Entries in Surveys & Reports (135)

Friday
Aug172018

Healthcare costs – not grandchildren gone wild – the top retiree concern

By Clive Riddle, August 17, 2018

 

What’s the top concern about retirement years voiced by retirees as well as retirement plan sponsors? Its not grandchildren gone wild, keeping up with new technology, staying ahead of future inflation, or even staying in good health. Instead, its paying for that health.

 

Results just released from the 2018 TIAA Plan Sponsor Survey of 1,001 plans sponsors from nonprofit and for-profit organizations found that 91% of plan sponsors believe that healthcare costs are the most significant retirement security issue today. 54% answered very significant and 26% said somewhat significant, while 2% were neutral and – the plan sponsors I’m curious about: 3% said not at all significant.) After health care at 91%, the next highest concern of the top six: Ensuring employees are prepared to retire on a timely basis total 81% saying it was very or somewhat significant.

 

Meanwhile, another new survey tells us even affluent retirees are plenty scared about those retirement costs. A new Nationwide Retirement Institute survey of adults age 50+ with household income exceeding $150k, conducted by the Harris Poll indicates that 73% of affluent, older adults “list out-of-control health care costs as one of their top fears in retirement and 64 percent of future retirees say they are ‘terrified’ of what health care costs may do to their retirement plans.”

 

Here’s more of Nationwide’s survey findings:

  •  72% wish they better understood Medicare coverage
  •  42% admit they would give away all their money to their children so they could be eligible for Medicaid-funded long-term care.
  •  53% do not know that Medicare Part B is not free even if you have worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years
  •  23% do not know you cannot enroll in Medicare at any time
  •  29% do not know Medicare does not cost the same for everyone
  •  62% do not know that future changes will impact the ability to sign up for Medigap/Medicare supplement   plans
  •  53% are unsure or can't estimate what their annual health care will be
  •  65% are unsure what their long-term care costs will be
  •  27% of even these affluent, older adults say they couldn't cover more than $1,000 in unplanned expenses:   44% couldn't cover more than $4,000 and 60%couldn't cover more than $5,000 of unplanned expenses
  •  50 % have access to a Health Savings Account (HSA) through their employer, with 30% participating in or   contributing to the HSA

 

 

Friday
Jul202018

Consumers and Digital Technology: What’s the Deal With Healthcare?

by Clive Riddle, July 20, 2018 

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has just released some preliminary findings from their 2018 Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers, which will be published in August, on the heels of their recently released Deloitte 2018 Survey of U.S. Physicians. Deloitte shares that “consumers and physicians typically agree that virtual health care holds great promise for transforming care delivery. Yet many physicians remain reluctant to embrace the technologies, worried about reimbursement, privacy and other issues.”

Thus Deloitte found consumers are well ahead of providers on the technology acceptance curve, and many providers are dragging their feet in meeting rising consumer demand in this arena. Dr. Ken Abrams, managing director, Deloitte Consulting tells us "Changes in health care reimbursement models, combined with growing consumer demand, are driving health systems to embrace virtual care, but they are struggling to get physicians on board."

The Deloitte surveys found:

  • 64% of consumers and 66% physicians “cite improved patient access as the top benefit of virtual care.”
  • “About half of physicians surveyed agree that virtual care supports the goals of patient-centricity, including improved patient satisfaction (52% agree) and staying connected with patients and their caregivers (45%  agree)
  • “While 57% of consumers favor video-based visits, only 14% of physicians surveyed have the capability today, and just 18% of the remainder plan to add this capability.”
  • “Clinicians worry about medical errors (36%) and data security and privacy (33%) associated with virtual care.”
  • “Email/patient portal consultations are the most prevalent virtual care technology used by responding physicians (38%), followed by physician-to-physician consultations (17%) and virtual/video visits (14%).”

