In the News: Oct 10–17

High-Deductible Plans Impact Chronic Disease Management

A recent Modern Healthcare article highlights the negative impact high-deductible health plans (HDHP) could have for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to a study by the American Thoracic Society, patients enrolled in a high-deductible plan are more likely to put off necessary care and, as a result, land in the emergency department more frequently.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of people under 65 enrolled in an HDHP increased from 25% in 2010 to 46% in 2018. People with an HDHP are more likely to report struggling to pay their monthly bills and can have out-of-pocket medical costs exceeding $5,000 in a year. Consistent medical treatment has been proven to help COPD patients manage their symptoms and improve outcomes, but patients must be able to afford the treatment. The study reports that a quarter of patients with COPD who have an HDHP reported they delayed care due to costs, compared to the 12% of patients without high deductibles. Additionally, approximately 20% of patients with high deductibles reported they could not afford their medications, and 18% skipped doses to save money.

High deductibles and changes to essential health benefits will lead to poor adherence to chronic disease treatment. To learn more about the impact of high deductibles on inpatient and outpatient health care utilization, read the Sg2 report Medicine Service Line Forecast 2019.

New Technology Addresses Loneliness in Seniors

A recent FierceHealthcare article highlights Miami-based health care start-up Papa, which strives to combat elderly loneliness and social isolation through digital tools such as a mobile app, website and call center that foster face-to-face connections between aging seniors and college students. Papa currently has 3,500 students and plans to expand to 25 states in the next year to reach a larger population of older adults. The start-up is also partnering with large health insurance plans, employee benefit providers and Medicare Advantage partners to reach members.

Papa is one health tech start-up among many trying to reduce negative effects of social determinants of health (SDOH), especially for seniors’ needs. Related studies have correlated loneliness with a 50% chance of dying prematurely for those who do not have strong social connections compared with those who do. SDOH, such as social environment, are growing in importance for health care policymakers and stakeholders.

People aged 85 or older are growing faster than any other segment of the population, and this group is showing a preference for staying at home and/or within their communities as they age. Health systems must expand or create specific services that fit the needs of this important patient base. For more information about this growing population and the impact it has on our health systems, watch the on-demand Sg2 webinar Aging In Place.

Home-Based Primary Care May Improve Outcomes and Reduce Costs

A recent Health Affairs article discusses the importance of a home-based primary care model and how technology has enabled better-integrated care within the patient home. In addition to enhancing patient care quality, home-based primary care models can significantly reduce factors contributing to ED visits, readmissions and acute hospitalizations. For health systems, home-based primary care has many advantages, including reduced 30-day readmissions and reduced hospitalizations of complex, frail elders who can be poor surgical risks and produce long lengths-of-stay.

Technology has become more readily available in health care, which has proven to be extremely advantageous within patient homes. Technology has allowed home-based primary care providers to access patient charts remotely and complete lab tests quickly, as well as use smartphones as electrocardiograms, ultrasound consoles and to transmit paperwork efficiently. It has also helped increase access for home-health patients and providers alike and continues to impact the health care landscape in many ways.

Sg2 believes that virtual health can extend your health system’s reach, create new access channels and respond to the growing demand for direct-to-consumer products. As providers launch their virtual primary care/urgent care programs, metrics such as cost-avoidance through reduction in readmissions and low-acuity ED visits, accuracy of diagnosis, and provider and patient satisfaction should be taken into consideration. To learn more about these metrics and how organizations are developing new virtual care models, read the Sg2 Expert Insight The New Reality in Virtual Health (Part 2): Evolving Platforms, Care Models and Key Metrics.

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