Archive for the ‘Quality Improvement’ Category

Infographic: Navigating the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System

February 17th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

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

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

Infographic: EHR + CRM = Superior Patient Engagement

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

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

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

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HINfographic: Healthcare Industry Trends for 2017

February 8th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Value-based healthcare, the drive for quality and the uncertainty regarding the Affordable Care Act under the President Donald Trump administration are just some of the factors impacting the healthcare industry this year, according to HIN's Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2017: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry.

A new infographic by HIN examines the key trends that will impact the healthcare industry this year.

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

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

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

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AMITA Health Places Patient at Center of Care Management Redesign

February 2nd, 2017 by Patricia Donovan
AMITA Health care management redesign

AMITA Health's care management redesign began in one patient unit on one floor.

In rolling out a new connected care management strategy across its nine-hospital system, AMITA Health aimed to keep its target patient population at the heart of the initiative—unit by unit, floor by floor. Here, Susan Wickey, vice president, quality and care management at AMITA Health, shares one of the guiding principles of the Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organization (MSSP ACO).

The key component for us in our redesign was making sure that the patient was at the center of everything we did. With that in mind, we developed structured processes and programs that would span the care continuum while retaining the patient at the center. We wanted to establish relationship-based care with the patient and the primary care physician. We wanted to be able to use available data to help drive our decisions. We wanted to ensure that our patients had regular access to care, and that we leveraged what we currently had in place.

Our congestive heart failure clinic was key in this process. Navigating through the care continuum is not an easy process for many of our patients. We wanted to make sure we could help them through that, and construct some processes for them to be able to navigate. We wanted to make sure we were continuing to build the health literacy of our patients and our families. We wanted to establish interventions for the most vulnerable population of patients. We wanted to make sure we had a dedicated, multidisciplinary team to help us. We had psychiatrists, dieticians, pharmacists, primary care physicians and physician champions along the way to help us.

We began implementation very slowly, starting with a specific cohort of patients on one specific unit. This cohort was small; the number of people touching the cohort at the time was small. As we went along, we were able to define problem areas where we needed to intervene, quickly readjust and then go down the right path.

Slowly, over a period of time, we were able to add additional floors in our acute care hospitals, which then meant adding additional staff. Those additional staff then became the super users who helped us roll out the program on the next floor.

Source: Centralized Care Management to Reduce Readmissions and Avoidable ED Visits in High-Risk Populations

Centralized Care Management to Reduce Readmissions and Avoidable ED Visits in High-Risk Populations

Centralized Care Management to Reduce Readmissions and Avoidable ED Visits in High-Risk Populations describes how the nine-hospital system inventoried, reexamined and revamped its care management resources, ultimately implementing a centralized care management model.

Infographic: Reducing the Risk of Medical Errors in Healthcare

February 1st, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Medical errors cause more than 250,000 deaths annually, a problem that can be addressed by leveraging modern technologies to coordinate care efforts and ensure stakeholders have all the data they need to keep patients healthy. Simple data management errors can lead to mistakes that put patients at risk, according to a new infographic by Appian.

The infographic provides details on why data plays such a major role in medical errors and best practices for improving quality of care.

Health Analytics in Accountable Care: Leveraging Data to Transform ACO Performance and Results Between Medicare's aggressive migration to value-based payment models and MACRA's 2017 Quality Payment Program rollout, healthcare providers must accept the inevitability of participation in fee-for-quality reimbursement design—as well as cultivating a grounding in health data analytics to enhance success.

As an early adopter of the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and the largest sponsor of MSSP accountable care organizations (ACOs), Collaborative Health Systems (CHS) is uniquely positioned to advise providers on the benefits of data analytics and technology, which CHS views as a major driver in its achievements in the MSSP arena. In performance year 2014, nine of CHS's 24 MSSP ACOs generated savings and received payments of almost $27 million.

Health Analytics in Accountable Care: Leveraging Data to Transform ACO Performance and Results examines program goals, platforms, components, development strategies, target populations and health conditions, patient engagement metrics, results and challenges reported by more than 100 healthcare organizations responding to the February 2016 Digital Health survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

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Infographic: Maternity Episodes of Care

January 16th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Maternity Episodes of CareThe cost of maternity care varies significantly by payer (commercial or Medicaid), by type of birth (vaginal or cesarean section), and by setting (hospital or birth center). Too often, women are not experiencing optimal outcomes in maternity care despite the significant resources spent, according to a new infographic by the Health Care Payment Learning & Action Network.

