Archive for the ‘Specialists’ Category

Infographic: Are Specialty Practices Prepared for MACRA?

September 18th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

A growing number of specialty physicians, comprised mainly of oncologists and urologists, recognize that clinical, financial and operational changes are needed to be successful under value-based healthcare reimbursement models stemming from MACRA regulations. However, the majority has not yet invested in organizational, IT, or service improvements needed to achieve them, according to a new study by Integra Connect.

A new infographic by Integra Connect highlights the survey findings, including details on the barriers to MIPS success and practices’ plans to optimize MIPS success.

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 by 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 now 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.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today.

Have an infographic you’d like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.

MSKCC Integrated Case Management Enhances Efficiency, But Never At Patients’ Expense

August 29th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

MSKCC’s service-based interdisciplinary team adheres to the four C’s of team-based care.

With a reputation synonymous with state-of-the-art cancer care, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) shouldn’t have much to prove.

But like most healthcare providers, with the dawn of value-based care, MSKCC began to face tougher competition from hospitals with managed care contracts and limited networks. To attract and retain payors, MSKCC had to demonstrate that its care was both cost-effective and cost-efficient.

“Under managed care, you had to be able to prove your worth,” explains Laura Ostrowsky, MSKCC’s director of case management. “And worth was more than just best care, it was best care in a quality-effective manner.”

To accomplish this, MSKCC adopted a multidisciplinary, team-based care coordination approach, Ms. Ostrowsky explained during Integrated Case Management: A New Approach to Transition Planning, an August 2017 webinar now available as an on-demand rebroadcast.

Transition planning used to be referred to as discharge planning, she noted.

Integrated case management is at the heart of MSKCC’s service-based strategy, with MSKCC case managers  assigned by service. “That means that if a case manager is based on the tenth floor, which houses breast and GYN services, and one of those patients is in the ICU, they’re still being followed by the breast or GYN case manager.”

The variety of care settings is one of a half dozen reasons integrated case management is necessary, Ms. Ostrowsky added.

Communication among all team members is key, she continued, outlining the four ‘C’s’ of team-based care—so much so that some scripting has been created to keep all team members on message with patients.

However, a commitment to standards in communication and other areas should never override a patient’s need. “The clinical issues should always take priority,” Ms. Ostrowsky emphasized.

A day in the life of an MSKCC inpatient integrated case manager runs the gamut from reviewing and assessing new patients to orchestrating transition planning. “Our patients go out with all kinds of services, from infusion care to home chemotherapy to wound VACs.” Some patients are transferred to post-acute facilities, while others face end-of-life issues that include hospice care, which could be inpatient or home.

Hospice care was one area of focus for MSKCC—in particular, getting providers to speak frankly with patients about hospice and incorporating those services earlier on in the patient’s diagnosis when appropriate, both of which required a cultural shift. “Our patients didn’t come to Memorial to be told that there’s nothing that we can do for them,” she explained. “And our doctors didn’t come to work at Memorial to send people to hospice. They came here to cure cancer.”

In taking a closer look at end-of-life services, Ms. Ostrowsky found that physicians tended to refer to hospice later than she hoped that they would. “I wanted to really look at our length of stay in hospice as a way of identifying the timeliness of referral.” A longer hospice stay allows the patient to form relationships with their hospice caretakers rather than feeling abandoned and “left to die,” concluded Ms. Ostrowsky.

By placing case managers in inpatient areas and encouraging key case management-provider conversations that she shared during the program, MSKCC improved hospice referral timeliness and grew hospice length of stay. In turn, these quality improvements correlated with higher patient (and family) satisfaction.

Integrated case managers have also been key in identifying patients who can benefit from LTACH services and moving them there sooner, she added. “We can decrease length of stay within the hospital and get [patients] that kind of focused care that they need sooner.”

Listen to Laura Ostrowky describe the surprise question that can improve timeliness of hospice referrals.

MACRA Mantra for Physician Practices: “Chase the Quality, and the Dollars Will Follow”

July 19th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Physician practices should position themselves to be paid for volume now and value in the future, McKesson’s Eric Levin advised webinar participants.


If provider discontent doesn’t prompt a delay, the controversial MACRA legislation will become reality in just six months, shaking up traditional physician reporting and reimbursement as healthcare knows it.

And while the proposed MACRA rule is still in flux, the bones of the law aren’t expected to change, notes Eric Levin, McKesson’s director of strategic services. From this point forward, he says, care coordination will be the ticket to success in eventual MACRA value- and performance-based healthcare models.

“As clinical alignment and care coordination increase, if you are not participating in some type of value-based care program, most likely you’re not being reimbursed or rewarded for that work,” Levin told participants in The New Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for MACRA’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, a July 2016 webinar now available for replay.

In outlining MACRA’s intent, Levin chiefly focused on the Merit-Based Incentive Payment Systems (MIPS) rather than the second reimbursement path, alternative payment systems (APMs), since the majority—88 percent—of physicians is expected to qualify under MIPS rather than APMs.

Zeroing in on MIPS, Levin reviewed eligibility, performance categories and data submission options, among other points. He then detailed the plethora of current and planned technical assistance options from CMS—including eventual practice transformation networks to provide peer-level support to physicians—before offering practical ways physician practices can prepare now for MACRA.

