Posts Tagged ‘ACOs’

Infographic: Medicaid ACO State Activity Map

March 2nd, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

State-based Medicaid accountable care organizations (ACOs) are becoming increasingly prevalent across the country, with more and more states pursuing ACOs as a way to improve health outcomes and control costs through greater provider accountability, according to the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS).

CHCS has created an interactive map that offers an ongoing update of Medicaid ACO activities by state, including governance structure, scope of services, and payment model.

Care Coordination of Highest-Risk Patients: Business Case for Managing Complex PopulationsAsked by its C-suite to quantify contributions of its multidisciplinary care team for its highest-risk patients, AltaMed Health Services Corporation readily identified seven key performance metrics associated with the team. Having demonstrated the team’s bottom line impact on specialty costs, emergency room visits, and HEDIS® measures, among other areas, the largest independent federally qualified community health center (FQHC) was granted additional staff to expand care management for its safety net population.

The Care Coordination of Highest-Risk Patients: Business Case for Managing Complex Populations chronicles AltaMed’s four-phase rollout of care coordination for dual eligibles—a population with higher hospitalization and utilization and care costs twice those of any other population served by AltaMed.

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Infographic: ACO Trends

January 23rd, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Momentum in value-based care has been building over the last several years, and 2016 was no exception, according to a new infographic by Oliver Wyman.

The infographic maps out the more than 630 ACOs in the United States.

Care Coordination in an ACO: Population Health Management from Wellness to End-of-LifeWhen acknowledging its position as a top-ranking Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), Memorial Hermann is quick to credit its own physicians—who in 2007 lobbied for a clinically integrated network that formed the foundation of the current Memorial Hermann accountable care organization (ACO). Now, eight years later, collaboration and integration continue to be the engines driving the ACO’s cost savings, reduced utilization and healthy patient engagement rates associated with Memorial Hermann ACO’s highest-risk population.

Care Coordination in an ACO: Population Health Management from Wellness to End-of-Life details Memorial Hermann’s carefully executed journey to quality and the culmination of the ACO’s community-based care management program.

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Leveraging the PHO Model for Bundled Payment Success

February 5th, 2015 by Cheryl Miller

As Medicare begins its ambitious timeline for moving Medicare payments from volume- to value-based models, alternative payment formulas, including bundled payment arrangements for episodes of care, which CMS has tested in a range of pilots in recent years, will come to the forefront. Here, Travis Ansel, senior manager of the Healthcare Strategy Group, explains why the physician-hospital organization (PHO) provides an attractive framework for bundled payment models.

Bundled pricing is appearing in more and more markets across a number of payors. As I’m sure everyone knows, CMS is testing bundled payment pilots across the country. A number of our clients that have been involved with that have had a reasonable amount of success. Overall, the level of success of the bundled pricing pilot program for CMS leaves one to wonder: is that the future of CMS? Is it some combination of accountable care organizations (ACOs) and bundled payments?

Another interesting program for bundled payments is what’s going on in Arkansas with the Healthcare Payment Improvement Initiative. In this program, the state Medicaid program and Blue Cross have actually worked together to create bundled payments for episodes of care based around high volume diagnosis-related groups (DRGs). The responsibilities for hitting the cost targets in this case are assigned to what they refer to as the “principal accountable provider.” For example, for DRG 470, major joint, the principal accountable provider is the orthopedic surgeon, but the orthopedic surgeon in this case was being held accountable for what goes on in his or her practice.

What goes on before surgery? What goes on during the hospitalization and the surgery, and then what happens 30-90 days post-acute care? They’re being held accountable for care across the continuum. This is relevant to the PHO model, because as this is phased into a number of DRGs—it started with eight, but now it includes quite a few more—the need for a PHO model will bring these physicians together.

PHO Models
Travis Ansel, MBA, is manager of strategic services with Healthcare Strategy Group, LLC. Ansel’s practice focuses on helping hospitals and health systems with physician alignment issues through strategic planning initiatives, such as hospital strategic planning, employed physician group strategic planning, physician alignment planning, and clinical integration. Mr. Ansel holds a master’s of business administration from Vanderbilt University, and bachelor of science degrees in finance and business management from the University of Tennessee.

Source: Preparing for Value-Based Reimbursement Models: PHO Development for ACOs, Bundled Payments and Direct Contracting

2014 Value-Based Priorities: Population Health, Care Coordination, Integrated Care

July 3rd, 2014 by Cheryl Miller

From an early surge in Medicare accountable care collaborations (ACOs) to the problematic rollout of the nation’s historic health insurance exchanges during a 16-day government shutdown, healthcare in 2013 was nothing short of unpredictable. Respondents to HIN’s tenth annual Healthcare Trends and Forecasts survey identified a trifecta of value-based priorities for 2014, deeming population health management (56 percent), care coordination (51 percent) and integrated care delivery (42 percent) initiatives most worthy of their attention in 2014.