The infographic examines how an episode of care could be applied to maternity care—from an episode timeline for prenatal through postpartum care; episode parameters; operational considerations; and maternity care design elements.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (BCBSNJ) has awarded $3 million to 51 specialty medical practices as part of a shared savings arrangement through the company's Episodes of Care (EOC) program. The doctors, in five different specialty areas, earned the payments by achieving quality, cost efficiency and patient satisfaction goals in 2014 while treating more than 8,000 Horizon BCBSNJ members. As the largest commercial payor of Episodes of Care in the United States, Horizon BCBSNJ recently reported far lower hospital readmission rates and improved clinical outcomes for members in its EOC practices versus non-EOC practices in 2014.

During Episodes of Care: Improving Clinical Outcomes and Reducing Total Cost of Care Through a Collaborative Payor-Provider Relationship, a March 31, 2016 webinar, available for replay, Lili Brillstein, director of the Horizon EOC program, shares the details behind the health plan's EOC program, from the episodes they have bundled to the goals and results from the program.

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2016 Healthcare Headlines: MACRA Monopolizes News Until Election Shake-Up

December 26th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan
top 2016 news stories

The unexpected election of Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency threatened some healthcare initiatives from the Obama administration, including the Affordable Care Act.

There was only one thing capable of distracting the healthcare industry in 2016 from MACRA's imminent rollout: the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States.

Nevertheless, the majority of the last twelve months was spent on healthcare business as usual—the business of transitioning to value-based models of care delivery and reimbursement.

Here are the headlines that dominated the news feeds of healthcare executives in 2016:

New CMS 'Accountable Health Communities' Model Aims to Improve Patients' Health by Addressing Social Needs

January 2016: In a first-ever CMS Innovation Center pilot project to test improving patients’ health by addressing their social needs, the HHS appropriated $157 million in funding to bridge clinical care with social services.

The new pilot will test whether screening beneficiaries for health-related social needs and associated referrals to and navigation of community-based services will improve quality and affordability in Medicare and Medicaid. Many of these social issues, such as housing instability, hunger, and interpersonal violence, affect individuals’ health, yet they may not be detected or addressed during typical healthcare-related visits.

Medicare Shares 6 Core Principles for 21 New 'Next Generation ACOs'

January 2016: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made waves when it launched a new accountable care organization (ACO) model called the Next Generation ACO Model (NGACO Model). The twenty-one ACOs participating in the NGACO Model in 2016 have significant experience coordinating care for populations of patients through initiatives, including, but not limited to, the Medicare Shared Savings Program and the Pioneer ACO Model.

Providers Slow to Adopt Population Health, Value-Based Models of Care: Study

February 2016: Most healthcare providers continue to lag in implementing population health management despite broad agreement it will be important for future market success, according to a national study by healthcare strategy consultancy Numerof & Associates. The study synthesized survey responses from more than 300 executives and in-depth interviews with over 100 key decision-makers across U.S. healthcare delivery organizations. It provided the first in-depth, national look at the pace of transition from fee-for-service to models based on fixed payments linked to outcomes.

Horizon BCBSNJ 'Episodes of Care' Program Pays $3 Million in Shared Savings to Specialty Medical Practice

February 2016: Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) announced that it paid out approximately $3 million to 51 specialty medical practices as part of shared savings generated through the company’s innovative Episodes of Care (EOC) Program. The doctors, in five different specialty areas, earned the payments by achieving quality, cost efficiency and patient satisfaction goals in 2014 while treating more than 8,000 Horizon BCBSNJ members. The EOC model, also known as bundled payments, is one in which specialists manage the full spectrum of care related to a specific procedure, disease diagnosis or health event—such as a joint replacement or pregnancy.

Bundled Payments Improve Care for Medicare Joint Replacement Patients: NYU Langone Study

March 2016: Implementing bundled payments for total joint replacements resulted in year-over-year improvements in quality of care and patient outcomes while reducing overall costs, according to a new three-year study from NYU Langone Medical Center. The three-year pilot at the medical center reported reductions in patient length-of-stay and readmission rates.

CMS to Test New SNF Payment Model to Curb Readmissions, Foster Multidisciplinary Care

March 2016: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced it would test whether a new payment model for nursing facilities and practitioners will further reduce avoidable hospitalizations, lower combined Medicare and Medicaid spending, and improve the quality of care received by nursing facility residents. This next phase of the Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations among Nursing Facility Residents seeks to reduce avoidable hospitalizations among beneficiaries eligible for Medicare and/or Medicaid by providing new payments to practitioners for engagement in multidisciplinary care planning activities.

