Archive for the ‘Medicare’ Category

In Montefiore Social Determinants of Health Screening, Patients’ Needs Shape SDOH Workflow

July 11th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan
 Clinical factors drive 15 percent of a patient's well-being; social determinants of health like finances drive the rest.


Clinical factors drive 15 percent of a patient’s well-being; social determinants of health like finances drive the rest.

In Dr. Amanda Parsons’ twenty-something years in healthcare, she has never implemented a program as widely embraced as Montefiore Health System’s Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) screening.

“It was one of the few times in my career that I didn’t encounter physician resistance,” said Dr. Parsons, Montefiore’s vice president of community and population health. The health system’s screening assesses patients for a host of SDOH factors that drive 85 percent of their well-being, including housing, food security, access to care or medications, finances, transportation and violence.

Following assessment, the goal is to connect individuals who screen positively for SDOHs with assistance from the area’s robust network of community organizations.

Dr. Parsons outlined her organization’s SDOH screening process, findings, challenges, and future plans during Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Collecting and Responding to Data in the Primary Care Setting, a June 2017 webcast by the Healthcare Intelligence Network now available for rebroadcast.

To get started, Montefiore piggybacked on the efforts of a few provider sites already screening for SDOHs. It then offered providers a choice of two validated screening tools, the first developed at a fifth-grade reading level, the second a more sophisticated “stressor” screen. Thirdly, it built a two-tiered triage system that leveraged social workers for individuals with very high SDOH needs, and community health workers to assist with lower-level needs.

Referrals would come from existing data banks or a host of new online referral tools, many of which Dr. Parsons mentioned during the webcast.

Interestingly, while Montefiore is fully live on an EPIC® electronic health record, SDOH screenings are currently conducted on paper, noted Dr. Parsons. This decision was one of multiple considerations in workflow creation, including respect for patient privacy.

For the time being, each Montefiore provider site selects a unique population to screen—or opts not to screen at all, if staffing is lacking. For example, one site screens all patients scheduled for annual physicals, while another screens patients recently discharged from the hospital.

In an initial readout of both screens, SDOH positivity was highest for housing and finances.

By the end of 2017, Montefiore expects to have completed more than 10,000 screenings. The health system, which serves some 700,000 patients, also plans to boost its ranks of community health workers, broadening its referral network.

Looking ahead, Montefiore will address a number of key administrative and emotional barriers. Some patient issues, like overcoming the stigma of seeing a social worker, can be minimized with a simple scripting change. Others, like alleviating an individual’s financial pain or putting a roof over a family’s head, are much more complicated.

Also needed is a process to confirm a patient has “gone that last mile” and obtained the recommended support, Dr. Parsons added.

As it expands SDOH screening, Montefiore is banking on that swell of engaged providers. As part of its mission to provide comprehensive, ‘cradle-to-grave’ care for its mostly Medicaid and otherwise government-insured population, Montefiore “intervenes even when there is no payment structure for that work,” said Dr. Parsons.

Falling into that category is SDOH screening. “Much of the Social Determinants of Health work is not very billable in the traditional paper service model, but it is incredibly important to do, regardless.”

Listen to an interview with Dr. Parsons on adapting SDOH screenings for different populations.
TW_Montefiore_SDOH_webinar0617

Shared SNF Patients, Common Readmissions Goals Unify Three Competing Health Systems

June 15th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

A common desire to reduce SNF readmissions resulted in the formation of Michigan's Tri-County SNF Collaborative.

A common desire to reduce SNF readmissions resulted in the formation of Michigan’s Tri-County SNF Collaborative.

Concerned about escalating hospital readmissions from skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and the accompanying pinch of Medicare readmissions penalties, three Michigan healthcare organizations decided to set competition aside to collaborate and reduce rehospitalizations from SNFs. Here, Susan Craft, director of care coordination, family caregiver program, Office of Clinical Quality & Safety at Henry Ford Health System, describes the origins of Michigan’s Tri-County SNF Collaborative, of which her organization is a founding member.

I want to talk about the formation of the Tri-County SNF Collaborative between Henry Ford Health System, Detroit Medical Center, and St. John Providence Health System. As quality and care transition leaders from each of the health systems, we see each other frequently at various meetings. After some good conversation, we learned that each of us was partnering with our SNFs to improve quality and reduce readmissions.

