Posts Tagged ‘hospital report cards’

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Hospital Readmissions, State-by-State Scorecard, PHOs, HRAs

September 27th, 2013 by Adam Ghosh

It looks like good surgeons are, literally, a cut above the rest, at least according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health.

Quality surgical care is strongly linked to hospital readmission rates, a somewhat surprising new statistic given that much of policy focus has been on reducing readmissions after hospitalizations for medical conditions, such as heart failure and pneumonia.

Readmissions for medical conditions are primarily driven by how sick the patients are and whether they live in poor or better-off communities; the link between hospital quality and readmissions is less clear. The study sought to find out if there was a relationship between readmission rates after surgery and the quality of surgical care in that hospital; more details inside.

Poor healthcare quality does not discriminate. According to a new study from the Commonwealth Fund scorecard, access to affordable, quality healthcare varies greatly for low and high-income people based on where they live.

The report finds that higher-income people living in states that lag far behind the top scoring states are often worse off than low-income people in states that rank at the very top of the scorecard. The scorecard provides the first state-by-state comparison of the healthcare experiences of the 39 percent of Americans with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and compares their experiences with higher income families.

Lower-income families, particularly those on Medicaid, have grown increasingly more dependent on using the emergency room, despite widely held assumptions that uninsured patients are high ER utilizers, according to a study from the University of California, San Francisco. In order to investigate recent trends between insurance coverage and ED use, researchers analyzed California ED visits by adults aged 19 to 64 years old from 2005 to 2010, and found that the number of visits to California EDs by adults overall increased by 13.2 percent, with Medicaid beneficiaries leading the pack. This study has wide implications with upcoming ACA reforms; many uninsured people are expected to transition to Medicaid, and as a result, overall ED use may increase because Medicaid patients have higher rates of ED use.

Physician-hospital organizations (PHOs) have taken the accountable care organization (ACO) reins from physicians over the last year, according to our 2013 market data. PHO leadership of ACOs almost doubled in the last 12 months; in 2012, one-quarter of ACOs were

physician-led, a trend that replaced the hospital-administered ACOs that dominated in 2011.

As ACOs continue to evolve, the composition of the care delivery model will shift as well, with hospice, long-term care and home health entering the fray.

Lastly, don’t forget to take our Health Risk Assessments in 2013 survey – 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 by October 15, 2013 and get a FREE executive summary of the compiled results.

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Hospital Surgery Ratings, Long-Term Care Costs, Medicare Drug Plans

August 9th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller


Location, location, location.

While it definitely impacts the price of real estate, it doesn’t necessarily influence a hospital’s surgery rating, according to Consumer Reports’ first ratings survey on how patients fare during and after surgery.

In fact, some hospitals do a much better job than others, despite their location. The report reflects wide variation, sometimes between hospitals only a few miles apart. For example, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center earned high marks on the overall surgery rating, as well as for several individual procedures, but the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, also in Baltimore, got a low overall surgery rating.

The report, detailed inside, includes overall surgery ratings, which combines results for 27 categories of scheduled surgeries, as well as individual ratings for five specific procedure types: back surgery, hip replacement, knee replacement, angioplasty and carotid artery surgery. They are important because up to 30 percent of hospital patients suffer infections, heart attacks, strokes, or other complications after surgery, but these records are largely hidden from consumers, Consumer Reports says.

Another area of concern that has largely been hidden from consumers is the high cost of medical errors, according to the Leapfrog Group.

A new tool is available to counter this costly trend — the Hidden Surcharge Calculator tool — which allows purchasers to calculate how much they spend annually on unnecessary costs due to hospital errors that occur within general acute care hospitals.

Reports estimate that purchasers can pay nearly $8,000 per patient in hidden surcharges due to medical errors; for employers with 1,000 hospital admissions per year that cost can near a whopping $8 million in avoidable fees, not to mention harm to patients. Every year, more than 180,000 Medicare beneficiaries die from hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), errors, accidents and injuries.

Purchasers can use the calculator to enter their own claims data and local hospital safety ratings from Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score Web site to learn the estimated hidden surcharge they pay annually for hospital errors.

More news on not-so hidden costs of long-term care: they continued to increase across all provider options, according to a study from the John Hancock Life Insurance Company (John Hancock).

