Archive for the ‘Value-Based Reimbursement’ Category

Infographic: Precision Medicine Meets Precision Benefit Design

October 18th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Advances in precision medicine may specify immediate use targeted therapies, nullifying recommendations for use of standard first line treatment, according to a new infographic by the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design.

The infographic examines how precision medicine benefit design removes administrative barriers and lowers cost-sharing to improve access to clinically indicated therapies.

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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Infographic: Banking the Upside from Value-Based Reimbursement

October 11th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

As healthcare reimbursement shifts toward paying for value, there’s significant revenue at stake for physician practices, according to a new infographic by athenahealth, Inc.

The infographic examines five different types of physician practices and how participation in value-based reimbursement models would impact practice revenue.

No matter which level of participation physician practices choose for the first Quality Payment Program performance period beginning January 1, 2017, CMS’s “Pick Your Pace” announcement means practices should proactively prepare for the impact of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) on physician quality reporting and reimbursement.

MACRA Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for the MIPS Merit-Based Incentive Payment System delivers a veritable MACRA toolkit for physician practices, with dozens of tips and strategies that lay the groundwork for reimbursement under Medicare’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), expected to begin in 2017 and one of two payment paths Medicare will offer to practices.

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Cityblock Health to Open First ‘Neighborhood Health Hub’ for Underserved Urban Populations in NYC

October 6th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Cityblock Health neighborhood health hubs for underserved urban populations: “Where health and community converge.”

Cityblock Health expects to open its first community-based clinic for underserved urban populations, known as a neighborhood health hub, in New York City in 2018, according to a Medium post this week by Cityblock Health Co-Founder and CEO Iyah Romm.

Cityblock Health is a spinout of Sidewalk Labs focused on the root causes of health for underserved urban populations. Sidewalk Labs is an Alphabet company focused on accelerating urban innovation.

The neighborhood health hub, where members can connect with care teams and access services, is one of several key member benefits outlined on the Cityblock Health web site. Other advantages include a personalized care team available 24/7, a personalized technology-supported Member Action Plan (MAP), and a designated Community Health Partner to help members navigate all aspects of their care.

According to Romm, who brings a decade of healthcare experience to the initiative, the neighborhood hubs will be designed as visible, physical meeting spaces where health and community converge. Caregivers, members, and local organizations will use the hubs to engage with each other and address the many factors that affect health at the local level, Romm said.

For example, Cityblock Health states it will offer members rides to the hub if needed. Transportation, care access, and finances are among multiple social determinants of health that drive health outcomes, particularly for populations in urban areas.

Where possible, the hubs will be built within existing, trusted spaces operated by its partners and staffed with local hires, he added. Cityblock envisions offering a range health, educational, and social events, including support groups and fitness classes.

The hubs are part of Cityblock Health’s larger vision to provide Medicaid and lower-income Medicare beneficiaries access to high-value, readily available personalized health services in a collaborative, team-based model, Romm explained in his post. The organization will partner with community-based organizations, health plans, and provider organizations to reconfigure the delivery of health and social services and apply “leading-edge care models that fully integrate primary care, behavioral health, and social services.”

Three key health inequities related to underserved urban populations motivated the formation of Cityblock Health: disproportionately poor health outcomes, interventions coming much later in the care continuum, and the significantly higher cost of interventions in urban areas as compared to other populations.

Cityblock Health will use its custom-built technology to enhance strong relationships between members and care teams, while simultaneously empowering and incentivizing the health system to do better, he added.

Data Analytics, SDOH Screenings Flag Disengaged and 12 More Patient Engagement Trends

October 5th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

More than 70 percent of healthcare organizations have created formal patient engagement initiatives, according to 2017 benchmarks from the Healthcare Intelligence Network.


To identify individuals that are poorly engaged in their health, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of healthcare organizations mine clinical data analytics, according to the 2017 Patient Engagement Survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network, while 37 percent screen patients for social determinants of health related to housing, care access, transportation, nutrition and finances.

Patients who screen positive for social determinants of health (SDOH) and individuals with diabetes are typically the most difficult populations to engage, according to 2017 survey benchmarks.

Thirty-five percent of respondents to the September 2017 survey said the presence of SDOHs, which the World Health Organization defines as “conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age,” pose the greatest challenge to health engagement, while 26 percent said a diabetes diagnosis presents the top clinical challenge to engagement interventions.