We all required that they submit data to us that was very similar in nature but not exactly the same, which created a lot of burden for our SNFs to conform to multiple reporting requirements. We knew we were working with the same facilities because geographically, we are all very close to each other. We recognized that this was really a community problem, and not an individual hospital problem. Although we are all competing healthcare systems, those of us with very similar roles in the organization had very little risk from working together. And because we had so much in common, it just made sense that we create this collaborative.

We also worked with our MPRO (Michigan Quality Improvement Organization) and reviewed data that showed that about 30 percent of our patient population was shared between our three health systems. We decided it made sense to move forward. We created a partnership that was based on collaboration and transparency, even within our health systems. We identified common metrics to be used by all of our organizations and agreed upon operational definitions for each of those. We all reached out to our SNF partners to tell them about the collaborative and invite them to join, and then engaged MPRO as our objective third party. We created a charter to solidify that cooperation and collaboration.

Source: A Collaborative Blueprint for Reducing SNF Readmissions: Driving Results with Quality Reporting and Performance Metrics

reducing SNF readmissions

A Collaborative Blueprint for Reducing SNF Readmissions: Driving Results with Quality Reporting and Performance Metrics examines the evolution of the Tri-County SNF Collaborative, as well as the set of clinical and quality targets and metrics with which it operates.

HINfographic: During Annual Wellness Visit, Screen for Social Health Determinants

June 12th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Seventy 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, according to the Pew Research Center in its report, Chronic Disease and the Internet.

A new infographic by HIN examines the impact of SDOH on health status, why the Medicare annual visit is an ideal time to screen for SDOH and the correlation between technology and social isolation.

The move from fee-for-service to value-based healthcare is driving the need for increased capabilities in population health management, including addressing all of the areas that may impact a person’s health. There is growing recognition that a broad range of social, economic and environmental factors shape an individual’s health, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. In fact, 60 percent of premature deaths are due to either individual behaviors or social and environmental factors. Healthcare providers who adopt value-based reimbursement models have an economic interest in all of the factors that impact a person’s health and providers must develop new skills and data gathering capabilities and forge community partnerships to understand and impact these factors.

During Social Determinants and Population Health: Moving Beyond Clinical Data in a Value-Based Healthcare System, a December 8th webinar, now available for replay, Dr. Randall Williams, chief executive officer, Pharos Innovations, shares his insight on the opportunity available to providers to impact population health beyond traditional clinical factors.

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Reducing SNF Readmissions: Clinical Targets, Quality Scorecards Elevate Performance

May 23rd, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

reducing SNF readmissions

Michigan’s Tri-County Collaborative holds the line on hospital readmissions from 130 participating SNFs.

Three geographically close Michigan health systems shared more than a concern over escalating readmissions from skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).

As Henry Ford Health System (HFHS), the Detroit Medical Center and St. John’s Providence Health System ultimately discovered from Michigan Quality Improvement Organization (MPRO) data in 2013, they also shared about 30 percent of their patient population.

This revelation, combined with the pinch of new hospital readmission penalties from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), prompted the three to set aside competition and siloed strategies and forge a coordinated approach to reducing readmissions from SNFs.

Today, the resulting Tri-County SNF Collaborative operates with a set of clinical and quality targets and metrics created in tandem with more than 130 member SNFs. Tri-County’s dozen participation requirements for SNFs range from regular reporting through a dedicated SNF portal to achievement of specified performance metrics.

“We developed collaborative relationships,” explained Susan Craft, director of care coordination for the family caregiver program in HFHS’s Office of Clinical Quality & Safety. “We wanted to have very open, honest conversations to review issues that were identified and find ways to resolve those.”

Ms. Craft shared the roots, framework and results of the SNF collaborative, which launched in the first quarter of 2015, during Reducing SNF Readmissions: Quality Reporting Metrics Drive Improvements, a May 2017 webcast now available for replay.

Once admitted to the collaborative, member SNFs must report on 14 metrics in four key areas: acuity, care transitions, quality and readmissions. In return, SNFs receive a 13-point unblinded quarterly scorecard with metrics on readmissions and patient acceptance response times, among many others.

