Archive for the ‘Healthcare Utilization’ Category

Healthcare Hotwire: Care Coordination

November 2nd, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Care coordination organizes patient care activities and information for safer and more effective care.

Care coordination involves deliberately organizing patient care activities and sharing information among all vested participants to achieve safer and more effective care, per the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

These patient care activities span all care settings, including the patient’s home, according to the Healthcare Intelligence Network’s Benchmark Survey on Care Coordination.

Initiatives aimed at coordinating care for high-risk patients are reporting healthcare cost savings, reductions in expensive sites of care and improvements in quality, outcomes and patient satisfaction.

In the new edition of Healthcare Hotwire, you’ll get details on enhanced care coordination Medicare savings, reducing emergency department utilization through care coordination and the impact of care coordination efforts on patient and provider satisfaction.

HIN’s newly launched Healthcare Hotwire tracks trending topics in the industry for strategic planning. Subscribe today.

Infographic: Food Insecurity Among Medicaid Seniors

October 2nd, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

There’s an estimated 5.2 million seniors who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) but are not enrolled, according to a new infographic by Benefits Data Trust.

The infographic examines the impact of food insecurity on seniors’ health and healthcare costs and quality.

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

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

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

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The Opioid Epidemic: Healthcare Industry Impacts and Responses

September 27th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

The Opioid Epidemic

Against a backdrop of news headlines about the impact that the opioid epidemic is having on U.S. life expectancy, hospital admissions and emergency room utilization, healthcare organizations are launching a number of initiatives to reduce opioid use.

In this inaugural edition of Healthcare Hotwire, you’ll learn more about the impact of the growing opioid epidemic and initiatives among some early adopters.

Even as opioid prescription use increased significantly between 1999 and 2014, and much of that increase stemmed from patients who’d been taking their medication for 90 days or longer, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, several healthcare organizations are reporting early successes with initiatives aimed at reducing opioid use, including Anthem Inc. and CVS Health.

HIN’s newly launched Healthcare Hotwire tracks trending topics in the industry for strategic planning. Subscribe today.

Guest Post: 3 Key Reasons Companies Should Embrace Corporate Clinics

September 26th, 2017 by Rob Indresano, COO, Barton Associates

A number of large corporations are taking a unique approach to healthcare by employing a resident physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant to tend to the needs of workers and their families.

Models range from small clinics, such as the CVS Minute Clinic, to larger facilities that offer a full array of primary care services. While many companies opt to house the clinics on-site, some organizations have partnered with internal branches or outside firms to provide healthcare services at off-site locations.

For companies and employees alike, corporate clinics are an attractive option. These clinics keep costs in-house, giving companies greater control of healthcare expenditures. Corporate clinics can also reduce the time employees take off work to receive basic medical care, encouraging workers to seek routine care more regularly. In turn, this leads to better overall employee health and fewer sick days.

Better yet, these in-house clinics are available to employees as well as their dependents. Corporations spend less money to provide employees and their loved ones with more and better care. It’s a win-win situation.

The corporate clinic movement stems from a dramatic rise in overall healthcare costs and the amount of time employees aren’t at work for minor medical issues. The movement stuck because employees and their families became healthier and happier, with productivity booming for companies that adopted the model.

As corporate clinics became more popular, many factors combined to guarantee their success. Locum tenens, for instance, made it possible for corporations to seamlessly launch and staff corporate clinics as the need arose. Telemedicine continues to grow in popularity — Kaiser Permanente reported 52 percent of its 110 million patient visits in 2015 were done via telemedicine — making it possible for corporations to expand the scope of care while driving down costs.

Making the Case for In-House Care

The average American spends more than 90,000 hours at work over the course of her life. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted, personal and family health problems cost companies about $226 billion annually in lost productivity. It’s easy to understand why a healthy work environment is vital to a happy and productive workforce.

Some companies already enjoy the benefits of on-site clinics. The clinics bring employees everything from primary and preventive healthcare to physical therapy, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists, and more. These clinics help lower insurance costs, improve health and job satisfaction, and increase productivity.

Toyota in 2007 opened a $9 million corporate clinic at its San Antonio truck manufacturing plant. The company has reported a 33 percent decrease in specialist referrals and a 25 percent drop in employee visits to urgent care clinics and emergency rooms.

Intel had similar goals when the technology titan launched its own corporate clinics in 2011. Company officials hoped workers would be more likely to visit the in-house doctors, ideally curtailing chronic issues such as heart disease and diabetes in the process. The company paid about $1 million to build and another $1.5 million to operate each clinic, though Intel has since managed to break even on those operating costs.

