Posts Tagged ‘Cardiac Care’

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Affordable Care Act, Medical Apps, Cardiac Care Costs

October 4th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

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Technological problems hindered aspects of the October 1st rollout of the new health insurance exchanges — both at the state and federal level. According to New York Times reports, some aspects of the eagerly awaited exchanges in several states, including Oregon, Colorado, District of Columbia and Nevada, may not be fully operational for weeks and even months, with some officials referring to October as a “soft launch” period.

Last week, the Obama administration acknowledged it will not be ready to accept online applications from small businesses when the program officially launches October 1st.

Once fully operable, the exchanges, one-stop online shopping sites for consumers’ health insurance needs, will enable consumers to comparison shop for health benefits much like they do now for airline tickets or hotel rooms, and see if they qualify for tax credits. Plans are categorized according to levels of coverage and co-pays, and no one can be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. There will be a six-month open enrollment period that runs through March 2014, and coverage should begin as early as January 1st.

Smart phones can now diagnose abnormal heart rhythms, act as ultrasound devices, or function as the “central command” for a glucose meter used by a person with insulin-dependent diabetes. To ensure that patients’ safety isn’t compromised for the sake of technological innovation, the FDA is clamping down on those apps considered dangerous. The agency has cleared about 100 mobile medical applications over the past decade; about 40 of those were cleared in the past two years.

The costs of patient care after heart attacks, continues to climb, according to a new study from the University of Michigan (U-M) Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Despite advancements in cardiac care and increases in less invasive procedures to treat symptoms, including more angioplasty instead of open heart surgery, hospital stays have decreased by just one day. Medicare spending to treat heart attack patients rose by 16.5 percent between 1998 and 2008, with the majority of costs incurred weeks after patients left the hospital.

According to researchers from the NYU School of Medicine, elderly nursing home residents with advanced dementia who were enrolled in a Medicare managed care insurance plan were more likely to have do-not-hospitalize orders and less likely to be hospitalized for acute illness than those residents enrolled in traditional Medicare. The frail elderly received more nursing home-based primary care visits every 90 days, and more nursing home-based nurse practitioner visits in general. The extra individual attention precluded the need for more acute treatment, and resulted in less aggressive, more humane end-of-life care.

And lastly, sophisticated analytics behind today’s health risk assessments or health risk appraisals (HRAs) provide employers, payors and providers an aggregate view of population health and the raw material for the development of prevention and lifestyle change programs. Tell us how your organization uses HRAs to improve population health on our Health Risks Assessments online survey by October 15, 2013 and get a FREE executive summary of the compiled results

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Managing Heart Disease; Insurance Reform; Hospital Charge Disparities

September 13th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller


Nearly one in three Americans die of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, each year, according to the latest Vital Signs report from the CDC. In 2010 alone, more than 200,000 deaths from CVD occurred, with more than half happening to people younger than 65 years of age.

Most CVD can be managed or prevented in the first place by addressing risk factors, such as reducing blood pressure and cholesterol and quitting smoking, CDC officials say, and they offer a list of recommendations for providers, communities and health departments for reducing the death rates.

Contrary to reports that individual health insurance policy costs will jump steeply under the ACA, there will be no widespread premium increase, according to a RAND analysis of 10 states and the United States.

There will be widespread differences in individual policy costs from state to state, however, as well as an increase in health insurance coverage and higher enrollment among people who purchase individual policies.

RAND researchers predicted how the ACA will likely change cost and coverage patterns in both the individual market and small group market in 10 states, including Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota and New Mexico. Costs will be influenced by a specific range of individual factors, including age, tobacco use, geographic location, family size and amount of coverage purchases.

Geographic diversity is at the root of another study from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). According to the report, hospital prices for privately insured patients — especially for outpatient care — are much higher than Medicare and vary widely within and across communities.

Within individual communities prices vary widely, even after accounting for differences in the complexity of services provided. The highest-priced hospital typically is paid 60 percent more for the same inpatient services than the lowest-priced hospital. The price gap within markets is even greater for hospital outpatient services, with the highest-priced hospital typically paid nearly double the lowest-priced hospital, according to the study.

In contrast to hospital prices, prices for PCP services generally are close to Medicare rates and vary little within markets, the study found. Prices for specialist physician services, however, are higher relative to Medicare and vary more within and across markets.

And lastly, sophisticated analytics behind today’s health risk assessments or health risk appraisals (HRAs) provide employers, payors and providers an aggregate view of population health and the raw material to develop prevention and lifestyle change programs. Tell us how your organization uses HRAs to improve population health in our Health Risk Assessments e-survey by October 15, 2013 and get a FREE executive summary of the compiled results.