News Blog

Value-driven outcomes tool reduces costs, improves quality of care
Monday, September 19, 2016

Reduced costs and improved quality were associated with the implementation of a multifaceted value-driven outcomes tool in three clinical projects, according to study findings published in JAMA.
“Under alternative payment models, clinicians will theoretically deliver higher-quality care that results in better outcomes, fewer complications, and reduced health care spending,” Vivian S. Lee, MD, PhD, MBA, of the University of Utah, and colleagues wrote. “To implement alternative payment models effectively, physicians must understand actual care costs (not charges) and outcomes achieved for individual patients with defined clinical conditions—the level at which they can most directly influence change.”
Lee and colleagues performed an uncontrolled, observational study to determine the relationship between a value-driven outcomes tool and cost reduction and health outcomes optimization. The tool measured quality, outcomes, and variability in costs at the level of the individual patient.
The researchers selected and conducted three clinical improvement projects from 2012 to 2016. The projects included one on total joint replacement, one on the use of hospitalist laboratories, and a third on sepsis management.
Data included information from the 1.7 million patients, including 34,000 inpatient discharges, who visited University of Utah Health Care from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.
Results indicated that professional costs accounted for 24.3% ($114.4 million of $470.4 million) of the total costs for inpatient episodes and 41.9% ($231.7 million of $553.1 million) of total costs for outpatient visits. Among the Medicare severity diagnosis related groups, postoperative infection (coefficient of variation [CV] = 1.71) and sepsis (CV = 1.37) had the highest total direct costs and cost variability, while organ transplantation had the lowest (CV 0.43).
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Acadia offers not-for-profit hospitals a psych option
Monday, September 19, 2016

Acadia Healthcare, the nation's largest, for-profit owner of psychiatric hospitals, is embarking on a strategy of joint venturing with not-for-profit hospital systems to open psychiatric beds.

Acadia announced this week that it is partnering with not-for-profit Ochsner Health System to open an 82-bed psychiatric hospital in LaPlace, La., outside of New Orleans.

The location currently houses Ochsner's River Parishes' Emergency Room, the site of a former LifePoint Health hospital that Ochsner acquired. Ochsner intends to move the free-standing emergency room to a new nearby site, andAcadia will refurbish the building for the psychiatric hospital, the companies said in a release.

New Orleans is “radically under-bedded” for psychiatric patients, creating long wait lists for care in the area, said Acadia CEO Joey Jacobs. The hospital is expected to open in 2018.
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CBO: Hospitals' future finances depend on increasing productivity
Monday, September 19, 2016

  • A new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has recognized that changes in laws and regulations, prompted primarily by the ACA--notably reduced Medicare payment updates and expanded insurance coverage--can be expected to significantly impact hospitals' future finances.
  • To help provide a sense of the impacts, the CBO's working paper predicted hospitals’ profit margins, and the share of hospitals that could lose money in 2025 under several different scenarios.
  • The researchers noted that they provided a wide range of estimates due to "substantial uncertainty" around the predictions and how hospitals will respond to the pressures of the federal healthcare law.

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Survey: Employees struggle with health benefit confusion, stress
Monday, September 19, 2016

  • Employee benefits open enrollment season is right around the corner, and if the results of a recent survey of 2,000 full-time, benefits-eligible employees are any indication, employers have their work cut out for them.
  • The survey, from Jellyvision and conducted by Harris Poll, found 48% of employees report that making health insurance decisions is always “very stressful” for them. Among those whose employer offers health insurance, 41% feel the open enrollment process at their company is “extremely confusing.”
  • The “What Your Employees Think About Your Benefits Communication” report also found that 73% of employees feel confident about health insurance details like deductible size, only 53% know their out-of-pocket maximums and just 47% know their employer’s contributions. Finally, 20% often regret the benefits choices they make, and 56% would like help from their employer when choosing a health plan.

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Telehealth: The new normal for patient care
Monday, September 19, 2016

The new normal for care
Telehealth isn’t a new trend or an emerging technology. In fact, telehealth has quickly become an essential part of the comprehensive healthcare ecosystem.
This informational graphic highlights the prevalence of telehealth through a series of statistics, as well as identifying the many benefits enjoyed by patients, provider organizations and practitioners.
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How to improve your organization’s cybersecurity training
Monday, September 19, 2016

Today’s healthcare industry today is vastly different from what it was just five years ago. While changes in government regulations have had a major impact, the more stunning evolution has to do with the use and reliance on technology and big data.
Healthcare organizations of all types integrate leading-edge hardware and software solutions into everything that they do. It requires a massive investment, and is driven by two primary objectives:

  • Improve quality of care. An array of new mobile devices enables providers to gather and analyze data of all kinds—from diagnostic details to treatment records—and they can apply this knowledge for treatment and service faster than ever before.
  • Increase productivity of providers. State-of-the-art information management systems enable providers to capture a broader range of service and operating data in increasing depth in order to refine patient care and streamline business processes.

