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Pricing Transparency and Provider Quality: Insights from Utah HIMSS

Posted on September 10, 2018 I Written By

Healthcare as a Human Right. Physician Suicide Loss Survivor. Janae writes about Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Data Analytics, Engagement and Investing in Healthcare. twitter: @coherencemed

Working to improve Health IT has been a major focus of Utah HIMSS this year. I am honored to serve as part of the Utah HIMSS Board. Utah HIMSS hosts educational events and luncheons for members. On August 29, 2018  the meeting focused on Pricing Transparency and Provider Quality. Health Informatics is positioned to help reduce waste in healthcare and providing better care for patients.

Bob White works with Select Health, one of the major insurance providers in the state, which is a subsidiary of Intermountain Healthcare. He was able to talk about payment models and value based care work within the Select Health group. Providing more visibility into the cost for patients and physicians has been a major focus on Select Health and payer provider entities have a unique market position. They want the cost of care delivery to be lower since they are paying the cost. Point of service adjudication requires that a lot of workflows need to be coordinated before the patient leaves the office.

Bob asked: How often do we feel like we don’t have complete information to know what is going on and what your options are?

One of the most notable things that he spoke about was the lack of adoption. They have great visibility but not everyone knows where to find that information. Some of the employees at Selecthealth have high deductible plans and in effect, become self-pay members. Becoming more educated consumers is a huge part of what Select Health has done with their pricing transparency.

Katie Harwood from the University Of Utah discussed their pricing transparency tool. The University of Utah is one of the first systems in the country to create an online interactive tool to help predict cost to patients. Patients can look up what a procedure might cost and enter information about their copay and caps. Most importantly, the cost estimator included the cost of facility and cost of provider, so patients don’t get stuck with unexpected out of network bills.

The most common search? Vaginal delivery without complications. I was thrilled to hear them speak because I’m pregnant and my provider is with the University of Utah Health. I got a cost estimate on my second visit to the OB and I was pleasantly surprised that they gave that information.  I was able to pay for what (might be) the cost of my maternity care. Being able to plan ahead is very valuable. The University of Utah has invested in creating bundled payment models to improve care coordination and as a patient, having that information has improved my healthcare experience.

While in development, the University of Utah wanted to add appointment scheduling for patients. Harwood mentioned this created a larger data matching challenge, as it was difficult to match exact providers with procedures. Insurance companies are trying to make it easier for patients to schedule and understand what their costs will be, and physician directories create unique challenges. What if you were a surgeon who performed a total knee replacement but you didn’t have the information connected with the correct insurance company for you to appear in the online scheduling tool?

Interestingly, many people go to the cost estimator tool enter “I don’t know” for some of their search criteria such as deductible and copay. Bridging the consumer gap to give even better information and creating the most accurate scheduling possible starts with efforts to create great health IT tools and adjusting them according to user behavior.

Holly Rimmasch from Health Catalyst was able to ask great questions and mentioned a program that Health Catalyst is doing to promote women in health IT. She served as a moderator and has an extensive background with pricing. They have promoted women in Health IT in the Utah area, including providing student scholarships for their Healthcare Analytics Summit in September.  A key question that Holly has focused on is “Are we making a difference in both quality and costs?”  “Does it translate into cost savings for those that are paying?” Part of her work involves bringing data sources together (clinical, financial, claims, etc.) to create transparency to services and care being provided and at what cost.  Over the last 6 years, Holly has been involved in developing a more accurate activity-based costing system. Accurate costing leads to more accurate pricing and more accurate pricing leads to improved price transparency. I am looking forward to learning more about what Health Catalyst does for improving Healthcare IT in Utah.

Norm Thurston is a Utah State Representative and I was surprised how much I enjoyed his presentation and I will tell you why. Norm Thurston has a background in statistics and I felt confident that the Utah legislature was getting good information about improving healthcare. Representative Thurston spoke about the availability of state data to see things like prescribing trends and billing trends among physicians. He asked Bob White about upcoding- and how the government of Utah looks at billing data to make that information more transparent for payers and providers. The checks and balances of legislators asking about trends based on data aren’t something I see every day in healthcare. Data backed inquiry can improve prescribing. Utah has had a decrease in opioid deaths in the last year, and the healthcare system and state efforts have actively used data to improve the numbers. Utah has historically been a state with a problem and has actively worked to improve rates of opioid deaths. One of the audience comments that I enjoyed was a question from Todd Allen, MD about how they evaluate the statistical significance of prescribing and billing differences. How do we know if using this drug or billing code 75% of the time has better outcomes that in the hospital where it is used less than 65% of the time? Having visibility and data is part of the equation for improving healthcare outcomes, and another part is interpreting the data and deciding best practices.

