In the News: Apr 18–25

Virtual Reality Therapy May Help Patients With Chronic Pain

A recent News Medical Life Sciences article discussed an innovative Virtual Reality Therapy game (iVRT) that may provide relief for patients suffering from chronic pain. Developed in the United Kingdom, patients use a head-mounted display and controllers to engage in interactive games that mimic the processes of traditional “mirror therapy” treatment. Within the game, players are encouraged to stretch and position the limbs affected by their chronic condition.

Often used by occupational therapists and physiotherapists, mirror therapy is a medical practice where reflections encourage a patient’s brain to move their limb more freely. The creation of the iVRT game builds on the foundational premise of this rehabilitation exercise to make treatment more interactive.

Due in part to the scrutiny of surgical intervention and growing accountability for managing health care expenditures, there is an increasing need for pain management programs. Building a successful comprehensive program involves physician buy-in, offering the right mix of services, establishing a referral channel and appropriately managing drug-seeking patients. To learn more about the strategic considerations for developing a pain management program, please read the Sg2 FAQ Establishing a Comprehensive Pain Management Program.

Data Show Tie Between Financial Risk Sharing and Care Cost and Quality

A recent Integrated Healthcare Association report summarized the findings of a study done across the state of California, analyzing information from 30 million lives enrolled in private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid—roughly 75% of the overall state population. Data analysis showed risk sharing was associated with a 3.5% decrease in the total cost of care, and individuals with chronic conditions typically saved even more money. Additionally, financial risk sharing was linked to an 11 percent improvement in preventive screenings.

The results of this study demonstrate a relationship between financial risk sharing and cost and quality of patient care, providing data to support the claims that payers and providers sharing risk can result in lower total cost of care and higher quality outcomes at similar or lower cost.

As the health care industry continues to shift toward value-based care, it is imperative for health systems to start considering how they will pursue payer contracting moving forward. To learn more about how health care organizations can change their strategy and disrupt the fee-for-service business model, please read the Expert Insight Value-Based Care: Are We There Yet? Part 3—Health Systems’ Shrinking Margins.

WHO Releases First Recommendations for Digital Tech Usage

A recent Becker’s Hospital Review article highlights the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first report on how countries can leverage 10 main digital health technologies to aid the health of their people. Some of the technologies include prenatal and vaccination appointment reminders, as well as tools that enhance health workers’ knowledge and decision-making abilities.

In the report, WHO emphasized the proper training of health care workers in these technologies, enough security systems for the protection of patients’ health information, and the integration of these new technologies into other digital resources. WHO was very clear, however, to state that digital resources are not “all-encompassing” health solutions but rather a resource to help improve a patient’s health and access to health care.

Several European countries have identified connected care capabilities as essential to reducing the relative risk of premature mortality from several chronic diseases by 2025. Although different virtual health technologies and structures work for different countries, some of these capabilities may be applicable in the US. To learn about key areas and considerations to scale up virtual health capabilities, read Sg2’s most recent Virtual Health Newsletter Philips Identifies Areas Essential to Virtual Health Success.

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