Archive for the ‘Physician Practices’ Category

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

May 16th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MACRA Transition Bolstered by CMS Quality Measure Development Plan

May 9th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

payment bundling shared savings

Partnerships are key to the final Quality Measure Development Plan by CMS.

The final Quality Measure Development Plan by CMS is an essential aspect of its transition to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), according to last week's blog post by Kate Goodrich, MD, MHS, director of CMS's Center for Clinical Standards & Quality.

The Quality Measure Development Plan is a strategic framework for clinician quality measurement development to support the new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and advanced alternative payment models (APMs), stated Dr. Goodrich.

CMS recently rolled out a proposed rule outlining MACRA's payment incentives for physicians and other clinicians based on quality rather than quantity of care.

The final Quality Measure Development Plan will provide the foundation for building and implementing a measure portfolio to support the quality payment programs under MACRA, Dr. Goodrich said.

After considering comments and suggestions for the plan, CMS finalized the Quality Measure Development Plan to include the following:

  • Identification of known measurement and performance gaps and prioritization of approaches to close those gaps by developing, adopting and refining quality measures, including measures in each of the six quality domains:
    • Clinical care;

    • Safety;

    • Care coordination;

    • Patient and caregiver experience;

    • Population health and prevention;

    • Affordable care.
  • CMS actions to promote and improve alignment of measures, including the Core Quality Measures Collaborative, a work group convened by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). On February 16, 2016, CMS and the collaborative announced the selection of seven core measure sets that will support multi-payor and cross-setting quality improvement and reporting across our nation’s healthcare systems.
  • Partnering with frontline clinicians and professional societies as a key consideration to reduce the administrative burden of quality measurement and ensure its relevance to clinical practices.
  • Partnering with patients and caregivers as a key consideration for having the voice of the patient, family, and/or caregiver incorporated throughout measure development.
  • Increased focus and coordination with federal agencies and other stakeholders to lessen duplication of effort and promote person-centered healthcare.

Infographic: Physician Telehealth Insight

May 6th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Telehealth is revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Patients are demanding services that allow them to connect to their physician no matter the time or location, according to a new infographic by the MedData Group.

The infographic provides insight into physicians' opinions of telehealth—what they see as advantages and disadvantages, and their practices' plan for offering telehealth services.

The world of digitally enabled care is exploding: the number of patients using telehealth services will rise to 7 million in 2018, according to IHS Technology; healthcare apps and 'wearables' are trending in technology circles and healthcare providers' offices; and CMS's new 'Next Generation ACO' model is expected to favor expanded telehealth coverage.

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

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Horizon Episodes of Care Program Prototype for Value-Based Specialty Care and Reimbursement

April 21st, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Horizon BCBS-NJ's Episodes of Care program engages specialists across a suite of nine episodes.

Imagine a value-based healthcare payment model in which the sole financial hazard to specialist providers is the risk of amassing additional revenue.

Further, envision a scenario in which these specialists are invited to design their payment program, from the model's intent to key quality metrics.

Those are some highlights of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey's Episodes of Care (EOC) program, a value-based model designed to focus specialists on the provision of quality- and value-based care across nine separate episodes, from joint replacement to hysterectomy to oncology.

Hailed as a national leader in advancing the episodes model as a prototype for value-based specialty care, Horizon is careful to distinguish its EOC program from a bundled payment initiative, for two key reasons.

"First, our EOC program is a quality-based program; it's not only about the payment or payment structure," explained Lili Brillstein, director of the Horizon Episodes of Care program during a recent webinar, Episodes of Care: Improving Clinical Outcomes and Reducing Total Cost of Care Through a Collaborative Payor-Provider Relationship.

Secondly, bundled payments typically refer to a prospective model in which a bundled amount of money is paid to a provider or group of providers in advance of services being delivered, while Horizon's retrospective model pays providers after services have been provided.