A multidisciplinary team within Tri-County Collaborative reviews all SNF metrics bi-annually to determine each facility’s continued participation.

As for the collaborative’s impact since its launch, Henry Ford Health System achieved a nearly 20 percent drop in Medicare SNF readmissions as well as a 28 percent reduction in SNF lengths of stay. The initiative also identified opportunities for improvement, resulting in enhanced outpatient scheduling and nurse-to-nurse handoffs and interventions focused on SNF-specific issues like sepsis, Ms. Craft explained.

Despite these advancements, the collaborative still faces the inherent challenges of competition and transparency, as well as SNFs’ hesitancy to adopt value-based practices. “Our SNFs are still entirely dependent on fee for service [payment models],” said Craft. “They haven’t been impacted by penalties and value-based purchasing, although that is coming for them next year.”

Although not yet referring to participating SNFs as “preferred providers,” the collaboratives hopes to one day equip patients with complete data pictures to guide them in SNF selection. Also on Tri-County Collaborative’s radar are home care agencies, concluded Ms. Craft.

“We know there needs to be a lot of coordination across all post-acute care settings.”

Listen to Susan Craft describe how Michigan’s SNF Collaborative set aside competition to improve quality and readmission rates.

Infographic: Physician Appointment Wait Times; Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates

May 5th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

The average wait time for a physician appointment in 15 mid-sized metropolitan areas was nearly 8 days longer than in l5 major metropolitan areas, according to a new infographic by Merritt Hawkins.

The infographic also examined rates of Medicare and Medicaid acceptance by physicians in these markets.

No matter which level of participation physician practices choose for the first Quality Payment Program performance period beginning January 1, 2017, CMS’s “Pick Your Pace” announcement means practices should proactively prepare for the impact of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) on physician quality reporting and reimbursement.

MACRA Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for the MIPS Merit-Based Incentive Payment System delivers a veritable MACRA toolkit for physician practices, with dozens of tips and strategies that lay the groundwork for reimbursement under Medicare’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), expected to begin in 2017 and one of two payment paths Medicare will offer to practices.

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Top 2017 Chronic Care Management Modes and 13 More CCM Trends

May 2nd, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Availability of chronic care management rose 14 percent from 2015 to 2017, according to new metrics from the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

The majority of chronic care management (CCM) outreach is conducted telephonically, say 88 percent of respondents to a 2017 Chronic Care Management survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN), followed by face-to-face visits (65 percent) and home visits (44 percent).

This preference for telephonic CCM has remained unchanged since 2015, when HIN first canvassed healthcare executives on chronic care management practices. More than one hundred healthcare companies completed the 2017 CCM survey.

In addition, the April 2017 CCM survey captured a 14 percent increase in chronic care management programs over the two-year-span: from 55 percent in 2015 to 69 percent in 2017. Three-fourths of 2017 responding CCM programs target either Medicare beneficiaries or individuals with chronic comorbid conditions, with management of care transitions the top CCM component for 86 percent of programs.

In terms of reimbursement, payment levels for CCM services remained steady at 35 percent from 2015 to 2017. However, HIN’s second comprehensive CCM survey determined that 32 percent of respondents currently bill Medicare using CMS Chronic Care Management codes introduced in 2015.

Forty percent of these Medicare CCM participants believe CMS’s 2017 program changes will reduce administrative burden associated with CCM, the survey documented.

Other metrics from HIN’s 2017 CCM survey include the following:

  • A diagnosis of diabetes remains the leading criterion for CCM admission, said 92 percent;
  • Use of healthcare claims as the top tool for identifying or risk-stratifying individuals for CCM continues at 2015’s 70-percent levels;
  • Seventy percent of respondents target individuals with behavioral health diagnoses for CCM interventions;
  • Patient engagement remains the top challenge of chronic care management, with just under one-third of 2017 respondents reporting this obstacle
  • Responsibilities of RN care managers for CCM rose over two years, with 43 percent of 2017 respondents assigning primary CCM responsibility to these professionals (up from 29 percent in 2015); and
  • Two-thirds of respondents observed a drop in hospitalizations that they attribute to chronic care management.

