In the News: Oct 3–10

Doctors Are Unsure How to Get Patients off Opioids

A recent FierceHealthcare article highlights a national survey conducted by US WorldMeds, asking providers and the American public to identify the biggest barriers to controlling the opioid epidemic. According to the survey, 86% of physicians and 88% of the public believe helping consumers withdraw from opioids should be a fundamental part of addressing the problem. Consumers indicated there are no standard guidelines in place to safely help discontinue opioid usage, which makes it difficult for patients to detach themselves from the addictive substances.

Physicians share similar concerns about education and protocol, as 80% of the physicians surveyed agree there are not enough educational tools available to opioid consumers. Additionally, 1 in 4 physicians report they are not confident they can get their patients off opioids. Without a clinically proven methodology, physicians are struggling to provide effective guidance to their opioid-using patients. 40% of opioid users report a fear of withdrawal as a barrier to ending opioid use, and 76% of doctors agree such a fear hinders a patient’s ability to stop using the drugs. Consistent education is what patients and physicians are asking for, but no resources have been firmly established as the standard for stopping opioid use.

Addressing the opioid crisis is integral to saving patient lives, but proper action can also produce long-term value for health systems combating the issue. Challenging the opioid epidemic can reduce readmissions, as well as improve cost of care and System of CARE coordination efforts, throughout a hospital system. To learn more about creating strategic value by addressing the opioid crisis, please read Sg2’s Expert Insight Opioid Stewardship Programs for Surgical Patients Produce Strategic Value Dividends.

Digital Women’s and Behavioral Health Start-ups Are on the Rise

A recent FierceHealthcare article discusses the growth of venture capital fundraising for digital women’s and behavioral health companies. According to Rock Health, funding for women’s health start-ups increased by 812% from 2014 to 2018; from 2014 to 2016, the number of digital behavioral health companies increased to 16, with $26 million as the average deal size in 2019. Even more funding is projected for next year, with $1.3 billion in overall venture capital funding raised by digital health companies in the third quarter of 2019.

Several women’s and behavioral health start-ups saw large funding rounds in the last 2 years. Four behavioral health companies raised $50 million or more, including Pear Therapeutics, software-based therapeutics for substance and opioid use disorders, and Calm, a sleep, meditation, and relaxation phone application. Women’s health digital companies saw 16 rounds of funding closed in 2018, which was the first year 30% of deals were Series B or later stage. Among the companies seeing the largest funding rounds are Nurx, which offers online access to medical providers and contraception and sexual health testing delivery, and Cleo, who partners with employers to provide supplemental benefits to working parents.

Digital start-ups are already ahead of the game in pursuing venture capital funds to support health care service delivery. Health care provider organizations can also play the venture capital game—especially if they want to explore revenue opportunities outside their core businesses. To learn examples of how providers are pursuing alternative revenue options, as well as questions to consider when looking at diversifying your revenue streams, read the Sg2 Expert Insight Core Business vs Alternative Revenue: Finding the Balance for Future Success.

Rapid Response Surveys Increased Patient/Provider Engagement

A recent Patient Engagement HIT article summarizes how the University of Pennsylvania Health System (PennMed) implemented standing terminals throughout its ED so patients and providers can select an emoji to immediately represent their ED experience. A feasibility study conducted by PennMed researchers demonstrated the standing terminals received 14,000 responses over a 5-month period and found terminal placement influences who the responses came from. For instance, terminals placed near ED exits yielded greater responses from patients, while terminals placed in areas where nurses and physicians gather or document received greater responses from providers. PennMed’s analysis of the results revealed how provider satisfaction varies when the ED gets busier, while patients overall reported positive experiences.

Sg2 believes conducting rapid response surveys is an effective consumerism strategy to improve patient experience and is vital to attracting and retaining savvy health care consumers. In another example, Mount Sinai’s Derald H Ruttenberg Treatment Center in New York City utilizes a short, web-based survey available through the RateMyHospital platform by sending patients leaving the treatment center a text message containing a link to a 12-question survey. This method saw a 10-fold increase in patient survey responses. For more information on these strategies and other solutions for improving patient experience at your organization, read the Sg2 Expert Insight Improve Patient Experience to Attract and Retain Savvy Consumers.

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