Archive for the ‘Population Health Management’ Category

Infographic: Reducing Childhood Obesity Through Medicaid-Public Health Collaboration

January 5th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Nearly one in six children in the U.S. is obese, representing a serious public health problem. Children covered by Medicaid are particularly at risk, with this population nearly six times more likely to be treated for obesity than those who are privately insured. Partnerships between public health and Medicaid can leverage each entity’s strengths to advance interventions aimed at reducing obesity, according to a new infographic by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS).

The infographic describes cross-sector interventions tested by five states participating in CHCS’ Innovations in Childhood Obesity initiative, as well as opportunities for the field.

Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Screening Tools, Triage and Workflows to Link High-Risk Patients to Community ServicesLeveraging the experience of several physician practices already screening patients for social determinants of health (SDOH), Montefiore Health System recently rolled out a two-tiered assessment program to measure SDOH positivity in its predominantly high-risk, government-insured population.

Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Screening Tools, Triage and Workflows to Link High-Risk Patients to Community Services outlines Montefiore’s approach to identifying SDOH markers such as housing, finances, healthcare access and violence that drive 85 percent of patients” well-being, and then connecting high-need individuals to community-based services. Click here for more information.

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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.”


Community Health Partnerships Can Change the Culture of Poverty: 2017 Benchmarks

November 28th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Community health partnerships address unmet needs, providing services related to transportation, housing, nutrition and behavioral health.

For residents of some locales, community health partnerships (CHP) —alliances between healthcare providers and local organizations to address unmet needs—can mean the difference between surviving and thriving, according to new CHP metrics from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN).

“We could not survive without community partnerships. Our patients thrive because of them. They are critical to help change the culture of poverty that remains in our community,” noted a respondent to HIN’s 2017 survey on Community Health Partnerships.

Partnerships can also mean the difference between housing and homelessness. According to the survey, more than a quarter of community health partnerships (26 percent) address environmental and social determinants of health (SDOH) like housing and transportation that can have a deleterious effect on population health.

“To date, we have housed 49 families/individuals who were formally homeless or near homelessness,” added another respondent.

“Social health determinants are more important than ever to managing care,” said another. “Community health partnerships make a big impact when it comes to rounding out care.”

Motivated to improve population health, healthcare providers are joining forces with community groups such food banks, schools and faith-based organizations to bridge care gaps and deliver needed services. The majority of community health partnerships are designed to improve access to healthcare, say 70 percent of survey respondents.

Eighty-one organizations shared details on community health partnerships, which range from collaborating with a local food bank to educate food pantries on diabetes to the planting of community gardens to launching an asthma population health management program for students.

Seventy-one percent conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) to identify potential areas for local health partnerships. Priority candidates for 36 percent of these partnerships are high-risk populations, defined as those having two or more chronic medical conditions.

Overall, the survey found that 95 percent of respondents have initiated community health partnerships, with half of those remaining preparing to launch partnerships in the coming year.

Other community health partnership metrics identified by the 2017 survey include the following:

  • Local organizations such as food banks top the list of community health partners, say 79 percent.
  • The population health manager typically has primary responsibility for community health partnerships forged by 30 percent of respondents.
  • Foundations are the chief funding source for services offered through community health partnerships, say 23 percent. However, funding remains the chief barrier to community health partnerships, say 41 percent.
  • Forty-five percent have forged community health partnerships to enhance behavioral health services.
  • Two-thirds attributed increases in clinical outcomes and quality of care to community health partnerships.
  • Forty-four percent reported a drop in hospital ER visits after launching community health partnerships.

Download an executive summary of results from the 2017 Community Health Partnerships survey.

Guest Post: Value-Based Care is Dying—But Longitudinal Patient Data Can Revive It

November 16th, 2017 by William D. Kirsh, DO, MPH, CMO at Sentry Data Systems

In 2013, Harvard Business Review (HBR) called value-based care “the strategy that will fix healthcare.” And the concept goes back even further than that—Michael Porter and Elizabeth Teisberg introduced the value agenda in their book, Redefining Health Care, in 2006, accord to HBR. Yet years later, value-based care is still struggling to survive, still in limbo, not quite breathing on its own. At this point, you might say it’s in critical condition.

More than a decade after Porter and Teisberg’s book, the industry is still talking about the “transition” to value-based care. In January of this year, CMS and HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) issued a vision for the continued shift to value-based care. In April, CEOs from Kaiser Permanente, Medtronic, Novartis and others, along with the Netherlands’ health minister, the head of England’s National Health Service, and Harvard economics professor Michael Porter (author of the 2006 book mentioned above) called for a new approach that would embrace patient-centered care and focus on outcomes.

