Entries in Riddle, Clive (293)


Accenture’s Advice to Pharma: It’s The Evidence, Stupid.

Accenture’s Advice to Pharma: It’s The Evidence, Stupid.

By Clive Riddle, January 12, 2018


Remember when Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign mantra was “it’s the economy, stupid”?  Accenture advises the pharmaceutical industry to substitute evidence for economy in that equation and focus more on evidence-based solutions than products or brand.


Accenture has just released 16-page report: Product Launch: The Patient Has Spoken in which they conclude “brands are not major influencing factors when patients consider new pharmaceutical products. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of patients surveyed said the product’s benefits – i.e., treatment outcomes – are more important than the brand itself, with less than one-third (31 percent) citing a strong affinity to brands in a healthcare setting.”


Accenture tells us that for the report, they commissioned a survey of 8,000 patients in France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S across eight therapeutic areas – immunology, cardiology, pulmonology, neurology, oncology, rheumatology, endocrinology and eye disease. Respondents represented three main age demographics: baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials.


Accenture shared the following findings:


When patients were asked which factors influence their healthcare product and treatment decisions:

·         66% cited the doctor/physician relationship

·         55% indicated the ability to maintain their current lifestyle

·         53% said ease of access to the care they’ll need

·         But just 31% listed brand loyalty or popularity, and this ranked twelfth out of 14 influencing factors


The report notes that patient perspectives include:

·         38 % said they feel very knowledgeable about new or existing products coming to market for their condition

·         25 % reported having either very limited or no knowledge of new products that might be suitable for them

·         48 % believe that their doctors discuss the full range of product options with them

·         44 % feel that they have significant input into their treatment selection

·         63 % said they want to be involved in such decisions

·         47% said they’ve thought about switching their treatment at some point

·         62%of those who think about switching end up doing so


So if it isn’t product and brand, what does drive patient treatment choice decisions? Accenture says “despite survey results showing that many patients look online for information about new treatments, physicians remain the primary influencer of their treatment choices. In fact, the reason patients cited most often for switching treatments was a recommendation from their physician (cited by 81 percent of patients who switched treatments), followed by proven benefits compared to current treatment (79 percent) and fewer side-effects than their current treatment (78 percent).”


Regarding demographics, the survey “findings also identified differences in attitude and behavior by age group, with younger patients more likely than older ones to understand which treatments are available—and switch treatments when they believe there’s something better. For instance, while physician recommendation was the most-cited reason across all age groups for switching treatment, Millennials are almost twice as likely as Baby Boomers to be influenced by people posting alternative treatment options on social media.”


Of course what the report doesn’t focus on regarding treatment decisions is the role of insurance coverage, cost-sharing and formularies. But Accenture’s message in this value based era should still resonate. Accenture’s Jim Cleffi, a co-author of the report, tells us “given the significant budgets pharmaceutical companies devote to driving brand equity in the marketplace, our report findings should be a strong signal to the industry that launch strategies need to change. Patients in our study made it clear that outcomes matter most which means that pharma companies should focus their launch strategies and communications more on patient value and impact versus the brand—and do so in a much more precise and personalized way. Reallocating parts of launch budgets to programs that resonate the most with different patient segments would not only better meet patients’ needs and deliver better outcomes, but likely provide the companies with better ROI.”


Accenture provides pharma two recommendations in the report:

1)    Bring an outcome – not just a product – to market. Patients value outcomes over brands, so instead of launching just products, pharmaceutical companies should start launching evidence-based solutions, or products with services as a secondary offering. This will require collaborative data-sharing – between patients, providers and payers – along with advanced analytics to generate robust insights and delivery via digital channels. This mindset should begin at the clinical trial-stage so it informs new launch strategies and full commercialization.

2)    Make it personal and precise. One size no longer fits all; pharmaceutical companies need to understand patient sub-segments and develop value-driven launch strategies tailored to each segment. Harnessing advanced analytics and other new technologies that leverage the proliferation of health data will help enable companies to modify launch strategies that make new treatments more relevant to patients while also driving better-informed resource and investment allocations.


