The Rundown | Week of 10.22.2018

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Exercise May Impact Health More Than Smoking, Diabetes

A recent study from the Cleveland Clinic suggests that inadequate exercise or physical activity may be more detrimental to one’s health than smoking cigarettes, diabetes, or heart disease. Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic studied data from 122,000 patients from 1991 to 2014 who participate in a treadmill regimen. One interesting takeaway is that there appeared to be no upper limit to physical activity, meaning researchers identified no amount of exercise that is excessive. Cardiorespiratory fitness especially helped extend the lives of patients older than 70 or with hypertension. Approximately 1.4 billion people worldwide are physically inactive, and 23 percent of Americans do not exercise enough. A recent study found that exercise that involves teammates is also beneficial to mental health.
>> Read More: Not exercising enough is worse for you than smoking and diabetes, study suggests

Value-Based Care Payments Increase

The number of value-based care payments rose 11 percent in 2017, from 23 percent the previous two years to 34 percent, according to the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (HCP-LAN). Researchers examined fee-for-service payments from Medicare and 61 health plans as well as alternative payment models, including shared savings, shared risk, population-based payments, and more. The study indicated that approximately 226 million Americans — 80 percent of the insured population — were involved in an alternative payment model. The study’s co-chair, Mark McClellan, said, “The report’s findings reinforce our understanding that there is sustained, positive momentum in the effort to shift healthcare payments from traditional fee-for-service into value-based payments.”
>> Read More: 34% of healthcare payments were tied to value-based care last year, report finds

Supply Chain Inefficiency Costing Hospitals

A recent report found that hospitals nationwide can save $25.4 billion — nearly $11 million per hospital — by streamlining and improving their supply chains. Percentage-wise, that amounts to 17.7 percent in supply chain reduction per hospital, researchers from Navigant Consulting demonstrated. The report analyzed 2,300 hospitals and compared their operations to top-tier hospitals’ average daily supply cost. These savings could be reallocated to salaries for 42 primary care physicians. Director Rob Austin said in a statement that the 10.2 percent increase over last year’s supply chain spending showed a “huge opportunity to reduce supply costs, the second-largest costs for a health system behind labor,” and added that, in order to make those reductions, “[Executives] have to engage clinicians, focus on data, and have more people professionally trained in the supply chain.”
>> Read More: Hospitals’ supply chain savings opportunity jumps to $25.4 billion a year

HHS to Support Primary Care With $293M

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will provide $293 million to primary care providers in high-need areas to offset the physician shortage. The initiative will incentivize medical school students via scholarships through the National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps programs. In exchange for a two-year commitment to work in — often rural — areas with “critical shortages,” those training to be nurses dentists, physician assistants, and other specialties will receive a stipend. As a physician shortage, particularly in primary care, expands, this measure aims to “persuade more aspiring clinicians to take up family medicine and primary care” by adopting a variation on New York University’s tuition waiver, which was implemented in August.
>> Read More: Health and Human Services Department to dole out $293 million to boost primary care in high-need areas

Report: Medicare Advantage Increases Supplemental Benefits

A report from Avalere showed that more than 40 percent of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans will offer complimentary, supplemental benefits. These benefits include transportation, over-the-counter medication, adult day care services, home safety devices or modifications (such as mobility ramps and railings), caregiver training services, nicotine replacement therapy to beneficiaries trying to quit smoking, and more. Beginning next year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will permit coverage for items or services “used to diagnose, prevent, or improve the effects of injuries or health conditions, or reduce avoidable emergency department visits.”
>> Read More: Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will see a jump in new supplemental benefit offerings in 2019

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