Delay to Price Transparency Mandate. No Surprises Act (NSA) and Transparency in Coverage (TiC). Machine-Readable Files. Self-Service Price Estimation Tool. HealthSparq.

Extracting Strategic Value from Delay to Price Transparency Mandates

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Staying on top of government regulations and their compliance is an ongoing reality for health plans, health systems, and care provider organizations operating in the healthcare industry.  And oftentimes when federal agencies issue a delay in enforcing new regulations many organizations breathe a sigh of relief – and then fail to take advantage of the extended time to take a more strategic approach. Recently some healthcare organizations took that sigh of relief as new guidance was issued related to the No Surprises Act (NSA) and Transparency in Coverage (TiC) health plan price transparency mandates. Among other areas, these changes impacted Machine-Readable Files and the Self-Service Price Estimation Tool. Here’s an opportunity to add more value than merely ‘checking a box.’

Enforcement of Machine-Readable Files Delayed

Enforcement of the requirement to post in-network and allowed amount (out-of-network) Machine-Readable Files (MRFs) has been delayed from January 1, 2022 to July 1, 2022. And the Rx pricing MRF is on hold until further rulemaking is completed. See this post on Diving into the Details: What You Need to Know About the Machine-Readable Files Mandate

Self-Service Price Estimation Tool – Additional Time of Deliver Strategic Member Experience

CMS resolved the conflict between requirements under the No Surprises Act to provide a price comparison tool by 1/1/22 and Transparency in Coverage to provide an internet-based self-service tool by 1/1/23. Accordingly, CMS will now defer enforcement of the NSA requirement to make a price comparison tool available until 1/1/23.

Opportunity to Leverage Delay of Price Transparency Mandate – Challenges, Issues, & Opportunities

Smart health plan leaders will take advantage of recent delays to differentiate their organizations beyond merely ‘checking the box’ of government compliance. To help with that approach, the HealthCare Executive Group has hosted two Focus Area Roundtable on Price Transparency and has a 3rd opportunity for health plan leaders to differentiate their organizations beyond merely “checking the box” but rather taking an approach to improve the overall experience of their plan members.

On Thursday, September 23rd at 4:00 PM ET, our Focus Area Partner for Price Transparency HealthSparq will facilitate the 3rd Focus Area Roundtable. In this discussion, the following topics will be discussed:Delay to Price Transparency Mandate. No Surprises Act (NSA) and Transparency in Coverage (TiC). Machine-Readable Files. Self-Service Price Estimation Tool. HealthSparq.

  1. How have you adjusted your plans based on CMS’ recent changes regarding the delivery of Machine-Readable Files?
  2. What are the challenges you are encountering regarding compliance with and/or strategically positioning your price comparison tool(s) beyond just a ‘check the box’ approach?
  3. Who’s driving the process to comply with and/or strategically position your price comparison tool requirements?

Opportunity to Meet Others & Ask Questions of Experts on Price Transparency

Our Focus Area Roundtables are 45-minute sessions where all participants get to introduce themselves, meet others dealing with similar challenges, issues, and opportunities, and ask questions of experts intimately involved with addressing specific priorities. Read the recaps of earlier price transparency roundtables here, here, and here and check out upcoming roundtables on other priorities identified by healthcare executives and consider joining those roundtables.

Healthcare Policy Changes. Focus Area Roundtable. HCEG. HealthCare Executive Group. Regulatory. Regulations. Policy. Mandates. Interoperability. Data transparency. Non-Compliance.

Impact of Healthcare Policy Changes & New Regulations – Healthcare Leader Insight & Opinions

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With the new presidential administration, staying abreast of and responding to new and changing healthcare policy changes, legislation, and regulatory activities is more important than ever. And with uncertainties about the longevity and true value of changes forced by the pandemic, the ease in which nontraditional businesses are entering the health care space, and increasing opportunities for employing technology, learning how other health plans, health systems, and healthcare provider organizations are addressing these regulatory and policy impacts affords unique value to healthcare executives.

On Tuesday, May 26th, 2021, a dozen senior executives serving the healthcare industry gathered for our second Focus Area Roundtable on Healthcare Policy & the ACA. In this session moderated by HCEG Executive Director Ferris Taylor and supported by Kevin Deutsch, General Manager & SVP of Health Plan Cloud at Softheon – our Focus Area Partner for Healthcare Policy & ACA – attendees were presented with four questions on which to share their insight, ideas, and questions for each other.Healthcare Policy Changes. Focus Area Roundtable. HCEG. HealthCare Executive Group. Regulatory. Regulations. Policy. Mandates. Interoperability. Data transparency. Non-Compliance.

Highlights of Healthcare Policy Changes – Focus Area Roundtable #2

This post shares some highlights of participants’ responses to the questions shared by Ferris and information shared by Kevin.  Access Healthcare Leaders Focus on Healthcare Policy & ACA – a recap of the 1st Focus Area Roundtable on Healthcare Policy & ACA and read on for more information on participating in future Focus Area Roundtables.

The roundtable kicked off with Ferris asking attendees: What are your expectations for healthcare policy changes over the next 2 to 4 years?

One participant suggested that the most important regulatory/policy areas for the government would be to set clear requirements and clarify the compliance details around interoperability and data transparency.  Policies to encourage and support digital health initiatives that address the practical flow and exchange of data – from the point of view of the regular doctor and patient – were identified as most important. Generating and consuming machine-readable data that includes prices healthcare providers negotiate with payers was identified as a primary challenge – particularly given the reluctance of payers and providers to publicize that type of data. Discussion continued on transparency mandates and policies.

A Backlash for Non-Compliance with Transparency Regulations?Healthcare Price Transparency Focus Area Roundtable

One provider participant suggested the current level of ambiguity regarding the type of pricing information hospital facilities must share, along with the relatively low current penalties for not meeting the requirement, might drive some organizations to simply face the potential cost of penalties versus the cost and implementation challenges associated with compliance. Attendees noted that costs and potential negative impact associated with disclosing contracted prices could be greater than the penalties of non-compliance. In the end, leaders of provider organizations must weigh the potential backlash of non-compliance against meeting detailed requirements of the regulations.

RELATED: Join us for our 2nd roundtable on Price Transparency on June 16th, 2021 at 10:00 AM PT / 1:00 PM ET

Ferris asked participants to share their insight on what the implications for non-compliance might be for the consumer.

A chief executive officer shared that he honestly could not assess how much, if any, of a consumer impact there might be due to current levels of skepticism about the utility of price transparency shopping tools. He noted recent research suggesting that, even if granted more information, people are not very good shoppers of healthcare services. He noted recent, direct experience in reaching out to health plan members with information on the potential to save over $1000 on an imaging exam where only 30% of the consumers accepted the recommendation with the balance going with their originally prescribed venue.

Participants noted that this reluctance from healthcare consumers might change over time and that healthcare organizations need to focus on educating and supporting consumer acceptance and usage of price transparency tools.

Bipartisan Support & Permanency of Pandemic-Induced Healthcare Policy Changes

A CEO participant shared that he was not very optimistic about significant changes to popular areas of policy such as Medicare Buy-In, Public Option, and Medicaid Expansion.  He suggested that the focus would be more about bipartisan issues as opposed to those demanding substantive partisan agreement. Drug pricing was noted as one bipartisan issue that may see some change.

Another area of the discussion centered on the permanency of policies that were temporarily reversed over the last year during the course of the pandemic. Policy extensions for things that probably should have been fixed long ago, telehealth for example which took a pandemic to shine a light on, would likely be made permanent.

Permanency & Impact of Policies Regarding Open Enrollment, Subsidies, & COBRAHealthcare policy changes and regulations. ACA open enrollment subsidies, single payer, public option, Medicare/Medicaid buy-in, block grants, CMS Interoperability and Patient Access

Ferris noted how open enrollment for individual markets had been extended and that eligibility for and levels of subsidies provided to individual members using ACA marketplaces has been expanded over the last year. Ferris queried participants as to whether those policies might be made permanent and what impact might result from reverting back to previous subsidy determinations as compared to the current environment where a million new individuals have enrolled into the ACA Marketplace.

Open enrollment policies were raised by one attendee as conditional based on employment levels and likely influenced by state-level needs and policy determinations.

While one participant noted the potential for more permanent changes to eligibility for subsidies and the level of subsidies, that participant also noted that subsidies related to COBRA coverage would likely not be made permanent because COBRA is directly impacted by the dynamics regarding unemployment and the need for coverage extension.

Impact of Open Enrollment & Subsidies on Underwriting & Reconciliations

Given mid-year changes to open enrollment periods and subsidy levels, a high degree of uncertainty as to what health plan populations look like can exist – all while health plans are building packages for the next benefit year. One participant shared that extended open enrollment periods introduce a variable that plans haven’t seen before and are likely to produce underwriting challenges for health plans in 2022 and beyond.

