Monday, December 28, 2015

A Watershed Year: What 2015 Holds for the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH)

The savvy Jeff Levin-Scherz, who blogs over at Managing Healthcare Costs has responded to the Disease Management Care Blog's snarky "Prattling Pinheads of Pessimism" post on the topic of the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH). 

He's not a nattering nabob of negativity or a prattling pessimistic pinhead, says he.  He'd like to be thought of as a skeptic seeking substantiation.   The DMCB wholeheartedly approves of the agreeable alliterative appellation.

2015 may well turn out to be the watershed decision year for the PCMH:

If there's no published peer-reviewed proof that it reduces health care costs, nabobs, pinheads, skeptics and policymakers will need to decide if no evidence of an impact on costs is the same as evidence of no impact on costs.

If the answer is no, THEN we'll then have to decide if the traditional "X causes Y" mathematical approaches to derive proof (such as a comparison of averages using standard power calculations and/or impact on expected or observeed trend) are equal to the task in a very "statistically noisy" environment involving complicated human beings.

If that answer is no, THEN we'll have to decide if reasonable and informed assessments of potential cost reductions, used by countless other businesses every day in other sectors of the economy, are good enough,

If that answer is no, THEN we'll have to decide if there is face value to the PCMH. This involves a contrast of any patient benefit versus its incremental cost.  If the benefit is worth the cost.....

THEN we may have to decide if consumers are willing to pay for it, or if health care costs will need to be cut elsewhere to pay for it.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Additional Ingredients for ACO Success: Communication Training, Support Tools and Culture

Pity the hospital CEOs, EVPs and Chairs and their "Accountable Care Organizations" (ACOs). They've lined up the doctors, invested in an electronic record, hired some care management nurses and signed the risk contracts.

And then Matthew Press and colleagues come along with this AJMC article on Care Coordination in Accountable Care Organizations: Moving Beyond Structure and Incentives.

Their message? You may have what's necessary, but it's not sufficient. Organization and incentives are not enough.

What's also needed are:

1. Training: physicians need education on coordination, collaboration communication and teamwork.  The education should be an organizational priority and typically involve course work, observation and feedback with continuous evaluation.  This cannot be accomplished in a one day workshop.  An example of what it might take can be found here.

2. Support tools: since efficient information transfer must to be built into ACOs' workflows, informal "situation" or "personality" dependent communication between docs and nurses need to be transformed.  An example of the kind of framework that Kaiser instituted can be found here.  While you're at it, think about HIPAA-compliant texting, wiki-enabled EHR records and patient activity streams.

3. Culture: if front line staff are going to support the delivery of high quality and optimum cost care, the organization will need to protect time for care coordination activities, multi-disciplinary meetings, forums to share best practices and incentives that recognize collaborative behaviors.

Looks like the work has only just begun.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Latest Health Wonk Review Is Up!

How can you reconcile all this seasonal merriment with your need to achieve one or two more days of productive learning?

Easy, says the Disease Management Care Blog.  Head on over to the Workers' Comp Insider's "Holiday Edition" of the Health Wonk Review.  Health insurers aren't following the ACA script, pharma's bad behavior shows no sign of abating, expert mandarins continue to plot transformizations, Medicaid continues to vex and stymie and Santa's workshop is in serious need of insurance.

And that's only a sample.  Much more can be found here.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Going Long on the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Despite the Prattling Pinheads of Pessimism

Is the Disease Management Care Blog worried about the prognosis of the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH)?

Not in the least.

It's simply marching from its "Peak of Inflated Expectations" through the "Trough of Disillusionment." Before you decide to short the PCMH, check out this very enlightening Bloomberg editorial, Lure More Doctors Into Primary Care With 'Medical Homes.'

Noting that many commercial insurers remain committed to the medical home model of careBloomberg's business-savvy editorial board also points out that the PCMH has the added quality of attracting physicians to careers in primary care. The Josia Macy Jr. Foundation has some preliminary data suggesting that experience in medical home settings increases medical students' enthusiasm for primary care.

It's a timely article.  While prattling pinheads of pessimism (examples here and here) glom onto imperfect research methodologies and findings that are unequal to the task at hand, top notch organizations like Sutter, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield are going long on the PCMH.

These guys know something that the academics are missing.

Too bad there isn't a PCMH futures market; the DMCB could make some serious money.

Image from Wikipedia