Ten Large Objects on the Highway to Healthcare in 2018

By Clive Riddle, January 5, 2018

We find ourselves suddenly situated in 2018. How did that happen? Where did 2017 go, and for that matter, 2016 and its younger siblings? A Meat Loaf ballad once lyricized how Objects in the Rear View Mirror Appear Closer Than They Are. With apologies to AC/DC - on the highway to healthcare, here are ten large objects that demand our attention to stay focused on the road ahead and not in that fabled rear view mirror:

Merger Mania

In 2015 three health plan mega mergers were hatched, but only the Centene-HealthNet one made it out of the nest, and no other mega deals immediately followed suit. Will the late 2017 CVS-Aetna and hospital mergers such as CHI-Dignity signal more major activity in 2018, such as the rumored St. Joseph-Ascension merger? The answer should be a big yes for hospitals and other providers. In the health plan arena, look for additional players to pursue out of the box approaches such as CVS-Aetna (see below.)

CVS/Aetna and Multi-Level Integration

CVS will become a distribution center for applicable Aetna products. Aetna will become a distribution system for CVS products. CVS will further build upon its base retail clinics to become a direct care delivery system for Aetna. It’s a different kind of integrated delivery system than traditional hospital-medical group-health plan integrated systems, but integration it is, all the same, at multiple levels.

Amazon and the Decline of Retail Pharmacies

Especially coming off the holiday season, we read reports on the continuing rise of online shopping and decline of brick and mortar retail. Mail order pharmacy has been around for decades but has been focused on maintenance meds. Now that Amazon has mastered rapid on-demand delivery and has filed for pharmacy licenses in various states, and can deliver the other non-prescription products typically purchased at retail pharmacies – the rush is on. Major retail pharmacies will try mightily to enhance their own online offerings or partnerships.

Consumer Embrace of Technology

Private practice physicians aren’t so wild about the demands of EHR, and are skeptical at times about all things new bright and shiny, but numerous surveys indicate consumers are enthusiastic about the range of advances in healthcare technology that touch them. Consumers have plenty to be grumpy about in healthcare – but their embrace of technology will continue to drive demand for telehealth, e-visits, apps, portals, wearables, and new treatment options.

Searching For Value in Value Based Care

In the business of healthcare, we love to give birth to innovative approaches in healthcare delivery and payment arrangements, and after a honeymoon period, we tend to eat our own. Studies are published that indicate the new approach doesn’t deliver on results. A chorus of naysayers rises. And then we rightly or wrongly move on to something else. Health Affairs recently published a study concluding that Medicare ACO program savings were more the result of patient selection than care efficiencies. Other studies have begun to question various value based care arrangements. Given the growing popularity of value based care, and the intrinsic notion that the proposition makes sense, there is much at stake for value based stakeholders to continue to demonstrate the true value in their arrangements.

All Things Healthcare CyberSecurity

Hackers are as plentiful and resilient as crabgrass. Healthcare provides fertile hacking ground. The challenges in cybersecurity will grow larger, not smaller in 2018. More data breaches, and ransomware and other intrusions will occur and disrupt. A greater portion of healthcare resources will have to be deployed from every budget.

Deploying Social Determinants of Health

SDOH has been around for some time, but in 2018 it will be put into practice for population health initiatives by healthcare organizations and health plans on a significantly wider scale, driven by analytics and innovative new approaches.

Ho-Hum Impact of Trump Health Insurance Reforms

Moving insurance plans offerings across state lines and promoting association health plans won’t make much of a dent in the individual health insurance market in 2018. Don’t count on these initiatives to drive much business.

The Certainty of Uncertainty

Uncertainly was the word of the year in 2017 as the ACA teetered on a year-long tightrope. The tax reform individual mandate axe further muddies the water, as well as threatened Medicaid funding and more in 2018, but then there are the November 2018 elections, and who knows what that will bring.

