Posts Tagged ‘Medicare’

Infographic: Medicare Beneficiaries at a Glance

March 8th, 2019 by Melanie Matthews

There were some 57 million Americans enrolled in Medicare in 2016—with the majority (68 percent) still enrolled in the traditional Medicare fee-for-service program, according to a new infographic by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The infographic examines Medicare demographic data, service use, average total payments, beneficiary satisfaction rates and the top 10 chronic conditions among enrollees.

Medicare Chronic Care Management Billing: Evidence-Based Workflows to Maximize CCM RevenueSince the January 2015 rollout by CMS of new chronic care management (CCM) codes, many physician practices have been slow to engage in CCM.

Arcturus Healthcare, however, rapidly grasped the potential of CCM to improve patient outcomes while generating care coordination revenue, estimating it could earn up to $100,000 monthly for qualified patients treated in its four physician practices—or $1 million a year.

Medicare Chronic Care Management Billing: Evidence-Based Workflows to Maximize CCM Revenue traces the incorporation of CCM into Arcturus Healthcare’s existing care management efforts for high-risk patients, as well as the bonus that resulted from CCM code adoption: increased engagement and improved relationships with CCM patients.

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Guest Post: Medicare Advantage Environment Sparks Effective Risk, Quality and Care Strategies to Battle New Challenges

January 17th, 2019 by Jay Baker

Commercial insurers remain interested in competing for MA beneficiaries.

Projections show that national health expenditure growth is expected to average 5.5 percent annually to reach $5.7 trillion by 2026—higher than the projected increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Fortunately, trends of insurers entering and exiting the program show that the Medicare Advantage (MA) market is stable yet dynamic—roughly the same numbers of plans enter/exit the program each year. Data shows that commercial insurers remain interested in competing for MA beneficiaries.

Given the benefits and challenges of value-based healthcare, stakeholders should gain a full understanding of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, as well as strategies for optimizing this approach. What’s more, research indicates that the successes of MA are already having a positive impact on the broader healthcare delivery and payment landscape. In fact, fee-for-service Medicare spending has trended down in markets with high MA plan participation, indicating that doctors and other medical professionals operating in markets with high MA penetration adapt their practice patterns in alignment with MA plans’ strategies that control spending and use. This, in turn, helps to reduce use and costs for all their patients—including those enrolled in traditional Medicare and commercial/employer-sponsored plans.

MA plan coverage offered by private companies approved by Medicare provide all Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) coverage.

Optimizing the MA Plan Opportunity

An effective MA plan that significantly improves outcomes takes a whole patient approach and applies an end-to-end solution designed to enhance care coordination using analytics, in-home care, retrospective solutions and care management.

Value-based contracting generates cost efficiencies and improves clinical outcomes in MA. The challenge is to design MA plans and risk-bearing entities to remain sustainable. This requires innovative quality and risk adjustment programs to meet the growing demand for effective care strategies. For instance, MA plans can gain clinical insight into risk-adjusting conditions to enhance their traditional analytical platforms.

Understanding a Risk Adjustment Model

Risk adjustment is an actuarial tool used to calibrate payments to health plans based on the relative health of the at-risk populations. If insurers are limited in the extent to which premiums can vary by health status or other factors that are associated with health spending, risk adjustment ensures that health plans are appropriately compensated for the risks they enroll.

Keep in mind that most claims in fee-for-service Medicare are paid using procedure codes, which offer little incentive for providers to record more diagnosis codes than necessary to justify ordering a procedure. In contrast, MA plans have a built-in financial incentive since the current risk adjustment model was introduced that prompts providers to record all possible diagnoses. This is important because higher enrollee risk scores result in higher payments to the plan.

Consider MA plans that rely upon Physician Record Review (PRR), a two-stage retrospective chart review process from a 1) certified coder and 2) board-certified physician. These same plans also use Prospective Health Assessments (PHA) to gain a robust view of members and their care needs. Providers also rely on PHAs to lay the groundwork for developing more accurate reporting documentation, improving patient engagement and compliance, enhancing disease management, and reducing utilization.

This kind of full-spectrum, end-to-end approach to care helps providers identify gaps in care and manage plan members more productively. It also helps health plans that are serving as intermediaries, executing solutions and assuming risk. Fortunately, plan members gain the most form this approach because they are guided toward more preventive care and self-management early in the care process.

