Archive for the ‘Patient Engagement’ Category

Infographic: 11 Health Literacy Tips for Providers

February 9th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Health literacy—the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions—is essential to promote healthy people and communities. The first ever National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) in 2003 found that only 12 percent of U.S. adults had proficient health literacy and over a third of U.S. adults—77 million people—would have difficulty with common health tasks, such as following directions on a prescription drug label or adhering to a childhood immunization schedule using a standard chart.

An infographic by Health Communications Partners provides 11 health literacy tips for providers.

With health coach support on two fronts, PinnacleHealth Systems is changing the patient engagement conversation—both among its staff of clinicians and its most disengaged patient population.

Dual Approach to Patient Engagement: Activating High Utilizers and Coaching Clinicians describes PinnacleHealth System’s two-pronged strategy for prioritizing patient engagement within its culture, and elevating key quality and clinical metrics in the process.

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Population Health Tactics to Boost an ACO’s Medicare Annual Wellness Visit Rates

February 9th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

One of the most important revenue opportunities for primary care physicians, and for population health nurses under their direct supervision, is the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit (AWV), advises Tim Gronninger, senior vice president of development and strategy, Caravan Health. The AWV offers an opportunity to check a number of Medicare quality boxes, including preventive check-ins, vaccinations and health screenings, to help make sure that a beneficiary’s medical needs are being met.

Here, Gronninger suggests ways that physician practices can improve all-important AWV rates.

Much of increasing annual wellness visit rates is about how to manage expectations of the practice and of the patient. You’ll be chasing your tail a lot if you are looking at your data and saying, “Well, these 1,000 patients haven’t had an annual wellness visit. I’m going to make a thousand phone calls, and then I’m going to make a thousand follow-up phone calls to try to schedule them all.”

It is very important for a practice to create a process where you have the time, the space and the plan, so that when a patient comes in the door for an Evaluation and Management (E&M) visit, the patient is handed off seamlessly to a nurse coordinator to complete an annual wellness visit at the same time. Obviously, different patients will require different handling. But we have found a very high acceptance rate from that approach among patients of clients that we work with.

It’s something that many patients take for granted, that their clinician knows this about them already. However, many times, the physician in practice doesn’t know whether the patient is up to date on their mammograms or other types of screenings.

Editor’s Note: Caravan Health’s ACOs saved more than $26 million in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and achieved higher than average quality scores and quality reporting scores in 2016.

Source: Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success

ACO population health

Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success examines Caravan Health’s population health-focused approach for ACOs and its potential for positioning ACOs for success under MSSP and MACRA’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

Guest Post: Patient Engagement Technology Tool for Preventing Hospital Readmissions in Chronic Patients

January 23rd, 2018 by Allison Hart, Vice President of Marketing, TeleVox Solutions at West

While almost all chronic care patients say they need help managing their disease, less than one-third receive regular check-ins from healthcare providers.

During the past decade, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have increased the pressure on hospitals to prevent readmissions. In response to that pressure, many hospitals made changes that have led to declines in readmission rates. However, even with more measures in place to prevent readmissions than ever before, the risk of being readmitted to the hospital is still high for patients with chronic illnesses.

Studies have shown that the risk of adverse health effects increases with each hospitalization. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to keep chronic patients from readmitting once they have been hospitalized. Because of this, it is important that healthcare teams prioritize chronic disease management, and work to engage and support chronic patients. One tool that can help with this is the patient engagement technology many healthcare teams already have in place.

Survey responses indicate that chronic patients welcome efforts from their healthcare team that are aimed at managing disease and preventing hospital admissions and readmissions. A West survey found that 91 percent of chronic patients say they need help managing their disease, and at least 70 percent would like more resources or clarity on how to manage their condition. Additionally, 75 percent of chronic patients want their healthcare provider to touch base with them regularly so they can be alerted of potential issues.

