In the News: Sept 12–19

App Helps Coordinate Care for High-Risk Infants

A recent Modern Healthcare article highlights an app, Baby Steps LA, developed by the pediatrics department at Children’s Los Angeles to help parents of premature infants care for their child postdischarge. The application’s goal is to help organize complex discharge plans, including follow-up care, intervention services and medical equipment purchases.

Children’s Los Angeles recently implemented a Newborn Follow-Up Program for premature infants that includes a personalized discharge plan and referrals to specialists and community resources. However, nearly a year ago, the team conducted a series of interviews and focus groups with parents of high-risk infants to help identify the challenges they face after discharge. One of the themes brought to light from the interviews included the need for a mobile health solution. The Baby Steps LA app includes the same information parents receive postdischarge, but the information is now available from their phone 24/7.

The evolving neonatology landscape is defined by technological innovations that help improve care coordination of this vulnerable population. To learn more about the landscape of neonatology as well as the importance of building relationships and leveraging virtual health across the system of care, read Sg2’s 2019 Neonatology Snapshot.

Diabetes Nutrition Counseling Underutilized by Millions

A recent article from Kaiser Health News discusses the large number of people who are unaware that Medicare covers personalized nutritional counseling for those with diabetes or kidney disease. This plan was approved by Congress in 2002 after studies found that medical nutrition counseling leads to improved health outcomes and fewer complications for older patients. It is estimated that 15 million people covered by Medicare who have diabetes or kidney disease are eligible for this benefit, however, only about 100,000 utilized this service in 2017. While this data does not include the 20 million people covered by private Medicare Advantage plans, this remains an underutilized benefit.

One issue with the program may be that physicians are unaware of Medicare’s nutrition counseling benefit. Nationwide, there are 100,000 registered dieticians, however, only 3,500 dieticians billed the program. Other programs, such as 10 to 12 hours of diabetes self-management training benefits, also are underutilized, as only 5% of Medicare beneficiaries participate in the program. Not only would higher utilization of this plan improve the health of its enrollees, but it would also reduce cost as the program may help prevent expensive complications from diabetes and kidney disease.

Channel management will continue to become increasingly important, and targeting prediabetics through community-based population health efforts is key to prevention. To learn more about comprehensive diabetes management programs and their role in successful diabetes management, read Sg2’s FAQ: Comprehensive Diabetes Care.

Partnership Focuses on Reducing Infant Mortality

A recent Healthcare Finance article announces a new partnership of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield New Jersey, RWJBarnabas Health and New Jersey’s Medicaid agency. The group’s goal is to create a value-based Medicaid model that addresses social determinants of health. The Advancing Health Equity Learning Collaborative, founded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will examine new practices and policies created during this partnership with the aim of scaling the project to a national level. The organization has selected Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington as additional states to create similar partnerships, allowing them to independently decide which points of care to address.

The New Jersey initiative will focus on reducing maternal and infant mortality rates by addressing racial disparities among Medicaid members. Nationally, New Jersey ranks 45 for infant mortality rate, with an average of 38 deaths per 100,00 births. Additionally, the mortality rate among African Americans is 102 deaths per 100,000 births, the highest in the United States. The project plans to address this issue directly by combining social determinants of health with a value-driven care design.

Adapting to the dynamic landscape of women’s health is essential for a provider organization to properly care for a critical patient population. Developing comprehensive women’s health programs that accommodate new clinical innovations and policy shifts will create opportunities to improve care delivery within the service line. To learn more about developing trends and points of growth within women’s health, please watch the Sg2 Women’s Health Landscape Webinar.

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