Risk-Based Contracting on the Rise

Medicare beneficiaries in fee-for-service Medicare are normally required to pay multiple premiums and deductibles and face a confusing array of cost-sharing arrangements for benefits and services from physicians, pharmacies, and hospitals.

In contrast, when a Medicare beneficiary enrolls in a MA plan it is usually a comprehensive, integrated health plan that includes richer benefits and solid catastrophic coverage. Unburdened of siloed benefits and payments, MA beneficiaries’ plan structure is simpler, and they are able to receive more coordinated care.

The value-based world is enlarging to the benefit of MA patients. In a recent move, CMS expanded its definition of “primarily health-related” benefits that private insurers are allowed to include in their MA policies. These extras include, for instance, air conditioners for people with asthma, healthy food, rides to medical appointments and home-delivered meals. This means MA beneficiaries will have more supplemental benefits and be better able to lead healthier, more independent lives.

Jay Baker

Jay Baker is the senior vice president of quality and risk adjustment solutions at Advantmed, LLC. He was most recently responsible for the ACA risk adjustment strategy and execution for UnitedHealth Group’s Optum division. His accomplishments included standing up an end-to-end service offering and exceeding revenue goals for the first two years of the program. As one of the founders of Dynamic Healthcare Systems, he was responsible for the original design for each of their 10 Medicare Advantage software modules. He is an ACA and Medicare Advantage industry leader and expert in policy, compliance, systems and plans operations.

Advantmed recently developed a white paper that discusses federal policy and the economics of Medicare. Advantmed, LLC is a healthcare solutions company dedicated to partnering with health plans, provider groups and risk-bearing entities to optimize risk adjustment and quality improvement programs. Our integrated and technology-enabled solutions improve health plan financial results and offer insights on health plan members. For more information on Advantmed’s solutions visit www.advantmed.com.

Infographic: Grading the Medicare Advantage Shopping Experience

August 3rd, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

With (on average) 20 Medicare plans to choose from, consumers have high expectations and little patience for friction in health plan interactions, according to a new infographic by NTT DATA.

The infographic examines the leaders and the laggards in the online shopping process for Medicare Advantage options and who is at the top performance level.

UnityPoint 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.

Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action Plan, a 45-minute webinar on July 27th, 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: Medicare Home Health Beneficiaries

January 29th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Home healthcare patients are among the poorest, sickest and most vulnerable beneficiaries in the Medicare program, according to a new infographic by the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.

The infographic compares a traditional Medicare beneficiary with a Medicare home health beneficiary and factors that demonstrate why Medicare home health beneficiaries are financially vulnerable.

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI A care transitions management program operated by Sun Health since 2011 has significantly reduced hospital readmissions for nearly 12,000 Medicare patients, resulting in $14.8 million in savings to the Medicare program. Using home visits as a core strategy, the Sun Health Care Transitions program was a top performer in CMS’s recently concluded Community-Based Care Transitions (CBCT) demonstration project, which was launched in 2012 to explore new solutions for reducing hospital readmissions, improving quality and achieving measurable savings for Medicare.

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI explores the critical five pillars of the Arizona non-profit’s leading care transitions management initiative, adapted from the Coleman Care Transitions Intervention®.

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Guest Post: Patient Engagement Technology Tool for Preventing Hospital Readmissions in Chronic Patients

January 23rd, 2018 by Allison Hart, Vice President of Marketing, TeleVox Solutions at West

While almost all chronic care patients say they need help managing their disease, less than one-third receive regular check-ins from healthcare providers.

During the past decade, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have increased the pressure on hospitals to prevent readmissions. In response to that pressure, many hospitals made changes that have led to declines in readmission rates. However, even with more measures in place to prevent readmissions than ever before, the risk of being readmitted to the hospital is still high for patients with chronic illnesses.

Studies have shown that the risk of adverse health effects increases with each hospitalization. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to keep chronic patients from readmitting once they have been hospitalized. Because of this, it is important that healthcare teams prioritize chronic disease management, and work to engage and support chronic patients. One tool that can help with this is the patient engagement technology many healthcare teams already have in place.

Survey responses indicate that chronic patients welcome efforts from their healthcare team that are aimed at managing disease and preventing hospital admissions and readmissions. A West survey found that 91 percent of chronic patients say they need help managing their disease, and at least 70 percent would like more resources or clarity on how to manage their condition. Additionally, 75 percent of chronic patients want their healthcare provider to touch base with them regularly so they can be alerted of potential issues.