Proposed MACRA Rule Would Streamline Medicare Value-Based Payment Models

May 2016: In issuing a proposal to align and modernize how Medicare payments are tied to the cost and quality of patient care for hundreds of thousands of doctors and other clinicians, the Department of Health & Human Services took the first step in implementing certain provisions of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).

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

May 2016: As they digested the HHS's momentous proposal to modernize how Medicare provider payments are tied to the cost and quality of patient care, physician organizations began 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.

CMS Releases MACRA Final Rule; Creates Two Pathways for Clinician Value-Based Payments

October 2016: The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) finalized a landmark new payment system for Medicare clinicians that will continue the administration’s progress in reforming how the healthcare system pays for care. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) Quality Payment Program, which replaces the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), will equip clinicians with the tools and flexibility to provide high-quality, patient-centered care.

ACA Afterlife: Unwinding Obamacare Under the Trump Administration

November 2016: If U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump delivers on his campaign promises, the 'repeal and replacement' of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should be an early priority for the nation's chief executive-in-waiting. That prospect sent shock waves through the healthcare industry, as evidenced by a snapshot of post-election responses to the Healthcare Trends in 2017 survey sponsored by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

Trump Taps Orthopedic Surgeon, Medicaid Architect to Helm U.S. Healthcare Posts, Determine ACA Fate

November 2016: Calling his nominees "the dream team that will transform our healthcare system for the benefit of all Americans," President-elect Donald J. Trump announced his plan to nominate Chairman of the House Budget Committee Congressman Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06) as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Seema Verma as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

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Infographic: Implementing Value-Based Benefit Design in Medicare Advantage

December 14th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Implementing Value-Based Benefit Design in Medicare AdvantageOut-of-pocket Medicare Advantage costs are continuing to grow and higher cost-sharing can adversely affect health and worsen healthcare disparities, according to new infographic by the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design.

The infographic examines the increase in cost-sharing in Medicare Advantage plans, how this is impacting healthcare utilization and why lower cost-sharing on high-value services could impact Medicare beneficiaries.

Healthcare's inevitable shift from volume to value-based reimbursement is reflected not only in Medicare's alternative payment timeline but also in the waves of commercial payors now evaluating and rewarding providers on the basis of quality of care delivered rather than number of services provided. Adding to its roster of quality-centered payment models, CMS announced in 2015 plans to explore value-based reimbursement for Medicare Advantage and home health.

2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Value-Based Reimbursement captures the healthcare industry's reaction to payment formulas for value-added care, and how this shift away from fee-for-service is transforming care delivery and quality.

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Infographic: Measuring Total Investments in Health

November 21st, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Current spending on medical care is increasing, but does not always translate to improved health. Research has, however, shown a positive relationship between spending on social services and improved health and there has been a growing number efforts to measure “total spend on health” or the investments being made to produce health, according to a new infographic by Leavitt Partners.

To better understand total spend on health, defined as health expenditures that extend beyond traditional clinical care costs or total cost of care measures to include costs related to social determinants of health, Leavitt conducted, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an assessment of related research and initiatives.

The infographic examines the key challenges of analyzing total spend on health and next steps for healthcare leaders, researchers and other stakeholders in this area.

Empowered Digital Patients

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

During Social Determinants and Population Health: Moving Beyond Clinical Data in a Value-Based Healthcare System a December 8th webinar at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, Dr. Randall Williams, chief executive officer, Pharos Innovations, will share his insight on the opportunity available to providers to impact population health beyond traditional clinical factors.

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Guest Post: Care Transitions Are Susceptible To Breakdowns; Technology-Enabled Patient Outreach Offers Clarity and Improved Outcomes

November 15th, 2016 by Chuck Hayes, vice president of product management for TeleVox Solutions, West Corporation

Technology-Enabled Patient Touchpoints Post-Discharge

A surprisingly simple way to improve care transitions is to reach out to patients within a few days of hopsital discharge automatically with the help of technology.

Transitional care's inherently complex nature makes it susceptible to breakdowns. During care transitions there are many moving parts to coordinate, patients are vulnerable, and healthcare failures are more likely to occur. For these reasons, transitional care is a growing area of concern for hospital administrators and other healthcare leaders.

Errors that happen at pivotal points in care, like during a hospital discharge or transfer from one facility to another, can have serious consequences. Fortunately, strengthening communication and engaging patients can effectively solve many of the problems that transpire during care transitions.