His six immediate action steps for practices included dipping a toe into analytics and data aggregation. “Look at the data. Learn how to risk-stratify. See the gaps in care you currently have and where those can be filled in so you’re not just measuring but actually improving quality,” Levin advised. The CMS Quality and Resource Use Report is useful for estimating a practice’s MIPS score, he added.

In offering six additional tactics to become MACRA-ready, Levin recommended physician practices acquaint themselves with national benchmarks as a primer in quality measurement.

And on Levin’s accompanying five-point MACRA implementation checklist is a reminder to stay current on CMS’s proposed and final MACRA rulings. Fostering relationships with technology vendors wouldn’t hurt either, he added.

His final points covered additional MACRA implementation resources, including education from provider associations, as well as the benefits of Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition and engagement in CMS’s Chronic Care Management initiative in MACRA preparation.

“These programs will really help you begin the value-based journey if you have not started.”

Levin emphasized providers should not wait for the final rule. Rather, physician practices should “learn how to focus on quality outcomes and costs, helping focus on the patient as well as that patient-provider relationship. Look at how you can identify ways to increase inexpensive patient encounters.”

Before concluding, Levin answered participants’ questions on how MACRA and MIPS will impact specialty providers; lessons practices can take from participation in the Physician Quality Reporting System, Meaningful Use and other value-based initiatives to enhance MACRA success; recommendations for small and solo practices; and other key concerns.

Learn more about Levin’s presentation.

Incentives Advance PCP-Specialist Communications in Value-Based Health System

January 6th, 2015 by Cheryl Miller

In a value-based reimbursement model, primary care physicians need to be quarterbacks for their patients, taking an additional interest in their care and following them to the end zone, or to other specialists providing care, says Chip Howard, Humana’s vice president of payment innovation in the provider development center of excellence. This will foster communication between physicians and specialists, a fundamental problem of the classic fee-for-service model.

Question: How can you manage and reward the complex interactions between primary care physicians (PCPs) and sub-specialists?

Response: (Chip Howard) That’s a pretty common question in the industry these days. If you think back to the old model, the classic fee-for-service model, the PCP potentially loses track of the member as they go to a specialist. The volume-based model is very fragmented. You don’t have communication, a fundamental problem of the model. But I think we’re on a discovery to potentially address that. Some thoughts that come to mind are putting incentives in place that will promote communication between PCP and specialists.

At the end of the day in a primary care model, we’re encouraging the PCPs to be the quarterback of the member’s care, to take that additional interest and follow the member through the path to other specialists that are providing care. There are also obligations on the specialist’s part that you would have to engage because it’s a two-way street.

Some other thoughts: we are starting to explore specialist engagement programs, whether it’s looking at bundled payments or at other sorts of programs that incentivize the specialist to achieve the Triple Aim: higher quality, lower cost, best outcomes. Then, putting data and analytics into the hands of PCPs that will enable them to potentially steer those members to specialists that are proving that they can work to achieve the Triple Aim on behalf of the patient.

There are also some ideas about how to promote interactions between PCPs and sub-specialists and start the ball rolling. That is a lot easier in an integrated system-type environment where there is one system that owns the continuum of care for the most part from PCP to specialist, to outpatient, inpatient, etc.

value-based reimbursement
Chip Howard is vice president, payment innovation in the Provider Development Center of Excellence, Humana. He is responsible for advancing Humana’s Accountable Care Continuum, expanding its Provider Reward Programs, innovative payment models and programs that enable providers to become successful risk-taking population health managers.

Source: Physician Value-Based Reimbursement: Quality Rewards for Population Health

WellPoint Referral Preparedness Tools Support Physician-Specialist Care Compacts

October 2nd, 2014 by Cheryl Miller

With the help of care compacts that drive accountability between primary care physicians and specialists, WellPoint has launched a medical neighborhood pilot for three specialties with clear care coordination alignment opportunities with primary care medical homes. Here, Robert Krebbs, director of payment innovation at WellPoint, Inc., discusses how Wellpoint supports the care compact model with Referral Preparedness Tools— add-ons devised for physician/specialist patient handoffs.

One thing we found interesting was the uniform request from physicians for what we call ‘Referral Preparedness Tools.’ That’s a name we made up. These are add-ons to care compacts that call out common conditions for a given specialty, the conditions for which they often get referrals or consult requests from PCPs. It specifies for that condition what the specialist would like to see for the initial consult or regular repeating referral, and what they want the PCP to do first and send to them and specifically, what they want the PCP not to do—that is, things to avoid before sending the patient over.

On the flip side, the tool lists for that condition what the specialist intends to send back to the PCP. The practice will work on this together for common conditions. The tool doesn’t list everything that could possibly happen, but rather specifies the patient flow for common conditions.

We didn’t initially include this tool in our care compact expectations. The practices asked us for this; they see this as a true opportunity to drive improvement and efficiency in the system, to avoid unneeded care and to make sure that the correct care is provided for all patients.

We’re going to monitor development of these tools throughout the pilot to determine common themes so we can provide a good template starting place on this run as well as for future pilot practices in this program. We’re excited that specialists have made this template their own. They’re hard at work identifying what they’d like to see in these scenarios.

dual eligibles care
Robert Krebbs is the director of payment innovation at WellPoint where he has accountability for the design, development and rollout of value-based payment initiatives. He works directly with network physicians and facilities on innovative performance measurement programs aimed at delivering healthcare value by promoting high quality, affordable care.

Source: Care Compacts in the Medical Neighborhood: Transforming PCP-Specialist Care Coordination