In the News: May 7–14

UK Digital Health Platform Aims to Scale Across US

A recent FierceHealthcare article highlights a primary care partnership that has the potential to enhance 24/7 digital health care access to millions of New Yorkers: British Babylon Health and Mount Sinai Health Partners are collaborating on a digital app that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to provide diagnoses and video appointments.

This service hopes to off-load the burden of in-person care by engaging patients at home; however, Babylon has also received recent pushback regarding the AI’s ability to diagnose accurately. Babylon Health is utilized by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service and has been expanding its footprint in the US—it aspires to scale across all 50 states.

Like many other digital health platforms, Babylon has seen an unprecedented influx of demand. Over the past several weeks, Sg2 has seen many organizations leveraging their virtual health infrastructure as a critical aspect of care delivery. This response has, in turn, created new challenges and new opportunities that are reshaping the health care landscape in real time. To explore the dynamic virtual health landscape and consider how your organization can utilize virtual health both now and in the future, please register for the upcoming Sg2 webinar Virtual Health Update: Beyond the Inflection Point.

Financial Incentives Increase Opioid Treatment Training

A recent Healthcare Finance article highlights a new study published by the Annals of Emergency Medicine that focuses on treating opioid addiction in the ED. The study found that providing a financial incentive for emergency medicine physicians to complete a training about opioid treatment increased physician completion by 83%. Additionally, about 65% of respondents reported that they either administered or prescribed the treatment drug buprenorphine within the 5 months of their training.

The study took place at 3 urban academic EDs, with about 63 emergency medicine physicians taking part. Fifty-six physicians completed the one-day training and were provided $750 upon completion of the program. The prescription of buprenorphine per encounter related to opioid use disorder increased from 0.5% to 16% within 5 months of post-training. 67% of physicians also noted that they would have completed the training for less compensation.

The lack of outpatient addiction services—due to limited reimbursement and a shortage of specialist providers—drives repeat ED and inpatient utilization and contributes to the escalating mortality rate for substance use (an estimated 500% increase since 2002). In addition to proper training, partnering with key community stakeholders, including first responders and social services, is key to addressing the scope of the problem. To learn more about designing the right solutions to best serve your community, read the Sg2 FAQ Treating Substance Use Across the System of CARE.

Ophthalmology Suffers 81% Loss of Patient Volume

A recent Eyewire News article features an analysis revealing that out of all the medical specialties, ophthalmology lost the most patient volume because of the COVID-19 outbreak, with a 97% reduction in cataract surgery volume and an 88% reduction in glaucoma procedures.

The study looked at 2 million patient visits and procedures from 228 hospitals in 40 states during a 2-week period in March and April of this year. Researchers then compared the findings to patient encounters during a similar period of time in 2019, finding that all service lines in all areas of the US saw a decrease of 54.5% in patients seeking care at a hospital, with ophthalmology losing 81% of patient volume year-over-year. The study also highlights the major declines in inpatient procedures, the revenue loss for health systems (approximately $1.35 billion) and the rise in uninsured or self-pay patients.

This study is the first to show the reduction of patients seeking health care and how it will impact patients’ health and the health care industry. Leaders now must work with an eye toward how their service line approach plays out against enterprise needs over the next 18 months. Read the Sg2 Expert Insight Service Lines Pivot for the Crisis, Now Contend With Lasting Impact to learn strategies that should be top of mind as your health system jump-starts service line planning and charts a path forward.

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