Alternative Payment Models (APM)Future of Health CareMACRAMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)Patient Empowerment
April 12, 2017

Why MACRA MIPS Cost Episodes Make Good Products for Health Care Consumers

Here’s a radical idea: What if providers re-envisioned MIPS as a patient marketing initiative, not a regulatory response? Yes, I’m serious. From the beginning of PQRS and Meaningful Use to MACRA, health systems considered these efforts to be merely “compliance” with regulations and not market initiatives. But this view is shortsighted. As outlined in MACRA rules, all of the MIPS initiatives parallel changes that consumers, employers and health plans have been demanding: lower costs, quality, improvement and value. Analyzing the MIPS component of Cost provides a good way to evaluate how providers could use Medicare data to help remap their…
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Future of Health CareMACRAPatient EmpowermentPerformance ImprovementValue-Based Health Care
March 29, 2017

Why Bundled Payments Are a Win-Win for Specialists and Health Care Consumers

Bundled payments, a health care payment innovation that has been widely praised for controlling costs, recently got a bad rap. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price  has delayed implementation of the final Medicare rule for several bundled payment programs that were set to start this year. He has criticized the bundled payments initiative for moving too fast and “experimenting with patients’ health.” Other industry experts disagree. They strongly favor the concept for both improving care and cutting costs. Bundled payments reimburse physicians and hospitals according to a set fee that includes all care associated with a procedure or…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPatient Empowerment
March 22, 2017

Health Care Price Transparency for Consumers Starts with Provider Action

“Consumer choice” is at the heart of the national health care debate. This presumes access to accurate information about costs. While consumers woke up to health care costs a few years ago as their share began to rise, they lack the necessary facts to make intelligent decisions about the quantity and quality of what they are purchasing. As costs continue skyward, this crucial information, especially price transparency, is what consumers are now demanding. But health care pricing remains a mystery that can’t be solved by consumers, on their own. While “pricing” to consumers includes insurance premiums and payments to providers, only…
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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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Future of Health CareMACRAMedical Decision-MakingPatient Empowerment
March 7, 2017

The Problematic “A” in the ACA Repeal and Replace

Last week, my sister sent me a copy of an email that she had sent to her inner circle. It began, “I am writing you today as a metastatic breast cancer patient . . . and also as your friend or relative who wants you to have the best resources and care if this disease ever affects your life or loved ones.” It was a plea for women to understand what would happen to breast cancer patients if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was repealed, linked to an article. She was hoping to reach across a divide to raise consciousness about…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPatient EmpowermentResearch
February 21, 2017

For Patients, “Trust Me” Is No Longer Good Enough for Medical Decision-Making

It’s time to rethink ideologies of medical care that no longer make sense. The following may sound revolutionary, but are nonetheless true: Patients are the future leaders in medical care. Patients must and can make their own medical decisions after being informed. Patients can and must learn to discern useless from useful information. Science must improve to match the increasing abilities of patients. At present, none of these concepts are fully embraced by the business of medicine and, in fact, may be a 180-degree reversal from the way things work now. So, why are these statements important? Because getting the…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPatient EmpowermentPerformance Improvement
February 14, 2017

Turning Patients into Health Care Consumers—For Economic Survival

If we want to help people take better charge of their health—both physically and financially—we should start by treating them as real consumers, instead of patients. While that may seem like a simple change in terminology, it is anything but. A Patient Is a Recipient of Services, Not the Actor Health care organizations often work hard to welcome patients and provide as many services as needed. They design facilities to be comfortable, and there are often superb training programs for staff to be courteous, communicative, and to make patients comfortable. But let’s be honest. Health care is a business concern,…
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Future of Health CarePatient EmpowermentPerformance Improvement
January 24, 2017

Real Patient Empowerment Depends on Real Performance Measurement

“Patient empowerment” is a new term to watch. It’s a banner for some health care reform initiatives being proposed in lieu of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In fact, “Empowering Patients First” is the title of legislation introduced by Congressman Tom Price (nominee for Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid) to replace the ACA. Empowering patients can be very positive, if they have the appropriate tools to make the health care system work to improve their health status. What Exactly Is Patient Empowerment? But what does “patient empowerment” actually mean within the current…
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Future of Health CareMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)Value-Based Health Care
December 20, 2016

New Year’s Prediction: More Cost Sharing for Patients Means Problems for Providers

A year ago we reported on the trend in shifting health care costs to the consumer through higher deductibles, copayments and premium sharing. Fast forward to 2017: expect to see “financial accountability” for patients vastly increase, as health care costs continue their relentless rise and the public policies that support premium subsidies, Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid expansion, research and innovative provider-based models are weakened or reversed. In general, the politics of the moment are ushering in simple economic concepts: Reduce the complexity, cap costs, minimize bureaucracy. When government or employers contemplate giving patients a fixed contribution for health care, possibly through…
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Future of Health CarePatient EmpowermentResearch
December 6, 2016

A Populist’s Wish List for Patient Empowerment

Health care turmoil of the last 10 years was wild enough, but the ride ahead promises to be even wilder. News and social media are swirling with proposals to “reset” health care. Among the dizzying array of possible scenarios, one idea is gaining traction: patient “empowerment.” It will, without doubt, be a prominent call-to-arms in the months ahead. But, what exactly is patient empowerment? The newly branded concepts presented in health care proposals are murky and incorporate everything from patient responsibility for lifestyle changes and following treatment plans (patient “compliance”) to greater financial responsibility for health care (shared premiums). Patient…
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