Thursday, September 17, 2015

More on the Definition of Care Management (and how well do IPAs and PHOs deliver on it)

Care management in action?
What is "care management?"

As discussed and quoted by the Disease Management Care Blog, here's one useful definition courtesy of the New England Journal:

"A set of activities designed to assist patients and their support systems in managing medical conditions and related psychosocial problems more effectively, with the aims of improving patients’ functional health status, enhancing the coordination of care, eliminating the duplication of services, and reducing the need for expensive medical services."

Now another one has emerged, thanks to this article by Lawrence Casalino and colleagues that appeared in the August issue of Health Affairs. The authors were interested in comparing the use of "care management processes" in small to medium sized physician-own practices that were either in or outside of an Independent Practice Association ("IPA") or Physician Hospital Organization ("PHO").

For this article, Casalino et al developed a "care management index" that reconciled five care management "processes" (1. use of a registry, 2. access to nurse care managers, 3. reliance on guideline-based reminders at the point of care, 4. sending care/health maintenance reminders to patients and 5. reporting outcomes)against the four chronic conditions asthma, heart failure, diabetes and depression. Having all 5 processes available for all four chronic conditions resulted in a top score of 4 x 5 or 20. The score therefore ranged from a high of 20 down to zero.

So, as ACO wannabes, hospital administrators, health system entrepreneurs, policymakers and regulators assess their care management landscape, they now, thanks to Health Affairs, have this handy zero to twenty scale.

To perform the study, a sample of physician-owned practices were asked to participate in a telephone survey in which the lead physician or administrator was asked about the 5 processes for each of the four conditions.

The results resembled the DMCB spouse's scoring of her husband's clean-up-after-himself processes.  There were some points, but there's plenty of room for improvement against the measured baseline. 

Small to medium-sized practices with "significant" participation in an IPA or a PHO had a average care management process score of "10.4" vs. a score of "3.8" in the unaffiliated practices.  When the care management processes were provided by the IPA or PHO to the practices, the average score was 5.4. 

The value proposition for IPAs and PHOs includes care management, but they have a ways to go.

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