In the News: Mar 14–21

Few HDHP Enrollees Are Engaging in Consumer Behaviors

A recent Health Affairs survey examined the engagement level of 1,637 patients enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) in 5 consumer behaviors: saving for future health care services, discussing costs with a provider, comparing prices, comparing quality and trying to negotiate price. While fewer than half of HDHP enrollees have a health savings account, having one was positively associated with saving for future care, especially if employers contributed to it. Websites were found to be the most common facilitator for comparing prices and provider quality.

Factors found to most often preclude engagement in consumer behaviors include not having considered engagement in the first place and perceptions that engagement would not have changed health care decisions. Overall, survey findings suggest not many HDHP enrollees are engaging in consumer behaviors that would otherwise allow them to obtain health care they need at a price they can afford.

As HDHP enrollment continues to grow, more patients will be exposed to increased cost sharing. According to a recent Sg2 survey, 70% of consumers are frustrated when seeking a provider, which means health systems have an opportunity to address pain points of HDHP patients who may not have the time, resources or wherewithal to engage with the health system. For actionable steps to take when building your consumerism strategy, register for the upcoming Sg2 webinar Consumerism 3.0.

Virtual Health for Chronic Conditions Reduced ED Visits and Hospitalizations

A recent Healthcare IT News article describes how Mount Sinai Hospital used virtual health to reduce ED visits and hospitalizations for patients with chronic digestive disorders. By using an app on phones or computers, patients can speak to their doctors and health care providers from their homes or offices. This allows clinicians to stay in contact with patients between regularly scheduled appointments, and if necessary, clinicians can provide direction and revise care plans before the chronic condition reaches crisis-level.

Patients with chronic conditions require ample resources and are some of the costliest patients for health care systems. Through population health management, many health systems are strategically prioritizing chronic care patients, which can be cost-saving and increase ambulatory revenue as these patients become engaged in the System of CARE. To learn more ways to strategically plan for chronic patient care in your market, read the Sg2 report Developing a Market-Driven Chronic Care Strategy.

How Technology Enhances Post-Acute Care Management

A recent Fierce Healthcare article shares qualitative VirtualHealth insights regarding care, case management and the challenges care managers face in their day-to-day responsibilities. The study identified reasons preventing care managers from performing their daily care management activities and provided recommendations to avoid care manager burnout.

First, having a complicated and comprehensive EHR system requires dedicated training and multiple steps for single-task completion, resulting in loss of efficiency for care management staff. The study encourages the use of a clean, simplified user interface, designed with the care manager in mind. Second, it is important that platforms and tools are comprehensive, so care managers are not forced to use 3 or more applications to support their daily activities. Disconnected solutions increase the risk of human error, the potential of unintended HIPAA breach and duplicative efforts, contributing to inefficiencies. Finally, VirtualHealth found that synergy needs to exist between organizational processes and informatics platforms to ensure care managers can keep up with changes in standards and regulations.

To gain the maximum benefit technologies have to offer, Sg2 believes organizations need to consider more than just the technologies themselves. To achieve their true potential, post-acute care technologies must be evaluated, adopted and implemented thoughtfully and deliberately as part of the organization’s broader continuing care strategy. Increasingly, provider systems are working with tech innovators to create solutions to smooth, straighten and shorten the care path. To learn more about how technologies can be used for continuing care, see the Sg2 report Technologies for Continuing Care—Tools to Remap the Post-Acute Care Path.

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