Archive for the ‘Healthcare Quality Ratings’ Category

Steward Medicare Pioneer ACO ‘Patient Trackers’ Boost Care Management, Improve Performance

July 14th, 2015 by Patricia Donovan

Steward Medicare Pioneer ACO

Steward's Medicare Pioneer ACO was a top performer in performance year two, with gross savings of $19.2 million.

The ability to track patients across a continuum of care sites is a perennial challenge for healthcare organizations—even a top-performing Medicare Pioneer ACO.

"We can't prevent a readmission back to the hospital or redirect unnecessary emergency department visits if we don't know the patients were in the hospital to begin with," noted Kelly Clements, Pioneer program director at Steward Healthcare Network, during Medicare Pioneer ACO: Care Management, Quality Improvement and Data Integration Yields Substantial Performance Gains, a Healthcare Intelligence Network webinar now available for replay.

But Steward's Medicare Pioneer ACO meets this challenge head-on with two tools: a home-grown patient surveillance tracker, and the "Patient Ping" service that provides real-time patient admissions and discharge notifications to providers. Both tools help Steward to identify and coordinate care for Pioneer ACO beneficiaries who seek services from both Steward and non-Steward providers.

These innovations have helped Steward's Medicare Pioneer ACO, aptly named Promise ("For our promise to do the best we can to coordinate beneficiaries' care and increase quality of care," said Ms. Clements), to emerge as one of the top CMS Medicare Pioneer ACO performers in 2013, with gross savings of $19.2 million.

Three Medicare Pioneer ACO Challenges

Care management, including the tracking of its 80,000 Promise beneficiaries, was one of three categories of Medicare Pioneer ACO challenges Ms. Clements touched on during the webinar, along with physician engagement and performance improvement.

Supporting care management, the internally developed patient surveillance tracker is Steward's in-network solution for real-time tracking of care received from Steward providers and facilities; the contracted Patient Ping service allows the Pioneer ACO to communicate with skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) outside their network that care for Steward Pioneer patients, providing the SNF is registered with Patient Ping.

"Through the Pioneer program, we've learned that a large portion of our opportunity to reduce cost and achieve savings as an ACO is in the post-acute care space, particularly in the SNFs," noted Ms. Clements.

To engage physicians in the delivery of accountable care, Steward has done everything from holding road shows for providers to creating performance improvement teams for each geographic "chapter" in the ACO to work with physician practices to improve efficiency and quality. Physician report cards measure stewardship (including attendance at chapter meetings) and other efficiency and quality indicators.

And finally, to drive performance improvement, Steward has worked aggressively on data integration, with a strong focus on the two most popular electronic health records (EHRs) its physician network, in order to feed its 'quality data warehouse.'

This focus, along with efforts by the physician practices, has generated results. Steward saw its Pioneer ACO raw quality scores rise significantly from performance year one to performance year two: a 39 percent jump in the preventive health domain, and a 42 percent improvement in the at-risk domain (care for chronic conditions such as diabetes and coronary artery disease (CAD).

There is one additional hurdle: Steward must decide which ACO program it will participate in next year: Pioneer ACO, Next Generation ACO or Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), Track 3. "The more efficient we become, the harder it will be to achieve shared savings, because the benchmark will keep getting lower, so this is one of our big concerns," said Ms. Clements.

"Our leadership is fully committed to pursuing risk aggressively and it's been worthwhile being at the table with Medicare and advocating for programmatic changes that will benefit our providers and patients in a sustainable way."

Integrated Networks Trigger Rise in Post-Acute Care Accountability

June 25th, 2015 by Patricia Donovan

Healthcare is examining new post-acute care (PAC) delivery and reimbursement models.

As physician-hospital associations (PHOs) and clinically integrated networks increasingly monitor referrals and where patients go once they leave the office or hospital setting, the post-acute care market will be held more accountable for the quality and cost of care they provide and their ability to manage readmissions, predicts Travis Ansel, senior manager with the Healthcare Strategy Group. Here, Ansel suggests how PHOs might prepare for the eventual inclusion of post-acute care in their networks.