In tandem with these Triple Aim priorities, respondents also selected the accountable care organization (ACO) as the care delivery model most likely to transform healthcare, from both cost and care delivery perspectives. The patient-centered medical home has held this distinction for the last two years.

Some key findings from the survey include the following:

  1. The top business areas affected by the 2013 economy were growth (65 percent, still the top area but down from 72 percent in 2012); hiring and recruitment (65 percent); capital improvement (48 percent); and service expansion (43 percent).
  2. The top five factors impacting healthcare business in 2013 were not limited to purely financial issues as they have been in recent years: budget constraints (42 percent), the Affordable Care Act, or ACA (30 percent), reimbursement (28 percent), care transitions (27 percent), and the economy (25 percent).
  3. Beyond the ACO and the patient-centered medical home (PCMH), the care delivery systems with the most transformational potential were comprehensive primary care (19 percent) and bundled payments (11 percent).
  4. Beyond population health management, care coordination and integrated care delivery, the areas of healthcare most ripe for development are e-health and telehealth (39 percent), access to healthcare (33 percent), health and wellness (26 percent) and dual eligibles (25 percent).
  5. Impacts from continued rollout of ACA initiatives in 2014 include (in respondents’ own words): expansion of customer base from implementation of physician ACO and bundled payment programs; reduced reimbursement, requiring more efficiency and cost reductions; the challenge of delivering primary care services with improved outcomes and transparency in reporting; and revenue streams created by exchanges, along with a need to add primary care practitioners.

Excerpted from Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2014: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry.

5 Ideas to Improve ACO Performance Results

June 19th, 2014 by Cheryl Miller

One step John C. Lincoln network took to improve performance results at the end of its first year as a Medicare Shared Savings Program accountable care organization (MSSP ACO) was to focus on a relatively small number of patients, the top 5 percent of beneficiaries by claims volume who actually account for about 60 percent of medical spend, explains Heather Jelonek, CEO for ACOs at John C. Lincoln Network, who shares additional strategies here.

First, we decided to institute wellness visits across our health system. We’ve worked with several large third party payors here in the valley where they’re now recognizing the Medicare G-codes for wellness visits. We bring those patients in and get a full survey of what’s been going on with them.

Second, we’re engaging in regular population management. We now have our physicians talking about how often they want to see their patients with diabetes or hypertension or cancer.

Third, we’re also starting to focus on those individuals who are ‘aging in;’ those patients who are about 62½. We’re trying to get them in and get them into a routine, making sure they’ve got A1C scores every quarter and every six months, and have had their flu shots and colonoscopies. We’re hoping a healthier generation of individuals coming into the Medicare program improves the quality outcomes that we’ll see long-term.

Fourth, we’ve developed a standardization for our quality reporting. We’ve looked at the top 5 percent of our beneficiaries by claims volume, who actually account for about 60 percent of our medical spend. We’re hoping that by focusing on a relatively small number of patients, we’ll have a drastic impact on outcomes.

Next, we’re also leveraging our electronic medical record (EMR) to the fullest extent; we’re participating in a number of conversations and baseline studies with EPIC®. They are very interested in seeing what we’ve done with the tool and how we’re making it usable for our ACO reporting.

But the one thing that we will continue to struggle with and continue to dive deeply into is integration opportunities: talking to other communities, looking at health information exchanges (HIE’s) as we’re acquiring a new practice or signing a new community physician onto our ACO — bringing everybody to the table so that we’re all speaking the same language.

Excerpted from Beyond the EMR: Mining Population Health Analytics to Elevate Accountable Care.

3 ACO Opportunities to Improve Patient Engagement

April 17th, 2014 by Cheryl Miller

Patients are 30 percent more likely to enroll in care management during or immediately after an acute event if they are contacted directly and introduced to a program and services, as opposed to being contacted via telephonic outreach, says Colin LeClair, executive director of ACO for Monarch HealthCare, which was a top performer in year one of the CMS Pioneer ACO program.

Through trial and error we found three opportunities to identify opportunities to yield patient engagement. First, getting the principal caregivers’ endorsement or that of the physician staff was by far the most effective means of earning the patients’ trust and getting them actively engaged. If we can say to a patient that ‘your physician has asked us to speak to you’, we get a ‘yes’ from the patient 80 to 90 percent of the time.

