In the News: Feb 8–15

Proposed Legislation May Improve Virtual Health Services Reimbursement

According to a Reuters analysis, a number of proposed bills, in addition to the recently passed Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care Act, would improve Medicare’s virtual health services reimbursement policies. Medicare currently does not recognize remote medical consultations as equivalent to an in-person consultation and does not provide equal reimbursement. According to the report, an estimated $135 billion of Medicare’s annual spending could be done more cost-effectively via virtual health.

Virtual health services are being utilized more than ever as health systems begin to expand their technological capabilities. As a result, reimbursement policies for these services are changing as well. To learn more about virtual health reimbursement trends, watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar, Virtual Health Update 2017: Legislation and Payment.

One-Third of Newly Diagnosed Depression Patients Initiate Treatment

A recent Journal of General Internal Medicine study examined more than 200,000 patients newly diagnosed with depression in a primary care setting and found that roughly 35% initiated treatment. Treatment initiation increased with depression severity; however, significant disparities in treatment initiation were found among minorities and older patient populations.

An increasing number of health systems have begun to implement or plan to implement integrated care models featuring behavioral health resources, but many continue to struggle with finding the best model for their patient and provider mix. To learn about successful models for integrating behavioral health into primary care, read the Sg2 FAQ, Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care.

Hospital-Based Palliative Care Programs Are Experiencing Rapid Adoption

A recent Health Affairs article describes the reasons behind the rapid adoption of hospital-based palliative care programs, which have tripled in prevalence from 25% of US hospitals with more than 50 beds in 2000 to 75% in 2015, despite being voluntary and generating low revenue.

The adoption of palliative care programs has been driven by clinician leaders dedicated to improving patient quality of life, strategic and sustained philanthropy investments, and concerted large-scale dissemination efforts by experts. The authors assert that the wide adoption of palliative care programs, despite fee-for-service incentives that do not encourage their use, may provide a model for the adoption of other high-value, low-revenue health care innovations.

Sg2 believes that although hospital-based palliative care programs have been widely adopted, many patients outside the hospital who could benefit from them do not have access to these services. To learn about community-based palliative care models that could address this gap, read the Sg2 FAQ, Community-Based Palliative Care.

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