Moving beyond just virtual care, and examining the healthcare digital experience as a whole, the global brand and marketing consultancy Prophet has just released a two part report: Making the Shift, Part I Healthcare’s Transformation to Consumer-Centricity (25 pages) and Part II  A Culture Change Playbook for Healthcare Transformation (also 25 pages.) They found that “ healthcare providers, payers and pharma companies are not making significant strides toward consumer centricity despite increasing demands and competition for healthcare dollars.”

Jeff Gourdji, a partner at Prophet, tells us  “consumers want to be treated as powerful participants in their own health.  Increasingly healthcare organizations’ own bottom lines require meeting consumers halfway or more. So, it is increasingly in everyone’s best interests to make sure consumers are empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled so they become what we call the ‘e-consumer.’”

Prophet paints the picture at the start of their report like this: “With the rise of digital technology, consumers have unprecedented power. Consumers expect business categories like retail and consumer goods to provide individual experiences across both the physical and digital worlds. While other businesses are shifting their focus toward delivering meaningful and valuable consumer experiences, healthcare has largely stayed the same. And, until recently, it hasn’t had the imperative to change. However, pressures from governments and employers to lower costs and pressures from consumers to meet ever rising expectations means that driving consumer engagement and redefining how healthcare organizations interact with people is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. While healthcare organizations are feeling pressure to upgrade their consumer experience, with a focus on how to engage and empower consumers, the path to accomplishing this is unclear.”

Immediately below this intro, the next section header asks “What’s the Deal with Healthcare?” They share survey results that “81 percent of consumers are dissatisfied with their healthcare experiences, and the happiest are those who interact with the system the least.”

Some of Prophet's other survey findings include:       

  • “Fewer than 10% of all healthcare organizations say they are “most willing” to partner with digital companies     
  • Only 21% of respondents believe that ‘practical and important innovation is coming from digital startups’ compared to over 50% of respondents who believe this innovation is coming from providers and medical device companies         
  • "Only about a quarter (27%) of surveyed companies measure relationship metrics like Net Promoter Score despite evidence that consumer metrics are critical to driving a commitment to consumer centricity.”
  • "Only 15% of respondents reported a willingness to consider adding leadership from outside the industry, even when those leaders would be supported by a healthcare-savvy team.

Prophet goes on to share on elaborate on “five shifts that organizations must prioritize to reshape into more consumer-centric businesses:

  1. Moving from tactical fixes to a holistic experience strategy
  2. Moving from fragmented care to connected ecosystems
  3. Moving from population-centric to person-centered
  4. Moving from incremental improvements to extensive innovation
  5. Moving from insights as a department to a culture of consumer obsession
Friday
Jul132018

The Physician’s Role in Today’s Healthcare Costs

By Clive Riddle, July 13, 2018

Influencing consumer behavior to reduce healthcare costs via cost sharing and engagement strategies, and purchaser cost containment strategies of all stripes have seemingly dominated discussions of regarding the cost of healthcare. So how to physicians feel about their role in the cost equation today?

A new seven page NEJM Catalyst Buzz Survey report sponsored by University of Utah Health has just been released: Cost of Care and Physician Responsibility.   The report presents findings from the University’s survey examining how clinicians view health care costs. They “found that while clinicians feel a great sense of responsibility around keeping costs affordable for patients, they don’t feel they have the tools to know, the time to discuss, or the ability to impact how much things costs,” and furthermore “the survey results show a disconnect: Physicians feel responsible for the cost of care to a patient, but not accountable for it,”

99% of surveyed physicians said that out of pocket costs are important to patients – 62% said extremely important, 32% said very important and 5% said important.  Physicians were asked “Do the following aspects of cost enter into clinical decisions at your organization?” 76% said yes to Cost to practice/system; 72% said yes to Out-of-pocket cost for patients; 68% said yes to Total cost of care; and 36% said yes to Contribution to overall national health costs.

