Getting to Better Care: March MDness Edition

Campaign for Better CareThe state’s payment reform push continues to draw wide interest. The American Medical News talked to Massachusetts physicians, and the Cape Cod Times covered the, Cape angle, with some institutions expressing trepidation, and others looking forward:

Institutions such as Cape Cod and Falmouth hospitals most likely would end up partnering with a variety of health care providers, ranging from labs and imaging centers to physicians, nursing homes and visiting nurse agencies, health officials say.

“There is going to be a great coming together of health care providers,” said Dr. James Butterick, chief medical officer at Cape Cod Hospital.

In our latest edition of our Campaign for Better Care round-up, we focus on how coordinated care and patient empowerment will create better care, at less cost. The key is integrated care, aligned incentives, and empowering patients.

  • Surprisingly, although the success rate of heart attack treatment differs among providers, there is little variation in the treatment protocol among high and low performing hospitals. Researchers from Yale School of Public Health wanted to find what distinguished the top-performing hospitals. They found that patients who received heart attack care in hospitals that embraced a high level of communication, coordination, and organizational vision for providing high quality care had better results. The fascinating study showing that coordinated care results in better care.
  • Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ranks among the top 3% of hospitals for low readmission rates for heart attacks, heart failure, and pneumonia. A case study looked at the reasons why. It turns out that the hospital does things a little differently. It targets high-risk patients on admission and maintains a telephone “lifeline” after patients leave the hospital. This has shown to improve patient safety and lower readmission rates. ()
  • Diabetes is one of the leading chronic conditions of Americans. It is a complicating condition and sometimes both patients and their doctors feel powerless faced with uncontrolled blood sugar levels. In this study, researchers showed that patients who created self-management action plans with their providers were significantly more successful in controlling their sugar levels that those who did not. The good results persisted for a year. We think it’s not surprising that patients who are empowered and involved in their own care do better.
  • The new Governor’s Payment Reform bill as well as the federal Affordable Care Act encourages providers to create Accountable care organizations (ACOs). The entities have the financial incentives to encourage high quality care while controlling costs. Federal ACO guidelines are expected any day now. An informative CBS business network blog post explains the basics of ACOs and gives a perspective on how ACOs may change provider dynamics. And today, the Wall Street Journal ran their explainer on ACOs, focusing on the success Atrius Health is having in Massachusetts.

-Shaun Yang

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