Fulfilling the Promise of Analytics

SDOH is just one of a spectrum of initiatives that analytics is driving that wouldn’t have been feasible in their current form earlier this decade. Analytics is helping to shape solutions for the Opioid crisis, healthcare identify management, and interventions throughout population health, readmissions management, complex case management, to name a few. Serious analytics requires no small sum of resources and scale, but the returns are mounting and will bear even more fruit in 2018.


Looking A Little Deeper into CMS National Health Expenditure Report

Looking A Little Deeper into CMS National Health Expenditure Report

By Clive Riddle, December 20, 2017



The CMS Office of the Actuary recently released their annual National Health Expenditure Data, current and historical through 2016. We thought we’d take a slightly deeper look at data released to expand upon the publicized highlights.


CMS found that ”in 2016, overall national health spending increased 4.3 percent following 5.8 percent growth in 2015.” For comparison PwC in their annual Behind The Numbers medical cost trend report pegged the number at 6.8% in 2015; 6.2% in 2016; 6.0% in 2017 and project 6.5% for 2018. Of course overall national health expenditures measured by CMS are not an identical universe to how PwC measures medical cost trend.


The portion of national GDP that healthcare consumes has been one of the most used comparative measures of healthcare to the overall economy. CMS found that “During 2014 and 2015, the health spending share of the economy increased 0.5 percentage point from 17.2 percent in 2013 to 17.7 percent in 2015. Health care spending grew 1.5 percentage points faster than the overall economy in 2016, resulting in a 0.2 percentage-point increase in the health spending share of the economy – from 17.7 percent in 2015 to 17.9 percent in 2016.” Looking back into CMS historical files, in 1966 healthcare consumed 5.7% of the national GDP. In 1976 it was 8.1%. In 1986: 10.3; 1996: 13.3%; 2006: 15.5%; and last year to 17.9%.


CMS reports that “private health insurance spending increased 5.1 percent to $1.1 trillion in 2016, which was slower than the 6.9 percent growth in 2015.” Private insurance comprised 22% of national health expenditures in 1966, 25% in 1976, 29% in 1986, 32% in 1996, and 34% in 2006 as well as 2016.  


Regarding Medicare, CMS states “spending grew 3.6 percent to $672.1 billion in 2016, which was slower growth than the previous two years when spending grew 4.8 percent in 2015 and 4.9 percent in 2014.  Medicare comprised 4% of national health expenditures in 1966, 13% in 1976, 16% in 1986, 18% in 1996, 19% in 2006 and 20% in 2016


For Medicaid, CMS says “expenditures grew 3.2 percent in 2016, while federal Medicaid expenditures increased 4.4 percent in 2016. The slower overall growth in Medicaid spending was much lower than in the previous two years, when Medicaid spending grew 11.5 percent in 2014 and 9.5 percent in 2015.” Medicaid comprised 3% of national health expenditures in 1966, 10% in 1976, 9% in 1986, 14% in 1996 and 2006, and 17% in 2016.


CMS tells us that overall “out-of-pocket spending grew 3.9 percent to $352.5 billion in 2016, faster than the 2.8 percent growth in 2015.  Additionally, 2016 was the fastest rate of growth since 2007 and was higher than the average annual growth of 2.0 percent during 2008-15.”Examining out of pocket expenses as a percent of overall health expenditures, we found the percentage has decreased from to 48% in 1960; 33% in 1970; 22% in 1985; 15% in 2000 and 11% in 2016.


CMS reported that “retail prescription drug spending slowed in 2016, increasing 1.3 percent to $328.6 billion. The slower growth in 2016 follows two years of significant growth in 2014 and 2015, 12.4 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively” Looking back at historical files for Rx total spending, percentage of overall healthcare spending and the percentage paid out of pocket for the past six decades, we found:

1966: Total $4.0 Billion | 8.6% of Total Health Expenditures | 90.2% paid out of pocket

1976: Total $8.7 Billion | 5.7% of Total Health Expenditures | 74.7% paid out of pocket

1986: Total $24.3 Billion | 5.1% of Total Health Expenditures | 64.8% paid out of pocket

1996: Total $68.1 Billion | 6.3% of Total Health Expenditures | 35.6% paid out of pocket

2006: Total $224.1 Billion | 10.4% of Total Health Expenditures | 22.9% paid out of pocket

2016: Total $328.6 Billion | 9.8% of Total Health Expenditures | 13.7% paid out of pocket.



