Future of Health CareMedical EducationPerformance Improvement
December 19, 2018

There’s More to be Learned from Good Results than Bad—and Why It Matters

Becoming a physician requires passing many tests, beginning with premed studies, all the way through residency and, ultimately, board certification. You spend countless hours focused on passing examinations or rotations and learning to avoid pitfalls. As a residency program director, I and my colleagues invested considerable effort to determine which residents were struggling and to develop strategies to help them. We focused on finding deficiencies that would impede them from being excellent physicians. A fellow faculty member ran a Morbidity and Mortality conference that he nicknamed the “boo-boo” conference. This process of identifying and analyzing medical errors produced competitive physicians,…
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ACOsPopulation HealthValue-Based Health Care
November 14, 2018

How to Involve Physicians Effectively in ACO Population Health

In a recent post, we addressed the many types of population health initiatives and some guidelines for creating the most benefit. Now let’s take a closer look at one of those guidelines: integrating population health into regular or routine care of patients—specifically, with greater involvement and communication by the patients’ physicians. ACOs and their participating physicians have an opportunity to break with the historical obstacles between the physician’s employer organization and the physician, especially in hospital-directed ACOs. Even in physician-led ACOs, working seamlessly with physicians to achieve better health for ACO patients is key to achieving both quality and cost…
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ACOsBundled PaymentsFuture of Health CareSpecialty PhysiciansValue-Based Health Care
September 26, 2018

Five Strategies for Specialists: How to Safely Navigate ACO Arrangements

Amidst the furor over health care access and affordability, most consumers believe that the exceptional quality of America’s health care is due to specialty medicine. But Value-Based Health Care may well dramatically change specialty practice by putting specialists under financial risk arrangements. That’s because the most prestigious and flourishing providers in health care are also the most expensive for ACOs and health plans. That makes them a target for cost control. We have spoken about the need for ACOs to evaluate specialists carefully and ensure that specialists have input into ACO assessments of their cost and quality. Here we address specialists…
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Bundled PaymentsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
August 1, 2018

Five Steps for Successful Initiation of Bundled Payments and Episodes of Care

Everything about health care is complicated—its rules, science, service delivery, organizational systems, financing, and the relationship between all participants. So too will be the solutions for measuring and managing its value as determined by quality, outcomes and cost. To imagine that we can simply change one part of health care and effect change throughout the entire system is naïve, even ridiculous. Nonetheless, a recent analysis of how bundled payments failed to lower costs is being used as an example of why such reimbursements aren’t effective in changing incentives for high medical costs. While the analytical results show little difference in…
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Alternative Payment Models (APM)Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)Qualified Clinical Data Registry ReportingValue-Based Health Care
July 25, 2018

The Proposed 2019 Quality Payment Program (QPP) Rule: What You May Have Missed

Whoever said bureaucracy doesn’t foster change did not anticipate CMS’s Proposed Rule for the Quality Payment Program (QPP), 2019 performance year version, released on July 12. While the familiar overarching structure of MIPS remains, there are a number of revisions that activate newly developed policies. These include “Patients Over Paperwork” and “Meaningful Measures” efforts that CMS initiated in 2018 to streamline the requirements-heavy MIPS program. To be honest, there are some rough patches within the wrangling of old and new MIPS provisions in the 1,473 page 2019 Medicare Physician Schedule Proposed Rule, set to be published in the Federal Register…
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ACOsClinical Data RegistryMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)Performance ImprovementValue-Based Health Care
July 18, 2018

No More MIPS Cost Score Details? 5 Ways Providers Can Still Take Control of Costs

CMS is urging providers to participate in ACOs with downside risk, but they might be eliminating one of the keys that providers need to prepare. It couldn’t come at a worse time, when providers already stand to lose under risk-based models if they can’t identify where their cost issues lie. That data is only available from claims data made available by payers. Up until now, practices have had access to indispensable data on costs that are attributed to their providers, showing specifics of where they are above the norm. These were previously part of Quality and Resource Use Reports (QRURs)…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
April 18, 2018

Unify ACO Quality and Cost Initiatives to Boost Long-term Results

Let’s face it. There’s a pretty low bar to meeting Medicare’s ACO Quality requirements. Most ACOs have achieved acceptable quality performance for Medicare Shared Savings Plans (MSSPs).  They have not, however, achieved the savings needed to be successful. ACO supporters point to the “Triple Aim” of achieving higher quality, cost savings and good patient experience through an ACO. To fulfill that tripartite goal, we must look past the hype and execute quality-cost initiatives that go well beyond CMS requirements. Recognize the Gap Between Quality Reporting Requirements and Quality Care Demonstrating quality and reducing costs are not mutually exclusive. While there…
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ACOsAdvanced Alternative Payment ModelsConsumers & PatientsMedical Decision-MakingValue-Based Health Care
April 11, 2018

ACOs Must Create Learning Environment for Physicians to Be Partners in Change

The idea behind ACOs sounds simple enough: Build a network of primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals and other health care organizations that share risk and responsibility to provide coordinated care for each patient. Medicare or private insurers offer financial incentives to ensure that ACOs provide quality treatment while limiting unnecessary spending. Primary care physicians serve as key liaisons for each patient’s care. But ACO reality is much more complex and daunting. Shared savings have proven to be elusive. Quality benchmarks do not always accurately measure what’s medically relevant. Patient attribution to specialists, rather than primary care physicians, skews costs. Nonetheless,…
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Future of Health CareMACRAMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)Value-Based Health Care
March 7, 2018

Who Wins and Loses If CMS Kills MIPS?

Last month, the new Health and Human Services (HHS) Administrator, Alex Azar, tolled the death knell on MACRA MIPS quality reporting. Even as the MIPS program just began its second year, Azar reinforced what MedPAC (Medicare Payment Advisory Commission) has been suggesting since June 2017: trash MIPS quality reporting and speed up provider transition to APMs (Alternative Payment Models). MedPAC is so eager to engineer this that it recently suggested even more incentives to help physicians make the switch. If you believe the hype, both providers and patients will win if MIPS is eliminated or vastly rewritten. Certainly, the notion…
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Consumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMeaningful MeasuresValue-Based Health Care
January 31, 2018

What Does #MeToo Have to Do With Value-Based Health Care?

Are we measuring the right things in Value-Based Health Care? That’s the question I am asking myself while reviewing recent efforts by CMS to create better measures of health care value, called Meaningful Measures. Given current, widespread reports of sexual abuse and my recent reading about the dismal state of elder health care, I can’t respond affirmatively. A Value-Based Health Care System should curtail rising health care costs and promote better health for individuals. But we can’t miss the forest for the trees. If we focus on the minutia of medical processes or even outcomes of moderate value, yet miss…
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