In the News: Oct 6–13

Virtual Health Reform Can Help Ensure Primary Care Visits

A recent mHealthIntelligence article highlights that, although the recent widespread adoption of virtual health has expanded health care access, many patients are not keeping up with their annual visits. A recent study from Johns Hopkins found that since 2018 primary care visits have decreased by more than 20 percent, and basic health screenings like blood pressure and cholesterol checkups have dropped by more than half. As more primary care visits have shifted to virtual settings, the structure of the visits have changed as well, with less attention on basic health and wellness tests that would have been performed in person.

Although virtual health has become an important strategy for many health systems, maintaining the same quality as in-person visits is vital for positive patient outcomes. There have been few comparisons between in-person visits and virtual health visits, but the those conducted highlight the limitations of virtual health. Not conducting basic health and wellness screenings can produce downstream implications for patients and hinders an important component of primary care prevention and chronic disease management.

As more providers and health systems look to virtual health modalities to improve care delivery, remote patient monitoring (RPM) is emerging as a means to carefully monitor patients’ health care needs. RPM uses digital technologies to collect medical and other health data from patients in one location and electronically transmits that information securely to health care providers in a different location for assessment. Read the Sg2 FAQ Considerations for Adoption of Remote Patient Monitoring to learn how integrating RPM is an advantageous strategy for virtual health services.

Insurers Are Expanding Medicare Advantage Health Plan Offerings

A Forbes article discusses how the Aetna unit of CVS Health will sell Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to 115 more US counties. This comes at a time when other large payers, like Humana and UnitedHealth Group, are making similar moves to increase their subscriber populations ahead of the annual Medicare open enrollment period, which is primarily due to new rules and policies that allow MA plans to offer more benefits to seniors.

Due to Medicare Advantage plans becoming increasingly competitive, payers are offering attractive cost benefits for the consumer. Aetna has announced they will expand their MA plans with no copayments or cost sharing with $0 premium plan options, which will be available to approximately 81% of Medicare-eligible beneficiaries.

As the health care industry shifts away from a fee-for-service model to a value-based care model, it is imperative that your organization is ready for the increase in MA-covered beneficiaries. To learn more about different strategies and considerations to assess your organization’s MA market, watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar Medicare Advantage: Planning for Growth.

COVID-19 Has Negatively Impacted Mental Health

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that over half of all US adults have had their mental health negatively impacted by worry/stress, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused not only hundreds of thousands of American deaths but also lost jobs and social isolation.

Prior to COVID-19, only about 11% of US adults had symptoms related to anxiety or depressive disorder; however, by July 2020, that number rose drastically to 40%, putting the prevalence of mental illness near obesity among adults. To compound the issue further, the Affordable Care Act is being challenged in the Supreme Court, and if it is overturned, mental illness could become a pre-existing condition, susceptible to having treatment coverage declined by insurers.

The prevalence of behavioral health issues has increased, and the stress of both the pandemic and its economic implications is expected to persist well beyond the managing COVID-19 patients within the community. Learn how health care leaders will discuss their experiences in addressing the current situation as well as how they are planning for anticipated behavioral health needs during the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in our on-demand webinar Managing Behavioral Health Needs During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic

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