‘You’re never really closing the books on the one year before you’re getting ready to reload for the next year.’ – Roundtable Participant

RELATED: Healthcare Policy, ACA 2.0, Enrollment Period Lessons, & The Journey to the Exchange

Potential Areas for Healthcare Policy Changes & New Regulations

A number of areas were identified as top of mind for both health systems and health plans and ripe for new regulations and development of formal policies:

  • Payment parity for telehealth services
  • Removal of barriers to site of service and venue for telehealth engagement
  • Alternative payment models
  • Quality measures
  • Health equity
  • Holistic/whole-health care delivery

Cost of Care: A Failure of the ACA & Political Platform in 2022 & 2024?

Regulations and policies regarding eligibility for subsidies and their levels were noted as a symptom that the ACA, while it did a good job addressing coverage, didn’t really address the cost of care. While the cost of premiums can be controlled through greater subsidies, doing so doesn’t solve the problem. The problem is that health care costs too much and that’s driving either premiums up or subsidies up, neither of which are good.

One participant noted that the entry of non-traditional market participants like Amazon are just the results of not addressing the cost of care through the ACA over the last decade.

As one participant asked: ‘Can we really expect the current structure of the federal government to make major policy changes that might affect the cost of care?’ Another participant added: ‘While it may not happen this year or next, it’s possible that you’ll see the political parties run specifically on a cost of care platform for 2022. And certainly for 2024.’

Technology as a Force Multiplier to Address Healthcare Policy Changes

Ferris asked panelists what they see as the role of technology in addressing policy changes and how technology will make an impact beyond the ACA – to consumers, providers, health plans, payers, and hospitals.

One participant’s response:

‘I’m seeing technology as a force multiplier in a competitive advantage – a leveraging of clinicians whether they are acting as a call center coach or a nurse navigator. That model is tough to scale and so clinicians are best focused on high clinical acuity and complex care. And where we’re seeing technology best applied is where it’s being leveraged from a preventative, chronic care, and wellness perspective. You can engage more members and have a personalized experience across a broader swath of either membership and/or lines of business as well as it being a personalized experience.

And that includes leveraging remote patient monitoring capability, wearables, Etc. And so right now for a commercial line of business, you can do, for example, digital coaching and get reimbursed for it. But when it comes to government programs, that’s not been in effect yet. So, I think, as it becomes more commonplace in the commercial market in evolution it will be more common in government programs.’

No Area of Healthcare Will Be Untouched by Technology

A health plan chief executive officer shared:

‘It’s hard to think about any area that won’t be touched by technology. I think technology is going to reinvent the shopping experience in healthcare for both obtaining health insurance as well as care delivery. If we wonder what technology should do, we have to realize that Amazon is a technology company that brought the store to the house. And Netflix is a technology solution. And Uber is a technology solution. So why would we think that isn’t going to happen in healthcare, both on the plan and the care delivery side? I think technology is already revolutionizing care delivery so that much of it can be provided in the home if people want it there, or in the cloud.’

The participant went on to share additional insight on technologies likely impact on shopping, care delivery, and drug development.

RELATED: Healthcare Price Transparency – Leaders Share Insight – Part 1

Need for Ubiquitous Access to Healthcare Services & User Acceptance of Technology’s Limitations

One attendee commented about the need for ubiquitous access to healthcare services in all locations – urban, suburban, and rural – and the growing acceptance of technology-related glitches by healthcare consumers:

‘And the other thing that I really see that I think technology is going to go ahead and really flourish is that when you think about what happened with the pandemic and with people going ahead and deciding to work remotely; for some of them to flee the city’s and go to places where they may not be directly surrounded with a lot of health care options. They’re going to want to have the convenience of obtaining health care through technology because they’re not going to be so close to healthcare service options anymore.

I also see the attitude right now that when people used to say: ‘OK, there was something wrong with the technology and I’m not going to use it.’ Now they say: ‘Okay, well that’s just part of the package, something’s going to happen. There’s going to be a glitch but that’s just part of it’’ And they accept it. So, I think that with more of that type of acceptance, more and more people are just going to, as far as physicians and everyone’s health systems, are just going to accept it.’

Disintermediation – Patient, Physician/Provider, or Payer – All Others BewareHCEG Healthcare Policy Patient Payer Physician Provider Triangle

A chief executive officer of a provider organization offered that there’s going to be a lot of disintermediation between the real customer who’s the patient, the provider who’s the physician, and the health plan who’s the payer. He believes this because the information that’s available via personal digital tools and the movement to at-home care are going to really empower patients – i.e., consumers – to do a lot better with their health. He stressed the importance of focusing digital solutions on what providers and patients need – not on supporting the economics of the healthcare model.

He described a triangle of who’s paying, who’s getting the care, and who’s providing it and opined that companies not in that triangle are going to be disintermediated over the coming years.

Join Our Focus Area Roundtables

If you’re an executive/leader of a health plan, health system, or healthcare provider organization, consider joining one or more of our Focus Area Roundtables. In addition to Healthcare Policy & ACA, we currently have roundtables on Price Transparency, Interoperability, Next Gen/Value Payment Models, M&A/Joint Ventures and are establishing others based on 2021 HCEG Top 10+ focus areas.Join HCEG and/or participate in our Focus Area Roundtables

Complete this short form to share the focus areas you are interested in and how you’d like to participate with the HealthCare Executive Group. We’ll get back to you with information on participation.

For more insight and information on the challenges, issues, and opportunities facing healthcare leaders, subscribe to our newsletter and connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.Healthcare Executive Group Focus Area Partners HealthSparq Softheon Surescripts Zelis

Price Transparency Compliance Regulations Mandates. Policies, programs, and tools. Data standards. Operational considerations. Increasing adoption. End-user education and support. Payer-provider relationships.

Beyond Price Transparency Compliance – Stakeholder Thoughts – Part 2

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The Transparency in Coverage Mandate and the No Surprises Act are forcing health plans, health systems, healthcare providers to focus their attention and already overburdened resources on price transparency compliance-related activities. While price transparency mandates and regulations are intended to help make healthcare better and more cost-effective for health plan members and healthcare provider’s patients, there are strategic and tactical reasons to holistically address the following aspects of price transparency:

  • Policies, Programs, & Tools
  • Data Standards, Data Collection & Operational Considerations
  • Increasing End-User Adoption
  • End-user Education & Support
  • Payer-Provider Relationships

In the first post of a two-part series, Healthcare Price Transparency – Leaders Share Insight – Part 1, highlights from our first Focus Area Roundtable on Costs & Transparency held on April 5, 2021 were shared. HCEG members working for health plans, healthcare providers, and healthcare-related technology/service organizations shared their responses to some questions presented by Andy Hoffman and Matt Parker, two thought leaders with our 2021 Focus Area Partner for Costs & Transparency: HealthSparq.

Stakeholder Adoption, End-User Support, & Payer-Provider Relationships

In this second post, comments and insights from Focus Area Roundtable participants on the following aspects of price transparency are presented:

  1. Increasing stakeholder adoption of price transparency tools and services
  2. The importance of end-user education and support
  3. Payer-provider relationships to support access to price transparency information

RELATED: Understanding the Transparency in Coverage Mandate

Increasing Stakeholder Adoption of Price Transparency Tools

I think the concept of just being a liaison will go a long way on either side through this process. (Health Plan)

Go into the prescriber’s workflow with price transparency, going to the physician’s workflow with pricing information that not only saves the system money but that directly affects the consumer in a way that is frictionless. (Industry Analyst)

Whenever these conversations come up, taking a step back and saying [asking] Who’s going to benefit the most? And by that, I mean not just like the individual or the entity but the health system at large. If it doesn’t really waterfall to the whole cost of care and care opportunities, then we’re probably just clogging up the system. Who’s this going to piss off? Who’s going to lose from that deal? Companies taking rebates are going to lose. Companies overcharging and hiding pricing are going to lose. Intermediaries who aren’t necessary may lose. (Industry Analyst)

We’ve kind of assumed that we have to have all of these systems connected and all this interoperability wired in order to do that. But I’ve seen some really successful approaches and getting information into the decision maker’s hands that benefits the end consumer of health. (Industry Analyst)

Take something like hip and knee replacements. There’s an awareness of ambulatory participation, acute participation, post-acute participation on a couple of levels whether that’s brick and mortar and or home on the post-acute side. (Technology Provider)HCEG Focus Area Roundtable. Costs & Price Transparency. Compliance Regulations Mandates. Policies, programs, and tools. Data standards. Operational considerations. Increasing adoption. End-user education and support. Payer-provider relationships.