Employers enjoy short-term benefits such as greater control over direct costs for specialist visits, prescriptions, and trips to the emergency room. In the long run — and perhaps more important — corporate clinics can help establish new healthcare policies and wellness programs to promote healthier lifestyle choices for employees.

How Corporate Clinics Will Change the Business World

With perpetually increasing healthcare costs and a tremendous potential for return on investment, the corporate clinic model is set to alter healthcare and business in three important ways:

1. Reduced healthcare spending. Corporations with on-site or near-site health services spend less money on healthcare. It’s as simple as that. HanesBrands, for example, reports saving about $1.40 for every $1 the company spends on its in-house clinic. Companies can then take that savings and instead invest in other business-related purposes.

2. Healthier, happier, and more productive employees. Rather than taking time off work to visit a doctor or risking lost income, employees often forgo care for relatively minor issues. This becomes problematic, considering the chronic diseases doctors often detect through repeat visits account for 75 percent of U.S. healthcare spending. Easy access to primary care services means employees are willing and able to see on-site providers for more routine health concerns they might have otherwise neglected.

3. Greater transparency regarding treatment costs. Almost everyone has received a bill from his insurance at some point listing a litany of codes and featuring a hefty amount due at the end. On the flip side of that coin, most physicians are kept in the dark about the costs of treatments so they can prioritize patient care above all else. Corporate clinics can alleviate some of the secrecy surrounding healthcare costs by being transparent about employee treatment. This can actually lead to improved care and lowered costs, with on-site physicians working in tandem with company leaders to drive down expenses.

As more companies find value in corporate clinics, an increasing number of large corporations will likely bring medical services in-house to help drive down bloated healthcare costs. Mid-sized businesses might also be tempted to explore the possibility of creating their own clinics given the potential cost savings. The shift will help foster a culture of health in the United States that benefits employers, employees, and communities.

Rob Indresano, Chief Operations Officer, Barton Associates

About the Author: Rob Indresano is president and COO of Barton Associates, a national recruiting and staffing firm based in the Boston area that specializes in temporary healthcare assignments. Rob is responsible for managing operations as well as the company’s strategic vision. Before joining the Barton team, Rob was vice president and general counsel for Oxford Global Resources Inc. and corporate counsel for Oracle Corp.

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.

Infographic: An Assessment of Acute Unscheduled Healthcare

September 20th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

A healthcare model providing care at a high cost and with high rates of emergency department utilization, no matter the level of quality, is not sustainable, according to a new infographic by Phillips.

The infographic provides an assessment of acute unscheduled care, the demands on acute care providers, and use of the emergency department across 7 countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

In the sphere of value-based healthcare, chronic care management (CCM) is a critical component of primary care and population health management. Targeting the Triple Aim goals of better health and care for individuals while reducing spending, CCM is viewed as a stepping-stone to success under Medicare’s Quality Payment Program that launched January 1, 2017.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Chronic Care captures tools, practices and lessons learned by the healthcare industry related to the management of chronic disease.

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Infographic: How Will Aging Baby Boomers Challenge Healthcare?

August 9th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

By 2029, the last of the Baby Boom generation will reach retirement age. As this population gets older, they present increasing challenges but also opportunities for the U.S. healthcare system, according to a new infographic by Adventist University’s Masters in Health Administration program.

The infographic examines Baby Boomers and their health; health spending on Baby Boomers; the challenges Baby Boomers bring to the healthcare system; and strategies to address the healthcare needs of Baby Boomers.

From home sensors that track daily motion and sleep abnormalities to video visits via teleconferencing, Humana’s nine pilots of remote patient monitoring test technologies to keep the frail elderly at home as long as possible. When integrated with telephonic care management, remote monitoring has helped to avert medical emergencies and preventable hospitalizations among individuals with serious medical and functional challenges.

In Remote Patient Monitoring for Enhanced Care Coordination: Technology to Manage an Aging Population, Gail Miller, vice president of telephonic clinical operations in Humana’s care management organization, Humana Cares/SeniorBridge, reviews Humana’s expanded continuum of care aimed at improving health outcomes, increasing satisfaction and reducing overall healthcare costs with a more holistic approach.

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How a Data Dive Makes a Difference in ACO Care Coordination Efficiency

March 30th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

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UTSACN used data analytics to trim its home health network from more than 1,200 agencies to 20 highly efficient home health providers.