Although patients with chronic conditions have expressed that they desire more assistance from their healthcare providers, they are not necessarily receiving it. For example, more than half (54 percent) of patients feel a weekly or twice-weekly check-in from their provider would be valuable, yet only 30 percent of patients report receiving regular check-ins. This shows that, in some cases, providers could be doing much more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Providers seem to be underestimating patients’ interest in chronic care and their desire to receive support. Patients have suggested that they not only want assistance with managing chronic conditions, they would also be willing to pay for that extra support. Many providers are unaware that their patients feel this way. When asked if their patients would agree to pay 10 dollars per month for additional chronic care support, just over half (53 percent) of providers answered “yes.” However, two-thirds of patients say they would be willing to pay a nominal amount for chronic care support. The eye-opening response from patients confirms that chronic disease management is in demand—more so than providers realize. It also suggests that some providers may need to do more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Chronic Care Management Enrollment

One way healthcare teams can better serve chronic patients and potentially prevent readmissions is by enrolling patients in chronic disease management programs. Chronic care programs, like Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program, require a lot of communication on the part of the healthcare team. Automating some of the communication and outreach makes it easier for providers to offer ongoing chronic care support. Healthcare teams can use their patient engagement technology to:

  • Send patients messages to invite them to enroll in a chronic care program. Using information from electronic health records, healthcare teams can identify patients that are eligible for chronic care management programs. (Patients must have two or more chronic conditions to enroll in Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program.) Then, they can use their patient engagement technology to send patients automated messages with information about the benefits of participating in a chronic care program, and instructions or links for patients to enroll or get further information.
  • Schedule disease-specific preventive screenings and tests. The Chronic Care Management program mandates that patients receive recommended preventive services. Care managers can schedule and send patients automated text messages, emails or voice messages to notify them when they are due for preventive screenings and tests. Patients with diabetes, for example, would automatically receive messages when they are due for an A1C test, foot exam or eye exam.
  • Send medication reminders and messages. Providers are required to manage and reconcile medications for patients enrolled in the Chronic Care Management program. Providers can assign medication reminders and send automated messages to ensure patients know how and when to take their medication, and that they don’t forget to take it.

Communication that engages chronic patients and aids them in disease management can result in better health outcomes and fewer readmissions. Engagement communications can be easily automated, meaning outreach does not require excessive time or resources. Hospitals and healthcare providers have incentives to reduce readmissions, and in many cases, they have the technology in place to make chronic disease management efficient and effective.

About the Author: Allison Hart is a regularly published advocate for utilizing technology-enabled communications to engage and activate patients beyond the clinical setting. She leads thought leadership efforts for West’s TeleVox Solutions, promoting the idea that engaging with patients between healthcare appointments in meaningful ways will encourage and inspire them to follow and embrace treatment plans – and that activating these positive behaviors ultimately leads to better outcomes for both healthcare organizations and patients. Hart currently serves as Vice President of Marketing for TeleVox Solutions at West, where the healthcare mission is to help organizations harness communications to expand the boundaries of where, when, and how healthcare is delivered.

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: Assessing Patient Communication

January 19th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Healthcare providers can increase the chance of their words having their desired effect by assessing their communication skills in the moment, according to a new infographic by Health Communication Partners.

The infographic gives you five essential patient communication elements and five questions you can ask about your communication.

UnityPoint Health has moved from a siloed approach to improving the patient experience at each of its locations to a system-wide approach that encompasses a consistent, baseline experience while still allowing for each institution to address its specific needs.

Armed with data from its Press Ganey and CAHPS® Hospital Survey scores, UnityPoint’s patient experience team developed a front-line staff-driven improvement action plan.

Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action Plan, a 45-minute webinar on July 27th, now available for replay, Paige Moore, director, patient experience at UnityPoint Health—Des Moines, shares how the organization switched from a top-down, leadership-driven patient experience improvement approach to one that engages front-line staff to own the process.

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2018 Success Strategy: Differentiate to Survive Next Wave of Healthcare

January 5th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

Are supermarkets the next wave of healthcare?

Perhaps not, but if a health insurer can move into the community pharmacy, why not the local grocery store?

On the heels of the recent non-traditional CVS Health-Aetna merger and amidst other swirling consolidation rumors, industry thought leaders are encouraging healthcare organizations to embrace similar partnerships and synergies.

And given the presence of pharmacies inside many supermarkets, “there is potential for greater synergies around what we eat, what we buy and how our healthcare is actually purchased or delivered,” suggests David Buchanan, president of Buchanan Strategies.

“The bonanza [from this merger] might be where data can be shared between CVS’s customers and Aetna’s customers and whether we can steer those CVS customers to Aetna,” he added.

