Infographic: Healthcare’s Blockchain Security Solution

September 26th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

As technology continues to advance, healthcare data security is becoming a great paradox where data breaches are quite commonplace. Blockchain technology is a promising solution to healthcare cybersecurity, according to a new infographic by Duquesne University.

The infographic provides an overview of blockchain basics, adoption and how it can be used in healthcare.

A New Vision for Remote Patient Monitoring: Creating Sustainable Financial, Operational and Clinical OutcomesAs healthcare moves out of the brick-and-mortar traditional setting into patients’ homes and their workplaces, and becomes much more proactive, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has been expanding its remote patient monitoring program. The remote patient monitoring program at UPMC has its roots in the heart failure program but has since expanded to additional disease states across the integrated delivery system’s continuum of care.

A New Vision for Remote Patient Monitoring: Creating Sustainable Financial, Operational and Clinical Outcomes delves into the evolution of UPMC’s remote patient monitoring program from its initial focus on heart failure to how the program was scaled vertically and horizontally. Click here for more information.

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Infographic: HHS Budgets Poised to Rise in FY19 Appropriations

September 24th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Congress is expected to pass appropriations bills within the next week that provide funding increases to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) budget over both last year and the President’s FY19 Budget Request, according to a new infographic by Avascent.

The infographic provides a snapshot of how major operating divisions are expected to fare and highlights HHS’ priorities with bipartisan support.

Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS SuccessA laser focus on population health interventions and processes can generate immediate revenue streams for fledgling accountable care organizations that support the hard work of creating a sustainable ACO business model. This population health priority has proven a lucrative strategy for Caravan Health, whose 23 ACO clients saved more than $26 million across approximately 250,000 covered lives in 2016 under the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success examines Caravan Health’s population health-focused approach for ACOs and its potential for positioning ACOs for success under MSSP and MACRA’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

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Infographic: Using Machine Learning To Unlock Value Across the Healthcare Value Chain

September 21st, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Machine learning (ML) is transforming the healthcare industry by changing the way care is delivered, and its impact is poised to increase, according to a new infographic by McKinsey & Company.

The infographic examines potential ML healthcare use cases and challenges to overcome to best leverage ML techniques.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Remote Patient MonitoringArtificial intelligence. Automation. Blockchain. Robotics.

Once the domain of science fiction, these telehealth technologies have begun to transform the fabric of healthcare delivery systems. As further proof of telehealth’s explosive growth, the use of wearable health-tracking devices and remote patient monitoring has proliferated, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has added several new provider telehealth billing codes for calendar year 2018.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Remote Patient Monitoring delivers the latest actionable telehealth and remote patient monitoring metrics on tools, applications, challenges, successes and ROI from healthcare organizations across the care spectrum. This 60-page report, now in its fifth edition, documents benchmarks on current and planned telehealth and remote patient monitoring initiatives as well as the use of emerging technologies in the healthcare space.

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Guest Post: 3 Strategies for Combating Physician Burnout

September 20th, 2018 by James Korman

Physicians now find themselves under more stress and pressure from a variety of sources beyond their control.

Physicians call it “Pajama Time.” But it has nothing to do with curling up with a good book before heading off to bed. In medical parlance, Pajama Time refers to the several hours at night that many physicians must set aside to catch up on completing notes, tasks and orders that they simply don’t have a time to manage during the workday.

Pajama Time is symptomatic of a larger and growing problem throughout the medical profession: physician burnout. Dealing with a flood of medical data is a major cause of physician burnout. But it’s not the only one.

Physicians now find themselves under more stress and pressure from a variety of sources beyond their control. For example, stress is sparked by increased patient volume, wrestling with complex and time-consuming electronic health records (EHRs), merging practices that result in a loss of autonomy and peer-to-peer interactions, and a sharper emphasis on outcome metrics and benchmarks.

Although many of these changes are necessary as medicine moves away from fee-for-service and toward fee-for-value, the triple aim that is meant to fix the U.S. healthcare system only magnifies and perpetuates the stress experienced among the nation’s physicians.

Often difficult to detect, physician burnout takes on many forms. Chief among them is emotional exhaustion, detachment and insensitivity toward patients and a lack of feeling successful and accomplished in their work.

The severity of physician burnout often depends on the type of medical specialty being practiced.