The upside-only nature of Horizon's retrospective model contributes to the program's collaborative nature, Ms. Brillstein added. "If the metrics are met, savings are shared. If the metrics are not met, we’re not punishing our partners."

There is other evidence of collaboration and of Horizon's desire to see the providers succeed in the EOC program. One example is the payor's use of case mix-adjusted budgets at the practice level rather than the prevalent member-specific risk-adjusted budgets. "This budgeting allows Horizon to create an opportunity for providers to move the needle [on a metric], and benefit from that. The opportunity for cost savings and shared savings also is dramatically improved."

Another case in point is Horizon's invitation to prospective providers to talk through the episode's construct, intent and design prior to its launch.

Horizon's engagement of providers in the EOC program has "changed the spirit of the relationships between the payor and the provider," Ms. Brillstein noted. "It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Our provider partners have become our ambassadors for the program."

Select EOC results presented during the webinar indicated that outcomes are better for EOC partners—in the area of reduced readmissions, for example—than they are for physicians not in the EOC program.

Horizon expects to launch at least three more episodes in 2016, including a Crohn’s Disease episode that will take into account behavioral health services for those members. While the payor fully expects to move to a prospective model, it believes its current EOC model is preparing them for that eventuality, softening the transition from fee for service to prospective payments.

"[That transition] doesn’t just happen. You don’t sign the paper, and suddenly know what to do. It is an evolutionary transformative process," concluded Ms. Brillstein.

Click here to listen to an interview with Lili Brillstein: Horizon BCBSNJ Episodes of Care: No-Risk Retrospective Model Paves Way for Value-Based Migration

CHS on Data Analytics in Accountable Care: “No Matter What Happens, This Change is Coming”

February 11th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Collaborative Health Systems, the largest sponsor of Medicare ACOs in the United States, recently rolled out an analytics and dashboard portal for its 3,200 providers.

Attention, please. Two aggressive milestones to migrate Medicare providers to value-based healthcare are on the horizon:

  • In 2016, CMS expects 30 percent of Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement to be tied to alternative payment models such as accountable care and bundled payments.
  • Also this year, the federal payor wants 85 percent of Medicare FFS payments to be based upon quality metrics.

"If you are a provider, or working with providers who accept Medicare beneficiaries, it's really important to know these changes are coming," advises Elena Tkachev, director of ACO analytics for Collaborative Health Systems (CHS). "It will be the responsibility of physicians to participate in these payments because no matter what happens, this change is coming."

Ms. Tkachev detailed the power of data analytics to drive CHS's success in accountable care during Data Analytics in Accountable Care: Strategies and Case Studies, a January 2016 webinar from the Healthcare Intelligence Network now available for replay.

As the largest sponsor of Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACOs in the United States, CHS has a firm handle on HHS's value-based agenda. The organization manages 24 MSSP ACOs, nine of which generated savings of nearly $27 million in 2014, and one that has been accepted as a Next Generation ACO, the newest Medicare accountable care model.

And with CMS expectations for value-based reimbursement slated to rise over the next two years, expectations for data analytics to improve care and costs related to Medicare beneficiaries have never been higher.

"Today, physicians are being measured through claims and the clinical metrics on the population they serve. We see the main responsibility of analytics as providing simple access to actionable, timely and relevant information to help clinicians make better decisions, improve quality of care and enhance the patient experience."

Despite the magnitude of its enterprise, CHS believes its future in accountable care rests upon its primary care physicians (PCPs), which it views as "quarterbacks of care" for its more than 280,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

To foster quality improvement, CHS equips PCPs with an arsenal of analytics capabilities. So that its 3,200 providers can tap into CHS's massive storehouse of CMS, claims, lab, risk stratification and care coordination data collected on its 24 Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACOs, the health system recently rolled out an analytics and dashboard portal.

These tools enable providers to monitor the aggregate health of their populations as well as their own performance, even giving providers the ability to track their own performance over time and contrast it with other clinicians'—a capability that pleases CHS's more competitive physicians, Ms. Tkachev notes.

