The Rundown by inforMD | Week of 1.13.2020

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Number of ACOs in Pathways to Success Doubled in 2019

Under Pathways to Success, more accountable care organizations (ACOs) are assuming downside risk, according to a blog post written by Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), for Health Affairs. Pathways to Success, which replaced the Medicare Shared Savings Program, “puts ACOs on a quicker path to taking on real risk, with accountability for spending increases generally required after two years for new ACOs, while closely monitoring the quality of care provided.” The number of ACOs “taking on risk for cost increases” at the start of 2020 was 192, up from 93 one year prior. “This will translate to lower costs and higher value for Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers.” Administrator Verma specifically noted how “rewarding” it was to see “low revenue (physician-led) ACOs” participating.
>> Read More: Number Of ACOs Taking Downside Risk Doubles Under ‘Pathways To Success’

Survey: Data and Analytics Underutilized by Healthcare Leaders

Healthcare providers are not adequately integrating data and analytics into their IT infrastructure or workflows, according to a recent survey by Black Book. “Utilization of advanced analytics for key decision-making and strategic planning is self-reported as negligible by eight in 10 surveyed healthcare managers,” the press release noted. Researchers estimated that two-thirds of all payer data and 90 percent of practice data goes unused. In fact, 77 percent “of health systems lack a clear, integrated analytics strategy from their CIO or other accountable data office.” Black Book President Doug Brown concluded: “Besides formal training, online tutorials, and advanced one-on-one training, provider organization managers often need ongoing support such as an analyst forum or community of interest that they can turn to with questions about tool functionality and techniques when they have no internal support from their internal IT leadership.”
>> Read More: Providers’ Underuse of Analytics Could Be Costing Healthcare Consumers Billions of Dollars, Black Book Survey

Employers Experimenting With Value-Based Care

Recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows more and more self-insured employer groups are seeking value-based arrangements. Due to rising premiums, employers are designing their health plans to push employees to hospitals and physicians that provide lower-cost, high-quality care. More employers are also offering health and wellness programs; two-thirds of “large firms” give employees health risk assessments, including questions about a person’s medical history, health status, and lifestyle, to encourage preventive medicine. However, researchers noted that “new ideas and approaches,” such as “like narrow networks, value-based pricing, telemedicine, direct contracting,” have mode only a “modest impact on the … the overall cost of coverage.”
>> Read More: Employer Health Benefits — 2019 Summary of Findings

Study: Wealthy Enjoy 7 to 9 Years of Disability-Free Life

A recent study suggests wealthier people enjoy healthy, disability-free lives nine years longer than less wealthy people. Researchers gathered data from more than 25,000 individuals aged 50 or older who lived in England or the United States. Disability was measured “in terms of impaired activities and instrumental activities of daily living.” Researchers concluded that “among the socioeconomic indicators considered, wealth generated the greatest disparities in disability-free life.” However, researchers also noted that “participants in longitudinal studies tend to be healthier than those in the general population. … If that is the case, it is possible that we have overestimated life expectancy and disability-free life expectancy.”
>> Read More: Socioeconomic Inequalities in Disability-free Life Expectancy in Older People from England and the United States: A Cross-national Population-Based Study

Study: Marathon Training Significantly Improves Heart Health

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that first-time marathon trainers experienced a noticeable decrease in aortic stiffness. “Aging increases aortic stiffness, contributing to cardiovascular risk even in healthy individuals,” researchers stated, but can be “reduced through supervised training programs.” To measure the effects, researchers monitored 138 “untrained healthy individuals” as they underwent six months of training for the London Marathon. “Training for and completing a marathon even at relatively low exercise intensity reduces central blood pressure and aortic stiffness” equivalent to a four-year reduction in vascular age, researchers concluded. Furthermore, “ greater rejuvenation was observed in older, slower individuals.
>> Read More: Training for a First-Time Marathon Reverses Age-Related Aortic Stiffening

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