In the News: Nov 14–21
Pediatric Concussion Concerns Remain Unanswered
A recent Washington Post article highlights the remaining evidence gaps in sports concussion–related research. The tension between parents’ concerns and the need for kids to be active has led to many questions that remain unanswered despite ongoing research in this field.
To date, findings show teen girls face higher risks than boys for concussions for the same sports with the same rules. Additionally, fewer head injuries can occur if hockey players undergo body checking bans and contact is limited in youth tackle football. However, evidence remains unclear in terms of efficacy of headgear in preventing concussions in rugby and soccer, how many concussions are too many and long-term consequences of multiple concussions in youth sports.
Many organizations want to provide concussion services to child athletes and often incorporate these services as part of a larger sports medicine initiative. Organizations may seek to engage patients using nontraditional access points such as schools and community sports programs. For additional insights regarding trends in pediatric concussion and sports medicine programs, please read the Sg2 FAQ Considering Concussion Care in Pediatric Sports Medicine.
Big-Box Retailers Can Bridge Rural Community Care Gaps
A recent Forbes article explores a collaborative study by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard University that found nearly 25% of rural Americans have not been able to access the care they need in recent years due to forces including unaffordable care, difficulty scheduling appointments and limited means of transportation. Big-box retailers such as CVS or Walmart—both economic anchors and civic institutions within rural communities—are looking to ease these obstacles through retail clinics.
Retail clinics disrupt the health care market in a variety of ways. Being up front about their prices encourages consumerism, allowing patients to shop around for the best deals. The study found that a retail clinic visit is about 30% to 40% cheaper than a standard primary care office visit and 80% cheaper than a trip to the emergency room. Additionally, even if only a fraction of retailers incorporate health clinics, millions of Americans would still be able to access care more easily since 90% of the US lives within a 15-minute drive to a Walmart.
Deploying health care services across our existing retail infrastructure is an opportunity to cost-effectively address health care gaps within rural and underserved communities. Competitive advantage is within reach when considering the entire System of CARE for low-acuity services. To learn ways to develop holistic strategies for primary care delivery, please read the Sg2 report Low-Acuity Sites of the Future: Reconfiguring the Primary Care Puzzle.
Federal and State Lawmakers Support Virtual Health Expansion
A recent Managed Healthcare Executive article discusses the 2019 Telemental Health Laws survey conducted by the Epstein Becker Green law firm, which reported an increase in support from both federal and state lawmakers for coverage of mental health services by virtual health in all 50 states. Study highlights include landmark legislation in states such as Massachusetts, Kentucky and Arizona, including the expansion of telehealth law to cover treatment for substance use disorders.
Virtual health has the potential to increase access to psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and more in various settings such as hospitals and even correctional facilities. While these services are growing, the article also outlines remaining hurdles to making telemental health services more accessible. For example, 20% of US states lack telehealth parity laws that prevent higher out-of-pocket expenses for behavioral health benefits over other medical benefits.
Over the past year, virtual health has become further integrated into organizations’ overall approach to care delivery and further improved through an evolving legislative landscape. To learn more about how these legislative changes will impact your virtual health initiatives, please register for the upcoming Sg2 webinar Virtual Health Update 2019: Legislation and Payment.
Tags: behavioral health benefits, consumerism, disruption, low-acuity services, mental health services, pediatric concussion, retail clinics, rural health care access, rural health gaps, sports concussion, sports medicine programs, telehealth law