The Rundown | Week of 1.7.2019

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Telehealth Linked to Higher Outpatient Satisfaction

A randomized study found that post-discharge outcomes were better for patients who used telehealth technology following a cardiovascular procedure. Researchers compared patients who received telehealth electronic monitoring (THEM) to those who followed the standard of care (SOC), which included instructions but no monitoring or devices. Patients in the THEM group were given “a tablet and home monitoring devices that transmitted information” such as “image capture, weight scales, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, and oxygen saturation monitors” to care managers. The care managers in turn reviewed alerts, analyzed real-time patient data, and engaged the care team. While readmissions and infection rates did not differ significantly between the groups, THEM patients scored better on physical functioning and emotional criteria and reported greater satisfaction and accessibility. Researchers concluded “THEM was technically feasible and provided some benefit to patients in geographically disparate areas,” such as West Virginia, where the study took place, and “was associated with increased patient satisfaction.”
>> Read More: Results of Telehealth Electronic Monitoring for Post Discharge Complications and Surgical Site Infections Following Arterial Revascularization with Groin Incision

Hospitals Underpaid $76.8 Billion

The American Hospital Association’s (AHA) annual report indicates that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) underpaid hospitals by $76.8 billion in 2017. For the purposes of the organization’s Annual Survey of Hospitals, underpayment “occurs when the payment received is less than the costs of providing care, that is, the amount paid by hospitals for the personnel, technology, and other goods and services required to provide hospital care.” The total — composed of $53.9 billion in Medicare underpayments and $22.9 in Medicaid underpayments — does not include the $38.4 billion in uncompensated care, which occurs when no payment is received for care delivered.
>> Read More: AHA: Medicare, Medicaid Underpaid Hospitals by $76.8 Billion in 2017

Survey: Patients Primarily Value Convenience

The 2019 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report from NRC Health ruled that 80 percent of patients would “switch providers for ‘convenience factors’ alone.” Researchers concluded that, based on the responses from 223,000 participants, “positive comments about providers outnumber negative ones by more than two to one.” Furthermore, 87 percent of comments praised providers’ “courtesy and respect,” though 26 percent of patients reported that “doctors didn’t show enough knowledge of [the patient’s] prior health episodes.” One frightening statistic indicated that 22.7 percent of patients — the most since 2010 — delayed “necessary medical treatment” due to costs. The authors offered four recommendations to providers: prioritize human innovation, deliver ease-of-use, shift from episodic to continuous relationship management, and respect providers’ time.
>> Read More: 2019 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report

Better Segmentation from ACOs to Help High-Need Patients

A report by The Commonwealth Fund discovered that accountable care organizations (ACOs) that prioritize primary care providers may benefit and better meet the needs of high-need, high-cost (HNHC) patients. Though HNHC patients comprise only 5 percent of the population, they make up for roughly 50 percent of all healthcare spending. Predictive modeling and risk stratification are two commonly used approaches, though researchers concluded that these methods have inconsistent results. However, when primary care providers are engaged in the segmentation process, “there was an increase in both the clinical relevance of the results as well as the willingness of frontline providers to use them.” Additionally, this process helped to identify “what skill sets and staff were needed to deliver enhanced care management.”
>> Read More: How Accountable Care Organizations Use Population Segmentation to Care for High-Need, High-Cost Patients

Report: Record Number of Healthcare Hires Last Month

New figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the healthcare industry added 50,200 jobs in December, the most since February 1990. The hiring spike is 56 percent higher than in November and the first time a single month has exceeded 40,000 new hires. The healthcare sector was the leader with a growth rate of 2.2 percent compared to the average of 1.7 percent among other industries. Professions in the healthcare industry currently stand at a record high of 10.8 percent. Especially high growth occurred in the ambulatory sector, which added 37,800 jobs. Experts speculate that one factor that explains the rise is the high number of individuals who, having met their annual deductible, seek additional care at the end of the year.
>> Read More: The Employment Situation — December 2018

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