Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingResearchValue-Based Health Care
October 17, 2018

Wise Patients Really Can Make Medical Decisions

“The numbers in this blog are hard to believe. Why is the medical profession recommending shingles vaccine? It is one thing to say that patients should be their own advocates. But why would medical professionals recommend a vaccine to their patient that has such a paltry risk/benefit outcome? After all, we go to doctors because we presume that they know more about medical conditions, prevention and treatment than we do. If they don’t, what’s the point?” A wise patient reading my blog on the shingles vaccine made the above comments. The adjective “wise” has been defined as “able to make good judgments.”…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
October 10, 2018

Cost Savings Aren’t the Only Objective for ACOs: Growth Matters, Too

Keeping within expenditure limits is a top priority for most ACOs for Medicare. That makes sense. Savings are the main distinguishing feature of an ACO arrangement, as opposed to straight Fee-for-Service reimbursement. ACOs that accept downside risk can’t afford to exceed the expenditure target. It’s in their best interest to create initiatives to cut costs and control expenses—especially for services outside the ACO, such as post-acute care. But a cost strategy only focused on trimming expenses will likely fail the ACO in the long run. Why? Medicare ACOs face an annually decreasing expenditure limit that mandates them to lower costs…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-Making
August 22, 2018

How ACOs Can Leverage Price Transparency To Create Value for Consumers

Health care consumers are being forced to assume a greater share of costs for treatment. But how can patients determine the value of health care services if they can’t compare costs? Lack of price transparency is a major obstacle to value-based medical decisions. In evaluating treatment options or services by different providers, consumers have no reliable means to monetize their choices. They are powerless to do anything about it—as yet. But that may well change as ACOs adapt to downside risk. Price transparency is a tool that exclusively benefits consumers, because health plans already, obviously, know the prices they negotiated…
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Consumers & PatientsMedical Decision-MakingResearch
August 8, 2018

Why Randomized Clinical Trials Are Essential to Informed Medical Decisions

I am not a card-carrying philosopher, although I did study philosophy as my undergraduate major. What I enjoyed most was epistemology, the theory of knowledge. We debated, hotly, from the standpoints of social interaction and humanism, “What is knowledge? What constitutes knowing?” But such philosophical debates are not relevant in medical care. Medicine is not a philosophical province. By that I mean that when we are ill, we are philosophically the same; debating differences is a waste of time. We have equal value; have the same rights to the same efforts and same actions to get us better. The essential…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-Making
July 11, 2018

Create Value for Consumers by Leveraging ACO Provider Choice

Medicare and commercial insurers are adamant about moving providers from Fee-for-Service to financial risk for services, and CMS is losing patience over providers’ reluctance to embrace downside-risk ACOs. Why are providers so worried about accepting risk? Because, they say, provider choice will ruin their potential for savings. With an estimated 25 percent of patients seeking services outside the ACO—for 60 percent of attributed total costs—providers argue that they can’t control total expenses, yet are on the hook for savings. They blame lack of coordinated care, duplicate tests and differences in the standard of care. Coordinated Patient Care Inside the Organization:…
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Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-Making
July 4, 2018

Life, Liberty and Happiness Require Good Health: What Consumers Need to Get There

Independence Day reconnects us with our Founders’ values that “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” are our fundamental rights. There is a basic concept underlying this dream: While the country will provide the opportunity, its citizens will act to achieve it. But there’s a catch—citizens’ potential to realize the dream depends on good health. Health has never been as threatened as now. The epidemic of chronic disease, exacerbated by poor nutrition and life choices, is overwhelming a system running out of money. We keep paying more for health care and coverage, and getting less in health outcomes. Even worse,…
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Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingValue-Based Health Care
June 27, 2018

Tech Tools Empower Consumers to Reform Health Care: Will Providers Cooperate?

Health care is ripe for change, but providers have yet to take the lead. Who will push for much needed reform? Investors and technology experts are betting on consumers. Money is chasing health care technology (IT) startups to create consumer tools for everything from evaluating and comparing treatments and related costs, to managing medical conditions. The underlying assumption is that consumers will shop for good, affordable care. It’s the right time for health care IT to focus on consumers, who are feeling the pain of huge medical costs that were once paid by employers or government health plans. Either through…
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Consumers & PatientsMedical Decision-MakingResearch
June 20, 2018

Deciphering Outcomes: Thirty Percent More of Nothing Is Still Nothing

Trying to pass a Bill through a legislature demands a hardy disposition. I have been involved in three attempts on different issues—one bill passed, one is still in limbo, and a third, the most salient for me, failed. In the latter case, I was the sole proposer of the Bill. My idea captured the imagination of a state representative who said she would sponsor it, but, first, she wanted to get some other views. Eleven lobbyist conversations later, my Bill was dead. Something about the legislator being worried that my Bill would be taking on the First Amendment, which allows…
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ACOsAlternative Payment Models (APM)Consumers & PatientsMedical Decision-MakingValue-Based Health Care
June 6, 2018

Where’s the Value for Physicians in VBHC? Four Strategies for ACOs and Other APMs

When we talk about “value” in Value-Based Health Care (VBHC), we’re referring to the high-quality/lower-cost services that buyers want from health care providers. Who are the buyers? Health plans, Medicare and other governmental purchasers, plus employers (for the most part, the term is notably not interpreted to include patients). What do buyers want? “Truth in purchasing” for the best health care they can get. Indeed, the very term “Value-Based Health Care” implies that buyers are on a righteous quest for good care from irresponsible providers. Provider organizations, in turn, have sometimes adopted a similar attitude toward physicians. The generation of…
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Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingValue-Based Health Care
May 30, 2018

Why Patients Should Ask Questions—and Physicians Should Listen

For health care providers and payers, Value-Based Health Care (VBHC) is a hot topic, with most all payers pressing a shift toward financial risk contracts and ACOs based on quality and cost performance. But if you ask consumers about the trend, chances are you’ll get a blank stare. Why? They’re not really part of the conversation. That’s a major problem, because consumer involvement is essential for VBHC success. When outcomes fall short, providers may complain about poor “patient compliance” with physician orders, and ACOs may bemoan lack of “patient engagement.” But they are minimizing patients’ preferences and concerns, or perhaps…
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