Health Plan, Health System, & Healthcare Provider Leaders – Click on the Above to Join a Focus Area Roundtable

Importance of End-User Education and Support for Price Transparency

Price transparency has different meanings to different people depending on their roles and expectations. (Provider)

I think hospitals will have to somehow educate patients and that can come in different forms. And whether it’s on a one-on-one setting or more about broader communication, there is an element of patient education that will need to happen. It’s going to be a lot more complex because it’s going to also have to account for the impact of the health plan. So, the education component is going to be large. (Industry Analyst)

I think the reality is most of us don’t really want to solve the problem in terms of us being the recipient of care. So, if I’m a patient, member, consumer, employee, I want the system to fix these things. I want my health plan that I signed up for to be smart. I want my doctor to have information and just do stuff that doesn’t cost me excess money. I want my pharmacist. (Industry Analyst)

We’re in rural areas so that’s a big, big challenge for us. But what does it mean to the consumer? Do they think that when they go in and try this tool that they’re going to understand precisely what the cost of their knee surgery is? And then is it going to be a big dissatisfier when they learned that surgeon had to do something more, or it was more complex than they originally thought? And as a result of that, they disengage. So, will this help or harm them? (Health Plan)

And then there’s the component of things that even an educated consumer might not know about like the anesthesiologist in the acute setting which rarely gets talked about. And then a bill shows up, let alone the medications that are incurred post-acute. (Technology Provider)

We also have a couple, sort of, denominators there. Am I able to figure this out on my own? Do I have search skills? And EOB skills? And ICD-10 code skills? And then the other is: Am I on Medicaid or sort of a capped model where what do I care about the price? (Industry Analyst)

Patient-Physician Relationships May Offset Price Transparency Benefits

I think it’s a personal thing. For surgeries you develop a relationship with your physicians so even if you see a great price somewhere else, I don’t think that people would jump out to go have say like a knee replacement or shoulder replacement or something even more critical with another physician somewhere else. (Provider)

If they have a relation, they tend to sort of stick with what they know. The people that would make the change are not the people that we would see price making the decision from a true consumer choice perspective but those that are just utterly desperate and have, maybe require something that they can’t otherwise get at which is, again, not part of, not really the spirit of the law, per se. (Health Plan/Provider)

RELATED: Healthcare Leaders Focus on Healthcare Policy & ACA

Payer-Provider Relationships Impacts from Price Transparency Compliance

How do you see the relationship between payers and providers in the space of both informing about price transparency but also making sure that the messaging is consistent? Because again, your got contract disputes and a lot of the No Surprise Act is going to come around contract disputes. (Technology Provider)

This [price transparency] could change the relationship between the provider and the payer. And we’re already seeing a lot of movement around mergers and acquisitions and perhaps this would incent that kind of behaviors further – or maybe not. But I think there will be some sort of macro-level impact as this becomes more widespread. (Health Plan)

Well, I think when it comes to that relationship of payer and provider, one key element that’s going to go a long way actually is support. And support probably more for the hospital side because there’s an element of an IT integration of the back end that you have to think about. And how does it all fit together? And what codes they have to integrate through? (Thought Leader)

Join a Focus Area Roundtable – Connect with Healthcare Peers

Additional Focus Area Roundtables on Costs & Transparency – and other 2021 HCEG Top 10+ focus areas such as Healthcare Policy & ACA, Interoperability, and M & A /Joint Ventures, among others – will take place throughout 2021. If you are interested in participating, reach out to us via email or complete this short form to indicate your interests.

To receive recaps of our Focus Area Roundtables and other information of potential use for leaders of health plans, health systems, and healthcare provider organizations, join our newsletter.

Healthcare Price Transparency Price Transparency Regulations & Compliance, Policies, Programs, & Tools, Data Standards & Operational Considerations

Healthcare Price Transparency – Leaders Share Insight – Part 1

By | Events, Focus Area Roundtable, Resources | 3 Comments

Healthcare price transparency has a lot of attention and focus right now, especially in the mandate-driven space. But addressing price transparency via compliance with regulations is just a portion of what health plans and healthcare provider organizations should be focusing on to help make healthcare better and more cost-effective for their members and patients.

In our first Focus Area Roundtable on Costs & Transparency held April 5, 2021, a group of HCEG members working for health plans, healthcare providers, and healthcare-related technology/service organizations gathered to discuss some of the challenges, issues, and opportunities associated with addressing price transparency.

Challenges, Issues, & Opportunities Beyond Price Transparency Regulations

Andy Hoffman and Matt Parker, two thought leaders with our Focus Area Partner HealthSparq, shared a timeline overview of the Transparency in Coverage Mandate and the No Surprises Act and facilitated the following questions:

  • How are you thinking about price transparency within a rather heavily regulated space?
  • What do you see as key issues and risks in the price transparency space? What’s the role of the 80/20 rule?Healthcare Price Transparency Regulations & Compliance, Policies, Programs, & Tools, Data Standards & Operational Considerations
  • How can we really focus on what health plan members and provider patients need to make good health care decisions, knowing that members and patients often have to navigate in antagonistic payer-provider environments?
  • How can we balance supporting patient needs and operate as an ongoing business while also informing people what things are going to cost before they have to spend unlimited amounts of money?
  • What unique challenges or strategies are you thinking about with respect to price transparency? And what opportunities are you looking to take advantage of regarding price transparency?

This post shares insight and information shared by roundtable participants on the above questions pertaining to the following categories:

  1. Regulations and compliance including their importance and value to various stakeholders
  2. Price transparency policies, programs, and tools
  3. Data standards and operational considerations to advance price transparency

A second post highlighting participant responses pertaining to the following categories will be shared shortly:

  1. Increasing adoption and the importance of end-user education and support
  2. Payer-provider relationships to support access to price transparency information
  3. Advancing healthcare price transparency and next steps

RELATED: Healthcare Leaders Focus on Healthcare Policy & ACA

Thoughts on Price Transparency Regulations & Compliance

As a payer and provider, I can look at other hospitals across the state and they’re not even using our latest pricing. They’re just putting something out there to meet the requirement. So, if there’s not consistency in the data, it doesn’t actually help anybody. It just creates profound confusion. (Health Plan/Provider)

Some of the things that I hear my peers talk about is: Are we just solving certain regulatory requirements or are we solving something members think they want but won’t actually be able to use in an effective way?  Or are we on a road to something that will be of value to all the parties involved? (Health Plan)

So, what are the different things people are putting out there? How do we then know this is the best? This is what we should be doing versus this is what we are doing. Because I think everybody is just trying to meet the intent of the law or the letter of the law, but a lot of people don’t know how. And so, I think that’s one of the things that we’ve got to [consider] if there’s anything we can do. (Technology/Service Provider)

These are people who are sick and injured and hurt and need health care. And we’ve got to do our part to help them out and we can do that in a way that drives our overall business priorities. This sets the floor. We talk about these mandates being a floor and you build an experience on top of that that supports your member needs and supports your patient’s needs. (Technology/Service Provider)

So, I think it’s a good thing that the conversation has started. But I think that the end product is going to be significantly different from what it is that we’re looking at this point. (Health Plan)

I feel like the price transparency is just a way to get our prices out there – for the most part as individuals [procedures]. Unless it’s very comparative in descriptions, information is really hard to compare apples to apples between hospitals. (Provider)

Healthcare Price Transparency Policies, Programs & Tools

Whenever I used to roll out tools and or guidance, probably two decades ago and in more than one state, you have to understand the nature of what it is that your end goal is. And sort of work backward from that. But just sort of putting some things out there, you end up getting exactly what you put into it. (Health Plan/Provider)

For a lot of these hospitals, putting out their prices shows major vulnerabilities for them when it comes to inappropriate pricing, when it comes to the contracts that they’re having. It does highlight the contracts that they have with their different vendors. (Technology/Service Provider)

I think some plans are in sort of this game of chicken to some extent because the No Surprises Act isn’t finalized yet. (Technology/Service Provider)

And how can we give voice to that as part of the overall conversation with the administration because I think they’re trying but they’re sort of missing the point. So, I think it’s incumbent upon us as an industry to start to respond back on all of those fronts as to how best to rethink how to do that since it started out previously and it’s been through lots of different iterations. But that lack of standards or consistency is just…(Health Plan)

Price Transparency Data Standards & Operational Considerations

From the payer or provider perspective, without somewhat more explicit data structure guidance across the board, it’s [price transparency mandate] not helpful. (Health Plan/Provider)

We need a standardization so that everybody can follow that. (Provider)

I don’t think you can do comparisons. It’s not the latest data. It’s not even the same from hospital to hospital. It’s kind of all over the place. (Health Plan/Provider)

So as an industry, I think whether that’s vendor-specific or provider, payer, or even consumer, I think I’d like to see a conversation around how do we drive to those data standards? (Health Plan/Provider)

I would agree that the majority of people and hospitals are doing that [trying to comply in good faith.] They don’t collect the data internally in ways that’s terribly helpful. So, to publish it [price transparency information] requires an infrastructure that frankly many of them don’t have in a way that makes it useful as say maybe a payer would. (Health Plan/Provider)

Healthcare is local, that’s very much true. So that’ll impact the dynamics and the impact of what price transparency brings to the table. (Thought Leader)

There are operational challenges that we have to address and plan to address to be compliant with the new regulations that the question becomes: How will this look and feel to the consumer because pricing can vary so significantly? (Health Plan)

One of the challenges that we see when we engage with plans is: Who are the folks and entities within the organization that are trying to solve this problem? We’ve got to get fee schedules from your contracting folks, and you need member eligibility and claims verification. You had to pull all these different systems together and that’s been one of the things we’ve seen as a big challenge – especially with bigger payers, these big vast entities that have to solve these problems with groups that really hardly ever talk to each other. (Technology/Service Provider)

Join a Focus Area Roundtable – Connect with Healthcare Peers

Additional Focus Area Roundtables on Costs & Transparency – and other 2021 HCEG Top 10+ focus areas such as Healthcare Policy & ACA, Interoperability, and M & A /Joint Ventures, among others – will take place throughout 2021. If you are interested in participating, reach out to us via email or complete this short form to indicate your interests.

