saved more than $17 million during 2014.

CMS Launches New ACO Dialysis Model
CMS announced in October its Comprehensive ESRD Care (CEC) Model, designed specifically for beneficiaries with ESRD and built on lessons learned from other models and programs with ACOs, including the Pioneer ACO Model and the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

Final Rule for Joint Replacement Bundled Payments Favors Composite Quality Score
In November, CMS finalized its Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model, set to begin on April 1, 2016, which will hold hospitals accountable for the quality of care they deliver to Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries for hip and knee replacements and/or other major leg procedures from surgery through recovery.

Geisinger Pilots Patient Experience 'Warranty' for Select Surgeries
The Pennsylvania health system generated headlines in November with the launch of its innovative ProvenExperience™ warranty, a program that keeps the patient experience front and center by offering refunds to patients undergoing select surgical procedures whose expectations weren't met based on kindness and compassion.

To stay abreast of the latest healthcare headlines in 2016, subscribe free to HIN's Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

Two-Thirds of Healthcare Organizations Report Remote Monitoring of Patients

December 17th, 2015 by Patricia Donovan

A 2015 survey on telehealth and telemedicine practices determined that almost two-thirds of respondents remotely monitor patients, a spike in this telehealth application of about 6 percent since 2013.

Sixty-three percent of respondents to the Healthcare Intelligence Network's 2015 Telehealth & Telemedicine benchmarks study said they monitor patients remotely, with 67 percent of hospitals reporting they track patients in this manner.

The practice of remote monitoring ranked as the top clinical application of telehealth, followed by primary care e-visits (reported by 45 percent); specialty e-visits (31 percent) and health advice lines (26 percent).

Almost three-fourths of respondents to the 2015 survey expect the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to begin reimbursement for remote patient monitoring in the next 12 months.

Two-thirds of 2015 Telehealth & Telemedicine survey respondents monitor patients remotely.

Source: 2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Telemedicine

Telehealth & Telemedicine

2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Telemedicine delivers actionable new telehealth metrics on technologies, program components, successes and ROI from 115 healthcare organizations. This 60-page report, now in its fourth year, documents benchmarks on current and planned telehealth and telemedicine initiatives, with historical perspective from 2009 to present.

Infographic: Improving Outcomes With Health Data Analytics

December 11th, 2015 by Melanie Matthews

The cost of healthcare in the United States continues to rise. In 2015, costs are projected to rise by 5.3 percent to a per capita cost of $9,695, according to a new infographic by the Government Business Council.

The infographic examines the factors that are driving up U.S. healthcare costs and how big data analytics can help to control costs and improve the quality of care.

While widespread adoption of electronic health records has generated new streams of actionable patient data, John C. Lincoln has taken data mining to new levels to enhance performance of its accountable care organization (ACO).

Beyond the EMR: Mining Population Health Analytics to Elevate Accountable Care reviews the concentrated data dig undertaken by John C. Lincoln to prepare for participation in the CMS Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

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Infographic: Technology Use, Prices Drive High U.S. Healthcare Costs

December 7th, 2015 by Melanie Matthews

The United States spent more per person on healthcare than 12 other high-income nations in 2013, while seeing the lowest life expectancy and some of the worst health outcomes among this group, according to a Commonwealth Fund report. The analysis shows that in the United States, which spent an average of $9,086 per person annually, life expectancy was 78.8 years. Switzerland, the second-highest-spending country, spent $6,325 per person and had a life expectancy of 82.9 years. Mortality rates for cancer were among the lowest in the United States, but rates of chronic conditions, obesity, and infant mortality were higher than those abroad.

U.S. healthcare spending per person is highest not because Americans go to doctors and hospitals more often, but because of greater medical technology use and healthcare prices that are higher than in other nations, according to the report. Some of the reports findings are depicted in a new infographic by The Commonwealth Fund, including a comparison of: bypass surgery costs in the United States and the Netherlands; MRI exams per 1,000 people in the United States and Canada; and annual physician visits in the United States and in 34 high-income countries.

From cost pressures, consumerism and consolidation to a proliferation of patient-centered, value-based delivery and payment models, the state of healthcare continues to challenge organizations in the industry.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2016: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry, HIN's 12th annual business forecast, pins down the trends destined to impact the industry in the year to come and proposes tactics C-suite executives can employ to distinguish their operations in a dynamic marketplace.

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.

Infographic: Value-Based Models’ Impact on Humana’s Medicare Members

November 25th, 2015 by Melanie Matthews

Members treated under the care of providers in value-based reimbursement models with Humana experienced greater quality than those treated by providers in standard Medicare Advantage settings, according to a new infographic by Humana.

This infographic examines key performance indicators for these Medicare members, including inpatient admissions per thousand, emergency room visits per thousand, assessment rates for vulnerable populations, as well as the impact of these models on HEDIS measures, CMS Star Scores and healthcare costs.

Healthcare's inevitable shift from volume to value-based reimbursement is reflected not only in Medicare's alternative payment timeline but also in the waves of commercial payors now evaluating and rewarding providers on the basis of quality of care delivered rather than number of services provided. Adding to its roster of quality-centered payment models, CMS announced in 2015 plans to explore value-based reimbursement for Medicare Advantage and home health.

2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Value-Based Reimbursement captures the healthcare industry's reaction to payment formulas for value-added care, and how this shift away from fee-for-service is transforming care delivery and quality.

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11 Value-Based Healthcare Reimbursement Trends to Know

November 24th, 2015 by Patricia Donovan

value-based reimbursement

One-fifth of healthcare companies experience annual savings of $100,000 to $500,000 from value-based payment models, finds a new Healthcare Intelligence Network Savings survey.

A survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network on the growing trend of fee-for-value payments has documented healthy adoption rates, measured savings and steady gains in the area of preventive services related to fee-for-value formulas.

Seventy-one percent of survey respondents employ a value-based reimbursement or alternative payment model, according to the October 2015 survey. The study also determined that of those respondents not yet exploring a fee-for-value approach, 26 percent plan to do so in the coming year.

In assessing value-based payment formulas, 56 percent of respondents favor a pay-for-performance model, with 71 percent employing these models in contracts for commercial populations.

Despite healthy adoption of alternative payment approaches, one quarter of respondents say the infrastructure required to sustain value-based payment models is the reimbursement trend's most significant hurdle—greater even than the challenge of data integration or patient engagement, the survey determined.

In evaluating healthcare providers for value-based rewards, respondents most often review markers tied to quality (82 percent), hospital readmissions (56 percent) and patient satisfaction (56 percent) to determine payment, the survey found. The use of physician report cards to track provider performance was reported by 63 percent of respondents.

The shift toward fee-for-value has had the greatest impact on the area of prevention, respondents said, with 69 percent attributing a rise in preventive care to value-based reimbursement models.

Other survey findings included the following:

  • Twenty-one percent of respondents reported savings from value-based payment models as ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 annually.
  • Value-based payment contracts most often were executed for populations having more than 100,000 beneficiaries.
  • Fifty-six percent said the market lacks sufficient technological support for value-based payment models.

Download an executive summary of results from the Value-Based Reimbursement survey.