Although patients with chronic conditions have expressed that they desire more assistance from their healthcare providers, they are not necessarily receiving it. For example, more than half (54 percent) of patients feel a weekly or twice-weekly check-in from their provider would be valuable, yet only 30 percent of patients report receiving regular check-ins. This shows that, in some cases, providers could be doing much more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Providers seem to be underestimating patients’ interest in chronic care and their desire to receive support. Patients have suggested that they not only want assistance with managing chronic conditions, they would also be willing to pay for that extra support. Many providers are unaware that their patients feel this way. When asked if their patients would agree to pay 10 dollars per month for additional chronic care support, just over half (53 percent) of providers answered “yes.” However, two-thirds of patients say they would be willing to pay a nominal amount for chronic care support. The eye-opening response from patients confirms that chronic disease management is in demand—more so than providers realize. It also suggests that some providers may need to do more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Chronic Care Management Enrollment

One way healthcare teams can better serve chronic patients and potentially prevent readmissions is by enrolling patients in chronic disease management programs. Chronic care programs, like Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program, require a lot of communication on the part of the healthcare team. Automating some of the communication and outreach makes it easier for providers to offer ongoing chronic care support. Healthcare teams can use their patient engagement technology to:

  • Send patients messages to invite them to enroll in a chronic care program. Using information from electronic health records, healthcare teams can identify patients that are eligible for chronic care management programs. (Patients must have two or more chronic conditions to enroll in Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program.) Then, they can use their patient engagement technology to send patients automated messages with information about the benefits of participating in a chronic care program, and instructions or links for patients to enroll or get further information.
  • Schedule disease-specific preventive screenings and tests. The Chronic Care Management program mandates that patients receive recommended preventive services. Care managers can schedule and send patients automated text messages, emails or voice messages to notify them when they are due for preventive screenings and tests. Patients with diabetes, for example, would automatically receive messages when they are due for an A1C test, foot exam or eye exam.
  • Send medication reminders and messages. Providers are required to manage and reconcile medications for patients enrolled in the Chronic Care Management program. Providers can assign medication reminders and send automated messages to ensure patients know how and when to take their medication, and that they don’t forget to take it.

Communication that engages chronic patients and aids them in disease management can result in better health outcomes and fewer readmissions. Engagement communications can be easily automated, meaning outreach does not require excessive time or resources. Hospitals and healthcare providers have incentives to reduce readmissions, and in many cases, they have the technology in place to make chronic disease management efficient and effective.

About the Author: Allison Hart is a regularly published advocate for utilizing technology-enabled communications to engage and activate patients beyond the clinical setting. She leads thought leadership efforts for West’s TeleVox Solutions, promoting the idea that engaging with patients between healthcare appointments in meaningful ways will encourage and inspire them to follow and embrace treatment plans – and that activating these positive behaviors ultimately leads to better outcomes for both healthcare organizations and patients. Hart currently serves as Vice President of Marketing for TeleVox Solutions at West, where the healthcare mission is to help organizations harness communications to expand the boundaries of where, when, and how healthcare is delivered.

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: Advancing Medicare and Medicaid Integration

December 18th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

There are more than 11 million individuals who receive services from both Medicare and Medicaid. State policymakers and their federal and health plan partners are increasingly seeking opportunities to improve Medicare-Medicaid integration for these dually eligible beneficiaries, according to a new infographic by the Center for Health Care Strategies.

The infographic explores the reasons to integrate care for dually-eligible individuals; features of effective programs; and factors influencing state investment in integrated care.

Dual Eligibles Care and Service Planning: Integrative Approaches for the Medicare-Medicaid PopulationTo locate, stratify and engage dual eligibles, Health Care Services Corporation (HCSC) takes a creative approach, employing everything from home visits to ‘street case management’ to coordinate care for Medicare-Medicaid beneficiaries.

Dual Eligibles Care and Service Planning: Integrative Approaches for the Medicare-Medicaid Population describes HCSC’s innovative tactics to engage this largely older adult and disabled population in population health management with support from a range of community partners and services.

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Infographic: Medicare Costs

December 6th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Beneficiaries in Original Medicare spent an average of $5,680 on healthcare in 2013. Half of all beneficiaries spent at least 17 percent of their income on their health, according to a new infographic by the AARP.

The infographic breaks down where Medicare beneficiaries spend their healthcare dollars and how age and health status impact spending.

