Archive for the ‘Physician Practices’ Category

Infographic: Telemedicine in the Physician Practice

July 8th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Telemedicine is quickly changing the medical practice landscape as states, insurers and employers are making it a viable option for patients. Practitioners, patients and even employers stand to gain from the many benefits of telemedicine, according to a new infographic by Chiron Health.

The infographic examines why practices should offer telemedicine, which states reimburse for telemedicine and patient interest in telemedicine.

Real-time remote management of high-risk populations curbed hospitalizations, hospital readmissions and ER visits for more than 80 percent of respondents and boosted self-management levels for nearly all remotely monitored patients, according to 2014 market data from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN).

Remote Monitoring of High-Risk Patients: Telehealth Protocols for Chronic Care Management profiles a successful eight-year initiative by New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation's (NYCHHC) House Calls Telehealth Program that significantly lowered patients' A1C blood glucose levels.

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Infographic: The Millennial Physician Mindset

July 4th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Some 59 percent of millennial physicians believe that being a millennial impacts their practice approach, usually with a more collaborative relationship with their patients, according to a new infographic by the Health Experience Project.

The infographic examines how millennial physicians engage their patients and the type of support that millennial physicians want from pharmaceutical companies.

A profitable by-product of CMS's aggressive pursuit of value-based healthcare delivery is a menu of revenue opportunities associated with care management of the Medicare population.

Physician Reimbursement in 2016: 4 Billable Medicare Events to Maximize Care Management Revenue and Results details the ways in which Bon Secours Medical Group (BSMG) leverages a team-based care approach, expanded care access and technology to capitalize on four Medicare billing events: transitional care management, chronic care management, Medicare annual wellness visits and advance care planning.

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CMS to Physicians: 3 Things You Really Need to Know About MACRA

June 20th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

It is expected that most physician practices will opt for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under new MACRA-mandated reimbursement strategies.

It is expected that most physician practices will opt for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under new MACRA-mandated reimbursement strategies.

While digesting the implications of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) can be an understandable distraction for physicians, the goal of the MACRA program is to return the focus to patient care, not spend time learning a new program, emphasized CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt to members of the American Medical Association during the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago last week.

Early in Slavitt's comments, available in their entirety in a June 2016 post in the CMS blog, he posed the following two questions to physicians: What do you really need to know about the MACRA program? And what new sets of requirements are there to participate?

At the outset of his explanation, Slavitt emphasized Medicare will still pay for services as it always has, but every physician and other participating clinicians will have the opportunity to be paid more for better care and for making investments that support patients—like having a staff member follow up with patients at home.

As the AMA, AAFP and other physician support organizations have done, CMS will provide comprehensive MACRA documentation, Slavitt assured the association. "We will, of course, provide information in as much or as little detail as is helpful. For those who like to read computer manuals end-to-end, there is of course the 900-page proposed rule complete with every detail about how the regulation and the law is proposed to work. But, for most people, who do not need to see every scenario and how each element of the formula works, there are webinars, in-person meetings, fact sheets, and web portals that will bring all the information to suit various needs."

Slavitt then outlined three immediate features of the program designed as improvements over Medicare's existing payment system:

  • First, MACRA sunsets three disjointed programs. If you participate in the Physician Quality Reporting System, the Value Modifier, and the Meaningful Use program, your life just got simpler, as they are replaced with a single, aligned Quality Payment Program, which will reduce reporting requirements, eliminate duplication, and reduce the number of measures. For those who participate in MACRA Alternative Payment Models, those requirements are reduced further or eliminated.
  • Second, it also reduces the combined possible downward adjustment of 9 percent that is occurring today from the three programs to a maximum of 4 percent in the first year of the Quality Payment Program. The program is designed to build up over the course of several years, with more modest financial impacts in the first year when the vast majority of physicians are expected to be in the MIPS part of the program.
  • Third, while the Merit-Based Incentive portion of the law is designed to be budget neutral in general, there are new opportunities for additional bonuses. In MIPS, in addition to the 4 percent positive payment adjustment, there is the potential for much higher payments through $500 million in funding over six years. Physicians earn a 5 percent lump sum bonus for participating in an Advanced Alternative Payment Model.

Under the current proposed timing, the first physician reporting isn’t due until early 2018 for the first performance period in 2017, Slavitt said. Off-the-shelf tools like Certified EHRs and clinical data registries can provide complete capabilities, but other options exist as well, including most types of reporting that a physician is doing today.

If CMS can get data automatically or through another source, it will do so, he stated, before moving on to MACRA implementation and priorities.

Editor's Note: To briefly outline MACRA and advise on physician practice focus for the remainder of 2016 to avoid reimbursement penalties in 2017 based on the MACRA proposed rule, the Healthcare Intelligence Network will hold a 45-minute webinar on July 14, 2016: The New Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for MACRA's Merit-Based Incentive Payment System.

Infographic: Provider Risk Readiness

June 8th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) dramatically changes Medicare physician reimbursement.

A new infographic by AMGA examines the MACRA timetable, groups affected, tools that physician groups will need for effective implementation and the biggest impediment to physician groups taking on downside risk.

With the nation's leading accountable care organizations already testing the waters with CMS' newest value-based reimbursement opportunity, the Next Generation Accountable Care Organization Model, healthcare organizations are evaluating how this new opportunity aligns with their value-based contracting strategy.

During Next Generation ACO: An Organizational Readiness Assessment, a 60-minute webinar on April 5, 2016, now available for replay, Healthcare Strategy Group's Travis Ansel, senior manager of strategic services, and Walter Hankwitz, senior accountable care advisor, will provide a value-based, risk contract roadmap to determine organizational readiness for participation in the Next Generation ACO Model in particular and in risk-based contracts in general.

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Infographic: The Power of the First Call in the Patient Experience

June 1st, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

There are several distinct elements of a phone call that will determine a patient's experience, according to the Baird Group, which conducts mystery-shopping assessments via the phone. The Baird Group has collected data from thousands of mystery shopping phone calls to healthcare organizations throughout the country, and found the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

The Baird Group created an infographic that gives a visual summary of the findings—one of the most startling findings is that 35 percent of first time callers are not likely to return.

Transformational patient-centered models emerging post-ACA are designed to succeed with a core of engaged, activated patients, yet enlistment of individuals in chronic care management, telehealth and other health enhancement interventions continues to challenge the healthcare industry.

2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Patient Engagement documents strategies, program components, successes and challenges of engaging patients and health plan members in self-care from 133 organizations responding to the 2015 Patient Engagement survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

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Infographic: MACRA Countdown to Measurement Year Goals

May 27th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Under MACRA, the physician quality measurement systems in place in 2017 will determine physician Medicare reimbursement in 2019, according to a new infographic by Geneia.

The infographic describes the pace of change in physician value-based reimbursement, the adjustments that will be made to Medicare claims starting in 2019 and three steps that practices should be taking now to be ready.

Since the January 2015 rollout by CMS of new chronic care management (CCM) codes, many physician practices have been slow to engage in CCM. Arcturus Healthcare, however, rapidly grasped the potential of CCM to improve patient outcomes while generating care coordination revenue, estimating it could earn up to $100,000 monthly for qualified patients treated in its four physician practices—or $1 million a year.

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 bonus that resulted from CCM code adoption: increased engagement and improved relationships with CCM patients.

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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