How does UT Southwestern Accountable Care Network (UTSACN) use information to inform and advance care coordination programming? As UT Southwestern’s Director of Care Coordination Cathy Bryan explains, a closer look at doctors’ attitudes toward a Medicare home health form initiated a retooling of the ACO’s home health approach.

We realized our home health spend was two times the national average. When we reviewed just the prior 12 months, we identified more than 1,200 unique agencies that serviced at least one of our patients. With this huge number of disparate home health agencies, it was difficult to get a handle on the problem.

Our primary care doctors told us they found the CMS 485 Home Health Certification and Plan of Care form to be too long. The font on the form is four-point type; it’s complex, so they don’t understand it. However, because they don’t want a family member or patient to call them because they took away their home care, they often sign the form without worrying about it.

As we began looking at these findings, we wondered what they really told us. Are some agencies better than others, and how do we begin to create a narrow network or preferred network for home care? We knew we couldn’t work with 1,200 agencies efficiently; even 20 agencies is a lot to work with.

We began to analyze the claims. My skilled analyst created an internal efficiency score. She risk-adjusted various pieces of data, like average length of stay. For home health, there were a number of consecutive recertifications. We looked at average spend per recertification, and the number of patients they had on each agency. We risk-adjusted this data, because some agencies may actually get sicker patients because they have higher skill sets within their nursing staff.

We created a risk-adjusted efficiency score based on claims. We narrowed down the list by only looking at agencies with 80 percent or higher efficiency. That left us with about 80 agencies; we then narrowed our search to 90 percent efficiency and above, and still had 44. That was still too many, so we cross-walked these with CMS Star ratings to narrow it even more. Finally, after looking at our geographic distribution for agencies that serviced at least 20 patients, we eliminated those with one and two patients. We sought agencies that had some population moving through them.

Ultimately, we reduced our final home health network to about 20 agencies that were not creating a lot of additional spend, and not holding patients on service for an incredibly long period of time.

Source: Advanced Care Coordination: Bridging the Gap Between Appropriate Levels of Care and Care Plan Adherence for ACO Attributed Lives

advanced care coordination

During Advanced Care Coordination: Bridging the Gap Between Appropriate Levels of Care and Care Plan Adherence for ACO Attributed Lives, a 2016 webinar available for replay, Cathy Bryan, director, care coordination at UT Southwestern, shares how her organization’s care coordination model manages utilization while achieving its mission of bridging the gap from where patients are to where they need to be to adhere to their care plan.

Infographic: Protecting Patients From Falls

March 29th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

In upstate New York, one in four adults ages 65 or older fell at least once in the last year, according to a new infographic by Univera Healthcare.

The infographic examines the impact of those falls on this population and on emergency room utilization, fall risk factors and fall prevention strategies.

Visiting targeted patients at home, especially high utilizers and those with chronic comorbid conditions, can illuminate health-related, socioeconomic or safety determinants that might go undetected during an office visit. Increasingly, home visits have helped to reduce unplanned hospitalizations or emergency department visits by these patients.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Home Visits examines the latest trends in home visits for medical purposes, from populations visited to top health tasks performed in the home to results and ROI from home interventions.

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Physician Supplemental QRUR: Episode-Specific Patient-Level Data Tells Story of High Utilizers

February 7th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

QRUR reports provide a mirror into physicians’ cost and quality performance under MACRA.

As year one of MACRA unfolds, healthcare providers deterred by security hurdles associated with CMS Enterprise Portal access may want to reconsider. The wealth of aggregate quality and cost performance data available through the portal is well worth the trouble of accessing it, advises William Holding, consultant with PDA, Inc.

Specifically, Quality Resource and Utilization Reports (QRURs) downloadable from the portal are essential tools for physician practices that hope to succeed on MACRA-defined reimbursement paths, Holding said—even practices equipped with robust internal reporting systems.

“This is the same system that accountable care organizations (ACOs) use, and that CMS uses for many other things, so it’s a good idea to get past those barriers,” he explained during Physician MACRA Preparation: Using QRUR and Other CMS Data to Maximize Your Performance, a February 2017 webinar now available for replay.

Originally designed for CMS’s value-based modifier, QRURs are good indicators of future cost performance under MACRA, via either Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), where most physician practices are expected to fall initially, or Alternate Payment Models (APMs), he said.