Download an executive summary of 2017 Chronic Care Management survey results.

Infographic: Navigating Risk Adjustment Headwinds

April 28th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

More than half of respondents (60%) to a recent survey by SCIO Health Analytics indicated that their organizations have hit at least the half way point when it comes to implementing the changes needed to support the Encounter Data Processing System (EDPS)/Risk Adjustment Payment System (RAPS), according to a new infographic by SCIO Health Analytics.

The infographic looks at where organizations are on their path for implementing changes needed to support EDPS/RAPS, the discrepancy between RAPS and EDPS scores and some predictions on the future of the Affordable Care Act.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2017: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry Not in recent history has the outcome of a U.S. presidential election portended so much for the healthcare industry. Will the Trump administration repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? What will be the fate of MACRA? Will Medicare and Medicaid survive?

These and other uncertainties compound an already daunting landscape that is steering healthcare organizations toward value-based care and alternative payment models and challenging them to up their quality game.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2017: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry, HIN’s 13th annual business forecast, is designed to support healthcare C-suite planning during this historic transition as leaders prepare for both a new year and new presidential leadership.

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Touting ‘Magic’ of Home Visits, Sun Health Dispels 5 Care Transition Management Myths

April 4th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan


With an average of 299 warm, sunny days a year, Phoenix is a mecca for senior transplants. However, as Phoenix-based Sun Health knows well, when an aging population relocates far from their adult children, there’s a danger that if some of them experience cognitive decline or other health issues, no one will notice.

That’s one reason home visits are the cornerstone of Sun Health’s Care Transitions Management program. Visiting recently discharged patients at home not only tracks the individual’s progress with the hospitalization-related condition, but also pinpoints any social determinants of health (SDOH) that inhibit optimum health.

“There are a number of social determinants of health that, if not addressed, could adversely impact the medical issue,” explains Jennifer Drago, FACHE, executive vice president of population health for the Arizona non-profit organization. Ms. Drago outlined the program during A Leading Care Transitions Model: Addressing Social Health Determinants Through Targeted Home Visits, a March 2017 webinar now available for replay.

Identifying social determinants of health (SDOH) such as medication affordability, transportation, health literacy and social isolation are so important to Sun Health that SDOHs form the critical fifth pillar of its Care Transitions Program. Modeled on the Coleman Care Transitions Intervention®, SDOH identification and support balance Coleman’s four pillars of education, medication reconciliation, physician follow-up visits, and personalized plan of care.

The belief that organizations can effectively execute transitions of care programs pre-discharge or by phone only is one of five care transition myths Ms. Drago dispelled during the webinar. “You will have an impact [with phone calls], but it won’t be as great as a program incorporating dedicated staff and that home visit. I can’t tell you the magic that happens in a home visit.”

That “magic” contributed to Sun Health’s stellar performance in CMS’s recently concluded Community-Based Care Transitions Program demonstration. Sun Health was the national demo’s top performer, achieving a 56 percent reduction in Medicare 30-day readmissions—from 17.8 percent to 7.81 percent—as compared to the 14.5 percent readmission rate of other demonstration participants.

Sun Health’s multi-stepped intervention begins with a visit to the patient’s hospital bedside. “Patients are a captive audience while in the hospital,” explained Ms. Drago. That scripted bedside encounter, which boosted patients’ receptivity to the program, addresses not only the reason for the hospitalization (hip replacement, for example) but also co-occuring chronic conditions, she continued.

“The thing that will have the greatest chance of going out of whack or out of sync in their recovery period is their chronic disease, because they’re probably not eating the same, they’re more sedentary, and their medications likely have been disrupted.”

Ms. Drago went on to present some of the intervention’s tools, including care plans, daily patient check-ins, and the science behind her organization’s care transitions scripts.

After sharing six key lessons learned from care transitions management, Ms. Drago noted that while her organization participated as a mission-based endeavor, others could model Sun Health’s intervention and benefit from those readmissions savings. She also shared a video on the Sun Health Care Transitions Program:

Listen to an interview with Jennifer Drago on the science behind care transition management.