Healthcare Strategy Group did a lot of work in Arkansas in 2011 and 2012. As providers started being held accountable for what happened once their patients left the hospital, post-acute care became very relevant in the Arkansas market. This was due to the impact on the providers, and on the physicians of the hospitals in that market. Almost immediately upon the announcement of the models, the hospital started bringing in different post-acute care organizations, saying, These are our incentives. We’re trying to manage patients who have been assigned these diagnosis-related groups (DRGs). We’re trying to manage these factors for those patients. Either you’re going to be the one to help us to do it, or we’ve going to find someone else in the market to do it.

My general expectation would be that as hospitals and physicians get together and start talking more about how post-acute care affects them, we’ll see them bringing in post-acute care to have that discussion: either help us with what we’re being held accountable for, or we will find someone else who can.

The natural market reaction to that is post-acute care organizations will either compete to respond to those requirements, because there will be some opportunity to grow market share or grow reimbursement if they’re effective in responding to those things.

We’ve already seen a tremendous amount of consolidation in the post-acute care world over the last five to ten years. To me, that would signal a lot more consolidation, the same as we’ve seen with the provider market. They’re going to look for a capital infusion and build competencies that will help them respond to PHOs' requests.

Note: Have more thoughts on the rise of accountability for post-acute care? Answer 10 Questions on Post-Acute Care Trends.

Source: Physician-Hospital Organizations: Framework for Clinical Integration and Value-Based Reimbursement

Travis Ansel, MBA, is a Manager, Strategic Services with Healthcare Strategy Group, LLC, with a primary focus on hospital strategic planning, physician alignment planning and clinical integration.

13 Metrics on Care Transition Management

May 7th, 2015 by Cheryl Miller

Care transitions mandate: Sharpen communication between care sites.

Call it Care Transitions Management 2.0 — enterprising approaches that range from recording patient discharge instructions to enlisting fire departments and pharmacists to conduct home visits and reconcile medications.

To improve 30-day readmissions and avoid costly Medicare penalties, more than one-third of 116 respondents to the 2015 Care Transitions Management survey—34 percent—have designed programs in this area, drawing inspiration from the Coleman Care Transitions Program®, Project BOOST®, Project RED, Guided Care®, and other models.

Whether self-styled or off the shelf, well-managed care transitions enhance both quality of care and utilization metrics, according to this fourth annual Care Transitions survey conducted in February 2015 by the Healthcare Intelligence Network. Seventy-four percent of respondents reported a drop in readmissions; 44 percent saw decreases in lengths of stay; 38 percent saw readmissions penalties drop; and 65 percent said patient compliance improved.

Following are eight more care transition management metrics derived from the survey:

  • The hospital-to-home transition is the most critical transition to manage, say 50 percent of respondents.
  • Heart failure is the top targeted health condition of care transition efforts for 81 percent of respondents.
  • A history of recent hospitalizations is the most glaring indicator of a need for care transitions management, say 81 percent of respondents.
  • Beyond the self-developed approach, the most-modeled program is CMS’ Community-Based Care Transitions Program, say 13 percent of respondents.
  • Eighty percent of respondents engage patients post-discharge via telephonic follow-up.
  • Discharge summary templates are used by 45 percent of respondents.
  • Home visits for recently discharged patients are offered by 49 percent of respondents.
  • Beyond the EHR, information about discharged or transitioning patients is most often transmitted via phone or fax, say 38 percent of respondents.

Source: 2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Care Transitions Management

Care Transition Management

2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Care Transitions Management HIN's fourth annual analysis of these cross-continuum initiatives, examines programs, models, protocols and results associated with movement of patients from one care site to another, including the impact of care transitions management on quality metrics and the delivery of value-based care.

Infographic: Variations in Surgical Procedure Survival Rates

March 18th, 2015 by Melanie Matthews

Across U.S. hospitals, the survival rates for four high-risk procedures vary significantly, according to a new report by The Leapfrog Group. Moreover, most hospitals surveyed do not meet Leapfrog's standard for each procedure.