Also in April, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group, released a report, Value in Healthcare: Laying the Foundation for Health-System Transformation. Why are we still seeing words like “a new approach” and “laying the foundation” after all the time we’ve had, as an industry, to embrace value-based care?

After much wandering, it’s apparently a destination we still haven’t found on the map.

Resisting Change

According to a report from professional services organization EY (Ernst & Young) in July, about a fourth of 700 respondents (chief medical officers, clinical quality executives and chief financial officers at U.S.-based healthcare providers with annual revenue of $100 million and higher) polled said they had no value-based reimbursement initiatives planned for 2017. And that’s despite figures stating that healthcare spending in the United States “has now risen to 17.8 percent of GDP,” as the EY report says. So, what’s stopping physicians and hospitals from acting on value-based care?

As Modern Healthcare notes, the EY report points to “the escalating cost of care, a lack of standardization in how quality is defined, a disengaged workforce that leads to more medical errors, and a lack of trust and transparency between providers, payers and regulators,“ as some of the barriers. A 2016 article from Deloitte Insights adds that physician compensation may be part of the problem, stating, “Currently, there is little focus on value in physician compensation, and physicians are generally reluctant to bear financial risk for care delivery…86 percent of physicians reported being compensated under fee-for-service (FFS) or salary arrangements.” Deloitte recommends, “At least 20 percent of a physician’s compensation should be tied to performance goals. Current financial incentive levels for physicians are not adequate.”

But financial incentives alone are not enough. “Regardless of financial incentives to reduce costs and improve care quality, physicians would have a difficult time meeting these goals if they lack data-driven tools,” Deloitte says. “These tools can give them insight on cost and quality metrics, and can help them make care decisions that are consistent with effective clinical practice.”

Achieving Quality Outcomes

The EY report seems to come to the same conclusion as Deloitte about the lack of metrics and data. “Clinical outcomes and healthcare quality are often measured inconsistently by healthcare providers — if they are measured at all,” EY says. One way for hospitals to change that—a vital step in the value-based payment model—is through access to and analysis of longitudinal patient data, which is data that tracks the same patients over multiple episodes of care over the course of many years.

The problem is that hospitals and physicians often do not see the outcomes of particular treatment protocols (prescriptions, diagnostic tests, surgeries, etc.) for a long time, and capturing clinical data with this level of accuracy has historically been the industry’s blind spot. Without having a comparison population, each institution can only compare its data to real-world experience within their own data depository. A critical need is to use a de-identified real-world census population to compare protocols, best practices or specific utilization by National Drug Codes to help identify patterns of interventions that create value consistently across multiple systems, physicians, and patients. To truly answer these challenging questions about value in a meaningful way, hospitals need a comparison longitudinal patient data set.

There are countless questions about patient cohorts that physicians might want answered as they seek to make the best treatment decisions: What treatment protocol will result in the highest quality outcomes for a 50-year-old female diabetic patient with kidney failure? Which medications most effectively keep children with asthma from repeat visits to the ER? What comorbidities and symptoms are seen among patients with acute myelocytic leukemia (AML) in their earliest visits to the ER, and how can that information result in earlier diagnosis or different treatment options down the line? Quality historical longitudinal patient data may answer all these questions.

“Market forces are moving the industry toward a new paradigm; one in which delivering the highest value is an organization’s defining goal,” notes the EY report. “Optimizing patient experiences across the continuum of care while industrializing quality requires more than episodic effort.” This is the crux of value-based care. The only way to bring all stakeholders together and keep value-based care alive is by leveraging real-world, longitudinal patient data and using that information to make actionable treatment and prescribing decisions that lead to overall wellness and financial value, instead of focusing on just acute-care treatment.

William D. Kirsh, DO, MPH, CMO at Sentry Data Systems

About the Author: William D. Kirsh, DO, MPH, is chief medical officer at Sentry Data Systems and a practicing physician, clinically certified in family practice, geriatrics, hospice and palliative medicine. Sentry Data Systems, a pioneer in automated pharmacy procurement, utilization management and 340B compliance, is leading the healthcare industry in turning real-time data into real-world evidence through Comparative Rapid Cycle Analytics™ to reduce total cost of care, improve quality, and provide better results for all.

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.