Already high, within the last five years, costs for senior living facilities rose anywhere from 2 percent for an assisted living facility ($41,124 annually) to nearly 4 percent for a private nursing home room ($94,170.) Considered to be one of the most significant uninsured financial risks an individual can face, according to John Hancock officials, the company updated its interactive cost of care map and calculator to reflect the latest findings, and make long-term care costs planning easier.

And lastly, some good financial news: Medicare drug premiums remained stable for four straight years in a row, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The average premium for a basic prescription drug plan in 2014 was expected to remain stable at an estimated $31 per month. More than 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs since the ACA was implemented, an average of $1,061 per beneficiary, the HHS said.

Physical Health Problems Spur More Patients to Seek Mental Health Services

July 23rd, 2012 by Cheryl Miller

Mental health issues like depression alone are not enough to make people seek help, given the results of a new study from Oregon State University (OSU) linking physical ailments to mental healthcare.

But depression stemming from back pain or chronic diseases like diabetes are sending people to their nearest mental health practitioner. And this is good news in a way, say researchers, because early mental healthcare can significantly lower healthcare costs in the long run.

More good news on ways to lower healthcare costs: a global budget program, an alternative to traditional fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement models, can lower the costs of medical spending and improve care quality for patients, according to a study from Harvard Medical School’s Department of Health Care Policy.

The study, based on two years of claims data from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ (BCBSMA) Alternative Quality Contract (AQC), found that healthcare provider groups participating in the AQC spent nearly 2 percent less than FFS groups in the first year, and more than 3 percent less in the second year. Reduced spending was attributed to changing referral patterns, among other things, and quality of care improvements were also greater in the second year than in the first.

Care quality is at issue when it comes to hospitals’ risk-standardized stroke-care rankings; they can be unfairly impacted if the severity of strokes are not considered, says a new study from UCLA.

Hospitals and medical centers must report their quality-of-care and risk-standardized outcomes for stroke and other common medical conditions. But reporting models for mortality that don’t consider stroke severity may unfairly skew these results. And this could have worse implications for patient care if hospitals start turning away those with more severe strokes or transferring them to other hospitals after they’ve been assessed by the ED to avoid being misclassified as having a higher mortality risk, researchers note.

Participation in ACOs continues to grow; CMS has announced 15 new ACOs that will receive advance payments to help them with care coordination costs. The advanced payment model is designed to support physician-based and rural ACOs who will provide coordinated high quality care to Medicare patients.

You can find more information on ACOs in our latest video, which documents their growth in the last year, based on our market research.

Read all of these stories in their entirety in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

Over 2600 U.S. Hospitals Graded on Patient Safety

June 11th, 2012 by Cheryl Miller

It’s the end of the school year, but not just students are getting graded on their performance.

According to a new study from the non-profit Leapfrog Group, more than 2600 U.S. hospitals received grades on their patient safety performances, or how many errors, accidents, and infections patients acquired while in their care. Studies show that one in four Medicare patients leave a hospital with a potentially fatal issue they didn’t have prior to hospitalization, and more than 180,000 Americans die every year from hospital accidents, errors, and infections. This study, free to all, is intended as a public service. There were some anticipated results, including A’s for well-known hospitals including the Mayo Clinic, and some surprises, including A’s for hospitals not as well-known or well-located. Details inside.

Primary care physicians that provide enhanced services for their Medicare patients also get high marks this week. In its continued efforts to bolster the primary care workforce, CMS has launched a new initiative that compensates PCPs that provide extended quality care to their patients. The Comprehensive Primary Care program rewards physician groups that offer enhanced hours and accessibility, and use EHRs among other services. Approximately 75 primary care practices will be selected to participate in the initiative in each designated market. Interested PCPs have until July 20th to submit applications.

And Kaiser Permanente gets an A for providing us with a new medical term: video ethnography, or the anthropological use of videos to study specific human (patient) cultures. Designed as part of their quality improvement program, the process involves videotaping patients and caregivers as they are being interviewed, and observing how they interact with each other in a clinic, hospital or at home. The tool is proving particularly effective with vulnerable populations such as frail elders, patients nearing the end of life, and those with multiple chronic conditions, because it enables caregivers to “see nuances that otherwise might be missed, and discrepancies between what people say, what they do, and what they may think,” according to a lead researcher.

And finally, don’t forget to chart your own progress in the patient-centered medical home model in our survey. Two years post-healthcare reform, we’re taking our sixth annual look at adoption and support of the PCMH. Describe your organization’s progress and outcomes in this area by June 15th and we will reward you with a free e-summary of the results. And remember, there are no wrong answers!