In the News: Oct 13–20

Can Community Health Workers Help With Pharmacy Offerings?

As reported in an article by PatientEngagementHIT, University of Buffalo researchers received a grant from the Community Pharmacy Foundation to further understand the potential role of community health workers (CHWs) in pharmacy settings, as well as develop payment models for their services. CHWs are frontline workers who directly engage with a community to connect patients to social and health care services, which can be critical for patients with complex needs. Hospitals have already begun utilizing CHWs; however, they are not common in pharmacies.

The conversation about CHWs as an extension of pharmacists comes at a time when selected primary care services are shifting to the pharmacy (eg, vaccinations and medication management). Since pharmacists are considered highly accessible compared to other health care professionals, CHWs can be additional support staff as clinical demand increases in an ever-changing care environment. Although CHW reimbursement has proved difficult in the past, research shows their roles are cost-effective: for every $1 invested in CHWs, organizations save $2.

Health inequities have been spotlighted by the current pandemic, which calls for cost-effective, innovative solutions in bridging the care gap for the most vulnerable patients. CHWs can alleviate some of the clinical burden for pharmacists by providing on-the-ground services and simultaneously addressing population health. To learn more about expanding your organization’s population health capabilities, access a wealth of materials in our Sg2 resource kit Population Health, Community Health, and Social Determinants of Health.

Quil Health Enters Home Health Care With Sensor Technology

A recent FierceHealthcare article details digital health company Quil Health’s expansion into the home health care space with its new sensor technology, Quil Assure. The technology combines voice-activated features and ambient sensors to monitor patients’ movements inside their homes, aiming to provide those in the aging population who prefer to live independently at home support and direct connection to caregivers.

Quil Assure sends alerts when patient patterns deviate from normal established baselines for movement throughout the house and can detect when a patient has fallen. Additional features include identifying deviations in regular temperature and CO2 levels within a patient’s home. Additionally, Quil Health’s partnership with Comcast allows it to incorporate health care guidance via laptops, phones and TVs. With more than 55 million seniors in the US, and the numbers still climbing, the need for additional at-home support and care is growing rapidly.

By 2035 there will be more individuals over the age of 65 than children under 18 years old. Health systems need to begin addressing gaps in care and integrating services uniquely catered to seniors in order to prevent readmissions and, ultimately, to provide high-value care to meet demographic demands. To better understand how your system can effectively support and plan for an increasingly aging and chronically ill population please read Sg2’s FAQ Silver Tsunami: A Coordinated Response to an Aging American Population.

COVID-19 Has Hit Children’s Hospitals Particularly Hard

A recent Healthcare Dive article describes the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on pediatric hospitals, as pediatric patient volumes have been slower to recover than adult acute care volumes. Compounding the problem, possible cuts to Medicaid programs due to constrained state budgets could also affect children’s hospitals since they typically rely on Medicaid reimbursement.

In the early stages of the pandemic, children’s hospitals had to stop elective procedures and were less likely to receive many COVID-19 patients. They were also left out of early federal funding packages designed to keep struggling providers financially stable. Even as health systems begin to recover, pediatric visits remain low, and as states begin to balance their budgets, they will likely make cuts to larger programs like Medicaid, which is where children’s hospitals obtain 50% or more of their total reimbursement. As it is, children’s hospitals are already projected to lose $10 billion in revenue by the end of this year.

Amid the rapidly changing health care landscape, health care leaders need clarity about which growth opportunities exists and how to increase the value of services delivered across the care continuum. Read Sg2’s new Children’s Hospitals Service Line Outlook 2020 to learn new, notable trends; carve-outs on cost, quality and channel management; and guidance on how to grow and differentiate children’s hospital services.


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