How much impact does each of the following stakeholders have on the cost of health care? The percentage of physicians saying each stakeholders had a strong impact were:

  •           Pharmaceutical/biotech companies  - 87%
  •           Health plans/HMOs/insurers – 81%
  •           Hospitals/health systems/physician organizations – 75%
  •           Government/regulators – 67%
  •           Individual clinicians – 60%
  •           Employers – 28%
  •           Patients – 26%
  •           Medical device manufacturers – 23%

The percentage of physicians agreeing with the following statements were as follows:

  •           Health care costs are too confusing with current payer mix – 90%
  •           Physicians aren’t trained to discuss the cost of care – 86%
  •           The tools necessary to estimate costs to the patient are not available – 78%
  •           Tools necessary to estimate costs to health care delivery system, not available –77%
  •           There isn’t enough time in clinic to discuss cost of treatments with patients – 64%
  •           Physicians should make the best treatment decisions irrespective of cost – 57%
  •           Physicians should be held accountable for the cost of care to a patient – 28%
  •           It’s not the physician’s responsibility to educate patients about costs – 18%

Current strategies involving physicians are focused at the organizational level, such as with value based care and accountable care arrangements. When you get at the individual level, these survey results indicate that it would seem there is a reason current cost strategies emphasize purchaser and consumer solutions.

Friday
Jun152018

Healthcare Organization Mobile Device Use: Check That Pager

By Clive Riddle, June 15, 2018

The list of benefits derived from mobile device use by clinicians and staff at healthcare organizations is a long one. But the challenges exacted comprise a worrisome list topped by privacy and cybersecurity concerns. Organizations who promote or allow BYOD (Bring your own device) of course have significantly enhanced concerns.

So in this context its worthwhile to take a gander at the eighth annual Spok survey report: Mobile Strategies in Healthcare Results Revealed. The good news is that 57% of healthcare organizations surveyed have developed a documented mobile device strategy. The bad news is 43% have not.

They respondents say these are the challenges they are facing

  • Wifi coverage – 51%
  • Cellular coverage – 40%
  • Data security – 34%
  • Compliance with BYOD policies – 34%
  • IT support – 29%
  • Mobile adoption rates – 28%

For those with a strategy, here’s the top seven components included:

  1. Mobile management and security - 56%
  2. Mobile device selection - 51%
  3. Integration with the EHR - 48%
  4. Infrastructure assessment (wireless and mobile) - 45%
  5. Clinical workflow evaluation - 43%
  6. Device ownership strategy (such as BYOD) - 34%
  7. Mobile app strategy (in-house, third-party, hybrid) - 29%

How well are these policies enforced? 39% said extremely well, 33% said well. 24% weren’t sure and an honest 4% said poorly. With respect to validating compliance, 48% use education, 42% gather data from the devices, 37% seek feedback from the end user, 23% take surveys, and an honest 21% said they aren’t doing any validation.

With respect to devices they organization supports, 74% said smart phones, 69% wifi phones, 56% onsite pagers, 54% tablets, 45% wide area pagers, 22% encrypted pagers, 12% voice badges and 6% wearables.  

Perhaps the biggest surprise I found in the report was this passage: “Pagers are still a mainstay in healthcare. Despite the growth of other communication tools, they remain at a relatively high level of use as other mobile devices complement them (without necessarily replacing them altogether). In fact, onsite pagers are the most popular communication option for non-clinical care team members such as housekeepers, transport techs, and phlebotomists.” For non-clinical staff 54% listed some type of pager as their primary communication device (onsite 40%, wide area 10% or encrypted 4%/) Wifi phones came in at 15% and smartphones at 14%.

Thursday
Jun072018

The 260 Page 2018 Annual Medicare Trustees Report and the Part D Rx Share of the Pie

By Clive Riddle, June 7, 2018

 

This week CMS released the 2018 Annual Medicare Trustees Report, which provides a financial/actuarial analysis of the current state of the Medicare Fund, and projections regarding the Fund solvency going into the future.  The big takeaway always emphasized from the report is at what year in the future will the Fund become insolvent, but there really is a lot of historical information in the report worth a gander.