2016 ACO Results: Majority of Next Generation and Pioneer ACOs Earn Shared Savings

October 20th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Six of eight Pioneer ACOs and eleven of eighteen Next Generation ACOs earned shared savings in separate initiatives in 2016, according to newly released quality and financial data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

In 2016 Performance Year Five of the Pioneer ACO program, one of several new accountable care organization (ACO) payment and service delivery models introduced by CMS to serve a range of provider organizations, only Monarch HealthCare and Partners HealthCare were not among shared savings earners.

Banner Health Network emerged as the top 2016 Pioneer ACO performer, earning nearly $11 million in shared savings based on care provided to its more than 42,000 beneficiaries.

In order to receive savings or owe losses in a given year, Pioneer ACO expenditures must be outside a minimum corridor set by the ACO’s minimum savings rate (MSR) and minimum loss rate (MLR).

The Pioneer ACO model is designed for healthcare organizations and providers already experienced in coordinating care for patients across care settings. It allowed these provider groups to move more rapidly from a shared savings payment model to a population-based payment model on a track consistent with but separate from the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

The Pioneer ACO Model began with 32 ACOs in 2012 and concluded December 31, 2016 with eight ACOs participating.

Meanwhile, at the conclusion of 2016 Performance Year One of the Next Generation ACO model, Baroma, Triad and Iowa Health topped the list of ACO earners in this program, with each organization accumulating more than $10 million shared savings.

Building upon experience from the Pioneer ACO Model and the Medicare Shared Savings Program, CMS’s Next Generation ACO Model sets predictable financial targets, enables providers and beneficiaries greater opportunities to coordinate care, and aims to attain the highest quality standards of care.

According to a CMS fact sheet, 18 ACOs participated in the Next Generation ACO Model for the 2016 performance year, and 28 ACOs are joining the Model for 2017, bringing the total number of Next Generation ACOs to 45. The Next Generation ACO Model will consist of three initial performance years and two optional one-year extensions.

CMS’s ACO models are one of seven Innovation categories designed to incentivize healthcare providers to become accountable for a patient population and to invest in infrastructure and redesigned care processes that provide for coordinated care, high quality and efficient service delivery.

18 Success Strategies from Seasoned Healthcare Case Managers for New Hires

September 14th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Advice from case management trenches: “Don’t do more work for your patient than they are willing to do for themselves.”

What does it take to succeed as a healthcare case manager? For starters, patience, flexibility and mastery of motivational interviewing, say veterans from case management trenches.

As part of its 2017 Healthcare Benchmarks Survey on Case Management, the Healthcare Intelligence Network asked experienced case managers what guidance they would offer to new hires in the field. Respondents were thoughtful and generous with their advice, highlights of which are shared here.

It’s important to note that in total, a half dozen veterans identified motivational interviewing as an essential case management skill.

We hope you find these tips useful. We invite all experienced case managers to add your tips in the Comments below.

  • “It’s hard work but satisfying. It takes a good year to get all resources and process, so don’t give up.”
  • “Learn the integrated case management model and get ongoing coaching in motivational interviewing.”
  • “Listen, think, develop, coordinate, adhere to plan benefits, and be honest.”
  • “Communicating and developing a relationship with members are key.”
  • “Be aware of and utilize telemedicine.”
  • “Be prepared to help patients with non-medical matters. Develop a trust bond, almost as a family member, and your medical-focused concerns will be that much easier to handle.”
  • “Always remain flexible. Listen and meet the patient where they are at in their disease and life process.”
  • “Understand both the clinical and financial impacts of healthcare on the patient.”
  • “Establish a good working relationship with your manager. Ensure you understand job expectations and identify a mentor.”
  • “Time management is crucial.”
  • “Stay visible within the practice; interact regularly with the care team; share examples of success stories.”
  • “Compassion and empathy are a must.”
  • “Don’t become overwhelmed by all that needs to be learned. Strive for sure and steady progress in gaining the knowledge needed.”
  • “Don’t let a fear of the unknown hold you back. Learn all that you can.”
  • “Get a good understanding of the population of patients you are working with. Study motivational interviewing and harm reduction.”
  • “This is a wide body of knowledge. Each case is different. It takes six months to a year to be fully comfortable in the practice.”
  • “Establish boundaries with your patients, and don’t do more work for your patient than they are willing to do for themselves.”
  • “Earn the trust of your patients and providers. LISTEN to your patients.”

One respondent geared her advice to case management hiring managers:

  • “Hire for coaching mentality and chronic disease experience.”