To receive recaps of our Focus Area Roundtables and other information of potential use for leaders of health plans, health systems, and healthcare provider organizations, join our newsletter.

Interim 2021 HCEG Top 10 List Healthcare Leader Priorities

Identifying COVID-19 Impact on Healthcare Leader Priorities

By | HCEG Top 10, Resources | No Comments

The healthcare industry has faced tremendous change and uncertainty for decades. Each year over the last decade, the challenges, issues, and opportunities facing HCEG members have been used to create the HCEG Top 10 list – a list of challenges, issues, and opportunities. Although most healthcare executives were likely comfortable about their priorities at the start of 2020, those healthcare leader priorities were certainly and quickly turned upside down by the emerging coronavirus pandemic. The best-laid plans demanded quick review, understanding, and revision as 2020 progressed.

COVID-19 Impact to Healthcare Leader Priorities

Accordingly, HCEG and our sponsor Change Healthcare performed a ‘flash survey’ of 228 healthcare leaders through June and July of last year to assess how COVID-19 impacted the priorities identified in the 10th Annual Industry Pulse research report – a research survey based on the 2020 HCEG Top 10 list.

The results of this COVID-19 flash survey update to the 2020 Industry Pulse were released in September of 2020. Since COVID-19 prevented the HealthCare Executive Group from hosting its 2020 Annual Forum that same month of September, a formal 2021 HCEG Top 10 list was not created but rather an Interim 2021 HCEG Top 10+ list was assembled using findings from the flash survey and discussion among HCEG’s network of healthcare executives and industry leaders.

Updating Healthcare Leader Priorities as 2021 Unfolds

As 2020 ended and 2021 began, HCEG has been collecting additional information and insight into how the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 presidential election have impacted the priorities of new and existing HCEG members and our network of partners and associates. We are also reviewing a list of 2021 healthcare predictions and trends shared by industry leaders.

Over the last few weeks, HCEG contacted the 120+ new members who joined HCEG since early December to collect feedback on their current priorities.

HCEG Healthcare Executive Group Annual Forum Healthcare leader priorities

New HCEG Members Share Their Top Priorities

While we are still collecting additional feedback from our members and performing a comparative analysis of information collected from our members to 2021 predictions and trends shared by industry leaders, it’s clear that the pandemic has resulted in new and changed priorities for health plans, health systems, and healthcare providers. Some initial findings based on the feedback provided by new HCEG members include:

  • Consumer Experience” (#1) and “Costs & Transparency” (#2) were the most frequently noted priorities of new members.
  • Data & Analytics” (#5) was the 3rd most referenced top priority. We’re reaching out to our members to gather more specifics about this foundational priority – among other priorities that were shared.
  • Next Generation Payment Models” (#9) was the 4th most frequently noted priority.
  • COVID-19 & Pandemic Preparedness” (#11) was frequently referenced with some new members adding “Patient & Healthcare Worker Safety” as a priority.
  • Holistic Individual Health” (#7) was referenced by only two new members – both healthcare providers.
  • Reimbursement Issues,” “Addressing Underfunding of Primary Care” and “Administrative Expense” – perhaps all considered a subset of “Next Generation Payment Models” – were listed as ‘new priorities’ – mostly by members associated with health systems and healthcare providers.

RELATED: Physician Perspectives on COVID-19 Impact on the Fall Season

How has COVID-19 Impacted YOUR Priorities as a Healthcare Leader?

To help us further refine our Interim 2021 HCEG Top 10+ list, please consider sharing your priorities for 2021 via this simple, one-page survey. We’ll use your responses to create a more complete 2021 HCEG Top 10+ list and to help guide and create additional content as 2021 continues. You may also email us at [email protected].

Connect with the HealthCare Executive Group

Consider joining our newsletter to receive additional information, ideas, and insight for healthcare executives and change-makers.

Please reach out to us at [email protected] if you have any questions or comments. If you are an executive of a health plan, health system, or healthcare provider organization, reach out to us at [email protected] for information on a special membership offer available through the end of January.

Healthcare System Interoperability – The Key To The Care We All Strive For

By | Events, Resources, Sponsor | No Comments

What does it feel like to be a patient, provider, pharmacist, and payer in a world where interoperability is not always a reality? What improvements can be expected by healthcare stakeholders in a world where interoperability is vast?

In our October Webinar Series event – The Care We All Strive For: The Impact of Interoperability – our sponsor Surescripts helped to address the two above questions via a short two-act skit. Four fictional healthcare stakeholders – a patient, a provider, a pharmacist, and a health plan executive – each shared their experiences with how interoperability helps to address the Quadruple Aim: enriching the patient experience, improving outcomes, addressing costs, and maintaining provider well-being.Surescripts. The Care We All Strive For – Navigating an Interoperable Healthcare System. HCEG Webinar Series October 2020. Specialty Pharmacy. Interoperability. Prior Authorizations. Quadruple Aim Triple Aim.This blog post recaps a portion of this two-act skit and presents some highlights.

Access the entire recording here.

Two-Acts: Healthcare System Interoperability – Before & After

In Act I of the skit, each of the actors shared their experience in a world where interoperability is not a widespread reality – a world that most healthcare stakeholders experience today. In Act II, they shared how enhanced interoperability can improve the experience and well-being of not only patients and but also providers while reducing administrative and financial burdens and enhancing clinical outcomes – the four goals of the Quadruple Aim.

Highlights of Act I – Navigating Today’s Processes (Before)

Each stakeholder shared their experience living and working in a healthcare environment where interoperability is lacking:

Patient Carlos Garcia expressed his experience and concerns about alternative medication availability and cost:

  1. Need to repeat medical and medication history with each new provider
  2. Difficulty obtaining info on more cost-effective medication alternatives
  3. Lapses in medication adherence due to cost and/or delays at the pharmacySurescripts. The Care We All Strive For – Navigating an Interoperable Healthcare System. HCEG Webinar Series October 2020. Specialty Pharmacy. Interoperability. Prior Authorizations. Quadruple Aim Triple Aim.

Physician Dr. Natalie Pinter, Carlos Garcia’s PCP, noted difficult prior authorization processes and lack of access to benefits information:

  1. Administrative processes take time away from patient interaction
  2. Lack of benefits information makes identifying cheaper therapeutic alternatives more difficult
  3. Cumbersome prior authorization processes – particularly for specialty medications

Pharmacist Keisha Wright also expressed concerns about over-reliance on faxes and administrative burdens:

  1. Challenges with incomplete patient information
  2. Delays in filling prescriptions – particularly specialty medications – due to unwieldy prior authorization processes

VP of Pharmacy at Carlos’s health plan, Oscar Gustafsson, noted impacts his health plan pharmacy operations:

  1. Involve a heavy, over-reliance on faxes to communicate with physicians and pharmacists
  2. Challenges assisting with member medication adherence and addressing gaps
  3. Difficulty assisting members with optimizing the use of their health plan benefits

Navigating Today’s Healthcare Process is a Challenge for Everyone

After Act I, the emcee of the performance – Melissa Warnke, Director PBM-Pharmacy, Health Plan Segment Marketing of Surescripts – shared some recent statistics supporting how insufficient interoperability impacts patients, providers, pharmacists, and health plan payers.Surescripts. The Care We All Strive For – Navigating an Interoperable Healthcare System. HCEG Webinar Series October 2020. Specialty Pharmacy. Interoperability. Prior Authorizations. Quadruple Aim Triple Aim.

Access the entire recording here.