Buchanan and Brian Sanderson, managing principal of healthcare services for Crowe Horwath, sketched a roadmap to help healthcare providers and payors navigate the key trends, challenges and opportunities that beckon in 2018 during Trends Shaping the Healthcare Industry in 2018: A Strategic Planning Session, a December 2017 webinar now available for rebroadcast.

Key guideposts on the road to success: data analytics, consolidation, population health management, patient and member engagement, and telemedicine, among other indicators. Also, organizations shouldn’t hesitate to test-drive new roles in order to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

“If you are not differentiated, you will not survive in what is a very fluid marketplace,” Sanderson advised.

Honing in on the healthcare provider perspective, Sanderson posed five key questions to help shape physician, hospital and health system strategies, including, “What are the powerful patterns?” Industry mergers, an infusion of private equity money into areas like ambulatory care and emerging value-based payment models fall into this category, he suggested.

These patterns were echoed in four primary trends Sanderson outlined as shaping the direction of the healthcare market, which faces an increasingly “impatient” patient. “I could tell you the market wants care everywhere,” he said. “In the same way we have become impatient with our commoditized goods, so have patients become impatient with accessing care.”

Among these trends are “unclear models of reimbursement,” he noted, adding that after a self-imposed “pause” relative to healthcare reimbursement at the start of a new presidential administration, the industry is ready to “restart with some new sponsors now.”

Notably, Sanderson advised providers to embrace population management. “Don’t think population health, think population management. It’s no longer just the clinical aspects of a patient’s or a population’s health. It’s the overall management of their well-being.”

Following Sanderson’s five winning strategies for healthcare provider success, David Buchanan outlined his list of hot-button items for insurers, which ranged from the future of Obamacare and member engagement to telemedicine, healthcare payment costs and models and trends in Medicare and Medicaid.

Healthcare payors should not underestimate the value of engaging its members, who today possess higher levels of health literacy, he stated. “The member must be an integral part of healthcare transactions, as are the provider, the facility and the insurer. The member must have a greater level of personal responsibility and engagement in the process.”

Offering members wearable health technologies like fitness trackers is one way insurers might engage individuals in their health while creating ‘stickiness’ and member allegiance to the health plan.

Telemedicine, the fastest growing healthcare segment, is another means of extending payors’ reach and increasing profitability, he adds. “Telemedicine is not just for rural health settings anymore, but is finding another subset of adopters among people who can’t fit a doctor’s visit into their busy schedule.”

Payors should expect some competition in this area. “I believe the next wave [of telehealth] will be hospitals expanding into local telehealth services as a lead-in to their local clinics,” Buchanan predicted.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in healthcare is growing, but Buchanan and Sanderson agree that adoption will be slow. On the other hand, expect more collaboration between digital players like Amazon, Google and Apple and larger health plans.

“You will see [synergies] when you can put those two players together: the company that can bring the technology to the table as well as those companies that bring the users to the table,” concluded Buchanan.

Listen to a HIN HealthSounds podcast in which David Buchanan predicts the future of mega mergers in healthcare, the impact of the CVS-Aetna alliance on brand awareness, and the real ‘bonanza’ of the $69 billion partnership, beyond bringing healthcare closer to home for many consumers.

From Last Place, Bronx Communities Now Prize Culture of Health

December 7th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Barely eight years ago, the Bronx landed at the very bottom of the first county health rankings issued by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) —the least healthy of 62 New York counties, to be exact.

It didn’t help that as a borough, the Bronx topped a few other lists compiled by New York officials, including the highest prevalence of obesity and diabetes and the top consumers of sugary drinks.

Rather than discourage this diverse borough, however, these rankings galvanized residents and a number of Bronx organizations, including the Bronx Institute of Health, to partner and examine facets of community life to see where health might be improved. Under the hash tag and rallying cry of #Not62, the coalition’s reach has extended into Bronx schools, housing and even local food stores known as bodegas as it attempts to reimagine and enhance community health.

During Innovative Community-Clinical Partnerships: Reducing Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities through Community Transformation, a November 2017 webcast now available for rebroadcast, Charmaine Ruddock, project director, Bronx Health REACH, charted the path to some of the innovative community health partnerships forged by her organization.

