Thursday
Mar092017

Inaccurate Provider Directories Have a Direct Impact on Patients

By Claire Thayer, March 8, 2017

Provider directories are important tool for consumer engagement with health plans and provider networks. And in many instances, the provider directory is the vehicle for the patients’ first impressions of providers and the network they represent.  The consequences of directory inaccuracies create barriers to care as well as impact patient satisfaction. And while state and regulatory agencies are imposing stiff fines for non-compliance, a new report from the California Department of Managed Care finds that most insurers still have a ways to go in this regard as many have directories that contained “data inaccuracies significant enough to render them unusable.”

A recent special edition of the MCOL Infographic, co-sponsored by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, highlights the impact of directory inaccuracies on patients:

 

 

 

MCOL’s weekly infoGraphoid is a benefit for MCOL Basic members and released each Wednesday as part of the MCOL Daily Factoid e-newsletter distribution service – find out more here.

Friday
Mar032017

2017 Employer Health Care Strategies and Trends

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By Clive Riddle, March 3, 2017

 

DirectPath and CEB have just released their 2017 Medical Plan Trends and Observations Report, “which analyzed more than 975 employee benefit health plans, highlights the top ten trends in employers’ 2017 health care strategies across three categories – plan design, cost savings mechanisms and care options.”

 

The 11-page report tells us that “employers are incorporating solutions like health savings accounts (HSAs), wellness incentives, price transparency tools and alternative care options to reduce costs.”

 

The ten trends they discuss include:

1.     Annual Deductibles Leveling Out

2.     Marginal Change in Prevalence of HDHPs

3.     HSAs Continue to Remain Popular

4.     Specialty Medication to Become More Expensive

5.     Contribution Surcharge Amounts Vary

6.     Wellness Incentives Continue to Increase in Prevalence and Amounts

7.     Plan Comparison Tools Lead to More Savings

8.     Alternative Care Options Remain Affordable

9.     Barriers to Employee Use of Telemedicine

10.  Focus on Higher Quality Health Care

 

Major findings from their surveys cited in the report include:

·         51 percent of employers offer a price transparency tool to help employees choose the service or product best for them, and 18 percent plan to add such tools in the next three years

·         In a review of price comparison requests, these services resulted in an average employee savings of $173 per procedure and average employer savings of $409 per procedure.

·         While the percentage of organizations with spousal employee contribution surcharges remained static (26 percent in 2017, as compared to 27 percent in 2016), average total surcharge amounts increased dramatically to $152 per month, a more than 40 percent increase from 2016.

·         More than a third of organizations offer telemedicine, but over 55 percent of employees in these companies are not aware of telemedicine availability, and nearly 60 percent of employees who have telemedicine programs do not feel they are easy to access, according to a separate survey recently conducted by CEB.

·         The average cost of specialty drugs that treat rare and complex conditions increased by more than 30 percent for employers surveyed.

·         67 percent of employers surveyed offer HSAs, compared to 15% offering Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). Employer contributions to HSAs increased almost 10 percent.

·         58 percent of 2017 employer plans offer some type of wellness incentives, up from 50 percent in 2016.

 

While we’re on the subject of wellness incentives, Humana just released their 2017 Humana Wellness Trends Report, a 20-page document that discusses five trends:

1.     The “connected experience 2.0” revolutionizing wellness strategies: “…As wellness programs begin to integrate these devices and employers gain access to the data, employers will gain insight into what’s driving organizational health costs and how to resolve them.”

2.     Older workforce leads to health, caregiving burdens: “…The U.S. workforce is getting older and retiring later due to the stress of financial burdens, caring for older loved ones and increasing health care costs.”

3.     Financial stress affects productivity: “….Americans identify money as their top stressor, which can reduce employee productivity and contribute to absenteeism, presenteeism and poor health. Research states 37 percent of full-time employees deal with financial issues while working.

4.     Poor sleep leading to errors, low morale: “…Among workers age 30 and older, 74 percent say lack of sleep affects their work performance.”

5.     Workers benefit from mindfulness techniques: “…Research has found a mindful approach may help ease the “effects of stress, anxiety and other negative emotions.”

Friday
Mar032017

Friday Five: Top 5 healthcare business news items from the MCOL Weekend edition

Every business day, MCOL posts feature stories making news on the business of health care. Here are five we think are particularly important for this week:

 

Trump’s nominee to run Medicare and Medicaid advances

The Associated Press reports: President Donald Trump’s nominee to run Medicare and Medicaid won committee approval Thursday, clearing her for a final floor vote in the Senate.