Highlights of Act II – The Care We All Strive For (After)

In the 2nd act, the healthcare stakeholders shared how broad healthcare system interoperability would change stakeholder experience:

Health plan VP of Pharmacy Oscar noted improvements and efficiencies gained in health plan operations:

  1. Allows for timely delivery of medication adherence gaps directly into the workflow of physicians
  2. Ability to share member-specific benefit information to physicians at the point of care
  3. Faster, “faxless” processing and turnaround of prior authorizations

Patient Carlos noted positive impacts on his physician office visit, cost of his medications, and obtaining his medications:

  1. Ability to provide patient medical and medication history to new physicians and pharmacists
  2. Faster, less administratively intense prescriptions – particularly specialty medications – and refills of existing prescriptions
  3. Opportunity to save money with therapeutic alternatives

Physician Dr. Natalie revealed improved ability patient information, reduced administrative work, & more time with her patient:

  1. Patient medical info, medication history, and adherence gaps available electronically in advance of a patient encounter
  2. Electronically accessible benefit plan information facilitates identification and prescription of more cost-effective medication and treatment alternatives
  3. Submitting prior authorizations electronically without faxing
  4. Submitting prescriptions for specialty medications electronically to the pharmacy

Pharmacist Keisha Wright noted reduced patient data collection and streamlined medication processing:

  1. Complete patient and prior authorization info received electronically
  2. More timely processing – especially with specialty medications – allows for more time counseling patients

The Care We All Strive For – The Vast Reality of Improved Healthcare System Interoperability

At the conclusion of Act II, Surescripts Melissa Warnke shared an overview of the vast impact that improved interoperability can have on increasing the transactions that help address the Quadruple Aim. Melissa also shared some additional statistics showing the growing pervasiveness of interoperability. Click images to expand.

Surescripts. The Care We All Strive For – Navigating an Interoperable Healthcare System. HCEG Webinar Series October 2020. Specialty Pharmacy. Interoperability. Prior Authorizations. Quadruple Aim Triple Aim. Surescripts. The Care We All Strive For – Navigating an Interoperable Healthcare System. HCEG Webinar Series October 2020. Specialty Pharmacy. Interoperability is a Reality. Prior Authorizations. Quadruple Aim Triple Aim.

A Faxless Future: Dare We Dream?

After Melissa recapped Act II, a short, light-hearted video was played showing how fax machines might be re-purposed for a useful life after they retire from their long-running service to the healthcare industry. The following are a few examples of how fax machines might serve a new role.  See the short video “A Faxless Future: Dare We Dream.”

Surescripts. The Faxless Future. Artifax. The Care We All Strive For – Navigating an Interoperable Healthcare System. Specialty Pharmacy. Interoperability is a Reality. Surescripts. The Faxless Future. Artifax. The Care We All Strive For – Navigating an Interoperable Healthcare System. Specialty Pharmacy. Interoperability is a Reality. Surescripts. The Faxless Future. Artifax. The Care We All Strive For – Navigating an Interoperable Healthcare System. Specialty Pharmacy. Interoperability is a Reality.

Questions from the Audience on Healthcare System Interoperability

After the video was played, emcee Melissa Warnke fielded some questions submitted by attendees. Here are a few of the questions and their responses:

  1. What have you seen as the best practices for driving the kind of behavior change from providers, pharmacists, and others that obtaining maximum value from increased interoperability takes?

Answer: 32:03 to 34:50

  1. Without a sales pitch, what are the new tools that the provider and pharmacist actors are alluding to that to speed the implementation and adoption of interoperability?

Answer: 37:08 to 40:07

  1. How has COVID-19 impacted the transaction counts (real-time benefit inquiries, medication history transmittals, clinical direct messages) you presented after Act II?

Answer: 41:45 to 45:16

  1. Can pharmacists see the same real-time prescription benefit info as providers?

Answer: 45:39 to 47:33

Connect & Interact w/ Our Sponsor Surescripts & HealthCare Executive Group

Our Webinar Series events are one example of how the HealthCare Executive Group helps to share information and promote collaboration between healthcare leaders, change-makers, and other stakeholders serving the healthcare industry.

For more information on the topics presented by Surescripts in our October Webinar Series:

Learn more about the HealthCare Executive Group and to stay abreast of challenges, issues, and opportunities facing the healthcare industry in 2021 and beyond:

Physician Perspectives on COVID-19 Impact on the Fall Season. HCEG HealthCare Executive Group. Lessons Learned. Experiences from Southern Hemisphere – Seasonal Viruses at All-Time Lows. Value of Encouraging Use of Masks. ‘Long Haulers’ – The Unknown, Long-Term Impact of COVID-19. Financial Impact on Providers, Employer Groups, & Payers. New Reimbursement Models

Physician Perspectives on COVID-19 Impact on the Fall Season (Part 3)

By | HCEG Content, Resources | 2 Comments

This is the final post of a 3-part series sharing physician perspectives on COVID-19 impact on the fall season. The information, insight, and ideas presented in this series originated from an informal discussion Ferris Taylor of the HealthCare Executive Group had with three physician executives:

HCEG board member Dr. David Diloreto, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist, ophthalmic plastic surgeon, a principal at Vizient/Sg2 and prior senior vice-president at GE Healthcare Camden was joined by:

Dr. Johanna Vidal-Phelan, MD, Senior Medical Director in Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Plan and a practicing pediatrician at Hamilton Health Center, an FQHC in Harrisburg, PA and

Dr. Jason Woo, MD a practicing board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, a veteran with 31 years in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and a consultant at the Arbinger Institute.

COVID-19 Impact to Healthcare: Topics Discussed in This Series

The trio of physician executives discussed the following topics in the first and second posts of the series:

Part 1 Topics

Part 2 Topics

– Impact Factors Affecting Utilization of Services
– Balancing Treatment to Avoid Ongoing Destruction of Demand for Non-COVID Services
– Returning to School & Addressing Disadvantaged Populations
– A Pediatric Physician on Sending Kids – Including Her Own – Back to School
– Impacts on Minorities & Underserved Populations
– Uncertainty in Testing and Understanding Prevalence
– How Long Will We Be Dealing with COVID-19?
– COVID-10 Vaccines & Importance of Fall Flu Shots
– Avoiding Other Illnesses or a Different Pandemic – Maintain Immunizations
– Vaccinations for Underserved Populations – Messaging is Key
– The Change to Telehealth: New Opportunities for Providers to Connect with Patients
– Rethinking the Healthcare Supply-Chain – PPE as a Matter of Trust

Listen to the entire recording here

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more information of potential value to healthcare leaders and change-makers.

Live, Interactive Chat and Q&A – October 13th, 2020

On Tuesday, October 13, 2020, at 11:00 am PT/2:00 pm ET, Doctors DiLoreto, Vidal-Phelan, and Woo will present additional details and current insight on what can be expected for the coming fall season under COVID-19.

Join us for a live, interactive discussion and Q&A. Questions and requests for additional information shared by registrants prior to and/or during the live chat will be fielded by the panelists. Reserve your seat and submit your questions and comments today!

Lessons Learned and Lessons to Be Learned

Lessons learned during the coronavirus pandemic can help to drive innovation that transforms preparedness, care delivery, quality, safety, efficiency, and patient experience over the coming months and years. The discussion continued with the physicians sharing some lessons learned and lessons to be learned.

Experiences from Southern Hemisphere – Seasonal Viruses at All-Time Lows

Dr. David:

COVID-19 Experiences from Southern Hemisphere – Seasonal Viruses at All-Time Lows“We’re also working with folks in the southern hemisphere right now. It’s very interesting they’re in the depths of winter in the southern hemisphere. The pandemic is certainly spreading and hitting places very hard; whether it’s Melbourne Australia, Santiago Chile, Johannesburg South Africa.

What’s interesting is that the incidence of other seasonal viruses is at an all-time low – historic lows. And it’s across a long spectrum so influenza, RSV, pneumococcus remains extraordinarily low suggesting that, obviously, measures such as social distancing, mask-wearing, hand washing are going to be more important than ever. And obviously vaccinating against flu and pneumococcus for older patients is going to be important.

Hopefully in North America, as we enter into winter, we’ll get similar effects that will suppress – like we did in the spring – some of the seasonal virus activity.”

Value of Encouraging Use of Masks

Dr. Johanna:

“And I think one important point about this is mask-wearing. And so, for example, places like Australia you just mentioned. In Chile, people are being compliant with using masks. So this is a message that we really need to also share with our community and the population that wearing your mask is important not only for COVID-19 but it does prevent the exposure to other viruses and illnesses.

And that I tell my pediatric patients wearing your masses showing your love is caring and so they do it, they do it very well.”

RELATED: Surviving Coronavirus Pandemic & Thriving on the Other Side: Rapid Innovation & Telehealth

‘Long Haulers’ – The Unknown, Long-Term Impact of COVID-19

Dr. David Diloreto:

“I’d like to get your insights into are some of the issues we’re seeing with long haulers – folks who actually are continuing to demonstrate symptoms, troubling symptoms, for many weeks or months and potentially for some of them it could be long term.‘Long Haulers’ – The Unknown, Long-Term Impact of COVID-19

We’re seeing widespread neurologic complications, cardiovascular complications – obviously there are aspects of this disease we don’t quite fully understand.”