Formed in 1999 with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Bronx Health REACH (shorthand for “racial and ethnic approaches to community health”) is charged with eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes, particularly those related to diabetes and heart disease, in Bronx populations. Since its inception, Bronx Health REACH has grown from five to more than 70 community-based organizations, schools, healthcare providers, faith-based institutions, housing, social service agencies and others.

“Those founding partners were particularly concerned that Bronx Health REACH not be seen as a program per se, but as a catalyst for creating a movement around health and well-being in the community,” explained Ms. Ruddock.

From early focus groups, Bronx Health REACH determined that community members not only felt disrespected by the healthcare system, but also powerless to advocate on their own behalf for better services. Those findings helped to shape the Bronx Health REACH mission and subsequent efforts.

Outreach began at the organizational level, such as examining the way a local church provided meals at church events. The coalition brainstormed ways to prepare those meals in a healthier manner, supplementing the church’s work with nutrition training that quickly spread throughout the faith community. From there, the program applied that approach to the food offered during school meals and via vending machines, and eventually within the local food retail environment, which consists principally of bodegas.

Today, the scope of Bronx Health REACH is broad, encompassing street safety, physical activity and overall wellness, among other areas. Its early work with bodegas has grown from demonstrations and tastings of healthy foods to the formation of a Bronx bodega work group and a new Healthy Bodegas marketing initiative. It has engaged farmers’ markets in its objective of increasing healthier food options. To that end, healthcare providers now issue “prescriptions” for fruits and vegetables that are accompanied by ten-dollar coupons.

The transformation is visible in the community, Ms. Ruddock notes. Today, some previously padlocked playgrounds are open; murals by visiting artists that adorn the walls of local housing are left alone for all to enjoy.

However, a great deal of work remains. “We have given ourselves as a goal that by 2020, we will establish a multi-sector infrastructure working with housing groups, economic development groups, and others as the first step in addressing many of the health-related factors and issues,” explained Ms. Ruddock.

But for now, the enthusiasm and contributions of Bronx residents have not gone unrewarded. In 2015, just five years after receiving its disappointing health ranking, the Bronx was one of eight recipients of the RWJF’s Culture of Health prize. The prize is awarded to communities that work to ensure residents have the opportunity to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

Listen to Charmaine Ruddock explain how early findings from focus groups helped to shape Bronx Health REACH initiatives.

LVHN Portal Places Healthcare Control in Patients’ Hands, Liberates Staff

November 30th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

patient portal rolloutConsumers accustomed to communicating, shopping, banking and booking travel online increasingly expect those same conveniences from their healthcare providers.

And as Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) has learned, despite the myriad of benefits a patient portal offers, the most important reason to incorporate this interactive tool into a physician practice is because patients want it.

“As much as we emphasize the marketing aspect of [the portal], having a nice, functional technology that we get in other aspects of our life has really been an enabler,” notes Michael Sheinberg, M.D., medical director, medical informatics, Epic transformation at LVHN. Many LVHN patients found the portal on their own, independent of the tool’s formal introduction, he adds. “Patients really wanted this. Our patients want to be engaged, they want to have access, and they want to own their medical information.”

Dr. Sheinberg and Lindsay Altimare, director of operations for Lehigh Valley Physician Group at LVHN, walked through the rollout of the LVHN portal to its ambulatory care providers during Patient Portal Roll-Out Strategy: Activating and Engaging Patients in Self-Care and Population Health, a November 2017 webinar now available for rebroadcast.

The 2015 launch of LVHN’s patient portal and its continued user growth has earned it the distinction of being the fastest growing patient portal on the Epic® platform.

As Ms. Altimare explained, LVHN first launched its portal with limited functionality in February 2015 as part of the Epic electronic health record that had gone live two years earlier. But even given the portal’s limited feature set, LVHN quickly recognized the tool’s potential to enhance efficiency, education, communication and revenue outside of traditional doctor’s office visits.

At its providers’ request, however, LVHN first piloted the portal within 14 of its 160+ physician practices, using feedback from providers in the two-month trial to further tweak the portal before next rolling it out to its remaining clinicians, and finally to patients.

LVHN supported each rollout phase with targeted marketing and education materials.

Today, LVHN patients and staff embrace the functionality of the portal, which offers an experience similar to that of an online airline check-in. Via the portal, LVHN patients can self-schedule appointments, complete medical questionnaires and forms, even participate in select e-visits with physicians—all in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.