Tait Shanafelt, MD, a nationally recognized expert in physician wellness, in 2014 administered the Maslach Burnout Inventory to a large national physician sample showing that approximately 50 percent of U.S. physicians were experiencing at least one symptom of burnout. In 2013, the first year of the “Medscape Lifestyle Report,” showed that emergency medicine had the highest rates of burnout, just above 50 percent. That jumped to close to 60 percent in 2017. It also showed that physicians working in primary care tended to struggle most with burnout.

The consequences of physician burnout run far and wide.

Picture a Venn diagram, with burnout overlapping the personal and the professional effects. Personal consequences include anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, family conflict and an increased risk of suicide, according to the Mayo Clinic. Professional consequences range from decreased quality of care to increased medical errors to decreased patient satisfaction.

The rising level of physician burnout is simply unsustainable, with repercussions negatively affecting nearly every facet of the healthcare system.

Summit Medical Group, the nation’s largest independent multispecialty physician group, recognized the concerning trend of burnout among doctors even before it was talked about openly, and is at the forefront of this issue. The group is combating physician burnout on multiple fronts:

  1. Improve communications. One way to help physician burnout is to give physicians an avenue to express what they see as causing their stress and have someone take it seriously. Summit Medical Group (SMG) has made this a top priority by having its board of directors, who are practicing physicians, meet with the group’s physicians to obtain their feedback, thoughts and suggestions. By having regular small group meetings with physicians these leaders gain a keener sense of the possible remedies that SMG can adopt to reduce burnout. Also, most of the interventions that the group has adopted to address burnout has come from these meetings. To further help with communication, SMG assigned lead physicians to geographic regions to ensure that accurate and timely information gets down to the individual physician and their feedback gets up to leadership. Another way SMG has strengthened overall communication is through various electronic newsletters that keep its physicians informed and engaged about the medical group and their colleagues. They have also created a dedicated email address and voicemail allowing their physicians to leave confidential feedback at any time.

  2. Bolster physician support services. It is well-known that physicians are excellent at helping others, but not very good at asking for help themselves. It’s not in their DNA. That’s why it’s incumbent upon medical groups to proactively offer support services to their physicians with minimal barriers. For example, SMG has trained 14 volunteer physicians from different specialties to speak with their colleagues during times of acute stress, unexpected outcomes or when dealing with a medical malpractice lawsuit. These volunteer physicians often have been though similar situations, making it easier for them to offer support and advice. SMG also does not wait for their physicians to ask for help but will reach out to them to offer support whenever one has had a stressful event or appears in need. SMG further understands that at times medical providers need more than a peer to speak to and does have professional psychological services available to them. There are also other support services that SMG has implemented, including ways to help physicians unplug when they are on vacation. Because many physicians receive hundreds of patient orders and tasks per week it is no wonder that many feel compelled to log on to the EHR when they’re supposed to be recharging their batteries. And if they choose not to log-on many experience anxiety on vacation knowing what they are going to return to when they head back to the office. To help, SMG has hired Advanced Practicing Nurses and Physician Assistants to manage their doctors’ EMR inboxes when they are on vacation. This not only helps the vacationing physician but also reduces the burden on the office staff who are often managing their own work along with that of the vacationing doctor.

  3. Foster a sense of community. The ‘Physician Lounge,’ a physical space where doctors could unwind and exchange professional information and give each other support, used to be a staple of the medical profession. No longer. Physicians simply do not have the time to go to the lounge during busy work hours and many medical systems have eliminated them in favor of more clinical space. However, medical groups do need to find alternative means for their physicians to interact with each other to avoid having them feel isolated and siloed. For example, this summer SMG adopted a social media platform called Yammer. Yammer has been described as an on-line “Physician Lounge” where doctors can exchange medical information, consult on general medical cases, share social pleasantries and provide each other support. Similar to Facebook, Yammer is set up for each medical department throughout SMG as well as for the larger physician group. Perhaps most important, Yammer offers physicians a sense of community—a place where they can share ideas, frustrations and solutions to the stresses they face. In addition, SMG holds regular networking events, which give providers who may feel isolated in their work the opportunity to interact with colleagues both professionally and socially.

James Korman

James Korman

About the Author: James Korman, PSYD, FACT, is the director of behavioral health and provider engagement at Summit Medical Group.

Infographic: Medicare Enrollees with Multiple Chronic Conditions

September 19th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

A small fraction of
Medicare enrollees with multiple chronic conditions drive a majority of Medicare spending. Moreover, these enrollees also drive an even greater percentage of hospital readmissions within 30 days of initial discharge—a metric targeted by policymakers as a symptom of wasteful spending, according to a new infographic by the California Health Care Foundation.