Frequent webinar training keeps provider analytics' use sharp, and dashboard-generated reports and scorecards help physicians to monitor and enhance quality performance and improve patient outreach, Ms. Tkachev explained.

Despite its significant success, CHS still encounters the perennial challenges of access to timely and accurate data, aggregation abilities, and the display of meaningful results. Ms. Tkachev shared some CHS tactics to resolve these issues, including soliciting feedback on the tools from providers who use them.

Listen to an interview with Elena Tkachev on data analytic's potential to drive annual wellness visits and boost beneficiary attribution.

Bon Secours Next Generation Healthcare: Smart Tools Tell Care Transitions, Chronic Care Management Stories

February 4th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Next Generation Healthcare smart tools facilitate Bon Secours care plans for care transitions, chronic care management and Medicare wellness visits.


A key component of chronic care management is a comprehensive plan of care—the "refrigerator copy" patients can refer to, explains Robert Fortini, PNP, chief clinical officer for Bon Secours medical Group (BSMG).

Today, using smart tools built into its electronic medical record, Bon Secours nurse navigators document twelve-point care plans for the 50 patients they have enrolled via Medicare's year-old Chronic Care Management (CCM) codes—a number Fortini expects will double this month.

The CCM assessment tool also captures frequently forgotten issues such as depression, pain and sleep problems that can derail care, Fortini said in a recent webinar on Physician Reimbursement in 2016: Workflow Optimization for Chronic Care Management and Advance Care Planning.

Bon Secours' seventy nurse navigators, embedded in physician practices, also tap these point-and-click smart tools to document transitions of care for patients recently discharged from the hospital. This Transition of Care smart note tracks 17 different aspects of patient care, including risk of readmission and medication reconciliation, and includes a placeholder for an advance medical directive.

Similar tools are in use for Medicare's three types of wellness visits, he added.

"I have been in this business a long time, and the documentation that navigators produce using these workflows is extraordinary," Fortini noted. "This is purposeful design. It tells a story and you have something actionable at the conclusion of reading it."

The smart tools are but one aspect of Bon Secours' Next Generation Healthcare initiative, which Fortini defined as "population health meets total access." Next Generation Healthcare fortifies the team-based medical home foundation Bon Secours introduced six years ago with expanded care access and technology, among other components the organization leverages to improve clinical outcomes and value-based reimbursement.

In the Next Generation Healthcare model, the primary care physician is the quarterback of care, with embedded nurse navigators doing the "heavy lifting" of enrolling at-risk patients into care management, building comprehensive care plans, and scheduling Medicare beneficiaries for annual wellness visits, Fortini explained.

Additionally, Bon Secours has broadened its care access menu to include employee clinics, fast care and urgent care sites, self-scheduling, and virtual visits for primary care. The organization expects to expand virtual visits to specialist consultations and behavioral health in the near future, and also envisions virtual case management visits, allowing nurse navigators to conduct real-time medication reconciliations with at-home patients.

To round out its Next Generation Healthcare continuum, Bon Secours is training a portion of nurse navigators as facilitators in a Virginia advance care planning initiative called "Honoring Choices," with the goal of formalizing the placement of advance directives in patients' records.

Investing in resources necessary to manage end-of-life effectively is a critical aspect of Bon Secours' strategic initiative, Fortini concluded. "Forty percent of Medicare spend occurs in the last two years of life, and the pain, suffering, and emotional angst that occurs for patients and their families is incredible."

Listen to an interview with Robert Fortini in which he describes how Bon Secours nurse navigators have won over solo practitioners.

Chronic Care Management Revenue Relies on Physician Momentum

January 28th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Embedded in CMS's year-old Chronic Care Management codes is a dramatic potential for revenue—in both reduced costs and enhanced health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries. But before primary care practices can tap into these opportunities, physician leadership must create momentum for CCM with staff and patients, advises Debra Burbary, RN, clinical quality assurance manager with Arcturus Health.