AP via The Washington Post, March 2, 2017

 

Faring Better Than Many ACA Insurers, Molina Backs Health Law ‘Tuneup’

Kaiser Health News reports: Some large health insurance companies have suffered losses under the Affordable Care Act, leading to a few high-profile exits from the online marketplaces. Humana is just the latest, announcing in January that it will stop offering health insurance on the ACA health exchanges at year’s end.

Kaiser Health News,  March 2, 2017

 

High-Risk Pools Another Sticking Point Among Republicans

Morning Consult reports: Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday expressed opposition to House GOP leaders’ plan to cover people with pre-existing conditions, highlighting another division that Republicans must overcome to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Morning Consult, March 1, 2017

 

Insurers pay twice as much as hospitals for hip and knee implants

Stat News reports: Imagine this: You go to buy a car, but you don’t know who makes it, how other customers feel it’s performing, or how its price compares to other cars in its class.

Stat New, February 28, 2017

 

Hospitals, Both Rural And Urban, Dread Losing Ground With Health Law Repeal

Kaiser Health News reports: More than a year ago, she lost her job at a nearby rural hospital after it closed and, as Republicans work to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, wonders whether she’ll soon be out of work again.

Kaiser Health News, February 28, 2017

 

These and more weekly news items on the business of healthcare are featured in the MCOL Weekend edition, along with the MCOL Tidbits, and more, for MCOL Premium level members. 

Thursday
Mar022017

How Health Plans Impact Revenue Performance and Improve Quality Outcomes

By Claire Thayer, March 2, 2017

The Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures developed by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) are now used by over 90% of health plans to measure quality performance.  HEDIS consists of 81 measures across 5 domains of care and address a broad range of important health issues, including:     

  • ·         Asthma Medication Use
  • ·         Persistence of Beta-Blocker Treatment after a Heart Attack
  • ·         Controlling High Blood Pressure
  • ·         Comprehensive Diabetes Care
  • ·         Breast Cancer Screening
  • ·         Antidepressant Medication Management
  • ·         Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Status
  • ·         Childhood and Adult Weight/BMI Assessment

Many health plans report HEDIS data to employers or use their results to make improvements in their quality of care and service.  Each year, NCQA publishes The State of Health Care Quality Report to raise awareness on key quality issues and drive improvement in the delivery of evidence-based medicine. This report documents performance trends over time, tracks variation in care and recommends quality improvements.  Additionally, HEDIS data is also incorporated into many health plan ‘report cards’ and increasingly used by consumers and purchasers to track and compare health plan performance.

This week, a special edition of the MCOL Infographic, co-sponsored by DST Health Solutions, focused on strategic trends and key elements of performance improvement for health plans: 

 

 

 

MCOL’s weekly infoGraphoid is a benefit for MCOL Basic members and released each Wednesday as part of the MCOL Daily Factoid e-newsletter distribution service – find out more here.

Wednesday
Feb222017

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Health Care

By Kim Bellard, February 22, 2017

 

I hate being a patient.

 

My exposure to the health care system has mostly been through my professional life or through the experiences of friends and family.  The last few days, though, I unexpectedly had an up-close-and-personal experience as a hospital inpatient.

I offer what I consider the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the experience.

The Good:  The People
The various people involved in my care, from the most highly trained physician to the person who delivered meals, were great. I loved my nurses.  I liked my doctors a lot.  The aides, the lab techs, the imaging tech, the transportation specialists -- all of them doing jobs that I wouldn't be able to do -- were each friendly and helpful, taking pride in what they did and how it helped my care. 

The Bad: The Processes
On the other hand, on the lists of criticisms about our health care system, many of its rules and processes truly do deserve a place.  They're like part of an arcane game no one really understands. 

I'll offer three examples:

 

  • ·         Check-in
  • ·         NPO
  • ·         Discharge

 

The Ugly: The Technology

Oh, health care technology.  It is equally capable of delighting as it is of frustrating.  It is truly remarkable that the doctor could go up my arm to perform a procedure in my chest, just as the detail an MRI provides is simply astonishing.  

 

Let's start with the perennial whipping boy, EHRs.  On many occasions, EHRs did not mean that people did not still often have to drag in other electronic equipment or even paper in order for them to do their job.

 

MRIs are a wonderful technology, but as I was laying in that claustrophobic tube getting imaged, I kept thinking: what the heck are all those clanging noises?  

 

I was on various forms of monitoring devices, the smallest of which was the size of a 1980's cell phone and still required countless wires attached to numerous leads.  I kept wondering, hmm, have these people heard of Bluetooth?  Do they know about wearables?

 

My favorite example of ugly technology, though, came when I had to fill out a form, so that it could be faxed to the appropriate department.  

 

No health care system is perfect.  Every system has its own version of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Our system can do better.  Let's give all those great people working in health care a better chance to help us.


This post is an abridged version of the posting in Kim Bellard’s blogsite. Click here to read the full posting