ACOsConsumers & PatientsPopulation HealthValue-Based Health Care
October 31, 2018

ACO Population Health Best Practices: More Respect for Physicians and Patients

How important is it to agree on principles and best practices for population health? More important than most providers believe, and here’s why: Population health can be a powerful engine for improving patient outcomes and cost performance in Value-Based Health Care. Failure to create a standard of population health practices means that every ACO or health system scrambles independently to create initiatives, without the benefit of broader experience and results. The outcome? ACOs make similar decisions or duplicate others’ programs with meager results. They may also inadvertently consign population health to safer territory as administrative instead of strategic and innovative…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
May 23, 2018

Tipping Point Test for ACOs: Consent to Financial Risk

Last week the conversation about financial risk for providers in ACOs took on a decidedly different and more contentious tone. After months of CMS reports of ACO growth and success, while retreating on MIPS quality reporting requirements as concessions to “provider burden,” CMS signaled that they were finished waiting for providers to accept financial risk under Value-Based Health Care. With a third of Medicare patients served by an ACO and an even higher number of patients receiving health care via private sector ACOs, the industry seems on track to adopt ACOs as the preferred model of health care contracting and…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareSpecialty PhysiciansValue-Based Health Care
May 9, 2018

ACOs and Specialty Physicians: How Episodes of Care Create a Win-Win Cost and Quality Strategy

Specialty care is a thorny cost and political issue for ACOs and physicians alike. No ACO can provide good or comprehensive patient care without specialists. But if ACOs are to produce savings, they will almost certainly need to address how, when and at what cost those specialists will be used. The degree of concern about specialist-generated costs for most ACOs currently depends on the ACO’s structure. ACOs that are hospital-led or formed by multi-specialty health systems or networks may be less apt to look to specialty care for savings, except when the specialists are outside the ACO. Physician-led groups with…
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Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingValue-Based Health Care
March 21, 2018

Five Ways Medicare’s Patient Data-Sharing Will Rock Health Care

Medicare came closer to fulfilling its promise of patient data-sharing last week with the announcement of bundled initiatives to connect health care consumers with their health care data. First, the Trump administration announced the launch of myHealthEData, a government-wide initiative designed to permit patients to control their healthcare data and determine how it can be used. Several federal agencies will be involved: CMS, Veterans Affairs, ONC and the National Institutes of Health, all under the direction of the White House Office for American Innovation. The effort is designed to break down barriers that limit or block patients’ access to their…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPatient EmpowermentPerformance Improvement
December 14, 2017

Is Shared Decision-Making the Path to Improved Provider Performance?

As an escalating percentage of Americans (including children) are diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension, the health care system is straining to control costs and demonstrate good clinical outcomes. No surprise that providers blame patients for lack of compliance with therapies or lifestyle changes that will improve their health status. Hence the uptick—some say warranted—in incentives or penalties assessed by insurers or employers on patients who don’t “behave.” But this punitive finger pointing is neither equitable nor productive. Just as it’s unfair to hold physicians, alone, to be fully accountable for patient outcomes in quality reporting and cost, without giving them…
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Future of Health CareMACRAMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)Performance Improvement
September 20, 2017

Physicians Aren’t Engaged in Performance Because Measure Results Aren’t Real

According to management guru Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it.” Quality measurement and reporting have been rooted in similar reasoning. The idea is that we find out what’s wrong, and then we launch programs to improve it. That’s the linear route mapped out by Medicare starting with Meaningful Use, PQRS quality reporting, Value Modifier comparisons, and moving into current MACRA MIPS and APMs. But physicians have known something for a while that others have been unwilling to accept: quality reporting measures don’t give you a foundation for improving outcomes. Why? Because performance measurement does not…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPatient Empowerment
May 24, 2017

Can Consumers Help Reduce Rising Costs of Medical Technology?

In years to come, the current health care financial scene may seem like the “good old days” of health care for middle class Americans. Despite escalating consumer costs, proposed cuts in coverage, and an ever-rising cost of care, most Americans can still access health care services. They believe health care will be there for them, even if not everyone can get it. But the affordability of health care, regardless of coverage source, will soon be everyone’s problem. Medicare is projected to run out of money in only 10 years (some say less), and each year the cost of health care…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPatient Empowerment
May 10, 2017

Can Consumers Get Essential Information to Make Good Health Care Decisions?

In the rancorous public debate about how to provide health care to Americans—and especially to vulnerable people with higher risks, lower income, or both—there is a common explanation for rising costs: it’s the patients’ fault. According to this argument, we need to stop the “overuse” of health care services by consumers that are causing our costs to skyrocket. But what if consumers really wanted to be excellent, cost-effective purchasers of health care. Could they actually do it? Could they legitimately question their physicians about recommended treatments? There is little argument that the system of financing health care has immunized both…
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Clinical Data RegistryFuture of Health CarePatient EmpowermentValue-Based Health Care
May 3, 2017

Health Care Providers Need Performance Data Audits to Market Trust

Health care systems once thought it was crude and undignified to use marketing to attract patients. No more. Now they use qualitative anecdotes to promote status at a time when data is king and consumers view comparative quality data on the Internet. Why not use quantitative evidence? Because their data doesn’t promote their cause—and even they don’t believe it. That avoidance behavior is a huge mistake. Health care organizations need to take steps now to turn performance data into valid indicators of both quality and cost. Otherwise they will risk losing control over their stories as providers of excellence. Consumers…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPatient Empowerment
March 14, 2017

Fast Forward: Why Patients Should Own Their Medical Records

Up to now, who owns patient medical records hasn’t been a big issue. In fact, the “who owns” question has been largely confined to provider purchasing discussions regarding health care data analytics or other sharing of patient records, when providers want to assert their ownership of the data. Patients have had no voice in this conversation. Few people question the provider’s ownership of a patient’s record, which is supported by state statutes (only one state grants ownership to patients) as well as the rare case of litigation. All that changes going forward. Why? Because big revisions in health insurance will…
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