What Happened to Care Pricing and Provider Quality Transparency?

Posted on August 21, 2018 I Written By

Healthcare as a Human Right. Physician Suicide Loss Survivor. Janae writes about Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Data Analytics, Engagement and Investing in Healthcare. twitter: @coherencemed

I’m on the Utah HIMSS board and we’re hosting an event called “Full Disclosure- Price Transparency & Provider Ratings in Healthcare.”

At the event on August 29, 2018, we’ll be talking about pricing transparency and physician outcomes. The Pricing Transparency question has multiple goals and remains a complex problem in healthcare IT and other areas. Leaders in Utah Health IT will come together to discuss resources and experiences from Utah.

Pricing in healthcare remains the number one concern for many different stakeholders. Informatics departments are still concerned with denials and claims administration. Patients are unsure of price of care. Physicians’ practices are not clearly aligned with billing codes and claims can account for up to 30% of healthcare spending waste. In April of this year, Seema Verma announced that requirements for hospitals to post standard pricing would be the start of a broad initiative to increase transparency about healthcare prices.

Can price transparency & provider ratings help manage the costs of healthcare?

Price transparency might have the single biggest effect in informing the public about healthcare costs and could support a more efficient health care delivery system in the United States. Utah HIMSS members and others are invited to submit questions for panelists.  

Please register for the event and follow the Utah HIMSS pages Linkedin and Twitter.

Here’s a look at the panel members that will be involved:

Moderator: Holly Rimmasch- Health Catalyst

Holly Rimmasch is an Executive VP/Chief Clinical Officer of Health Catalyst.  She currently leads population health, patient safety and improvement services.  Ms. Rimmasch has over 30 years of experience in clinical and operational healthcare management. She has spent the last 20 years dedicated to improving clinical care and better understanding how to sustain and achieve better value.

Holly has extensive healthcare and operational experience.  Prior to joining Health Catalyst, she was an Assistant VP at Intermountain Healthcare responsible for Clinical Services.  While at Intermountain, she also served as the system Clinical Operations Director for Cardiovascular and Intensive Medicine.  Holly co-founded and was a Principal in HMS, Inc, a healthcare consulting firm focusing on population health.

Ms. Rimmasch holds a Master of Science in Adult Physiology from the University of Utah and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Brigham Young University.

Price Transparency

A key question that Holly has focused on is “Are we making a difference in both quality and costs?”  “Does it translate into cost savings for those that are paying?” Part of her work involves bringing data sources together (clinical, financial, claims, etc.) to create transparency to services and care being provided and at what cost.  Over the last 6 years, Holly has been involved in developing a more accurate activity-based costing system. Accurate costing leads to more accurate pricing and more accurate pricing leads improved price transparency.

Panelist: Rep. Norm Thurston- Utah State Legislature

Personal & Professional

Dr. Thurston has a Masters and Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University, and an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Agribusiness Management from Brigham Young University.  His areas of specialty include insurance markets, health care provider markets, labor markets, and public finance/economics. 

Dr. Thurston has been a policy analyst and health economist for the Utah Department of Health since 2003. Currently, he is the Director of the Office of Health Care Statistics which is responsible for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data related to health care cost and quality for the State of Utah.  In previous roles he has served as policy adviser and executive staff for health system reform efforts in the State of Utah. 

Before joining the state, Dr. Thurston worked for eight years as an assistant professor of economics at Brigham Young University.  He has published several articles on health care markets in nationally recognized economics journals.  He is a life-long resident of Utah, growing up in Morgan County.  He has native-level fluency in Spanish and was a Fulbright Scholar teaching economics in Argentina in 2001. He and his wife Maria have three children and two grandchildren.

Legislative

Rep. Thurston was elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 2014 from District 64 (Provo, Springville).  Currently, he is a member of the Government Operations Committee, the Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee, and the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

Price Transparency:

“Norm Thurston is the director of the Office of Health Care Statistics (OHCS). The office collects, analyzes and disseminates data on health care utilization and costs for the State of Utah. Their two main data efforts include collecting information about patient encounters at hospitals and emergency rooms into the Healthcare Facilities Database and information about claims paid by health plans for all types of services into the All Payer Claims Database.