The infographic examines the share of Medicare activity by enrollees with multiple chronic conditions as well as the most common chronic conditions among Medicare enrollees.

In the sphere of value-based healthcare, chronic care management (CCM) is a critical component of primary care and population health management. Targeting the Triple Aim goals of better health and care for individuals while reducing spending, CCM is viewed as a stepping-stone to success under Medicare’s Quality Payment Program that launched January 1, 2017.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Chronic Care captures tools, practices and lessons learned by the healthcare industry related to the management of chronic disease.

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Infographic: 6 Ways to Keep Patients Coming Back

September 17th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Normal attrition rates for physician practices range between 10 percent and 30 percent, according to a new infographic by Solutionreach, Inc.

The infographic looks at why patients leave practices and strategies to overcome patient attrition.

Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action PlanUnityPoint Health has moved from a siloed approach to improving the patient experience at each of its locations to a system-wide approach that encompasses a consistent, baseline experience while still allowing for each institution to address its specific needs. Armed with data from its Press Ganey and CAHPS ® Hospital Survey scores, UnityPoint’s patient experience team developed a front-line staff-driven improvement action plan.

During Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action Plan a 45-minute webina, now available for replay, Paige Moore, director, patient experience at UnityPoint Health—Des Moines, shares how the organization switched from a top-down, leadership-driven patient experience improvement approach to one that engages front-line staff to own the process.

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Infographic: The Rise of the Robotic Nurse

September 14th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

As technology continues to advance and become cheaper and more accessible, its uses are increasingly benefiting human workers in the healthcare industry, according to a new infographic by Ohio University’s Online Master of Science in Nursing.

The infographic looks at why nurses need robots, case studies of robot use, opportunities for improvement and future robotic nursing trends.

Remote Patient Monitoring for Chronic Condition Management: Leveraging Technology in a Value-Based System Encouraged by early success in coaching 23 patients to wellness at home via remote monitoring, CHRISTUS Health expanded its remote patient monitoring (RPM) enrollment to 170 high-risk, high-cost patients. At that scaling-up juncture, the challenge for CHRISTUS shifted to balancing its mission of keeping patients healthy and in their homes with maintaining revenue streams sufficient to keep its doors open in a largely fee-for-service environment.

Remote Patient Monitoring for Chronic Condition Management: Leveraging Technology in a Value-Based System chronicles the evolution of the CHRISTUS RPM pilot, which is framed around a Bluetooth®-enabled monitoring kit sent home with patients at hospital discharge.

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Guest Post: Innovative, Specialized Palliative Care Programs Help ACOs Improve Patient Care, Achieve Success in Medicare Shared Savings Program

September 13th, 2018 by Greer Myers

Home-based Palliative Care

A structured, systematized approach to home-based palliative care: One of the most effective ways to manage and enhance care delivery for vulnerable, costly populations.

Under the new Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will be required to take on more risk as a rule of engagement and participation. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is also shrinking the amount of time ACOs can be in an upside-only model to two years, putting additional pressure on ACO leaders to initiate changes. Currently, 82 percent of ACOs participating in the MSSP are in an upside-only model.

This has prompted many organizations to seek innovative strategies that will enable them to remain in the program and achieve success. One proven approach involves the adoption of a structured and systematized home-based palliative care program designed to identify patients with serious or advanced illness earlier in the disease process and offer them services outside of the hospital setting.

The palliative care team, primarily specially trained nurses and social workers, addresses the unique needs of the patient and family, taking into consideration their culture and values when developing a patient-centered approach to care. The team coordinates patient care across the continuum, which may include specialty care, acute, post-acute and community-based care needs.

For ACOs facing tight timeframes for implementing programmatic changes, this structured approach to community-based palliative care can be rapidly deployed in any geographic area and quickly scaled for larger populations.

Supporting the Medical Home

Home-based palliative care programs align with the medical home model through the provision of specialized care for people living with serious or advanced illness. Sharing priorities with the medical home, both emphasize the importance of care in the home, providing appropriate social services, clinical assessments and referrals, and partnering with physicians to deliver a solution that is patient-centered, data-driven and evidence-based.

A structured, systematized approach to home-based palliative care is one of the most effective ways to manage and enhance care delivery within this vulnerable, costly population. Quality controls and reporting are essential to improving quality and decreasing cost. Programs offering modular continuing education to palliative care team members, as well as guided tools and electronic patient assessments, enable highly skilled clinicians to maximize the impact of member outreach, enrollment and engagement.