After providing an overview of MIPS and APMs, including five essential prerequisites to MACRA preparation, Holding delved into the quality and cost metrics contained in QRURs, from aggregate data in the main report to detailed tables rich with patient-specific information.

The main QRUR report illustrates where a physician practice falls in relation to other practices on the overall composite for cost and quality. The QRUR’s Quality portion shows scores for a series of domains, including effective clinical care and patient experience, which offer a great window into how a practice might perform with different selected measures in MIPS.

Next, QRUR cost performance indicates per capita costs for attributed beneficiaries, which will remain a cost measure in MIPS.

Drilling down, Holding characterized seven associated QRUR downloads—including one table on individual eligible professional performance on the 2015 PQRS Measures—as even more useful than the QRURs themselves.

And finally, he termed the downloadable supplemental QRUR “a very powerful tool” that drills down to the beneficiary level, providing a snapshot of some of the highest cost events occurring among a practice’s patients.

“For high utilizers, for specific episodes, you can drill right down to the patient to try and understand the story. What’s happening to your patient when they’re not in your practice, and what can you do about it?” said Holding.

Having presented the available reports, Holding described four key benefits of using QRUR downloads, including as a priority setting tool, and then detailed the myriad of ways QRURs can be analyzed to improve MIPS performance.

However, Holding stressed, even physician practices with the most sophisticated reporting structures will not thrive under MACRA without the right team or culture of provider support in place. He closed his presentation with a formula for determining investment in performance improvement activities and a five-step plan for MACRA preparation.

Listen to an interview with William Holding on the use of QRURs to determine a physician practice’s highest value referral pathways.

In Care Coordination of Medically Vulnerable Homeless Patients, Housing is a Form of Healthcare

January 17th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Chronic Care Plus recuperative care reduced ER visits by homeless patients by 84 percent, and avoided nearly $3 million in medical costs.

Most patients discharged from the hospital ultimately return to a secure home environment. Not so for homeless or unstably housed patients; disconnected from healthcare and their community, their lack of stable housing compounds their medical difficulties following a hospital stay.

Enter Chronic Care Plus (CCP), a safety net recuperative care program in California whose mission is to bridge this gap between hospital discharge and permanent supportive housing for homeless patients, or “Joes,” as Illumination Foundation Founder and CEO Paul Leon characterized his client profile during a recent presentation.

“I’m sure you can identify the ‘Joes’ in your neighborhood,” Leon told participants during Intensive Care Coordination for Healthcare Super Utilizers: Community Collaborations Stabilize Medically Vulnerable Homeless Patients, a December 2016 webinar now available for replay. “They’ve come into the ER but are never quite connected with either a federally qualified health clinic (FQHC), your own hospital clinic or any available resources in your community.”

The CCP program not only provides housing for recently discharged homeless or unstably housed individuals in model or dormitory-like settings but also reconnects them to the healthcare continuum. The program then wraps clients in a plethora of services, including housing placement, financial literacy, job placement, transportation and behavioral health support.

Back in 2008, Leon’s organization was one of only about seven in the nation to provide recuperative care (also known as medical respite care). Recuperative care is care to homeless persons recovering from an acute illness or injury, no longer in need of acute care but unable to sustain recovery if living on the street or other unsuitable place, Leon explained. Today there are about 80 such programs in the United States.

Since then, his foundation created standards and best practices, and in 2013 launched CCP—”recuperative care on steroids, with tightly wrapped social services and a longer length of stay,” Leon explained.

Originating as an ED diversion pilot aimed at 20 of the highest users of a local hospital ER, CCP has transformed discharge planning for the homeless and has served more than 2,500 patients since its inception.

During the presentation, Leon shared a host of program analytics, including recuperative care criteria client demographics and CCP statistics on medical, behavioral health, housing and other services provided. He also shared CCP’s future plans, and some of the program’s barriers and challenges, including medical management education and closing gaps in social services.

In terms of program outcomes, CCP has amassed significant savings as it closes gaps in care and reduces healthcare utilization, including 322 fewer ER visits by this population (a 84.3 percent decrease) and $2.8 million in medical cost avoidance at three participating hospitals.

“For Orange County hospitals as a total, we estimate that there was $5.2 million of savings,” added John Kim, grants director of the Illumination Foundation. “If we compare the year prior on an annualized cost basis, that comes to over $7 million of savings to Orange County hospitals.”

Click here for an interview with Paul Leon on Chronic Care Plus’s challenges and lessons learned as it connects its medically vulnerable homeless to social services.