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Why Millennials Are Key to the Future of Healthcare
Monday, September 19, 2016

The health care workforce has a problem.
Demand for health care jobs is on the rise: One-third of new U.S. jobs in the next decade will be in the industry.
But that rising demand has been accompanied by rising turnover. The health care industry had a median 13.4 percent turnover rate in 2015, up from 9.9 percent in 2010.
Some turnover is inevitable, but it doesn't have to be this high. Hospitals and health systems can take several steps to retain more employees, Kate Vonderhaar, a senior consultant withAdvisory Board's HR Advancement Center, tells the Daily Briefing.
But to do so, organizations need to better understand the needs of the key group of workers responsible for more than 25 percent of last year's hospital turnover: employees with less than one year of tenure, many of whom are millennials.

How millennials are—and aren't—different from past generations

There are three reasons millennials are more likely to leave than employees from other generations in the workforce, Vonderhaar says. First, millennials are younger and have less experience in the workforce to help put their current position in context; they're thus more likely to believe—rightly or wrongly—that the grass is greener elsewhere.
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MACRA rules: Ten things to know about the new healthcare law
Monday, September 19, 2016

An expert's tips for how physicians paid by Medicare can begin to navigate the quickly accelerating transformation into new payment models -- and the related technology -- under MACRA.

Here are 10 things to know about the new MACRA rules for Medicare reimbursement of physicians, including data's role.
The MACRA tips come from Richard Royer, CEO of health IT consulting firm Primaris, based in Columbia, Mo., who spoke about MACRA -- the Medicare Access and CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) Reauthorization Act -- at the Health IT Summit conference in Boston in June.
  1. Physicians will select from 300 clinical measures embedded in the MACRA rules, 80% of which are already in the Patient Quality Reporting System.
  2. Providers should optimize their data and use metrics that measure medical outcomes.
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Healthcare cybersecurity strategies: Balance the human factor with technology
Monday, September 19, 2016

Healthcare cybersecurity is a mixture of employee training and technology, but how much of either? And what cybersecurity strategies should be used? A security expert explains.

With healthcare cybersecurity, the balancing act between training employeesto not put the healthcare organization at risk by clicking on bad links or misusing devices and simultaneously implementing the right technologies to protect against an attack can be challenging. At the Health IT Summit in Boston, Jigar Kadakia, chief information security and privacy officer at Partners HealthCare, discussed how much of healthcare cybersecurity strategies is the human factor and how much is the technology factor. He also talked about health IT security approaches and strategies healthcare organizations should consider if they want to ward off attacks.
How much of healthcare cybersecurity strategies is a human issue versus a technology issue?
Jigar Kadakia: I would say 60% to 70% is the human factor and 30% is the technology factor. So if you think about the way we operate in our world today ... the majority of us have a very broad print on social media, whether you have LinkedIn, which just got hacked; Facebook, which has been hacked; or other social media sites. ... Most of the stuff that you put on there ties to your corporation somehow. Whether you use a similar username or same set of password credentials, you use your phone, maybe you have a work phone that also is your personal phone, and that's where the token code goes. But either way, all the information is out there, and it just takes a little bit of time and some smarts and now analytics to figure out what you're doing and that which will expose you. So that's the human element of it.
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Great job reducing readmissions, hospitals (but it's about to get harder)
Monday, September 19, 2016

If unnecessary hospital readmissions are, as some suggest, the low-hanging fruit in the pursuit of better healthcare, hospitals should get ready to pluck less and less.

Hospital administrators have had years—four since Medicare's Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program took effect, and six since the Affordable Care Act spurred a slew of other initiatives to improve healthcare value—to scrutinize and cut down on unnecessary readmissions. And in those years, the U.S. has largely managed to do so, new numbers from the CMS show.

From 2010 to 2015, readmission rates among Medicare beneficiaries fell in Washington, D.C., and every state but one, the CMS reported. That drop translates to about 565,000 avoided readmissions for Medicare beneficiaries since 2010, including 100,000 in 2015 alone.
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