Palliative care teams extend the reach and frequency of patient engagement, establishing collaborative relationships and reporting with the medical home that further strengthen care coordination. This level of connectivity and interaction with the medical home represents a significant opportunity to affect quality and cost.

Advantages for Patients and ACOs

Populations burdened by a serious or advanced illness place incredible strain on ACO resources, compromising the organization’s ability to improve care while generating shared savings under the MSSP model. By adopting the medical home/home-based palliative care approach, ACOs can turn this high cost population into an opportunity: improving quality and patient satisfaction while reducing cost and generating shared savings through reduced unnecessary hospital admissions, readmissions and ICU stays. Furthermore, this approach avoids over-medicalized care and high-cost services that may not align with the patient’s goals of care.

Integrating home-based palliative care within the medical home model ensures that each member is treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. This leads to a better quality of life, thanks to strong and trusting engagement with specialized palliative care professionals. Overall, this integrated model aims to improve quality and care coordination, so that individuals access care in the right place, at the right time, and in the manner that best suits a patient’s goals of care.

What’s more, specially trained palliative clinicians act as an extension of the primary treating physician and strengthen the medical home. The palliative nurses and social workers establish goals of care, provide supportive home-based care and assess patient and caregiver status, reporting relevant information to the primary treating physician to fill gaps in care and better align goals with care received.

Innovation in the Real World

Let’s consider a typical patient experience that is all too familiar: An 89-year old man with congestive heart failure (CHF) experienced five emergency room visits and five hospital admissions in one year before his condition worsened and he was intubated in the ICU. Prior to this, he had been seeing his cardiologist and primary care provider for adjustments to his medications, which he was unable to manage at home.

Now consider the vastly better approach of in-home palliative care: This same patient would have informed providers he did not want to go to the hospital or have intubation. When his health deteriorated, his social worker would have met with him and his family to discuss palliative care and supportive care options. He would have also been placed on the palliative care program with home visits made by palliative care specialists as needed. When the time came, his palliative care specialist would have evaluated hospice options with the patient and his family, and he would have died in the manner of his choosing – peacefully at home.

An innovative palliative care approach provides specialized patient/caregiver support and enhances communication with the primary treating physician. This facilitates a shared decision-making model, which results in better congruence between a patient’s individual goals of care and medical care received. It is a recipe for improving quality of life and satisfaction with the care that is delivered.

Greer Myers

Greer Myers

About the Author: Greer Myers is the president, Turn-Key Health and executive vice president, chief development officer, Enclara Pharmacia. With more than 20 years of healthcare experience, Mr. Myers joined Enclara Healthcare in 2014, and maintains dual roles as its President of Turn-Key Health and its EVP of Corporate Development of Enclara Pharmacia. Bringing strengths in post-acute operations, mergers and acquisitions, pharmacy benefits management, strategy and business development, he also has strong vertical experience in payer, provider and healthcare IT verticals.

Infographic: Current State of Healthcare Analytics and Artificial Intelligence

September 12th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Some 58 percent of healthcare executives say analytics are an important part of value-based healthcare strategy, according to a new infographic by GE Healthcare and Intel.

The infographic examines where analytics will help, the biggest analytics opportunities and the biggest analytics wins so far.

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: Which Digital Tools Patients Do (and Don’t) Use

September 10th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

At least 90 percent of consumers have used at least one digital healthcare tool, according to a study by Rock Health, highlighted in a new InternetHealth Management infographic.

The infographic looks at how digital healthcare segments break down and why the adoption rate of different digital health and mobile tools varies.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Remote Patient MonitoringArtificial intelligence. Automation. Blockchain. Robotics.

Once the domain of science fiction, these telehealth technologies have begun to transform the fabric of healthcare delivery systems. As further proof of telehealth’s explosive growth, the use of wearable health-tracking devices and remote patient monitoring has proliferated, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has added several new provider telehealth billing codes for calendar year 2018.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Remote Patient Monitoring delivers the latest actionable telehealth and remote patient monitoring metrics on tools, applications, challenges, successes and ROI from healthcare organizations across the care spectrum. This 60-page report, now in its fifth edition, documents benchmarks on current and planned telehealth and remote patient monitoring initiatives as well as the use of emerging technologies in the healthcare space.

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