Recent Uber and Lyft Healthcare Transportation Collaborations

By Clive Riddle, December 1, 2017 

Yesterday (November 30th) Cigna-HealthSpring reported on its collaboration with Lyft for medical transportation of Medicare Advantage members. They stated that "more than 14,500 transports have occurred through this collaboration. Since its introduction in May, 92 percent of Cigna-HealthSpring customers using Lyft have made it their preferred transportation option, according to customer surveys. On average, participants are waiting less than eight minutes for Lyft to take them to or from their appointments." They explain that "the service is for ambulatory customers in non-emergencies only and is only available to Cigna-HealthSpring customers whose benefit plan includes supplemental non-emergent medical transportation coverage through Access2Care at no additional cost. Participants need to contact Access2Care to establish Lyft as their designated transportation provider." 

I decided to check out what other developments have occurred during the past month regarding Uber, Lyft and medical transportation collaborations. 

The AHA during November published a nice 27-page report in their Social Determinants of Health Series on Transportation and the Role of Hospitals. In their chart summarizing transportation strategies, they state that “When transportation is unavailable, health care systems may need to provide transportation directly to patients and staff,” and their recommendations include that hospitals “partner with ride-sharing companies like Uber or Lyft.” 

A November1st Catholic Health World article Ministry systems tackle transportation barriers for vulnerable patients, that included these four examples of Uber and Lyft healthcare transportation collaborations: 

  • “St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland launched a program in the spring to provide free transportation via the ride-sharing company Uber to patients undergoing addiction treatment in the hospital's Rosary Hall Intensive Outpatient Program.....Between June and September, 30 new clients logged 507 Uber rides, and 29 clients achieved 100 percent participation in the group and individual counseling sessions. In the 30 days before launch, Rosary Hall had 76 percent client participation in group sessions and 62 percent client participation in individual counseling sessions. “
  • “Trinity Health of New England has pinpointed pickup and drop-off locations exclusively for Uber riders to and from its five hospital campuses in Connecticut and Massachusetts that can be selected on the Uber smartphone app so the driver knows exactly where to deliver or meet a patient. Uber rides also can be scheduled through each hospital's website....Trinity also uses Uber to transport select patients from its Mandell Center for Multiple Sclerosis in Hartford, Conn., for services at nearby Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center.”
  • “St. Louis-based Ascension was the first health care system to form a partnership with Lyft. Since February, Ascension has put agreements in place in 21 of its markets, and Lyft has provided more than 8,000 rides.....Ascension staff members use Lyft's concierge platform to schedule the rides.”
  • “Broomfield, Colo.-based SCL Health announced last month that it is collaborating with Lyft to make nonemergency on-demand or scheduled transport available to its vulnerable patients living in the front range of the Rockies near Denver.”  

The Advisory Board Care Transformation Center Blog featured this post on November 28th5 ways MedStar's nurse-inspired partnership with Uber has paid off, starting off by telling us “Since 2016, Uber has announced partnerships with MedStar Health, Hackensack University Medical Center, and Boston Children's Hospital. Lyft has announced partnerships with transportation service organizations National Medtrans Network and Logisticare, as well as BCBSA. Why have these organization, among others, turned away from more traditional van or cab service? We learned a bit more about MedStar's arrangement with Uber to try and figure it out.” They cite these key benefits of the Medstar/Uber partnership: Patient Transportation Service is now faster; Service is more reliable; Service is less expensive; Clinic staff workflow is more manageable; and Analytics on MedStar transportation support offer new opportunities. 