The infographic looks at survival rates of four high-risk surgeries, including: removing all or part of the pancreas (pancreatectomy); removing all or part of the esophagus (esophagectomy); repair of the major vessel supplying blood to the body (abdominal aortic aneurysm or AAA); and replacement of the aortic valve in the heart (AVR). The infographic goes on to calculate the number of lives lost between the top and worst performing hospitals.

Quality Assurance in Healthcare Service Delivery, Nursing and Personalized Medicine: Technologies and ProcessesQuality Assurance in Healthcare Service Delivery, Nursing and Personalized Medicine: Technologies and Processes offers a framework for measuring quality of service in the healthcare industry as it pertains to nursing, with insight into how new technologies and the design of personalized medicine have improved quality of care and quality of life. Assessment and feedback are a vital part of developing and designing personalized medicine, and this book details case studies and the latest research in the field of healthcare service delivery assessment. In addition to describing assessment methodology, the book is also a compendium of the latest research into new medical technologies.

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BCBSM Physician Incentives Target 5 Root Causes of High-Cost Healthcare

February 17th, 2015 by Cheryl Miller

Designed to target underlying reasons for high-cost healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's (BCBSM) Physician Group Incentive Program (PGIP) rewards and incentivizes providers to enhance the delivery of care. To address poorly aligned incentives, for example, they developed tiered fees based on performance measured at the population level, not just at the individual physician level or patient’s level, says Donna Saxton, BCBSM's field team manager of BCBSM's value partnerships program.

How has the program evolved? The several root causes of high-cost healthcare within our system were readily apparent: poorly aligned incentives, a lack of population focus, very fragmented healthcare delivery, a lack of focus on process excellence or process improvement and a weak primary care foundation. As we’ve developed our Physician Group Incentive Program (PGIP) initiative, we were strategic and deliberate in how we were going to address the root causes of our high-cost system, keeping in mind the tenets and the philosophy of the PGIP program.

To address poorly aligned incentives, we developed tiered fees based on performance measured at the population level, not just at the individual physician level or patient’s level.

Tiered performance fees also addresses the lack of population focus and places emphasis on all patients and payor registries.

The one thing that really makes our PGIP program unique is that we are payor-agnostic. The incentive dollars we have distributed through the life of the program readily help and incentivize other payors in the state, because if these capabilities are implemented, they ultimately serve all the patients in our state. We’re very proud of that because we feel that that is part of the servant leadership we need to do for patients and members in our state.

To attack the fragmented healthcare delivery, we've organized our systems of care, aligning our incentives for primary care physicians, hospitals and specialists.

We also have collaborative quality initiatives, which help sharpen our physicians, specialists and care delivery people on the science of process improvement.

Our PCMH initiative is our pinnacle initiative, which we believe has strengthened our primary care foundation across the state.

generating medical home savings
Donna Saxton, field team manager of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s (BCBSM) value partnerships program, currently oversees the team of representatives that support the statewide collaborative relationships with 44 physician organizations (PO) and 39 organized systems of care (OSCs) that participate in the BCBSM Physician Group Incentive Program (PGIP).

Source: Generating Medical Home Savings and Quality Improvements Through Outcome-Based Measures

Infographic: 10 Things You Should Know About PQRS for 2015

January 21st, 2015 by Melanie Matthews

CMS’ Physician Compare website has begun listing physician participation in its Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), which could potentially mean a loss of new patients based on nonparticipation in the program, according to a new infographic by HealthFusion.

The infographic lists 10 key features of the PQRS program.

Physician Value-Based Reimbursement: Quality Rewards for Population Health With more than a quarter-century of experience with value-based reimbursement models, Humana is ideally positioned to help physician practices navigate the transition from fee for service to fee for value. The payor's multi-level Accountable Care Continuum rewards physician practices for care coordination of Medicare beneficiaries along the population health spectrum.

Physician Value-Based Reimbursement: Quality Rewards for Population Health describes the four tiers of Humana's Physician Quality Rewards program as well as the support, training, technologies and outcomes associated with these pay-for-value relationships.

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Infographic: Physician Quality Transparency

January 12th, 2015 by Melanie Matthews

Independent and objective public quality data are only available for 16 percent of U.S. physicians, and in some states no data is available, according to the second annual State Report Card on Transparency of Physician Quality Information report from the non-profit Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3).