Healthcare Reacts to AHCA: Providers ‘Cannot Support Legislation As Drafted’

March 13th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

American Health Care ActLast week’s unveiling of G.O.P. legislation designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) triggered a flurry of concerns and criticisms from healthcare industry sectors.

The proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) would eliminate Obamacare’s individual mandate and put in place refundable tax credits for individuals to purchase health insurance. It also proposes restructuring Medicaid and defunding Planned Parenthood. However, the bill seeks to maintain protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and to permit children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until they reach the age of 26.

As of last Friday, the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) had cleared two committees in the U.S. House of Representatives; a final House vote on the bill is expected the week of March 20.

In a letter to leaders of the House committees that will mark up the AHCA, the American Medical Association (AMA) rejected the ACA replacement bill. In the letter, AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara, MD, stated that his organization “cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health
insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations.”

In particular, the AMA, the nation’s largest physicians’ group representing more than 220,000 doctors, residents, and medical students, objected to the bill’s proposed restructuring of Medicaid, claiming it “would limit states’ ability to respond to changes in service demands and threaten coverage for people with low incomes.”

The AMA’s position was also outlined in a statement issued by Andrew W. Gurman, MD, AMA president.

Meanwhile, the American Hospital Association (AHA), which counts 5,000 hospitals among its members, also opposed the AHCA. In a news release, Rick Pollack, AHA president and CEO, stated that the AHA “cannot support The American Health Care Act in its current form.” The AHA stated that it would be difficult to evaluate the bill without coverage estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Echoing AMA apprehension over proposed Medicaid restructuring, Pollack stated that the AHA feared the bill “will have the effect of making significant reductions in a program that provides services to our most vulnerable populations, and already pays providers significantly less than the cost of providing care.”

Although Pollack lauded recent Congessional efforts to address behavioral health issues, including the growing opioid abuse epidemic, he stressed that “significant progress in these areas is directly related to whether individuals have coverage. And, we have already seen clear evidence of how expanded coverage is helping to address these high-priority needs.”

Also seeking adequate Medicaid funding in the AHCA was America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a national association whose 1,300 members provide coverage for healthcare and related services to more than 200 million Americans.

In a letter to two key House committees, AHIP President and CEO Marilyn Tavenner stated that “Medicaid health plans are at the forefront of providing coverage for and access to behavioral health services and treatment for opioid use disorders, and insufficient funding could jeopardize the progress being made on these important public health fronts.”

However, AHIP commended the proposed legislation for its “number of positive steps to help stabilize the market and create a bridge to a reformed market during the 2018 and 2019 transition period” and “pledged to work collaboratively to shape the final legislation.”

“AHIP members are committed to reducing cost growth by using value-based care arrangements and other innovative programs to address chronic illnesses and better manage the care of the highest-need patients,” Tavenner concluded.

In a statement on Friday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, MD, committing his agency to using its regulatory authority to create greater flexibility in the Medicaid program for states, including “a review of existing waiver procedures to provide states the impetus and freedom to innovate and test new ideas to improve access to care and health outcomes.”

Infographic: Navigating the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System

February 17th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

The goal of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ new quality program, the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), is to streamline quality reporting to CMS and improve care, according to a new infographic by athenaInsight, Inc.

The infographic examines how MIPS will impact an average clinician this year…and in 2019 when the 2017 reporting will impact a clinician’s reimbursement rates.

Infographic: EHR + CRM = Superior Patient Engagement

Under CMS’s “Pick Your Pace” choices for Year 1 Quality Payment Program participation, physician practices may opt for the minimum activity necessary to avoid a payment penalty in 2019: simply submitting some data in 2017.

However, instead of delaying MACRA participation to the later part of this year, physicians should prepare and better position themselves today for MIPS success by analyzing their existing CMS data on their practices’ performance and laying a path toward performance improvement.

Physician MACRA-Readiness: Mining QRUR and Other CMS Data to Maximize MIPS Performance describes the wealth of data analytics available from the CMS Enterprise Portal–Quality Resource Use Reports (QRURs) and other reports providing a window into practice performance under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). MIPS is one of two MACRA reimbursement paths and the one where most physician practices are expected to align.

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.