These data are used by a variety of entities, including healthcare facilities, plans, researchers, and public health programs.”

Panelist: Bob White- Intermountain Healthcare

Bob White, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Bob has over 27 years of experience in the Information Technology industry. He has been with SelectHealth for 20 years and currently leads member services, business systems support, program management, process improvement, business continuity, and information technology.

Previously, Bob was employed by the IBM Consulting Group. He attended Brigham Young University and holds a bachelor’s degree from DeVry University. He currently serves on the board of Trizetto Customer Group

Panelist: Katie Harwood- University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics

Patient and Financial Services Manager at the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics

Katie Harwood is a Revenue Cycle Manager with University of Utah Health. She has been with the organization since 1995, most recently responsible for the admissions and financial counseling  teams. She is currently serving as the president of the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management Utah Mountainwest chapter (AAHAM). She also participates with the National Association of Healthcare Access Management on the Certification Commission and is  a Certified Healthcare Access Manager. Outside of work she enjoys her two sons, dog, and Zumba.

Katie had the opportunity to participate in the development of the pricing transparency tool University of Utah Health. The goal was to create a tool that would have full care pricing available for consumers. She is excited to share what our experience in pricing transparency has been and how the consumer benefits from the use of it .

Patient Safety Market Heating Up with Mergers and New Product Announcements

Posted on July 26, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

For the past few years the patient safety software market has been stable with little in the way of new products and company activity. That has changed with a flurry of recent announcements:

  1. The merger of two market leaders: Datix and RL Solutions
  2. Health Catalyst entering with their new Patient Safety Monitor™ Suite: Surveillance Module
  3. VigiLanz expanding their platform to include Dynamic Safety Surveillance

When something goes wrong in a healthcare facility it is referred to as an adverse event or a medical error. According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins, 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors making it the third leading cause of death in the United States. The Journal of Patient Safety estimates that non-lethal adverse events happen 10-20 times more frequently than lethal events. This puts the total number of adverse events somewhere between 2.5 – 5 million per year. The financial cost of these events is enormous. Frost & Sullivan estimates that the financial cost of adverse events in the US and Europe will reach $383.7 Billion by 2022.

Traditionally, adverse events have been recorded and logged in incident reporting systems (sometimes called risk management software) – like those offered by Datix and RL Solutions. These systems rely on voluntary reporting of events by staff members and patients. Once entered, these events are reviewed and analyzed by specially trained risk managers to determine root causes. When patterns emerge, changes are made to policies, procedures and physical environments to prevent similar events from happening in the future.

The most recent Research and Markets report estimates the global patient safety and risk management software market is poised to grow at a CAGR of 10.9% over the next decade to reach $2.22 Billion by the year 2025. I believe there are three key drivers for this this growth:

  1. Hospitals transitioning away from traditional after-the-fact adverse event reporting systems to real-time surveillance platforms that take advantage of the data being collected in EHRs and other electronic repositories
  2. The movement towards value-based care where a focus on patient safety has meaningful impact on reimbursements
  3. Realignment of patient safety as part of overall patient experience vs a function of compliance and legal.

According to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), it is estimated that less than 6% of adverse events are reported voluntarily. This means that healthcare organizations are potentially missing out on 94% of events that are happening within their four walls. In addition, very few organizations have effective ways to capture near misses – adverse events that did not occur because they were stopped BEFORE someone was harmed. There is a better way.

With the exponential growth in the quantity of healthcare data and the rapid increase in computing power, it is now possible to mine medical data to detect adverse events and near misses in real-time. For example, it is possible to look at EHR data to determine if the wrong medication was given to a patient based on their diagnosis. It is also possible to track the number of times the drug-drug interaction warning message is displayed to clinicians (each being a near miss). Justin Campbell of Galen Healthcare Solutions recently wrote an article about mining EHR audit log data to uncover workflow bottlenecks that touches on this same approach – commonly referred to as “real-time surveillance”.

Stanley Pestotnik, MS, RPh, Vice President of Patient Safety Products at Health Catalyst had this to say about this detection methodology: “The current approach to patient safety is like doing archaeology – digging through ancient safety events to identify the causes of harm, which does nothing to help with the patient in the bed right now. Our patient safety suite, along with our quality-improvement services and the Health Catalyst PSO, turns the current paradigm on its head. Unlike other approaches to using analytics within a PSO to identify and address episodes of patient harm, we monitor triggers in near real-time to reveal whether a patient is currently at risk for a safety event, so clinicians can intervene to prevent it. And we provide constant vigilance; no patient encounter goes unnoticed.”

