In the News: Dec 12–19

Health Care Technology Improves Care Coordination

Healthcare IT News recently published an article highlighting a care collaboration program that leverages technology, resulting in a dramatic reduction in unnecessary psychiatric ED visits. Small, independent Sturdy Memorial Hospital partnered with Collective Medical to better understand the patient populations coming through their ED. Collective connects a patient’s care team for the creation of collaborative care plans and to provide real-time access to patient history and encounters.

The Collective platform identified high utilizers by flagging behavioral health patients with more than 3 ED visits at any health system over a 6-month time frame. These patients were then assigned to dedicated case managers to help maintain care outside of the ED. The initial pilot study indicated a 78% reduction in ED visits over 6 months at Sturdy. Reducing unnecessary visits to the ED correlated with strength in care coordination and a decrease in the total cost of care provided.

Improving ED throughput for behavioral health patients is a common area of focus for many health systems, with behavioral health conditions affecting 1 in 4 Americans each year. To learn more about how your organization can address gaps across the System of CARE and prioritize care coordination for these patients, please read the Sg2 FAQ Interventions Targeting Behavioral Health Throughput in the ED.

More Americans Are Dying in Their Homes vs in Hospitals

A recent New York Times article highlights how passing away at home will become a more common phenomenon among Americans, as many have expressed they prefer to die at home instead of in institutional settings. Currently, about 45% of older people have advance directives to ensure extreme measures are not taken to prolong life. Families, health care providers and health care institutions continue to have difficult conversations around death and dying.

As the shift to nontraditional care sites continues, hospice care is expected to become readily available now more than ever before. In addition to the surges in hospice care usage, the physical and financial burden on family members has become daunting and creates more strain on health care systems and families involved in care. Family members are becoming the primary caregivers at home, but the lack of resources and education they have access to can feel burdensome at times.

With an aging population, health systems must envision innovative ways to serve patients in various settings, including the home. Community-based palliative care program models provide care in multiple settings, while helping health systems drive down costs. Please read the Sg2 FAQ Community-Based Palliative Care to learn more about cost-saving strategies and how health systems are addressing caring for patients in the home.

US Lags Behind Despite Offering More Health IT Tools

A recent Commonwealth Fund survey found that that the US falls behind other countries when it comes to providing extended access to primary care and coordinating care with other providers and social services, despite the fact that US physicians offer more health IT tools to communicate better with patients.

The survey included more than 13,000 primary care providers in 11 high-income countries, finding only 37% of US physicians make frequent or occasional home visits, compared to 70% or more in other countries. Additionally, 74% of physicians in Germany and 65% in the UK reported frequently coordinating with social services and other community providers, compared to about 40% in Australia, the US and Canada.

With an ever-shifting policy landscape, organizations must enhance care coordination efforts and ensure patient-centeredness. To learn more about the value of care redesign, please watch the on-demand Sg2 webinar Care Coordination and Transitions: Where’s the ROI?

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