HCI3 has released an infographic on the study results that details the importance of transparency as the growth of high-deductible health plans for healthcare consumers continues, along with details on the availability of quality information.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2015: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry From collaboration and consolidation to the inevitable acceptance of a value-based system, the state of healthcare continues to stimulate health plans, providers and employers.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2015: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry, HIN's eleventh annual industry forecast, examines the factors challenging healthcare players and suggests strategies for organizations to distinguish themselves in the steadily evolving marketplace.

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The Year in Healthcare Intelligence: Reimbursement, Value-Based Results Resonate with Readers

December 29th, 2014 by Patricia Donovan

Newswise, fee-for-value healthcare initiatives eclipsed fee-for-service models.

When survival of healthcare providers hinges on payment for services rendered, it's not surprising our 2014 readers closely tracked news of emerging payment models and results from patient-centered, quality-based initiatives.

Here is a retrospective of stories that dominated our readers' news feeds over the last 12 months:

  • We reported on results from many accountable care organizations (ACO) over the last year, but few generated interest like the Anthem Blue Cross-Healthcare Partners accountable care collaboration that saved more than $4 million. The program succeeded by sharpening its focus to those with two or more chronic diseases—the population that research shows can most effectively be helped by coordinated care, officials state. A dedicated staff of care managers and care coordinators identify hospitalized ACO patients, coordinate transitions of care, and ensure patient care and healthcare resources are accessible.

  • Heads also turned when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed updated penalties and incentives for its Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), an accountable care initiative for Medicare beneficiaries. The proposed rules are designed to strengthen MSSP by placing greater emphasis on primary care services and promoting transitions to performance-based risk arrangements. CMS is also suggesting a third ACO model," track 3," which integrates some elements from the Pioneer ACO model.

  • The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model, a stepping stone to an ACO, garnered its share of readership, especially when the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) added five measures to its medical home criteria, the gold standard for patient-centered measurement.

    In its third iteration of PCMH standards since 2008, the NCQA added behavioral health integration and care management for high-need populations, among other new criteria.

  • The patient-centered model suffered a setback, however, when one of the first, largest, and longest-running multipayor trials of PCMHs in the United States was associated with limited improvements in quality and was not associated with reductions in use of hospital, emergency department (ED), or ambulatory care services or total costs of care over three years. Research by Rand Corporation and colleagues centered on patient-centered activities in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chronic Care Initiative.

  • There was good news on the medical home front, however: A study published in September, 2014 attributed reductions in emergency room visits, principally by patients with chronic illness, to the PCMH approach. Research by Independence Blue Cross (Independence) and CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services (CTI), and published by Health Services Research, found that transitions to a medical home were associated with a 5 to 8 percent reduction in ED utilization. This finding is specific to patients with chronic illness(es) having one or more ED visits in any given year. These reductions were most evident among patients with diabetes.

  • Readers also paid attention when Geisinger Health System, an early adoptor of care coordination for chronic illness, announced that its all-or-none or “bundled” approach to primary care for patients with diabetes produced better health outcomes, and the benefits happened quickly for the more than 4,000 patients in the study. The system-wide approach was not easy, warned Geisinger: the model requires constant evaluation, and must be scalable across a variety of practice settings.

  • Also raising the bar for physician practices was Highmark, which shared six requirements for the "best practices" element of its successful pay-for-performance initiative. Physician practices can earn additional rewards for completion of an office-based best practice project, essentially a small pilot, that involves measurement and reporting.

  • On the flip side, reporting of some questionable hospital pricing strategies rated some page views as well. Data released early in 2014 by National Nurses United (NNU) and the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy (IHSP) found that some U.S. hospitals charge more than 10 times their cost, or nearly $1200 for every $100 of their total costs. Public oversight or regulation seems to help constrain excessive pricing, researchers found; Maryland, probably the most regulated state in the United States, has the lowest average charges of all the states among its 10 most expensive hospitals.

  • Cost savings aside, readers seemed especially attuned to new approaches or technologies designed to streamline healthcare delivery and enhance the patient experience, such as an uptick in remote monitoring.