One-quarter report some resolution of SDOH factors resulting from engagement efforts.

To improve engagement, 75 percent of respondents rely on education of patients, family and caregivers, supported with telephonic outreach (13 percent) and home visits (13 percent).

Efforts by 71 percent of respondents to create a formal patient engagement program underscore the critical role of engagement in healthcare’s value-based care and reimbursement models, particularly in regards to chronic illness.

In other survey findings:

  • Patient experience rankings are the most reliable measure of engagement program success, say 43 percent.
  • For one quarter of respondents, patient engagement is the primary domain of case managers.
  • Eighty-three percent saw quality metrics improve as a result of patient engagement efforts.
  • Half attributed a drop in hospital emergency room visits to their patient engagement interventions.

Download an executive summary of the 2017 Patient Engagement Survey.

Infographic: Industry Perspectives on Value-Based Payment

October 4th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

The shift to value-based payment is a slow one, with most health plans not yet making the transition to risk, according to a new infographic by HealthScape Advisors.

The infographic examines the percentage of plans in upside and downside risk contracts, the impact of health plan sponsor on risk contracts, cost and quality impacts for risk contracts, value-based payment enablers and recommendations for success in value-based contracts.

The accountable care organization, or ACO, has become a cornerstone of healthcare delivery system and payment reform by raising the bar on healthcare quality and reducing unnecessary costs. There are now more than 700 ACOs in existence today, by a 2017 SK&A estimate.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Accountable Care Organizations, HIN’s fifth compendium of metrics on ACOs, captures ACO operation in today’s value- and quality-focused healthcare environment.

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Guest Post: 3 Key Reasons Companies Should Embrace Corporate Clinics

September 26th, 2017 by Rob Indresano, COO, Barton Associates

A number of large corporations are taking a unique approach to healthcare by employing a resident physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant to tend to the needs of workers and their families.

Models range from small clinics, such as the CVS Minute Clinic, to larger facilities that offer a full array of primary care services. While many companies opt to house the clinics on-site, some organizations have partnered with internal branches or outside firms to provide healthcare services at off-site locations.

For companies and employees alike, corporate clinics are an attractive option. These clinics keep costs in-house, giving companies greater control of healthcare expenditures. Corporate clinics can also reduce the time employees take off work to receive basic medical care, encouraging workers to seek routine care more regularly. In turn, this leads to better overall employee health and fewer sick days.

Better yet, these in-house clinics are available to employees as well as their dependents. Corporations spend less money to provide employees and their loved ones with more and better care. It’s a win-win situation.

The corporate clinic movement stems from a dramatic rise in overall healthcare costs and the amount of time employees aren’t at work for minor medical issues. The movement stuck because employees and their families became healthier and happier, with productivity booming for companies that adopted the model.

As corporate clinics became more popular, many factors combined to guarantee their success. Locum tenens, for instance, made it possible for corporations to seamlessly launch and staff corporate clinics as the need arose. Telemedicine continues to grow in popularity — Kaiser Permanente reported 52 percent of its 110 million patient visits in 2015 were done via telemedicine — making it possible for corporations to expand the scope of care while driving down costs.

Making the Case for In-House Care

The average American spends more than 90,000 hours at work over the course of her life. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted, personal and family health problems cost companies about $226 billion annually in lost productivity. It’s easy to understand why a healthy work environment is vital to a happy and productive workforce.

Some companies already enjoy the benefits of on-site clinics. The clinics bring employees everything from primary and preventive healthcare to physical therapy, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists, and more. These clinics help lower insurance costs, improve health and job satisfaction, and increase productivity.

Toyota in 2007 opened a $9 million corporate clinic at its San Antonio truck manufacturing plant. The company has reported a 33 percent decrease in specialist referrals and a 25 percent drop in employee visits to urgent care clinics and emergency rooms.

Intel had similar goals when the technology titan launched its own corporate clinics in 2011. Company officials hoped workers would be more likely to visit the in-house doctors, ideally curtailing chronic issues such as heart disease and diabetes in the process. The company paid about $1 million to build and another $1.5 million to operate each clinic, though Intel has since managed to break even on those operating costs.