Excerpted From: 2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Case Management

2017 case management benchmarks

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Case Management provides actionable information from 78 healthcare organizations on the role of case management in the healthcare continuum, from targeted populations and conditions to the advantages and challenges of embedded case management to CM hiring and evaluation standards. Assessment of case management ROI and impact on key care components are also provided.

PinnacleHealth Engagement Coaches Score Points with High-Risk Patients, Win Over Clinicians

September 7th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

PinnacleHealth’s targeted outreach, 24/7 nurse advice line and clinician coaching have helped to bring chronic disease high utilizers back to care.

A dual engagement strategy by PinnacleHealth System that recruits both patients and providers is scoring significant gains in CAHPS® scores, clinical indicators in high risk patients, and the provision of health-literate care.

Kathryn Shradley, director of population health for PinnacleHealth System, outlined her organization’s patient engagement playbook during A Two-Pronged Patient Engagement Strategy: Closing Gaps in Care and Coaching Clinicians, an August 2017 webcast now available from the Healthcare Intelligence Network training suite.

The winning framework? Focused outreach and health coaching for high-risk, high utilizers that break down barriers to care, and a patient engagement coach to advise PinnacleHealth clinicians on the art of activating patients in self-management.

PinnacleHealth’s engagement approach, aligned with its population health strategies and based on the Health Literate Care Model, began in its ambulatory and primary care arenas. Before any coaching began, the health system schooled its staff on the value of health literacy. “Moving to a climate of patient engagement is nothing short of a culture change for many of our clinicians,” said Ms. Shradley.

To foster leadership buy-in, PinnacleHealth also strove to demonstrate bottom-line benefits of patient engagement, including lowered costs and staff turnover and increased standing in the community.

Then, having combed its registry to identify about 1,900 chronic disease patients most in need of engagement, the health system hired a health maintenance outreach coordinator who built outreach and coaching pilots designed to break down barriers to care. At the end of the six-month pilot, higher engagement and lower A1C levels were noted in more than half of these patients. For the 23 percent that remained disengaged, the outreach coordinator dug a little deeper, uncovering additional social health determinants like transportation they could address with more intensive coaching and even home visits.

At the same time, a new 24/7 nurse advice line staffed with PinnacleHealth employees continued that coaching support when the health coach was not available.

Complementing this patient outreach is a patient engagement coach, a public health-minded non-clinician that guides PinnacleHealth providers in the use of tools like motivational interviewing and teach-back during patient visits to kindle engagement.

“The engagement coach does a great job of standing at the elbow with our providers in a visit, outside of a visit, surrounding a visit, to talk about what life looks like from the patient side of view.”

Providers and staff receive one to two direct coaching sessions each year, with additional coaching available as needed.

With other elements of its patient engagement approach yet to be implemented, PinnacleHealth has observed encouraging improvements in HCAHPS scores for at least one practice that received coaching over seven months. It has also learned that by educating nurses on health-literate care interventions, it could increase HCAHPS communication scores.

Listen to an interview with Kathryn Shradley: PinnacleHealth’s Patient Engagement Coach for Clinicians: Supportive Peer at Provider’s Elbow.

5 Practitioner Tactics for Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

August 15th, 2017 by Susan Butterworth, PhD, and Amanda Sharp, MPH, Q-Consult LLC
opioids

There is promising evidence that motivational interviewing can successfully reduce both the use of non-medical opioid use and overdose risk behaviors for prescription opioids.

Despite evidence and guidelines to the contrary, including significant risk of addiction, there remains a widespread belief among many clinicians and patients alike that opioid medication is a viable and effective first option for multiple chronic pain conditions. Practitioners feel pressure to provide opioids upon patient request, yet many have neither the resources nor the skill set to manage the physiological and psychological complications that can arise when treating a patient with opioids long-term.

As one qualitative study found, it can be awkward at best, and confrontational at worst, when refusing a patient’s request for opioids. Thus, clinicians are faced with the challenging balancing act of providing pain relief for their patients while simultaneously managing the potential for addiction and misuse – with most clinicians ill-equipped for the herculean task.