But there are concerns patients are beginning to use Uber and Lyft in emergent situations. The CBS affiliate in Cincinnati reported on November 9th on The "Uberlance" trend: People turn to Uber to offset high hospital transportation costs.  They tell us that “the new trend is forcing Uber drivers to act as first responders. The drivers asked to not have their identities revealed, but they still wanted to tell their stories of what is now being referred to as ‘Uberlance.’ ‘I said to him ‘why didn't you call an ambulance?’ His hand was bleeding. He goes ‘because you're quicker and you're cheaper,’ said ‘Johnny’, an Uber driver. ‘I've had people get in my car, they're dizzy, they don't feel well, their chest hurts,’ said ‘Brian’, an Uber driver. Drivers say passengers opt for Uber over an ambulance for speed and cost.” 

Despite these concerns of patients taking matters in their own hands and using Uber or Lyft to avoid dispatching an ambulance, some EMS, healthcare and health plan organizations are proactively pursuing such arrangements for urgent care visits to avoid use of ambulances in non-emergencies.  The San Diego Union Tribune on November 5th ran the story San Diego exploring new emergency response model amid ambulance crisis, stating that EMS officials there were seeking “an alternative model where non-emergency patients could take a taxi or Uber to a clinic or urgent care facility and get reimbursed by private insurers, Medicare or Medi-Cal.” The article cites that “Anthem Health Insurance recently announced it will start covering such alternative modes of transportation in 2018.”


The State of Medicaid in the States

The State of Medicaid in the States

by Clive Riddle, November 8, 2017


Mark Farrah Associates has just released their Mid-Year 2017 Medicaid Market and Enrollment Trends report which cites national Medicaid coverage was “74.3 million as of June 2017. This represents approximately 17.5 million more covered lives, a 31% increase, when compared to the population of Medicaid recipients prior to Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation.”


They fix Medicaid managed care enrollment nationally at 48.6 million, and tell us “total year-over-year managed Medicaid grew by only 187,000 members, a substantial difference from the 3.6 million increase between 2Q15 and 2Q16. Most of the top five managed care companies– Centene, Anthem, UnitedHealth, Molina and Wellcare – did however, experience enrollment increases. Among the leaders, Centene commanded 12% of the Medicaid market share as of second quarter 2016, enrolling approximately 6 million members. Anthem and UnitedHealth increased year-over-year membership with both attaining 11% market share. Molina and WellCare rounded out the top five Medicaid managed care leaders accounting for 7 and 5 percent market share, respectively. These top five Medicaid companies control 45% of the overall Medicaid Managed Care market.”


Meanwhile, CMS Administrator Seema Verma this week gave a major speech discussing “her vision for the future of Medicaid and unveiled new CMS policies that encourage states to propose innovative Medicaid reforms, reduce federal regulatory burdens, increase efficiency, and promote transparency and accountability.”


CMS reports that Verma emphasized “her commitment to ‘turn the page in the Medicaid program’ by giving states more freedom to design innovative programs that achieve positive results for the people they serve and pledged to remove impediments that get in the way of states achieving this goal. She announced several new policies and initiatives that break down the barriers that prevent state innovation and improvement of Medicaid beneficiary health outcomes.”


CMS touts that they have published new public website content that reflects “CMS’s willingness to work with state officials requesting flexibility to continue to provide high quality services to their Medicaid beneficiaries, support upward mobility and independence, and advance innovative delivery system and payment models.” Veema emphasized their “commitment to considering proposals that would give states more flexibility to engage with their working-age, able-bodied citizens on Medicaid through demonstrations that will help them rise out of poverty.”  In shorthand, this means that states have a path to impose work requirements on applicable Medicaid beneficiaries and deny continued coverage for those that do not comply. 


Other changes CMS shares include:

·         Allowing states to request approval for certain 1115 demonstrations for up to 10 years;

·         Providing for states to more easily pursue “fast track” federal review

·         Reducing certain state 1115 reporting requirements;

·         Expediting SPA and 1915 waiver efforts through a streamlined process and by participating in a new “within 15-day” initial review call with CMS officials.

·         Developing “Scorecards that will provide greater transparency and accountability of the Medicaid program by tracking and publishing state and federal Medicaid outcomes.”


Meanwhile, the question of the day is what to make of the Maine election results this week approving Medicaid expansion, with their Governor subsequently stating he will block implementation.

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