Medicare Chronic Care Management Billing: Evidence-Based Workflows to Maximize CCM RevenueSince the January 2015 rollout by CMS of new chronic care management (CCM) codes, many physician practices have been slow to engage in CCM.

Arcturus Healthcare, however, rapidly grasped the potential of CCM to improve patient outcomes while generating care coordination revenue, estimating it could earn up to $100,000 monthly for qualified patients treated in its four physician practices—or $1 million a year.

Medicare Chronic Care Management Billing: Evidence-Based Workflows to Maximize CCM Revenue traces the incorporation of CCM into Arcturus Healthcare’s existing care management efforts for high-risk patients, as well as the bonus that resulted from CCM code adoption: increased engagement and improved relationships with CCM patients.

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Infographic: Physician Appointment Wait Times; Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates

May 5th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

The average wait time for a physician appointment in 15 mid-sized metropolitan areas was nearly 8 days longer than in l5 major metropolitan areas, according to a new infographic by Merritt Hawkins.

The infographic also examined rates of Medicare and Medicaid acceptance by physicians in these markets.

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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Infographic: How the Affordable Care Act Is Changing Medicare

June 19th, 2015 by Melanie Matthews

One of the Affordable Care Act’s lesser known goals is to improve Medicare’s coverage, care and financial outlook, according to a new infographic by the Commonwealth Fund.

The infographic drills down on the impact that the ACA has had on reducing gaps in care, improving chronic care management, emphasizing high-value care and slowing healthcare spending.

11 Profitable Value-Based Reimbursement Models: Lessons from Early AdoptersCMS’s ambitious agenda for moving Medicare into alternative payment models is driving the U.S. healthcare system toward greater value-based purchasing at a furious rate. Private payors also have pledged to continue to shift payments away from fee for service and into alternative payment models such as accountable care organizations (ACOs). Fortunately, many healthcare organizations are already exploring value-based payments—often a single innovation at a time—testing models that reward providers for meeting Triple Aim goals of improving patient experience and population health while reducing healthcare’s per capita cost.

11 Profitable Value-Based Reimbursement Models: Lessons from Early Adopters encapsulates nearly a dozen such approaches, from Bon Secours’ building of a business case for its multidisciplinary care team to the John C. Lincoln ACO’s deep dive into data analytics to identify and manage the care of high-risk, high-cost ‘VIP’ patients to ‘beat the benchmark’ to WellPoint’s engagement of specialists in care coordination.

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13 Metrics on Care Transition Management

May 7th, 2015 by Cheryl Miller

Care transitions mandate: Sharpen communication between care sites.


Call it Care Transitions Management 2.0 — enterprising approaches that range from recording patient discharge instructions to enlisting fire departments and pharmacists to conduct home visits and reconcile medications.

To improve 30-day readmissions and avoid costly Medicare penalties, more than one-third of 116 respondents to the 2015 Care Transitions Management survey—34 percent—have designed programs in this area, drawing inspiration from the Coleman Care Transitions Program®, Project BOOST®, Project RED, Guided Care®, and other models.

Whether self-styled or off the shelf, well-managed care transitions enhance both quality of care and utilization metrics, according to this fourth annual Care Transitions survey conducted in February 2015 by the Healthcare Intelligence Network. Seventy-four percent of respondents reported a drop in readmissions; 44 percent saw decreases in lengths of stay; 38 percent saw readmissions penalties drop; and 65 percent said patient compliance improved.

Following are eight more care transition management metrics derived from the survey:

  • The hospital-to-home transition is the most critical transition to manage, say 50 percent of respondents.
  • Heart failure is the top targeted health condition of care transition efforts for 81 percent of respondents.
  • A history of recent hospitalizations is the most glaring indicator of a need for care transitions management, say 81 percent of respondents.
  • Beyond the self-developed approach, the most-modeled program is CMS’ Community-Based Care Transitions Program, say 13 percent of respondents.
  • Eighty percent of respondents engage patients post-discharge via telephonic follow-up.
  • Discharge summary templates are used by 45 percent of respondents.
  • Home visits for recently discharged patients are offered by 49 percent of respondents.
  • Beyond the EHR, information about discharged or transitioning patients is most often transmitted via phone or fax, say 38 percent of respondents.

Source: 2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Care Transitions Management

Care Transition Management

2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Care Transitions Management HIN’s fourth annual analysis of these cross-continuum initiatives, examines programs, models, protocols and results associated with movement of patients from one care site to another, including the impact of care transitions management on quality metrics and the delivery of value-based care.