Dr. David prompted fellow panelists to share a little bit about their concerns in younger individuals who may have had minimal symptomatology but have persistent symptoms going forward that don’t seem to be resolving.

Dr. Jason responded:

“One of the challenges is that when folks say “oh, this is a hoax or this is not real,” I think part of it is just recognizing what they’re seeing right and then what’s relevant to them. The challenge is when we have all this uncertainty when we have so many different messages, and there are all these aspects about the COVID-19 virus and its pathology in the body.

We are only beginning to get a sense that folks aren’t dying from pneumonia, they’re dying from micro infarctions throughout their lungs where it’s overwhelming the immune response. That’s killing them not the typical virus reproduction. And then the neurologic symptoms and the muscle symptoms where the virus is infecting whole body systems.

COVID-19 and Its Uncertain Pathology

We just have no knowledge of that. So, when folks see things it’s recognizing there’s still a lot of uncertainty about this. What’s right for you is what is going to be right for you. But do you want to do that in a vacuum or do you want to do that with better information? So how do we help better inform you about what those risks are because we know that the data is constantly evolving?

And how do we help you be alive for that so that we’re working together to figure it out because one person going back to work by themselves is not going to fix the economy? It’s how do we do this together and how do we address all the different concerns that people are going to be having – be it their economic ones or if they’re elder parents there are long-term consequences for the individual. How do we be alive to the things that are the highest priority for them in terms of what’s the information that they need to make a better decision?”

RELATED: COVID-19 Resources for Health Plans, Health Systems, & Medical Service Providers

Financial Impact on Providers, Employer Groups, & Payers

The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant negative impact to the financial status of hospitals, physicians in private practice, and physicians employed by health systems. With patient volumes cut 60% or worse and with so many healthcare providers paid based on volume, many physicians have taken unprecedented hits to their revenue, and many organizations have furloughed or laid-off employees.

Dr. David shared how the coronavirus pandemic has likely forced all stakeholders – providers, employer groups, and payers including federal and state healthcare programs like Medicaid – into pursuing new value-based reimbursement models.

Employers Forced into New Reimbursement Models

Financial Impact on Providers, Employer Groups, & Payers Employers Forced into New Reimbursement Models“And employers who are really not that interested in thinking about value-based care – they just wanted to make sure their employees were happy with health insurance – now are looking at all kinds of – and these are small and medium-sized employers – anything they can do to eliminate costs now.

They’re much more interested in episode of care bundles and basically looking at structural reimbursement models that deliver their risk going forward. So our projections are that we (as individuals) and obviously state governments have been shielded to some degree from the economic impact by federal subsidies.

But if the economy is shut down in certain states and the tax base erodes, they’re going to have to look at their Medicaid programs in about 18 months totally differently. So there’s going to be much more cost reduction in that space.”

RELATED: Modifying the Focus of Medicaid Value-Based Payment in the Context of COVID-19

Delayed Demand for Non-COVID Services

“So the folks that are also interesting to me are payers. If you look at what’s happened in 2020, many of them obviously – with the demand destruction – now are actually looking at significant surpluses on their financials for 2020. And they’re trying to really look at certain reserving capabilities including a reserve I never knew that existed called the premium discount reserve.

But it’s a way, in this instance, of being able to move these positive income statement effects off your books and onto your balance sheet and release it in future periods. But anyway, that’s probably not for this group.”

COVID-19 Forcing Physicians to Reevaluate Reimbursement

Dr. Jason Woo asked Dr. David Diloreto how the shift in the reimbursement payment system is going to affect our ability to be able to be more comprehensive in our coverage of the population?

Dr. David Diloreto responded:

“This is one of the most interesting aspects that for almost all of my clinical career, which is 30 years now, physicians generally viewed the least risky way to get paid was on a service basis. What’s really interesting is right now in large physician groups and in single-specialty groups and health system employee groups many specialists are thinking differently. They’ve been in situations now that seen demand from elective procedures (drop significantly) and they’re worried about the future.

If you can imagine being a bariatric surgeon with a large mortgage and trying to save money for college education, the world change doesn’t look like the world is going to come back that way. So they’re having grown-up discussions about changing the reimbursement models more to deliver that risk by going to employment; to going to safer ways of getting paid including fixed fees.”

Supporting & Caring for Front-Line Providers

In addition to financial impacts which were discussed later in the session, the physician panelists shared how the coronavirus pandemic has placed a huge physical and emotional burden on many frontline providers. Ferris prompted the physician panelists to share their thoughts on this quadrant of the Quadruple Aim:

What would be effective measures to decrease the burnout rate of physicians and everyone else fighting the coronavirus pandemic?

Dr. Jason:HCEG COVID-19 Supporting Caring for Front-Line Providers

“I think that in a lot of ways it’s going to be very healthy for health care providers to be able to connect to their patient’s. I think on the other side, those frontline providers that are still stuck with trying to take care of the folks that are coming through the ER or into the ICU is where there’s still not a lot of good information. And the struggle that they’re going to go through of trying to do the best that they can with all the uncertainty in the limitations that we have. I think for those folks we have to be really mindful that there’s a great burden that our traditional thought about what the role of the provider is. We have to help see beyond right and get into that.

What’s the best that you can do? What is not the best outcome that you’re going to be able to get, wish for every patient, but what’s the best that you can do within your circumstances. And being more for more mindful of the limitations that your role is going to be, that it is going to have. I think it’s hard because be it the lack of the supply chain, the lack of PPE, the challenges of what tests are available, or not available. Until that gets standardized, until there’s been able to get some trust in the data that they have and the testing methods that they, and the treatments available it’s just going to be hard to be a frontline provider.”

Dr. David added

“I think what we do need to get is the impact on providers, front line providers, who have been through the ringer. If you just think about what they’ve had to do throughout the spring into the summer – even in outpatient practices. Now all the PPE requirements on and off; all the changes in your practice; this is really taking a toll on providers right now.”

Get Your COVID-19 Questions Answered on October 13th

The discussion ended with a general agreement that the discussion could go on for hours. Accordingly, the three physicians agreed to make themselves available for a live, interactive follow-on chat with a Q & A opportunity on October 13, 2020 at 11:00 am PT / 2:00 pm ET.

Reserve your seat and submit your questions and comments today!

Be sure to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn more about what’s presented in this post – and please share it with your associates. And if you are not a subscriber to our newsletter, consider joining 5000+ other healthcare leaders, change-makers, and industry participants and subscribe today!

Physician Perspectives on COVID-19 Impact to Fall Season (Part 2)

By | HCEG Content, Resources | 2 Comments

Late last month, the HealthCare Executive Group hosted an informal discussion with three physician executives on their observations, experiences, and insight about how COVID-19 has impacted healthcare and healthcare stakeholders. The theme of the discussion was: “What’s changed, what’s remained the same, and what can we expect in the coming fall season?”

HCEG board member Dr. David Diloreto, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist, ophthalmic plastic surgeon, a principal at Vizient/Sg2 and prior senior vice-president at GE Healthcare Camden was joined by:

Dr. Johanna Vidal-Phelan, MD, Senior Medical Director in Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Plan and a practicing pediatrician at Hamilton Health Center, an FQHC in Harrisburg, PA and Dr. Jason Woo, MD a practicing board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, a veteran with 31 years in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and a consultant at the Arbinger Institute.

HCEG’s Executive Director Ferris Taylor helped to facilitate the discussion and provided an HCEG perspective.

This is the second post of a three-part series sharing highlights of that conversation. See the first part here and consider subscribing to our newsletter to receive the final post and other information of value to healthcare leaders and change-makers.

Topics Discussed in Part 1

The trio of physician executives discussed the following topics in the first post of this series:

  • Impact Factors Affecting Utilization of Services
  • Balancing Treatment to Avoid Ongoing Destruction of Demand for Non-COVID Services
  • Returning to School & Addressing Disadvantaged Populations
  • A Pediatric Physician on Sending Kids – Including Her Own – Back to School
  • Impacts on Minorities & Underserved Populations
  • Uncertainty in Testing and Understanding Prevalence
  • How Long Will We Be Dealing with COVID-19?

Listen to the entire recording here

Live, Interactive Follow-On Chat and Q&A – October 13th

For more detailed information on the topics presented in this series of posts and for a chance to interact with and ask questions of these physician leaders, join us on October 13, 2020 at 11:00am PT/2:00 pm ET for a live, interactive chat. The physician panelists will provide additional insight on what’s changed, what’s remained, and what can be expected for the coming fall and winter season under COVID-19.