The second most effective means of enrolling patients in our care management program is during or immediately after an acute event. The idea is to catch them in the hospital if you can — immediately after they are admitted — and introduce them to the accountable care organization (ACO), our services, and what we can do to help them stay out of the hospital in the future. We found that patients are 30 percent more likely to enroll in care management during or immediately after an acute event, versus the cold telephonic outreach alternative. But this approach requires partnerships with hospitalists or with other hospital staff to notify you of those admissions because we don’t receive those from care management services in real-time data.

And finally, we find that patients are also somewhat receptive to care management services following a new diagnosis and we’re looking for those markers in the claims data as we receive it.

Excerpted from Tactics from a Top-Performing Pioneer ACO: Engaging Patients and Providers in Accountable Care.

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Children’s Health Coverage, ACOs, Reducing ED Visits

January 10th, 2014 by Cheryl Miller

Some good news to welcome in the new year: nearly two-thirds of the nation’s leading healthcare executives believe the healthcare system will be somewhat or significantly better by 2020 than it is today as a result of national healthcare reform, according to a study published in the Health Affairs blog.

Additionally, 93 percent believe that the quality of care provided by their own hospital or health system will improve during that time period. The findings, based on research by the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, includes responses from 74 senior executives from large hospitals and health systems across the United States.

More good news: doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers have formed 123 new Medicare ACOs, providing approximately 1.5 million more Medicare beneficiaries with access to high-quality coordinated care across the United States.

According to a CMS announcement, the new ACOs include a diverse cross-section of healthcare providers across the country, including providers delivering care in underserved areas. More than half of ACOs are physician-led organizations that serve fewer than 10,000 beneficiaries. Approximately one in five ACOs include community health centers, rural health clinics, and critical access hospitals that serve low-income and rural communities, CMS said.

Good news extends to low-income children as well, with our report that 23 states received over $307 million in bonuses for improving access to children’s health coverage and successfully enrolling eligible children in Medicaid, according to CMS.

States that met at least five out of eight specific features to streamline enrollment, including using data-matching to reduce paperwork and eliminating face-to-face interview requirements, received performance bonuses, designed to offset the costs of insuring this demographic, and initiated by The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA).

Some news to ponder: contrary to the idea that convenience prompts many privately insured people to seek care in emergency departments (EDs), those most likely to use EDs believe they urgently need medical attention, according to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).

Only rarely did respondents cite convenience as a reason for choosing ED care. About one in four people (24.8 percent) reported their doctor’s office was closed when they needed help, and close to a quarter (24.1 percent) indicated their physician instructed them to go to an ED.

Wondering what healthcare industry areas are ripest for expansion in 2014? Check out our latest HINfographic: 7 Value-Based Priorities for Healthcare’s Smart Money, based on the latest HIN market research.

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Meaningful Use, Hospital Pricing, Telehealth, Health Insurance Marketplaces

December 20th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

CMS has proposed delaying the start of Stage 3 of the meaningful use program for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, while the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has proposed adjustments to its certification process, according to a December 6th post on the HHS blog site Health IT Buzz.

Under CMS’ revised meaningful use timeline, the start of Stage 2 has not been changed, but it has been extended through 2016; and the start of Stage 3 has been postponed, and will begin in 2017 for healthcare providers who have completed at least two years in Stage 2 of the program.

Whether this delay sways hospital executives looking at implementing an accountable care organization (ACO) remains to be seen. EHR utilization is among the reasons nearly half of the hospital executives recently surveyed have no plans to implement the care model in the near future, according to a new survey from Purdue Healthcare Advisors. The respondents, who were categorized according to their progress with meaningful use implementation, voiced concern about the technology, particularly its interoperability with other providers, and staff readiness and training. .

Interoperability of sorts is at the core of a qualitative study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), which focused on the effects of California’s reference pricing initiative to guide consumers to hospitals that provide routine hip and knee replacements below a certain price threshold. Researchers found that the cost of these surgeries ranged from as little as $15,000 to as much as $110,000.

While the initiative was effective in setting a threshold for hospital facility payments for both procedures and designating certain hospitals that met certain quality standards, whether it contributed to overall healthcare savings was debated in the study.

But sometimes the high cost is well worth it, as in the area of telehealth and telemedicine services, according to our latest market research data.

Despite the significant financial costs of remote monitoring technologies, adopters report impressive gains in medication adherence and care of remote and rural patients, as well as a decrease in health complications. Active users of telehealth and telemedicine also experience fewer hospitalizations, hospital readmissions, ER visits and bed days.

And speaking of technology, nearly 365,000 Americans selected plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace (HIM) in October and November, and enrollment in November was more than four times greater than October’s reported federal enrollment number, according to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The numbers reflect the technical improvements to, which has been unreliable since its launch in October. The open enrollment period is six months long and continues to March 31, 2014.