 

In regard to when the Fund is projected down, we are told the “Trust Fund will be able to pay full benefits until 2026, which is three years earlier than last year’s projections, attributable to adverse changes in program income. The Trustees project that total Medicare costs (including both HI and SMI expenditures) will grow from approximately 3.7 percent of GDP in 2017 to 5.8 percent of GDP by 2038, and then increase gradually thereafter to about 6.2 percent of GDP by 2092.”

 

But in addition to the voluminous portion of the report dedicated to projections taking us to near the end of the century, there’s plenty of history and present tense buried in the 260 page report as well. Here’s a snapshot from the report of Medicare in 2017:

It’s interesting to look out what portion of the expenditures are from Part D. On a gross basis, $100.1 Billion in Prescription Drug expenditures out of $702.1 Billion in benefits represents 14.3% of benefit expenditures.

 

But not all beneficiaries have Part D coverage, so that’s not an apples to apples percentage.

Looking at 2017 benefits for Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D combined, total benefits were $702.1 Billion, of which 29.9% ($209.7 Billion) was spent through Part C, the Medicare Advantage program. Given the analysis doesn’t break down the benefit expenditure categories for the contracting Part C Medicare Advantage plans, here’s a breakdown of the Regular Medicare expenditures including Part D (backing out Part C):

  • Hospital:  43.6% ($197.9 Billion)
  • SNF: 6.2% ($28.3 Billion)
  • Home Health Care: 4.1% ($18.4 Billion )
  • Physician Fees: 15.2% ($69.1 Billion)
  • Prescription Drugs (gross adjusted): 13.5% ($61.6 Billion)
  • Other: 17.4% ($78.8 Billion)

Regarding the Gross Prescription Drugs adjustment: You will note the above Prescription Drugs total $61.6 instead of the $100.1 Billion in the above snapshot. That’s because the Medicare Advantage Part C enrollees with Part D enrollment were backed out, given that the other benefit expenditure categories didn’t include a breakdown from Part C. So the Part C enrollment in Part D plans, as a percentage of total Part D enrollment – taken from the December 2017 Medicare Advantage/Part D Contract and Enrollment Data Summary Report - was extrapolated (61.5% of Part D Enrollees are not enrolled in Part C; 61.5% of $100.1 Billion in total Prescription Drugs expenditures = $61.6 Billion.)

 

But the only problem with stopping there, is not all regular Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Part D. There were 43.2 million PDP enrollees at the end of 2107, while there are 58.5 million total Medicare beneficiaries. Of the 15.3 million 2017 beneficiaries with no Part D, 1.9 million were from Part C, leaving 13.4 million regular(non-part C)  Medicare beneficiaries with no Part D, and 26.2 million with Part D, out of a total 39.6 million regular Medicare beneficiaries. Now if we extrapolate 66% (26.2/39.6 million) for regular Medicare with Part D, from the other benefit expenditure categories (reducing the expenditures by one third for the other categories) we can get an apples to apples look.

 

This will reflect the percentage benefit expenditures extrapolated for Regular Medicare beneficiaries with Part D coverage:        

 

  • Hospital:  40.7% ($130.6 Billion)
  • SNF: 5.8%  ($18.7 Billion)
  • Home Health Care: 3.8% ($12.4 Billion )
  • Physician Fees: 14.2% ($45.6 Billion)
  • Prescription Drugs (net adjusted): 19.2% ($61.6 Billion)
  • Other: 16.2% ($52.0 Billion)

 

19.2% of the Medicare benefit pie for prescription drugs, get us a lot closer to the Milliman analysis just conducted for AHIP in the commercial population, which found Rx representing 23.3% of total costs including administration. If we add in the extrapolated portion (66%) of the $8.2 Medicare administrative expenses from the above snapshot, the regular Medicare prescription drug portion represents 18.9% including administration.