Questions and requests for additional information shared by registrants prior to and/or during the live chat will be fielded by the panelists. Reserve your seat and submit your questions and comments today!Be sure to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn more about what’s presented in this post – and please share it with your associates.

COVID-19 Vaccines & Fall Flu Shots

A significant part of the discussion continued on the development of a COVID vaccine and the importance of getting a seasonal flu shot to avoid undue burden to services and potential mis-diagnoses of the seasonal flu as COVID-19. Dr. Johanna shared:

Importance of Flu Shots – Minimize Avoidable Impacts

“We saw a decline of seasonal viruses during the spring and early beginning of the summer. I think right now you have to think about the monumental impact of children returning to school even if it’s for two days. Our children (Dr. Johanna’s children) have been with us since March 13th at 4 p.m. when the school released them and said ‘They’re not coming back. We don’t know when.’

 And so our children haven’t really been exposed to a lot of other people, so we do know that children are going to be exposed not only to COVID-19 but all the other normal viruses that we see; or bacteria like strep throat. I think one of the important messages that I’ve been sharing with my family since day one is the importance of the flu vaccine. And there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about the flu vaccine. People still believe that you get sick from the flu vaccine. That you are going to develop the flu from the flu vaccine. A lot of families, almost not even 50 % of the population in the United States, do not get the flu vaccine every year. “

Is Herd Immunity a Potential Solution?

Dr. Johanna continued:Avoiding Other Illnesses or a Different Pandemic - Maintain Immunizations Vaccinations for Underserved Populations – Messaging is Key

“And so if we want to have a good herd immunity, it is important and I explained to the parents, that providing the flu vaccine to your child and your family is a way to combat a coronavirus. And they look at me like ‘Why? It’s a different virus.’

 And I said: ‘because when your child gets sick with the flu, because you didn’t want to get the flu shot, we are going to have a very hard time differentiating between COVID-19 or the flu. So we have to test your child for both viruses and then there’s going to create a level of anxiety regarding school, quarantine and care that your child is going to need because we don’t know if it’s the flu.’”

Avoiding Other Illnesses or a Different Pandemic – Maintain Immunizations

“Now you can get the flu after getting the flu vaccine but you’re going to be protected from some of the major complications that we see when you have a natural illness and the duration of the illness is much shorter instead of being two to three weeks with the natural illness, it may be two to three days.

So I explained to the parents the importance of getting all the children’s immunizations on time. And believe it or not, there’s a critical important piece of information I need families to understand: Even though throughout most of COVID-19 pediatricians are open and family doctors are seeing children too, the importance of the well-child visit to be up-to-date and your teenagers, and the shots is critical – because we don’t want to change this pandemic for a measles epidemic or whooping cough so we have vaccines to prevent illnesses so let’s use them, let’s get them.”Avoiding Other Illnesses or a Different Pandemic - Maintain Immunizations Vaccinations for Underserved Populations – Messaging is Key

Vaccinations for Underserved Populations – Messaging is Key

Dr. Jason shared the importance of reaching out to underserved populations is a trustful manner:

“I think there’s a communication point that has to be addressed- particularly for the underprivileged populations – is that getting vaccinations has to come from people who sound and look like them. It cannot come from the systems. And that’s where engaging your community outreach folks is going to be so critical to be able to get those. And it may not be having them coming to the hospital. It may be having the local pharmacy or having folks who are able to engage them there.

Because just as you point out Johanna, there’s so much mistrust and particularly folks are just when you can put the message through a medium that they’re more comfortable with that’s just going to be that’s so critical to address some of the social determinants that inhibit a lot of our understanding.”

Dr. David added:

“And that’s encouraging because it’s going to be needed coming forward. CVS for instance has 1800 testing sites right now around the United States that they’re expanding and they’re in negotiations to become vaccination centers. So just to your point that the neighborhood drug store being actually now a health hub where you can get vaccinated.”

RELATED: Surviving Coronavirus Pandemic & Thriving on the Other Side: Rapid Innovation & Telehealth

The Change to Telehealth

One of the clear changes instigated by the coronavirus pandemic is the rapid adoption of telehealth. Stay-at-home and physical-distancing directives forced providers to rapidly adopt telehealth services or expand existing telehealth capabilities. Long hampered by reimbursement and physician adoption challenges, telehealth use exploded at the end of the 1st quarter of 2022 and has now become table-stakes.

Ferris prompted the panelists to share their take on telehealth and Dr. Johanna began:

Physicians Warming to Telehealth

“So I definitely also want to emphasize the importance of innovation and technology. I would talk to peers six months ago if somebody was telling me that I was going to do a tele-visit. I would have left. I was like: ‘I cannot see a pediatric patient by computer or phone.’

And now is I love it. And definitely it has pushed innovation into healthcare. It was slowly happening but to go from March to April and to see the dramatic jump into utilization of telemedicine is really important because it’s being used as a tool to connect with families; to engage patients; to continue allowing providers and physicians to continue providing the services that they (patients) need, and that is part of value-based care.”

Dr. Johanna urged physicians to answer the question:

Physicians Warming to Telehealth Telehealth - New Opportunities for Providers to Connect with Patients

“How can you think outside of the box in order to reach the population that is yours in order to prove it provides the best outcome for your patients?

And offered a reminder:

“And so the traditional model is one-to-one, in the office, with the physician. And we’re moving away from that model to having health care done in the home environment, remote monitoring, telemedicine, community health workers, other alternative sites of care – in order to complement what we call traditional medicine.”

Telehealth – New Opportunities for Providers to Connect with Patients

Dr. Jason on opportunities for telehealth: elective vs. non-elective procedures

“I think there are two different populations of providers that we need to think about:

1. Elective Procedures – Non-Emergent

Avoiding Other Illnesses or a Different Pandemic - Maintain Immunizations Vaccinations for Underserved Populations – Messaging is Key

“One is the folks who perform more of the elective stuff who are not the frontline workers now. In the sense that David was talking about, the folks who traditionally may have been doing elective surgeries or other sub-specialty care where there is an opportunity to transform the way they’re delivering care. In a way, I think that’s going to be more effective because of the opportunity to accept a lot of the modalities that telehealth has pushed forward.

I’ve been trying to do telehealth 20 years ago. I was trying to push telehealth in. I saw the radiologists, the mental health, and the psychiatrist, they loved it because there’s just so much more opportunity available to them when they’re not one-on-one in a fixed location anymore. And for those folks, I think there’s an opportunity to get back to actually better outcomes; to connect with your patients in a way that you hadn’t before.

It’s kind of like Zoom. We do a lot of training and I love the chat feature because there’s this ability to interact with folks that I hadn’t thought of before. And when you’re open to that I think that, in a lot of ways, it’s going to be very healthy for healthcare providers to be able to connect to the patients.”

RELATED: Should You Go to the Doctor’s Office During Covid-19?

2. Non-Elective Procedures – Emergent

“I think on the other side though is those frontline providers that are still stuck with trying to take care of the folks that are coming through the ER or into their ICU’S; where there’s still not a lot of good information. And the struggle that they’re going to go through of trying to do the best that they can with all the uncertainty and the limitations that we have.

I think for those folks we have to be really mindful that there’s a great burden that our traditional thought about what the role of the provider is that we as a physician, I think, we have to help (our patients) see beyond and get into ‘What’s the best that you can do?’”

Healthcare Supply-Chain – Rethinking COVID-19 Impacts

The ready availability of PPE, medical equipment like ventilators, and certain pharmaceuticals was clearly called into question by the coronavirus pandemic. The lack of a $3.00 mask hampered providers’ ability to serve patients. And $30,000 ventilators are not just easily stocked without serious consideration.

Availability of Personal Protective Equipment – A Matter of Trust

Dr. Johanna shared her personal perspective from previous pandemics:

“I remember H1N1 and it was not like this. There is an element of trust as a provider, and also as a person working in the United States, that I should have not had to worry about where is my PPE coming from. It never crossed my mind in 2009 that I would not have enough PPE to protect myself against H1N1.

 And if you recall, pregnant women were high risk for H1N1. And I was pregnant, caring for pediatric patients, with my second child and I never had to think about it twice. And so now, it’s the anxiety that providers have to know that they’re having the correct equipment in order to provide the care.

 And also knowing so many of our peers are impacted by this disease and have died. It’s something that you need to pause and think about: What are we doing?”

Physician’s New Understanding & Appreciation for Supply Chains

Dr. David on physicians and their supply-chain relationship:

“The other interesting difference is that most physicians in December of last year (2019) probably couldn’t really describe a supply chain and certainly couldn’t talk to you about the strategic value of a supply chain.

Well, after they went through the PPE shortages and pharmacy shortages, they’re now really interested in working with their healthcare stakeholders and hospital stakeholders on how to optimize supply chain activities.

