In the News: July 4–11

Patient Portal Access Improves Chronic Condition Management

A recent PLOS One study highlighted the correlation between patient access to online personal health information and increasingly efficient utilization of health care resources. Researchers examined 165,447 patients with diabetes only, along with patients with multiple complex chronic conditions (eg, diabetes plus hypertension), and their associated rates of outpatient office visits, ED visits and preventable hospitalizations (for ambulatory care sensitive conditions). Results pointed to a high association between patient portal access and rates of outpatient visits, as well as fewer ED visits, ultimately cutting ED visits by 3.9 visits per 1,000 patients.

Patients with complex chronic illnesses typically struggle to access quality health care, often receiving fragmented information from multisite visits that are often repetitious and costly. Ultimately, improving access to patient portals can increase outpatient visit engagement and reduce downstream health events leading to preventable ED admissions/hospital care. Portals help patients manage chronic conditions more judiciously by providing tools that enable access to personalized health information and direct communication with providers through secured messaging.

As we transition to a more value-based payment care delivery process, Sg2 believes chronic disease management will be at the forefront of strategic priorities among payers, employers and providers. To learn actionable strategies and leading examples to help your organization better manage chronic disease patients within their communities, please read the Sg2 report Developing a Market-Driven Chronic Care Strategy.

Lyft and Arizona Provide Ridesharing for Medicaid Patients

A recent Forbes article explains how Lyft announced itself as “an enrolled Medicaid provider” in Arizona  after the state’s Medicaid program (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System) enacted a policy change in May allowing rideshare companies to register as “non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) providers.” Arizona is the first state to offer ridesharing as an NEMT option for Medicaid beneficiaries, but Lyft hopes to expand similar arrangements to other states and their Medicaid programs.

As more states update and innovate their Medicaid programs to expand coverage, and as health insurers continue to shift from fee-for-service to population health and consumer-oriented value-based care models, ridesharing companies are taking action. Along with other players in the NEMT market, ridesharing companies are engaging with key health care stakeholders to alleviate transportation access barriers for at-risk patient populations. Megan Callahan, vice president of health care at Lyft, acknowledged the barriers and stated that “without adequate access, this causes missed appointments, delayed diagnoses and often worsening of existing health conditions.”

Health systems are no stranger to at-risk patient access challenges and have historically contracted with medical transportation and taxi voucher programs. Due to program limitations and an increasing demand for consumer and tech-friendly services, health systems have begun to partner with ridesharing companies to meet their patients’ access needs. For examples of how ridesharing companies have emerged as partners in the health care space and to learn what your organization should consider when developing a rideshare program, please read the Sg2 FAQ With the Rise of Medical Rideshare Programs, Access to Care May Improve.

Nonopioid Overdose Mortality Rates Have Risen Dramatically

Using vital statistics data, a recent Health Affairs study analyzed the death rates from nonopioids from 1999 to 2016, finding nonopioid deaths increased by 274%, while nonopioid deaths per 100,000 increased by 223%. This is comparable to the increase in opioid-involved deaths and death rate, which increased by 371% and 307%, respectively, during the same time period. Four nonopioid subcategories—antidepressants, cocaine, sedatives and stimulants—accounted for 91% of the nonopioid deaths. Most of the growth in nonopioid fatalities were classified as accidental.

US life expectancy has declined for the second time in the past 3 years, largely driven by drug overdoses, as well as alcohol-related deaths and suicides. With insurance coverage erosion around the country and ongoing workforce challenges further limiting access to behavioral health services, Sg2 believes that health systems must evaluate whether their behavioral health strategy is fit for the rising demand in behavioral health services. For insight into the trends that are shaping the future of behavioral health, please register for the upcoming Sg2 webinar Behavioral Health Landscape 2019.

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