When patients' needs go unmet after being discharged from the hospital, the risk of those individuals being readmitted is high. Around 20 percent of Medicare patients discharged from the hospital return within a month. CMS has taken several steps to try to improve transition care and minimize breakdowns that lead to hospital readmissions. Under the government's Hospital Readmissions Reduction Plan (HRRP), hospitals can be assigned penalties for unintentional and avoidable readmissions related to conditions like heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, COPD, and elective hip or knee replacement surgeries.

Between October 2016 and September 2017, Medicare will withhold more than $500 million in payments from hospitals that incurred penalties based on readmission rates. These penalties affect about half of the hospitals in the United States.

Not only are payment penalties problematic, but because readmissions rates are published on Medicare's Hospital Compare website, public opinion is also worrisome for hospitals with a high number of readmissions.

A surprisingly simple way to prevent patients from returning to the hospital is to reach out to them within a few days of discharge. Outreach can be done automatically with the help of technology. For example, with little effort, hospitals can send automated messages prompting patients to complete a touchtone survey. A survey that asks patients whether they are experiencing pain–and whether or not they have been taking prescribed medications–provides good insight about the likelihood of them returning to the hospital. It also allows hospitals to respond to issues sooner rather than later.

Medical teams know that patients are particularly vulnerable during the 30 days following a hospital discharge. Leveraging technology-enabled engagement communications multiple times, in multiple ways throughout that month-long window is a good strategy for improving post-discharge transitions. Whether that involves reminding a patient about a follow-up appointment, asking them to submit a reading from a home monitoring device, verifying that they are tolerating their medication, or communicating about something else, it is important to have plans in place to initiate an intervention if necessary.

For example, if a patient indicates that they are experiencing side effects or symptoms that warrant examination by a doctor, a hospital team member should escalate the situation and help coordinate an appointment for the patient. Recognizing problems is one component of improving care transitions, responding to them is another.

Imagine a patient has recently been released from the hospital after having a heart attack. The patient was given three new prescriptions for medications to take. He may have questions about when and how to take the medications or whether they can be taken in combination with a previous prescription. Hospital staff can use technology-enabled communications to coordinate with the patient's primary care doctor and pharmacy to ensure the patient has all the information they need to safely and correctly follow medication instructions. The hospital can also survey the patient to find out if he is having difficulty with medication or other discharge instructions, and learn what services or interventions might be beneficial. Following that, a care manager can provide phone support to answer questions.

Fewer than half of patients say they're confident that they understand the instructions of how to care for themselves after discharge. Without some sort of additional support, what will happen to those patients? In the past, hospitals may have felt that patient experiences outside the walls of their facility were not their concern. But that has changed.

Care transitions are exactly that–transitions. They are changes, but not end points. Hospitals should foster a culture that recognizes and supports the idea that care does not end at discharge. It continues, just in a different way. When patients physically leave a hospital, the manner in which care is delivered needs to progress. Rather than delivering care in person, healthcare organizations can support patients via outreach communications. The degree to which that happens impacts how well (or poorly) transitions go for patients.

Improving care transitions is not as daunting as it might seem, particularly for medical teams that use technology-enabled communications to support and engage patients. To ensure patients have the knowledge and resources they need, and that they are acting in ways that will keep them out of the hospital, medical teams must focus on optimizing communications beyond the clinical setting.

About the Author: Chuck Hayes is an advocate for utilizing technology-enabled communications to engage and activate patients beyond the clinical setting. He leads product and solution strategy for West Corporation’s TeleVox Solutions, focusing on working with healthcare organizations of all sizes to better understand how they can leverage technology to solve organizational challenges and goals, improve patient experience, increase engagement and reduce the cost of care. Hayes currently serves as Vice President of Product Management for TeleVox Solutions at West Corporation (www.west.com), 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: Roadblocks to Delivering Health Information to Vulnerable Populations

September 7th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Most healthcare organizations recognize the importance of health information, but there are many obstacles to delivering that information to vulnerable populations, according to a new infographic by Oliver Wyman.

The infographic looks at the various organizational, consumer-related and vulnerable population-specific roadblocks.

Telephonic outreach by healthcare case managers helps to bridge the care divide, supporting and improving the health of vulnerable and high-risk populations.

Telephonic Case Management Protocols to Engage Vulnerable Populations describes a suite of tools to facilitate identification, interaction, surveys, follow-up action, resource matching, and member engagement and outreach for a behavioral health population that is also a template for case management and care coordination of any organization's hard-to-reach or vulnerable members.

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