In the News: Jan 9–16

US Cancer Mortality Rate Declines Record Amount in 1 Year

A New York Times article highlights an American Cancer Society report stating the US cancer mortality rate declined 2.2% between 2016 and 2017—the greatest one-year decline in cancer mortality rates ever reported. Since 1991, the cancer death rate has fallen about 29%, attributed to advances in treatment for melanoma and lung cancer and the reduction in smoking rates.

The mortality rates for breast, prostate and colorectal cancer, however, have begun to plateau due to Americans’ rising obesity rates. Obesity-related cancer is on the rise, and epidemiologists are starting to view obesity as the new smoking. Due to some states’ historical differences in obesity, smoking, access to care and other risk factors, their residents are at greater risk to develop cancer.

While cancer mortality rates have significantly declined since 1991, it is clear prevention and access will remain key to many populations in the future. To learn more about top trends, inpatient and outpatient service growth potential, and optimizing your cancer service line System of CARE, please see the Sg2 report Cancer Service Line Forecast 2019.

Only 10% Can Prescribe Opioid Addiction Medication

A recent FierceHealthcare article highlights a new Annals of Internal Medicine study showing only 10% of primary care providers are able to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug that helps combat a patient’s opioid addiction. This is due to the time-consuming process to acquire a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe the medication, which requires an 8-hour training session and a license application before a provider is deemed eligible. These additional steps have discouraged doctors from attaining the waiver, making it more difficult for them to help their patients address their opioid dependencies.

Patient access to buprenorphine has increased in recent years because the government raised the number of patients for which a physician can prescribe the drug. The number of providers who have obtained these waivers has increased from 3.8 to 17.3 per 100,000 individuals from 2007 to 2017, demonstrating that efforts to slow the opioid epidemic are being made. However, the number of opioid-related deaths has also risen over the same time frame, undermining the impact of the increased waiver numbers. Physicians have discussed removing the waivers altogether or building financial incentives to encourage participation in the waiver process to grow the number of physicians able to prescribe buprenorphine.

Addressing the opioid epidemic is a high priority across the health care landscape, but taking the necessary steps along the care continuum to mitigate the issue has proven to be difficult. Proper opioid addiction treatments must be implemented across the entire System of CARE to reduce readmissions and improve patient-provider touchpoints. To learn more about building a comprehensive substance use disorder strategy, please read the Sg2 FAQ Treating Substance Use Across the System of CARE.

Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care Leads to Better Patient Outcomes

Behavioral health conditions affect many Americans and are often associated with physical patient comorbidities, including diabetes and heart disease. Though patients receive care for both mental and physical disorders, coordination of care between the 2 is usually fragmented. A recent Patient Engagement HIT article highlights a behavioral health center that created an integrated behavioral health services model.

The Dimock Center in Boston is a new age model that focuses on providing behavioral health services alongside primary care in an integrated manner. By closing their outpatient behavioral health clinic and focusing on operating the center as 1 facility, they have been able to improve patient hand-offs and decrease costs. This center staffed behavioral health providers and primary care physicians in the same space, streamlined EHR workflows and incorporated social workers in a 1-stop shop that increases access for patients of all ages.

The demand for behavioral health services continues to grow, but coverage erosion will reduce access to outpatient services for individuals with behavioral health disorders. Health systems must recognize how to better integrate primary care and behavioral health services as they strategically plan for the future. To learn more about behavioral health projections across the System of CARE and the trends that are shaping the future of behavioral health, please watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar Behavioral Health Landscape 2019.

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