Employers enjoy short-term benefits such as greater control over direct costs for specialist visits, prescriptions, and trips to the emergency room. In the long run — and perhaps more important — corporate clinics can help establish new healthcare policies and wellness programs to promote healthier lifestyle choices for employees.

How Corporate Clinics Will Change the Business World

With perpetually increasing healthcare costs and a tremendous potential for return on investment, the corporate clinic model is set to alter healthcare and business in three important ways:

1. Reduced healthcare spending. Corporations with on-site or near-site health services spend less money on healthcare. It’s as simple as that. HanesBrands, for example, reports saving about $1.40 for every $1 the company spends on its in-house clinic. Companies can then take that savings and instead invest in other business-related purposes.

2. Healthier, happier, and more productive employees. Rather than taking time off work to visit a doctor or risking lost income, employees often forgo care for relatively minor issues. This becomes problematic, considering the chronic diseases doctors often detect through repeat visits account for 75 percent of U.S. healthcare spending. Easy access to primary care services means employees are willing and able to see on-site providers for more routine health concerns they might have otherwise neglected.

3. Greater transparency regarding treatment costs. Almost everyone has received a bill from his insurance at some point listing a litany of codes and featuring a hefty amount due at the end. On the flip side of that coin, most physicians are kept in the dark about the costs of treatments so they can prioritize patient care above all else. Corporate clinics can alleviate some of the secrecy surrounding healthcare costs by being transparent about employee treatment. This can actually lead to improved care and lowered costs, with on-site physicians working in tandem with company leaders to drive down expenses.

As more companies find value in corporate clinics, an increasing number of large corporations will likely bring medical services in-house to help drive down bloated healthcare costs. Mid-sized businesses might also be tempted to explore the possibility of creating their own clinics given the potential cost savings. The shift will help foster a culture of health in the United States that benefits employers, employees, and communities.

Rob Indresano, Chief Operations Officer, Barton Associates

About the Author: Rob Indresano is president and COO of Barton Associates, a national recruiting and staffing firm based in the Boston area that specializes in temporary healthcare assignments. Rob is responsible for managing operations as well as the company’s strategic vision. Before joining the Barton team, Rob was vice president and general counsel for Oxford Global Resources Inc. and corporate counsel for Oracle Corp.

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: 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.

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Food for Thought: Nutrition Programs Reduce Hospital Visits and Readmissions by Vulnerable Populations

August 18th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Malnutrition is a social determinant of health that negatively impacts health outcomes.

It’s a difficult statistic to digest: one in three people enter the hospital malnourished or at risk of malnutrition, a state that impacts their recovery and increases their risk of health complications and rehospitalizations.

Two studies this week highlight the clinical benefits of addressing patients’ nutrition needs before and during hospital stays as well as savings that can result from identification of social determinants of health (SDOH) like access to nutrition that drive 85 percent of health outcomes.

In the first, a study of elderly Maryland residents by Benefits Data Trust, a national nonprofit based in Philadelphia, found that when it comes to low-income seniors, access to quality food via food stamps can also save money by reducing the number and duration of hospital visits and nursing home admissions.

In the second, research published in American Health & Drug Benefits journal and supported by Abbott found that when Advocate Health Care implemented a nutrition care program at four of its Chicago area hospitals, it showed more than $4.8 million in cost savings due to shorter hospital stays and lower readmission rates.

The Benefits Data Trust research found that participation by low-income seniors in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cut their odds of hospital admissions by 14 percent. The food stamps also reduced the need for ER visits by 10 percent, and cut their likelihood of going into a nursing home by nearly one quarter.

Finally, SNAP participation also led to an 8 to 10 percent drop in the number of days a patient who was admitted remained in one of these facilities.

As a result, hospitals and health care systems such as Advocate Health Care are looking at the value of nutrition to improve care and help patients get back to living a healthier life.

Starting in 2014, Advocate Health Care, the largest health system in Illinois and one of the largest accountable care organizations (ACO) in the country, implemented two models of a nutrition care program for patients at risk of malnutrition. The nutrition-focused quality improvement program, which targeted malnourished hospitalized patients, consisted of screening patients with a validated screening tool at admission, rapidly administering oral nutritional supplements, and educating patients on supplement adherence.