Not only are about 45 percent of LVHN’s 420,000 patients enrolled in the portal, but self-scheduling doubled in the first six months of use. Additionally, upon examining a segment of portal participants over 12 months, LVHN identified a steady rise in portal utilization for common tasks like medication renewals and medical history completion.

The portal “liberates our patients from the need to access our providers in the traditional way,” says Dr. Sheinberg. Appreciation of this freedom is reflected in improved patient experience scores, he adds.

“The portal is a patient satisfier, and certainly a staff satisfier, because it reduces patient ‘no-shows’ and liberates our staff from more manual processes, putting them in the hands of our patients.”


HINfographic: Patient Engagement: Educate to Overcome Social Determinants of Health and Low Health Literacy

October 30th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Social determinants of health (SDOH), conditions in which individuals are born, grow, live, work and age, and low health literacy pose the greatest barriers to engaging patients in self-care, say respondents to the 2017 Patient Engagement Survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

A new infographic by HIN examines the top components of patient engagement programs, the most challenging patients to engage and the return on investment from patient engagement programs.

Beyond hoped-for improvements in clinical outcomes from actively engaged patients, patient engagement metrics now factor heavily into the equations of risk- and value-based reimbursement models.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Patient Engagement documents tactics, targeted populations and clinical conditions, program components, technology use, success measures, challenges and many other patient engagement metrics reported by 75 healthcare organizations responding to the 2017 Patient Engagement survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

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Healthcare Hotwire: Patient Engagement

October 19th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Engaging patients in self-management contributes to healthier clinical and financial results in healthcare’s value-based reimbursement climate.

Beyond hoped-for improvements in clinical outcomes from actively engaged patients, patient engagement metrics now factor heavily into the equations of risk- and value-based reimbursement models. With continued anticipated growth in these types of reimbursement models, healthcare organizations are continuing to invest and refine their patient engagement strategies.

With this as a backdrop, it’s not surprising that a clear majority of respondents to HIN’s recent Benchmark Survey on Patient Engagement have created formal patient engagement programs, with 4 percent of the remaining slated to launch a program in the coming year. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) mine clinical data analytics to risk-stratify individuals for engagement efforts.

And, it will continue to be an organizational priority for healthcare organizations in the year ahead, according to a new study of 2018 healthcare industry concerns by the Healthcare Executive Group.

In the new edition of Healthcare Hotwire, you’ll get patient engagement case studies from several industry leaders and details on some of the trends impacting patient engagement.

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

Patient Engagement Prerequisite: School Staff in Patient Activation, Health Literacy

October 19th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

YNHHS embedded care coordinationEven after multiple years of patient engagement education, awareness training and related programming for its clinicians, PinnacleHealth Systems knew those efforts needed to continue if they were to move forward with new interventions. Here, Kathryn Shradley, director of population health, PinnacleHealth System, describes two key focus areas for clinician education.

We wanted to level-set on the definitions of patient activation and health literacy and what these terms meant to the organization and to the teams within. In full transparency, I want to be very clear: I believe initiatives for health literacy, patient engagement, patient education and population health will be on our task list for as long as I’m employed, and that’s okay.

We spent a lot of time educating front-line clinicians on health literacy, understanding who was using the Patient Activation Measure® (PAM®) and tools and attempting to broaden the language used around the health system. One of our initial goals was simply to have the words ‘health literacy’ be recognized and understood throughout the system. This is certainly still something we work on daily as a core piece of all of our engagement strategies. I’m happy to say that we have made progress.

One of the ways we obtained buy-in for our patient engagement strategy was to talk about the financial bottom line of low levels of patient activation and low levels of patient health literacy. We demonstrated to our executive teams, directors and managers that no matter where they were building an initiative and what they were building, if they didn’t include an engagement strategy in their product or service line, they were likely to experience difficulty—a difficulty that could otherwise be mitigated if we addressed some of these issues in their programs.

Source: Dual Approach to Patient Engagement: Activating High Utilizers and Coaching Clinicians

patient engagement

Dual Approach to Patient Engagement: Activating High Utilizers and Coaching Clinicians describes PinnacleHealth’s two-pronged strategy for prioritizing patient engagement among its clinicians and patient population, tactics that elevated key quality and clinical metrics in the process.