    One hundred percent of respondents to the Telehealth in 2013 Survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network monitor weight and vital signs, up from a respective 79 and 77 percent in 2010. The health conditions monitored remotely remain the same from 2010, the top three being heart failure, COPD and diabetes.

  • And finally, as all eyes focus on care management interventions that span the healthcare continuum, many readers responded to a story on a CMS pilot that would give hospice patients more options in the type of care they wish to receive at the end of life. Under the Medicare Care Choices Model, individuals who meet Medicare hospice eligibility requirements could receive palliative care services from certain hospice providers while concurrently receiving services provided by their curative care providers.

Were these stories on your news radar in 2014? Stay up-to-date in 2015 with the latest healthcare news, trends and benchmarks with a free subscription to the Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

Humana Physician Quality Rewards Boost Population Health across Accountable Care Continuum

December 23rd, 2014 by Patricia Donovan

Humana offers primary care physicians a four-tiered value-based rewards program.

You can't argue with the data: the total cost of care for Humana's Medicare Advantage members treated in accountable care settings in 2013 was 19 percent lower than MA members receiving care in traditional Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) environments.

Humana's successful approach is honed from twenty-six years of experience with value-based reimbursement, explained Chip Howard, Humana's vice president of payment innovation in the provider development center of excellence, during a December 2014 webinar on Physician Quality Rewards for Population Health Management.

Today, Humana not only offers physicians four levels of participation and rewards in fee-for-value programs but supports their shift from an episodic to population health mindset with training and reporting.

This stepped approach has paid off for the payor and its Medicare Advantage (MA) members in other areas as well, including higher HEDIS® scores, fewer ER visits and hospital admissions, and improved clinical management and screening compliance levels for Medicare Advantage members.

Howard walked webinar participants through the four models, from Humana's Star Rewards program that incents providers who meet a subset of NCQA HEDIS goals, to its Medical Home program for high-functioning physician practices with a well-developed infrastructure, a physician population health champion and a robust team approach.

Each value-based option across Humana's Accountable Care Continuum supports the Triple Aim objectives of improving care, improving health outcomes and lowering cost—with the bonus of enhancing the overall patient experience, Howard noted.

Participating physicians are exposed to Humana's population health management initiatives, including the Humana at Home program for high-risk patients, with its goal of keeping MA members healthier, out of the hospital and safe in their homes; a 30-day Transitions program that reduced readmissions by 39 percent less than expected; and a bank of technologies and data tools that help providers become better population health managers.

Encouraged by gains from its pay-for-value strategy at the primary care level—the payor recently distributed $76.8 million in quality awards to approximately 4,700 physician practices— Humana is exploring programs to engage and incentivize specialists to achieve similar Triple Aim goals.

The intent would be to then promote interactions between the primary care physician, which Humana views as the "care quarterback," Howard noted, and sub-specialists that result in high-quality, efficient healthcare delivery.

Click here to listen to an interview with Chip Howard on the value of care coordination in Humana's Accountable Care Continuum.

Infographic: Variations in Maternity Care Quality Measures

December 10th, 2014 by Melanie Matthews

Hospital performance on four measures of maternity care — low-risk C-section rates, episiotomy rates, rates of exclusive breastfeeding before discharge, and VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section) rates — varied widely by hospital in California, according to an analysis by the California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Taskforce.

This infographic illustrates how two first-time expectant mothers, each with a low-risk pregnancy, can have very different delivery experiences depending on the hospital.

6 Value-Based Physician Reimbursement Models: Action Plans for Alignment, Analytics and ProfitabilityIn today's value-based healthcare sphere, providers must not only shoulder more responsibility for healthcare outcomes, cost and quality but also align with emerging compensation models rewarding these efforts—models that often seem confusing or contradictory. The challenges for payors and partners in creating a common value-based vision are sizing the reimbursement model to the provider organization and engaging physicians' skills, knowledge and behaviors to foster program success.

6 Value-Based Physician Reimbursement Models: Action Plans for Alignment, Analytics and Profitability examines a set of provider compensation models across the collaboration continuum, advising adopters on potential pitfalls and suggesting strategies to survive implementation bumps.

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