Posts Tagged ‘HAIs’

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Infectious Disease Threats, Health Insurance, Bundled Payments

December 23rd, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

From antibiotic-resistant superbugs to salmonella to the seasonal flu, infectious diseases are disrupting lives throughout the country at an alarming rate, and driving up medical costs, and most states are unable to counter them, according to a report by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The problem? Outdated systems and limited resources. In fact, 34 states scored five or lower out of 10 key indicators of policies and capabilities to protect against infectious disease threats.

One solution offered in this comprehensive analysis is to be more vigilant with vaccinations; only one-quarter of states vaccinated at least half of their population against the seasonal flu, which affects 20 percent of Americans each year. Details inside.

Rising medical costs were the primary driver of recent rate increases by health insurers, accounting for three-quarters or more of the larger premium hikes requested between July 2012 and June 2013, a new Commonwealth Fund study finds.

The analysis is the first such report to take a national look at the explanations insurers file with federal and state authorities to justify rate increases of 10 percent or more, as required by the ACA. Currently, insurers are only required to submit rate increase explanations for non-grandfathered plans, or those plans that became available after the enactment of the health reform law.

People whose existing healthcare insurance has been canceled because of the ACA will not be hit with tax penalties for failing to line up new coverage as required under the law, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Under a “temporary hardship exemption,” they will be able to buy a bare-bones catastrophic plan regardless of their age.

Reducing health insurance premiums is one strategy employers are using to incent their employees to self-manage their health. Healthcare companies have grown increasingly creative in their use of economic and benefit-based incentives to drive engagement and participation in health and wellness programs, according to Healthcare Intelligence Network research.

Reducing joint replacement payments – specifically knees, which, at 600,000 annually, are the most commonly performed knee replacement procedure in the United States – is the aim of Florida Blue and Mayo Clinic’s knee replacement bundled payment agreement, first introduced in 2012. They have announced they are extending it, and their overall network agreement to include thousands of Florida Blue’s commercially insured members throughout the state who are now able to access Mayo Clinic as an in-network provider.

And lastly, there is no replacement for a little TLC, in the form of paraprofessionals or nurses visiting the homes of low income pregnant women and their children. Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that these helpers, part of the Nurse-Family Partnership, helped improve the health and development outcomes for the children ages six through nine.

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Stroke Costs Up, MRSA Prevention Tactics, Employee Wellness

June 4th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

Stroke costs are predicted to more than double by 2030, and the number of people having strokes by then may increase by 20 percent, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The aging U.S. population is the main reason for the increases, with almost four percent, or one in 25 American adults, predicted to have stroke in 2030, or an additional 3.4 million people. Annual costs due to lost productivity could rise from $33.65 billion to $56.54 billion, and costs to treat stroke may increase from $71.55 billion in 2010 to $183.13 billion. What steps need to be taken? See our story for details.

Using germ-killing soap and ointment on all intensive-care unit (ICU) patients can reduce bloodstream infections by nearly half and significantly reduce the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in ICUs, according to a multi-disciplinary team study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, REDUCE MRSA trial evaluated the effectiveness of three MRSA prevention practices: routine care, providing germ-killing soap and ointment only to patients with MRSA, and providing germ-killing soap and ointment to all ICU patients.

In addition to being effective at stopping the spread of MRSA in ICUs, the study found the use of germ-killing soap and ointment on all ICU patients was also effective for preventing infections caused by germs other than MRSA.

Young children who missed more than half of recommended well-child visits had up to twice the risk of hospitalization compared to children who attended most of their visits according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

Children with chronic conditions like asthma and heart disease were even more likely to be hospitalized when they missed visits, according to the study, which included more than 20,000 children enrolled at Group Health Cooperative. And children with chronic conditions who missed more than half of the recommended well-child visits had more than three times the risk of being hospitalized compared to children with chronic conditions who attended most of their visits.

In other prevention-related news, HHS issued final rules on employment-based wellness programs, supporting workplace health promotion and prevention as a means to reduce the burden of chronic illness, improve health, and limit growth of healthcare costs, according to the HHS.

And lastly, more than 10 million Americans directly benefited from a telemedicine service during the past year, likely double the number from just three years ago, according to American Telemedicine Association estimates. Telehealth’s broad reach encompasses telemedicine — the use of telecommunications technology to deliver clinical diagnosis, services and patient consultations — as well as the exploding field of mobile health. Tell us how you’re utilizing telehealth in HIN’s third comprehensive e-survey on Telehealth. Respond by June 30, 2013 and receive a free executive summary of the compiled results. Your responses will be kept strictly confidential.