Real-time surveillance of adverse events is the approach that Health Catalyst and VigiLanz have incorporated in their product offerings.

“The RL+Datix merger comes at a time when patient safety events are surging,” states Erik Johnson, Vice President of Marketing at VigiLanz. “It is not surprising that consolidation is happening as companies try to address the needs of the market.”

Johnson points to a recent Frost & Sullivan report that predicts further market consolidation. The report states that by 2022, adverse patient events will lead to 92 million hospital admissions and 1.95 million deaths in the US and western Europe. These avoidable hospital admissions will be a drag on financial performance – especially as we move to a value-based system.

Under the value-based models, healthcare organizations are reimbursed based on patient outcomes and satisfaction scores, not on treatment volume. This means organizations are no longer compensated for patients that are re-admitted or stay longer due to an adverse event experienced at the facility. This has put a spotlight on patient safety initiatives and is a key reason why healthcare organizations are once again investing in this aspect of their operations.

“We are seeing organizations take the opportunity, as they transition from volume to value, to renew their patient safety protocols and technologies to ensure they are capitalizing on the lessons learned from incident data,” continues Johnson. “It’s not just patient incident data either. Adverse events can happen to guests and employees as well. Hospitals are looking to get a better handle on all their events – not only to capture them, but to derive deeper insights on root cause and even further to automate the detection of events through surveillance technology.”

A request for comment from Datix and RL Solutions on their recent merger was politely declined. A company spokesperson pointed back to the press release announcing the merger which states: “the combined company will contain the largest repository of patient safety data in the world, enabling the creation of data-driven insights for healthcare stakeholders across the continuum of care.”

The final driver for growth is the recognition that patient safety is closely linked to patient experience. In the past, adverse event tracking fell to the Risk Management team inside a hospital which typically reported up through the CFO or legal counsel. It was seen as a compliance and back-office function. In recent years, however, there has been a realization that the patient safety function is a better fit under the umbrella of patient experience since the two are closely linked.

“From our perspective at The Beryl Institute, if we approach healthcare from the lenses of those that use the system not only safety, but also quality, service, cost and more are all part of the experience someone has within healthcare,” says Jason A. Wolf PhD CPXP, President of The Beryl Institute – the world’s leading community of practice for patient experience. “To differentiate safety from experience diminishes both, relegating safety to processes and checklists and experience to satisfaction or amenities. Rather, experience is the integration of all the above.”

Wolf cites the recent State of Patient Experience from The Beryl Institute where healthcare leaders acknowledged quality and safety as essential to overall experience. A parallel study, the Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience mirrored the provider result with 68% of global healthcare consumers agreeing that safety is part of the healthcare experience.

“I see the movement towards aligning patient safety and patient experience as acknowledgement of all that impacts the overall experience,” adds Wolf. “That first and foremost to consumers, their health matters to them and how they are treated both clinically and as a person is essential to their healthcare experience. This too reinforces the expectations patients and families have always had, that their care will be delivered in a safe and reliable manner.”

lt will be exciting to watch the patient safety space as the three drivers of (1) changing technology, (2) value-based care and (3) realignment under patient experience, continue to push investments in this market. I’m curious to see if the Datix + RL merger is a one-off or if other players like QuantrosRiskonnect, Origami Risk, Ventiv, Policy Medical and The Patient Safety Company will merge or be acquired. This market is definitely heating up!

Clinicians Say They Need Specialized IT To Improve Patient Safety

Posted on July 24, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Hospitals are loaded down with the latest in health IT and have the bills to prove it. But according to a new survey, they need to invest in specialized technologies to meet patient safety goals, as well as providing more resources and greater organizational focus.

Health Catalyst recently conducted a national survey of physicians, nurses and health executives to gather their thoughts on patient safety issues. Among its main findings was that almost 90% of respondents said that their organizations were seeing success in improving patient safety. However, about the same percentage said there was room for improving patient safety in their organization.

The top obstacle they cited as holding them back from the patient safety goals was having effective information technology, as identified by 30% of respondents. The same number named a lack of technologies offering real-time warnings of possible patient harm.

These were followed by lack of staffing and budget resources (27%), organizational structure, culture priorities (19%), a lack of reimbursement for safety initiatives (10%) and changes in patient population practice setting (9%).

Part of the reason clinicians aren’t getting as much as they’d like from health IT is that many healthcare organizations rely largely on manual methods to track and report safety events.