CMS recognizes that care management is a critical component of the primary care setting and that it can help contribute to the better health of our patients and also reduce spending as well. Our group has looked at this as an opportunity to capture more revenue as well as improve our patients’ health conditions.

However, when we first began to study the Chronic Care Management (CCM) regulations, we found out that it wasn’t going to be quite that easy. CMS has put into place many requirements and guidelines that need to be followed to qualify for this service. We think that one of the biggest messages that came through was the fact that 75 percent of healthcare spending is directly related to chronic conditions. The prevalence of co-morbid conditions also presents a challenge for disease management. Mostly, these patients fall into that category.

The CCM program was going to require a comprehensive effort to reconfigure our clinical workflows and processes to adjust to the needs of these chronically ill patients within a primary care setting. One of the main things we determined we needed was physician leadership. Involvement by our physicians to support this program was going to be a major key to success.

I was very fortunate to work with my physician medical director, who does provide that support for our department, and we were able to move forward. One thing to look at if you’re just starting with this process is the creation within your group of physician buy-in for disease management activities in order to create that culture. Without this supportive culture, you will have a difficult time sustaining a chronic disease management effort.

The cost of disease management continues to drive many of our decisions related to encouraging our patients in self-management activities complementary to the patient-physician relationship—decisions that drive our strategies for supporting patients in becoming informed. Active participants must be extensively developed.

The potential revenue for the CCM code cannot be overlooked. It’s remarkably very, very high, but at the same time very difficult to accomplish.

Source: Medicare Chronic Care Management Billing: Evidence-Based Workflows to Maximize CCM Revenue

http://hin.3dcartstores.com/Framework-for-Patient-Engagement-6-Stages-to-Success-in-a-Value-Based-Health-System_p_5102.html

Medicare Chronic Care Management Billing: Evidence-Based Workflows to Maximize CCM Revenue traces the incorporation of CCM into Arcturus Healthcare's existing care management efforts for high-risk patients, as well as the unexpected bonus that resulted from CCM code adoption.

Infographic: Improving Patient Satisfaction

January 25th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Provider-led changes can have a significant impact on patient satisfaction rates, according to a new infographic by PatientSafe Solutions.

The infographic outlines how communication is key to unlocking patient satisfaction via face-to-face visits, online touchpoints and provider office interactions.

Intermountain Healthcare's strategic six-point patient engagement framework not only has transformed patient care delivered by the Salt Lake City-based organization but also has fostered an attitude of shared accountability throughout the not-for-profit health system.

Framework for Patient Engagement: 6 Stages to Success in a Value-Based Health System details Intermountain's multilayered approach and how it supports its corporate mission: Helping people live the healthiest lives possible.

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Infographic: 12 Physician Practice Models

January 18th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Healthcare industry challenges and government mandates are changing the way some physician practices operate, according to a new infographic by BillingParadise.

The infographic outlines how 12 different physician practice models work to help physicians understand and choose a model best suited for them.

One year after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began reimbursing physician practices for chronic care management services, Bon Secours Medical Group is now comfortable with the CCM reimbursement requirements and is reporting that it's unique approach to this revenue opportunity is ramping up nicely. And, the organization's approach to chronic care management reimbursement is helping to position itself for advance care planning as a new billable CMS event in the upcoming year.

During Physician Reimbursement in 2016: Workflow Optimization for Chronic Care Management and Advance Care Planning, a January 26th webinar at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, Robert Fortini, PNP, chief clinical officer for Bon Secours Medical Group, will provide an inside look at his organization's experience with CMS' chronic care management reimbursement this year and how they are leveraging this experience for CMS' newest billable event in 2016—advance care planning.

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Infographic: Systemized Care by Physicians

January 6th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

As patient care becomes increasingly systemized, more doctors say they feel less engaged and less motivated, according to a recent infographic by Bain & Company.

The infographic looks at the growth in the number of physicians using electronic medical records and treatment protocols, along with the growth in the number of doctors who work in large, management-led organizations.

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

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

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