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Patient-centric strategy a shift in the right direction for ONC

October 1st, 2015

by Dan Bowman

There's an old proverb that says if a man is taught to fish, he'll never go hungry.

To that end, listening back to testimony delivered by Intel's Eric Dishman and others last week at a Senate committee hearing on improving consumer access to electronic health records, it's clear that the Office of the National Coordinator's decision to focus more on the patient in its updated federal health IT strategy is the right one.

Dishman, a cancer survivor, discussed the struggle to have his voice heard among all of his doctors, despite technological advancements that should make such a process easier.

"Moving to the paradigm of coordinated care teams where patients are part of it--this is hard," Dishman said. "I had to actually fight to be a bona fide member of my care team."

That's what makes the shift by ONC so important. ONC saying that its efforts will be more patient-centric than program-centric is more than just rhetoric; it seems to be an acknowledgment that, no matter how many new tools are developed, both providers and patients together must figure out the most appropriate manner in which to leverage them.

>>Read the full commentary at FierceHealthIT

How healthcare leaders can drive change during an acquisition

September 24th, 2015

by Darlene A. Cunha

For the past several months, I have been on the ground preparing an organization for acquisition. As with any acquisition, a delicate balance must be maintained between the current staff and those on site from the impending new ownership.

Since we don’t actually own the hospital at this point, we are acting in more of a consultant role yet responsible for strategies that will drive the bottom line. Having bridged this healthcare chasm before, I know successful transitions require four steps during the “acquisition” phase, with each one equally important:

1. Build a strong executive presence: The first impression is important, so make it count! No one likes a helicopter leader--one who swoops in, quickly deduces what’s wrong and puts a plan in place without input from the folks on the ground. We have all been there. You know the type, the leader who doesn’t take the time to get to know the team, but instinctively knows what’s best. Nothing is more important than that first impression. You may have heard it referred to as an executive presence. Be authentic, sincere and committed to providing true leadership. You must be approachable and lead by example.

=> Read more!

Behavioral economics provides clues for how to engage physicians

September 24th, 2015

by Kent Bottles

Hospital executives are struggling with how to engage physicians in order to respond to the Affordable Care Act and the evolving transition from fee-for-service to value-based payment programs. As more and more private practitioners are becoming employees of integrated delivery systems, it is becoming quite clear that what made physicians successful in the past will not work in the transformed clinical delivery system. The rules have changed, but many physicians have not.

The field of behavioral economics offers suggestions that can be used to more effectively engage physicians in behaviors that will benefit both the individual physician and the system where he or she practices.

=> Read more!

Healthagen exec: Aetna-Humana merger boosts transition to value-based care [Q&A]

September 24th, 2015

by Leslie Small

Ever since news broke this summer that Aetna planned to merge with Humana and Anthem would acquire Cigna, concern has swirled about how the insurance industry's consolidation will alter the healthcare landscape.

Provider groups have pulled few punches in their criticism of the pending deals, with the American Hospital Association detailing its concerns in letters to federal regulators and the American Medical Association issuing a report that highlights how both mergers would diminish competition.

The top executives of the merging companies, meanwhile, have defended the deals' merits. Cigna CEO David Cordani said that his company's combination with Anthem will not decrease consumer choice, and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has said the deal with Humana will make both companies stronger in the retail marketplace.

But long before announcing its plan to acquire Humana, Aetna had been toiling to shift its entire business from a fee-for-service reimbursement model to a value-based one, Bertolini has said.

But how will Aetna's ACO strategies mesh with Humana, which through its booming Medicare Advantage business has also been a major player in value-based payment models? To find out, FierceHealthPayer spoke to Charles Kennedy, M.D., (right), chief population health officer for Aetna's provider solutions business, Healthagen.

>>Read the full report at FierceHealthPayer

Time to look at the bigger picture on patient safety

September 17th, 2015

by Lynn McVey

When it comes to patient safety, we are still practicing “disease”-care instead of “health”-care. One of my favorite times of year is when new annual healthcare data is released. If you’re a data junkie like me, you’ve probably already read Measuring the Quality of Healthcare in the U.S., which the Kaiser Family Foundation produces each year. This year, Kaiser celebrates that the quality of the U.S. health system is improving in many areas. However, when data junkies like me review data, my spider senses start tingling and my skepticism forces me to drill deeper.

At the top of the data pile is overall mortality rate. In 1990, 1,075 patients died per 100,000. In 2013, only 835 patients died per 100,000, which appears to be an improvement. Unfortunately, if we drill deeper, we see self-reported health status data. In 1996, 15 percent of patients report fair/poor health status, whereas in 2013, that increased to 18 percent. Before we celebrate that we keep patients alive longer, we need to ask if a longer life with poor health should be a celebration.

=> Read more!

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