“Not providing the [opioid] prescription is very hard. It takes time to do the research on the patient. Confronting the patient with a problem is emotionally draining. Doing it 5-10 times in one shift is not only a reality, it is downright crippling. It sucks out [sic] last bit of energy out of your soul. Rather than confronting patients and arguing, it’s far easier to write a prescription for narcotics and move on to the next patient. This is the mindset of thousands of physicians.”
Anonymous Physician, April 25, 2013

Along with knowledge about alternative treatments, a valuable skill set for clinicians in this situation is an effective communication approach to address the possible scenarios that emerge:

  • Engaging patients in discussions about the risks of opioids;
  • Validating the frustration of chronic pain;
  • Evoking commitment to try alternative modalities;
  • Eliciting honesty about unhealthy/drug-seeking behaviors; and

Sharing concerns and resources for opioid addiction.

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based communication approach that has been adapted for the brief healthcare setting to address many lifestyle management issues, including chronic pain. There is one promising clinical trial that used a single MI session in an emergency department to successfully reduce both the use of non-medical opioid use and overdose risk behaviors for prescription opioids as compared to a control group. Even beginning proficiency in MI equips practitioners with the confidence and skills needed to engage patients in conversations that generally lead to outcomes of being able to maintain rapport and successfully incorporate best practice guidelines for chronic pain treatment.

Consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1: Your patient has recently hurt their back and has requested strong pain medication.

Scenario 2: You suspect your patient may have an addiction to opioids.

In both cases, a practitioner, competent in the MI approach, would be able to use the following strategies to successfully navigate these challenging waters. These principles and strategies are based on Miller and Rollnick’s description of MI practice.

Engage and Partner

Taking a minute or two to build rapport with the patient may be counter-intuitive to a busy clinician. However, consider the time that is spent in unproductive arguments and power struggles. Research has shown that taking a more patient-centered approach is more time-efficient in the long run. Although the clinician is an expert in clinical aspects, the patient is the expert of their life, and the only one with the ability to commit to the suggested treatment plan. By stepping out of the authoritarian role, ideally, the clinician can partner with the patient in a collaborative way to problem-solve together. When a person helps to identify the best treatment course for themselves, they feel more ownership and are more committed; thus, are more likely to follow through.

Express Empathy

A core component of engaging is being able to express empathy, or the ability to convey accurate understanding through the eyes of the patient. This takes compassion, effort, genuine interest, and reflective listening. The clinician does not need to become a counselor to provide a meaningful statement that lets the patient know that the practitioner “gets it”. When the patient feels understood and accepted, they are more receptive to the clinician’s advice and guidance.

Share Concerns while Supporting Autonomy

In MI, the clinician is not simply following the patient but is a full partner. After establishing rapport and trust, it is not amiss to share any concerns that the provider has, if patient autonomy is concretely verbalized. The patient can always go to another doctor to get what they want; by acknowledging that it is the patient’s choice to pursue what they feel is best for them, the patient relaxes. This allows the clinician to share their concern in a way that does not elicit defensiveness.

Manage Expectations

It is important to manage the expectations of the patient. By clearly and transparently stating up front what the clinician feels is best practice and ethically viable, the patient is not disappointed later. Openly share that alternative treatment options may not address the pain as completely as opioids might initially, or, in the case of addiction, that there may be withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing the medication. Honesty preserves trust and conveys the clinician’s desire to support the patient as fully as possible, while still maintaining his integrity of practice.

Provide Decision Support with Menu of Options

Now the patient is ready for a menu of options with the pros and cons succinctly laid out. These include therapies such as non-opioid meds, stretching, and alternative treatments. Some of these options may be those that the clinician is not prepared to provide; e.g., if the patient is still favoring the option of more opioids. The clinician has been transparent about which options he feels are best and is willing to provide; however, the patient is in the driver’s seat to choose the best treatment course for himself. In most cases, the clinician can positively influence the patient’s decision. If not, the discussion remains professional, rapport is not lost, and the patient will feel comfortable returning to this provider. This keeps the door open to further dialogue about the situation.

There are many resources available for those who are interested in getting trained in MI, and the approach can be used for any lifestyle management or treatment adherent situation. However, a fair warning that MI is a complex skill set and cannot be learned in a one-and-done workshop. Just like learning to speak a foreign language or play a musical instrument, it takes practice and feedback from an expert over time to develop a meaningful proficiency. As many clinicians can attest though, this is one hard-earned competency that is more than worth it — for the practitioner, the patient and society!

Susan Butterworth, PhD

Amanda Sharp, MPH

About the Authors: Susan Butterworth, PhD, is principal and Amanda Sharp, MPH is program manager for Q-Consult LLC. Both are both members of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers. Please visit Q-Consult, LLC their blog and find out more about patient-centered initiatives that increase patient engagement and improve clinical outcomes.

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