And lastly, don’t forget to take our current e-survey, Reducing Hospital Readmissions in 2013. Describe how your organization is working to reduce hospital readmissions by taking HIN’s fourth comprehensive Reducing Hospital Readmissions Benchmark Survey. Respond by January 3, 2014 and receive an e-summary of the results once they are compiled.

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Medicare beneficiaries, Pediatric Mental Health, Hospital Scorecards

November 8th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

The insurance marketplace rollout continues to be problematic for many consumers, but there is some good news for Medicare beneficiaries: they are seeing significant out-of-pocket savings since the ACA was implemented, savings that will most likely continue through 2014, CMS officials say. Plus, they don’t need to sign up for the new health insurance marketplaces, as they are already covered by Medicare.

Some disturbing news from the Annual American Academy of Pediatrics: mental health diagnoses for children have jumped 30 percent in the last four years, with ADHD leading the pack, followed by anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Mental health diagnoses run about a third higher for children with Medicaid insurance compared with commercial coverage, researchers say, and clinicians need to seek a deeper understanding as to why. More inside.

Nearly 440,000 Americans are dying annually from preventable hospital errors, making them the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a Fall 2013 update to The Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Score report.

The annual report, which also assigns A, B, C, D and F grades to more than 2,500 U.S. general hospitals, shows that many hospitals are making headway in addressing errors, accidents, injuries and infections that kill or hurt patients, but overall progress is slow.

The extensive report also lists the states that earned the highest and lowest grades: among them, Maine claims the number one spot for the state with the highest percentage of “A” hospitals.

A significant and growing performance gap exists between dual eligible and non-dual eligible members when it comes to CMS Five-Star Quality rating measures, according to a study from Inovalon, Inc., a leading provider of data-driven healthcare solutions.

The study finds that a significant association exists between Medicare-Medicaid dual eligible status and lower performance on specific Part C and D measure Star ratings. The results point to the integral role that income, race/ethnicity, and gender play on the HEDIS® and CMS Part D measures used in the Five-Star rating system.

It’s not too late to take our Healthcare Trends in 2014 survey; from an early surge in Medicare ACOs to the rocky introduction of ACA-mandated health insurance exchanges during a government shutdown, healthcare in 2013 has been nothing short of unpredictable. Please tell us about the last 12 months and how your organization is preparing for 2014 by completing HIN’s ninth annual survey on Healthcare Trends by November 18, 2013. You’ll receive a free executive summary of the compiled results, and your responses will be kept strictly confidential. One respondent will win a training DVD of the “2014 Healthcare Trends and Forecasts” webinar recorded on October 30, 2013.

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Childhood Obesity, Dual Eligibles, ACOs, Patient Activation Measures

November 1st, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

Last year at this time we watched with disbelief as Hurricane Sandy pummeled our East coastline. Schools closed, power shut down, and Halloween was officially postponed until early November when it was considered safe for children to trick or treat.

Our own town is still recovering from the storm; scarred, vacant houses share the same block as rehabbed homes on stilt-like platforms; trailers double for once elegant restaurants and broken docks and abandoned boats patiently ride the crests of ocean waves.

It was a rocky year for healthcare as well, from an early surge in Medicare ACOs, to the embattled introduction of ACA-mandated health insurance exchanges during a government shutdown.

But many things remained the same; childhood obesity rates continued to climb , as did public health efforts to control it, including counseling and nutritional guidance, according to a new trends report from NCQA. Poverty continued to plague many Americans, particularly dual eligibles, but companies like Wellcare did their best to help them by closing social gaps with health-oriented community connections looking to “give back,” as its vice president of advocacy and community-based programs executive director Pamme Taylor demonstrates in this week’s featured book excerpt.

Organizations like HealthEast and Mercy utilized clinical analytics technologies from Optum to better understand and manage treatment for patients with chronic conditions, and advance performance for its newly formed accountable care organization (ACO).

And doctors’ policies toward accepting new Medicaid patients in the wake of expanded coverage will most likely stay the same, according to a study from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. The decade-plus study found that physicians might be more likely to stop accepting those patients who remain uninsured, however, as our story details.

And lastly, self-management continues to result in better patient outcomes, according to researchers from the Boston Medical Center. Patient activation, or having the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to manage one’s health, leads to better health following hospital discharge, and lower readmission rates. Screening for patient activation could not only help hospitals identify patients at risk for readmission, but also inform the development of tailored, cost-effective intervention plans.

How did your healthcare organization fare in 2013? And what plans do you have the future? Tell us by completing our ninth annual survey on Healthcare Trends for 2014 and you’ll receive a free executive summary of the results. One respondent will win a training DVD of the “2014 Healthcare Trends and Forecasts” webinar recorded on October 30, 2013.