And so there’s a lot of work around nationalizing and onshoring. One of the shortages in the supply chain is the fact that countries nationalize these products, they’re not coming to North America. We’re having to work through that and that’s a big change. So with respect to payment models, we’re already seeing employers – remember there’s going to be some significant economic issues for companies/employers who are not interested in or thinking about value-based care.”

RELATED: With Excess National Supply, Exchanges Will Allow U.S. Hospitals to Continue Meeting Ventilator Demand

Part 3 Coming Soon – More COVID-19 Insight from Physician Executives

In the final post of this three-part series, highlights and details on the following topics from the informal discussion with Dr. Diloreto, Dr. Johanna Vidal-Phelan, and Dr. Jason Woo will be shared:

  • Lessons Learned and Lessons to Be Learned
  • Experiences from Southern Hemisphere – Seasonal Viruses at All-Time Lows
  • Value of Encouraging Use of Masks
  • ‘Long Haulers’ – The Unknown, Long-Term Impact of COVID-19
  • Financial Impact on Providers, Employer Groups, & Payers
  • Employers Forced into New Reimbursement Models
  • Delayed Demand for Non-COVID Services

Live, Interactive Follow-On Chat and Q & A – October 13th

For more detailed information on the topics raised in this series of posts and for a chance to interact with and ask questions of these physician executives, join us on October 13, 2020, at 11:00 am PT/2:00 pm ET for a live, interactive follow-on chat and Q & A opportunity.

The physician panelists will provide additional insight into what’s changed, what’s remained the same, and what may be expected this fall and going into 2021. Questions and requests for additional information shared by registrants prior to and/or during the live chat will be fielded by the panelists.

Reserve your seat and submit your questions and comments today!Be sure to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn more about what’s presented in this post – and please share it with your associates. And if you are not a subscriber to our newsletter, consider joining 5000+ other healthcare leaders, change-makers, and industry participants and subscribe today!

HCEG HealthCare Executive Group 2021 Top 10Step-1-Selection-Feature-1.jpg

Healthcare Challenges, Issues, & Opportunities – The 2021 HCEG Top 10

By | HCEG Top 10, Resources | No Comments

The HCEG Top 10 list of challenges, issues, and opportunities facing healthcare leaders have been a focus of the HealthCare Executive Group for over a decade. Planned for development by participants at our 2020 Annual Forum, the 2021 HCEG Top 10 list of challenges, issues, and opportunities facing healthcare executives guides our content and programming throughout the coming year. It also serves as the basis for the Industry Pulse research that HCEG and our sponsor partner Change Healthcare have provided over the last decade.

Given the sea change forced by the coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming presidential elections, not hosting our in-person Annual Forum this year, and feedback received about providing more detailed information – a new approach will be used to develop the HCEG Top 10 list for 2021. Four main objectives guide the development of the 2021 HCEG Top 10 list:

Address Impacts from Coronavirus Pandemic & Upcoming Elections

The COVID-19 crisis has clearly altered healthcare priorities and the outcome of the November elections will most certainly do the same. It’s important for the 2021 HCEG Top 10 list to reflect these changed priorities and likely impact from election results.

Deeper Dive into Topics of Interest to Healthcare Executives

In an effort to provide more detailed input and insight into the challenges, issues, and opportunities facing all healthcare stakeholders, candidates for the 2021 HCEG Top 10 list include over 40 ‘sub-topics’ grouped into thirteen ‘themes.” These additional details are expected to provide more value based on the type of healthcare stakeholder: health plan/payer, provider, and risk-bearing provider.

All Virtual Identification, Selection & Ranking Process

Given the absence of our in-person 2020 Annual Forum that was scheduled for this month – and keeping with HCEG’s goal of providing more granular information – the process for identifying, selecting, and ranking core items on the HCEG Top 10 will take place virtually this year.

Open to All Healthcare Industry Participants

Historically, HCEG’s Top 10 process has been limited to HCEG members and attendees of our Annual Forum. Since HCEG is not hosting a physical annual forum this year, and in an effort to collect a wider perspective from a greater number of healthcare industry participants, we’re opening the 2021 HCEG Top 10 process to everyone who cares to participate.

Overview of 2021 HCEG Top 10 Development Process

The following is the high-level process for developing the new HCEG Top 10 list:

  1. Identify “Initial List of 2021 HCEG Top 10 Themes & Sub-Topics” (COMPLETED)
  2. Solicit Feedback on Initial List from Industry at Large (9/16/20 through 11/4/20)
  3. Collect rankings of the Top 10 Sub-Topics identified in Step #2 (11/15/20 through 11/30/20)
  4. Announce 2021 HCEG Top 10 List (12/14/20)

Help Select Candidates for the 2021 HCEG Top 10

The following are the major thematic categories proposed for the 2021 HCEG Top 10. A list of the sub-topics associated with each theme can be found here.
Take Step 1 of the 2-Step 2021 HCEG Top 10 development process today.  This survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete.  If you are unable to complete the entire survey, we urge you to complete as many of the sections as possible that you consider important.

Thank you in advance for sharing your insight. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions or comments. And join our newsletter to receive information, ideas, and insight for healthcare executives and change-makers: bit.ly/hcegnewsltr

Recapping: Towards Next-Generation Care: The Digital Musculoskeletal (MSK) Clinic

By | Events, Resources, Sponsor | No Comments

Currently, people with back and joint pain experience a fragmented approach to care. Whether it’s an acute injury, chronic pain, or surgery, members must contend with multiple providers and handoffs between those involved with providing a ‘whole person approach’ to care. From the individuals’ perspective, it feels like no one is looking at their health holistically or acting as their healthcare champion. And with many people increasingly working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, challenges related to musculoskeletal conditions – increasing back pain and joint pain – are likely to increase.

Our September Webinar Series event was presented by Hinge Health’s CEO Dan Perez and addressed the following:

  • Key MSK Challenges & Trends in 2020 and Beyond
  • Fractured State of MSK Care
  • Towards Next-Generation Care
  • World’s Largest Digital MSK Cohort Clinical Study

This post is a recap of the webinar. Contact Hinge Health for access to the webinar recording

For more information on how a digital musculoskeletal clinic – covering the full continuum of care from prevention to post-surgery – can provide a one-stop-shop for health plans, employer groups, and provider organizations, reach out to Hinge Health.

Highlights from Towards Next-Generation Care: The Digital Musculoskeletal (MSK) Clinic

HCEG’s Executive Director Ferris Taylor kicked off the webinar noting how Hinge Health addresses 4 of the 2020 HCEG Top 10 list of challenges, issues, and opportunities facing healthcare leaders.HInge Health MSK Issues Musculoskeletal conditions

Dan Perez provided an overview of how musculoskeletal conditions continue to be the top health care cost driver and how MSK care will have the highest growth rate of any virtual care services over the next few years – and likely beyond. Dan went on to provide an overview of The Hinge Health Digital MSK Clinic, details on the four distinct Digital Care Pathways across the care continuum, and shared information on evidence-based care guidelines from the CDC and American College of Physicians.

RELATED: Spotlight on Musculoskeletal (MSK) Programs – Hinge Health

Chronic MSK Pain is Both Physical & Mental

Dan shared information, statistics, and Hinge Health insight on the Gold Standard for Addressing Chronic MSK Pain: a biopsychosocial approach that addresses three key components:

Biological Influence

How exercise therapy can help reduce chronic pain by up to 60%

Psychological Influence

How a belief in oneself often leads to lower pain levels – even 1 to 2 years after the initial intervention

Social Influence

How education and 3rd-party support can empower people to overcome chronic pain

Clinical Care Model Surrounding an Individual

The presentation continued with Dan sharing an overview of the clinical care model upon which Hinge Health’s care model is based. He shared a 1-minute video with webinar participants offering a real-world application of the Hinge Health solution.

The World’s Largest Digital MSK Cohort Study

Details on clinical outcomes from a study of 10,264 participants – validated by researchers at Stanford, Vanderbilt, and top consultants addressing key business questions – were shared:

  • 4 out of 5 participants had meaningful improvement in pain reduction
  • More exercise therapy and coaching resulted in more pain reduction
  • 58% Reduction in depression and anxiety scores
  • More than 2 out of 3 surgeries avoided in Year-1

The presentation concluded with key takeaways on how health plans, employer groups, provider organizations, and other healthcare stakeholders can help their members and patients.

Learn How Hinge Health Can Help Address Costly MSK Issues

To access the webinar recording and for more information on how a digital musculoskeletal clinic – covering the full continuum of care from prevention to post-surgery – can provide a one-stop-shop for members and health plans reach out to Hinge Health.

Our Webinar Series events are one example of how the HealthCare Executive Group helps to share information and promote collaboration between healthcare leaders, change-makers, and stakeholders. Consider joining our newsletter to stay abreast of challenges, issues, and opportunities of importance.