The top sources of data for patient safety initiatives respondents used for safety initiatives voluntary reporting (82%). Hospital-acquired infection surveys (67%), manual audits (58%) and retrospective coding (29%). Such reporting is typically based on data sets which are at least 30 days old, and what’s more, collecting and analyzing the data can be time and resource-consuming.

Not surprisingly, Health Catalyst is launching new technology designed to address these problems. Its Patient Safety Monitor™ Suite: Surveillance Module uses protective and text analytics, along with concurrent critical reviews of data, to find and prevent patient safety threats before they result in harm.

The announcement also falls in line with the organization’s larger strategic plans, as Health Catalyst has applied to the AHRQ to be certified as a Patient Safety Organization.

The company said that he had spent more than $50 million to create the Surveillance module, whose technology includes the use of predictive analytics models and AI. It expects to add new AI and machine learning capabilities to its technology in the future which will be used to propose strategies to eliminate patient safety risks.

And more is on the way. Health Catalyst is working with its clients to add new features to the Suite including risk prediction, improvement tracking and decision support.

I’m not sure if it’s typical for PSOs to bringing their own specialized software to the job, but either way, it should give Health Catalyst a leg up. I have little doubt that doing better predictive analytics and offering process recommendations would be useful.

Hospitals’ Progress Towards Value Based Reimbursement

Posted on June 17, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

After posting the value based reimbursement research results that were shared by McKesson Health Solutions in anticipation of the AHIP Institute, I came across this infographic from Health Catalyst about hospitals participation in value based reimbursement.

This infographic illustrates a slower adoption of value based reimbursement, but it does illustrate that pretty much every hospital is participating in value based reimbursement. The other thing that stood out to me in this infographic was how small hospitals are going to have a hard time accessing the capital they need to manage this shift. This should be troubling to those of us in healthcare. Those smaller hospitals play an important role in our healthcare system.

Hospitals Progress to Value Based Reimbursement

Insightful Healthcare Factoids from Health Catalyst

Posted on October 22, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Who doesn’t like a good set of healthcare IT stats and facts? Obviously, you have to be careful looking at the context of the statistic and how it was collected. However, when done right, you can learn a lot from what Health Catalyst is calling a Healthcare Factoid. They shared a bunch of Factoids during their Healthcare Analytics Summit and then packaged them into a nice slide presentation below.

Which healthcare factoids stand out for you?

If Restaurants Were Run Like Hospitals

Posted on October 8, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Health Catalyst has created this really awesome video that shows how a restaurant experience would be if it were run like hospitals. I’d say this is funny, but it cuts a little close to home. Either way, it’s insightful.

Business Intelligence And The Smart EMR

Posted on July 26, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

A new study by KLAS suggests that while providers are giving thought to business intelligence needs, they still haven’t honed in on favored vendors that they see as holding a leading position in healthcare. That may be, I’d suggest, because the industry is still waiting on EMRs that can offer the BI functionality they really need.

To look at the issue of BI in healthcare, KLAS interviewed execs at more than 70 hospitals and delivery systems with 200 or more beds.

When asked which BI vendors will stand out in the healthcare industry, 41 percent of respondents replied that they weren’t sure, according to a story in Health Data Management.

Of the other 59 percent who chose a vendor, IBM, SAP, Microsoft and Oracle came up as leaders in enterprise BI applications — but none of the above got more than 12 percent of the vote, HDM notes.

Vendors that did get a nod as standing out in healthcare-specific BI included Explorys, Health Catalyst, McKesson and Humedica (Optum). IBM and Microsoft were also singled out for healthcare use, but respondents noted that their products came with high price tags.

Meanwhile, QlikTech and Tableau Software were noted for their usability and data visualization tools though lacking in full BI toolsets, according to HDM.

While these stats are somewhat interesting on their own, they sidestep a very important issue:  when will EMRs evolve from transaction-based to intelligence-based systems?  After all, an intelligence-based EMR can do more to improve healthcare in context than freestanding BI systems.

As my colleague John Lynn notes, EMRs will ultimately need to leverage big data and support smart processes, becoming what he likes to call the “Smart EMR.”  These systems will integrate business intelligence natively rather than requiring a whole separate infrastructure to gather insights from the tsunami of patient data being generated today.

The reality, unfortunately, is that we’re a fairly long way away from having such Smart EMRs in place. Readers, how long to you think it will take before such a next-gen EMR hits the market?  And who do you think will be the first to market with such a system?