The leader in population health found that by doing so, it reduced 30-day readmission rates by 27 percent and the average hospital stay by nearly two days.

More recently, to evaluate the cost-savings of the Advocate approach, researchers used a novel, web-based budget impact model to assess the potential cost savings from the avoided readmissions and reduced time in hospital. Compared to the hospitals’ previous readmission rates and patients’ average length of stay, researchers found that optimizing nutrition care in the four hospitals resulted in roughly $3,800 cost savings per patient treated for malnutrition.

Given the healthcare industry’s appetite for value- and quality-based programs, SDOH screenings and the fortification of nutrition programs in both community and inpatient settings appear to be just what the doctor ordered. However, while a 2017 study on Social Determinants of Health identified widespread adoption of SDOH screenings by providers, it also documented a scarcity of supportive community services for SDOH-positive individuals.

HINfographic: Measuring Accountable Care Success

July 31st, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

What are the hallmarks of a flourishing accountable care organization (ACO)? Robust clinical outcomes and satisfied patients, say respondents to the 2017 ACO Survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network. Adoption of ACOs more than doubled in the last four years, and ACO leadership shifted from physician-hospital organizations to integrated delivery systems.

A new infographic by HIN examines what other measures healthcare organizations use to measure ACO success, ACO physician staff size and ACO administration trends.

The accountable care organization, or ACO, has become a cornerstone of healthcare delivery system and payment reform by raising the bar on healthcare quality and reducing unnecessary costs. There are now more than 700 ACOs in existence today, by a 2017 SK&A estimate.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Accountable Care Organizations, HIN’s fourth compendium of metrics on ACOs, captures ACO operation in today’s value- and quality-focused healthcare environment. This 50-page report, now in its fourth edition, delivers actionable data from healthcare companies who completed HIN’s fourth comprehensive ACO assessment in May 2017.

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2017 ACO Snapshot: As Adoption Swells, Social Determinants of Health High on Accountable Care Agenda

June 29th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Nearly two-thirds of 2017 ACO Survey respondents attribute a reduction in hospital readmissions to accountable care activity.

Healthcare organizations may have been wary back in 2011, when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) first introduced the accountable care organization (ACO) model. The HHS viewed the ACO framework as a tool to contain skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Fast-forward six years, and most resistance to ACOs appears to have dissipated. According to 2017 ACO metrics from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN), ACO adoption more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, with the number of healthcare organizations participating in ACOs rising from 34 to 71 percent.

During that same period, the percentage of ACOs using shared savings models to reimburse its providers increased from 22 to 33 percent, HIN’s fourth comprehensive ACO snapshot found.

And in the spirit of delivering patient-centered, value-based care, ACOs have embraced a whole-person approach. In new ACO benchmarks identified this year, 37 percent of ACOs assess members for social determinants of health (SDOH). In support of that trend, the 2017 survey also found that one-third of responding ACOs include behavioral health providers.

Since that first accountable care foray by HHS, the number of ACO models has proliferated. The May 2017 HIN survey found that, of current ACO initiatives, the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) remains the front runner, with MSSP participation hovering near the same 66 percent level attained in HIN’s 2013 ACO snapshot.

Looking ahead to ACO models launching in 2018, 24 percent of respondents will embrace the Medicare ACO Track 1+ Model, a payment design that incorporates more limited downside risk.

This 2017 accountable care snapshot, which reflects feedback from 104 hospitals, health systems, payors, physician practices and others, also captured the following trends:

  • More than half—57 percent—participate in the Medicare Chronic Care Management program;
  • Cost and provider reimbursement are the top ACO challenges for 18 percent of 2017 respondents;
  • Clinical outcomes are the most telling measure of ACO success, say 83 percent of responding ACOs;
  • Twenty-nine percent of respondents not currently administering an ACO expect to launch an accountable care organization in the coming year;
  • 75 percent expect CMS to try and proactively assign Medicare beneficiaries to physician ACO panels to boost patient and provider participation.

Download HIN’s latest white paper, “Accountable Care Organizations in 2017: ACO Adoption Doubles in 4 Years As Shared Savings Gain Favor,” for a summary of May 2017 feedback from 104 hospitals and health systems, multi-specialty physician practices, health plans, and others on ACO activity.