Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Tennessee Oncology Chooses Navigating Cancer's Patient Engagement Portal
Leading provider of oncology patient portals to support Tennessee's largest oncology practice in delivering patient-centered care
SEATTLE, May 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Navigating Cancer, the leading provider of oncology specific patient portals, announces that Tennessee Oncology has selected Navigating Cancer's Patient Engagement Portal for its practices and patients. Navigating Cancer's portal will enable Tennessee Oncology to provide a more coordinated and patient-centered approach to the care it delivers to patients and help the practice meet all the new patient-centered care requirements. With nearly 800 providers signed up for Navigating Cancer's Portal, Tennessee Oncology joins an established and expanding network of influential oncology practices that are working to improve healthcare by engaging patients in their care.
Navigating Cancer's cloud-based Patient Engagement Portal integrates with any electronic medical record (EMR) system, enabling providers to easily and securely connect patients to their personal health information and educational resources. More than 45,000 patients currently use Navigating Cancer to learn more about their condition, receive copies of their health information and stay connected with their healthcare team. Navigating Cancer helps practices meet many of the new patient-centered care requirements that are part of HITECH Meaningful Use, new medical home and accountable care organization models and updated care standards from professional organizations such as the American College of Surgeon's Commission on Cancer.
"Our focus is to provide innovative, exceptional cancer care that puts patients and their families first," said Jeff Patton , M.D., CEO of Tennessee Oncology. "This partnership gives our patients easy access to their personalized treatment information and resources to help them better understand their diagnosis, allowing them to be at the center of their care and well-equipped to make important healthcare decisions."
"Tennessee Oncology has a long-standing reputation for innovation and thought leadership in oncology, which translates to state-of-the-art cancer care for their patients," said Gena Cook , CEO of Navigating Cancer. "We're excited to work with Tennessee Oncology providers and patients and are looking forward to a strong partnership in the coming years as we work together to improve the quality and efficiency of care through the use of our service."
About Tennessee Oncology
Tennessee Oncology, PLLC is one of the nation's leading teams of cancer care specialists, nationally recognized for improving patient outcomes and innovative treatments. Its comprehensive range of cancer care services include specialized oncology nursing care, laboratory services, outpatient chemotherapy, PET/CT services and patient education and support services. Founded in 1976, Tennessee Oncology is one of the largest physician-owned practices in the country, employing more than 75 physicians in 30 locations throughout Middle Tennessee, Chattanooga, and Northwest Georgia. Visitwww.tnoncology.com for more information.
About Navigating Cancer
Navigating Cancer's mission is to transform healthcare through patient centered care by using technology to connect cancer patients to their healthcare team, their own health records, and the right information at the right time. Navigating Cancer's Patient Engagement Portal provides oncology clinics with a branded, online extension of their care model, empowering them to save time and money while providing better quality care. The company was founded in 2008 by technology and healthcare veterans and is based inSeattle, Washington.
SOURCE Navigating Cancer
Harvard Business School has launched a new executive education program aimed at improving worldwide healthcare delivery.
The Business Innovations in Global Health Care program will take place June 26-29 on the HBS campus just outside Boston.
"We created this new program to help entrepreneurs and executives, both in developing and developed countries, think differently," said Regina E. Herzlinger, PhD, professor of business administration and faculty co-chair of the program. "These are exciting times. Before us is a huge opportunity to improve the way that healthcare is delivered and technology is used. We can learn vital lessons from entrepreneurs and private enterprises that are creating innovative ways to deliver basic health services as well as highly targeted care to chronically ill populations."
The program will feature global case studies and engaging discussions allowing participants to learn how entrepreneurs around the world are overcoming barriers to provide more efficient care and medical technology to underserved populations.
"In addition to conventional models, participants will be exposed to enterprises that focus on the base of the pyramid while generating attractive returns," said Michael Chu, MBA, senior lecturer of business administration and faculty co-chair of Business Innovations in Global Health Care. "Global leaders in entrepreneurial health care faced with real-life cases will help each other discover new concepts and practices for their organizations."
© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2012.
DOJ Fingers Vitas Hospice For Faking "Tens of Millions" in Claims
The Department of Justice is accusing the country's biggest provider of for-profit hospice services of fraud.
Vitas Hospice Services and its parent company, Chemed Corp. of Cincinnati, are accused of having "misspent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars from the Medicare program," according to a statement released by the Justice Department on May 2.
In a complaint filed the same day in the District Court for the western district of Missouri, the government contends that since 2001 Vitas has defrauded Medicare two ways: It has accepted for hospice care patients not eligible to receive it, billing Medicare for their treatment; and it has charged Medicare for "crisis care" given to patients who didn't need it and/or never got it.
Only dying patients with six or fewer months to live are eligible to receive Medicare-reimbursed hospice care.
Of those patients, only ones "experiencing an acute crisis that requires the immediate and short-term provision of skilled nursing services" are eligible to receive so-called crisis care, which is, according to the complaint, the most costly form of hospice care provided to persons dying at home: In 2013, it says, Medicare's daily reimbursement rate for crisis care overall was $742 more per patient than the daily rate for routine home care. The lawsuit cites as an example of fraud a California patient identified only as "MC."At the same time that Vitas was representing MC to Medicare as eligible for hospice, Vitas' own records, cited in the complaint, state that MC did not have a terminal illness whose prognosis was six months or less. Rather, it says, MC was "living independently and performing daily activities without assistance."
For example, "during the time that Vitas billed Medicare for crisis care for MC, Vitas's nursing notes state that MC was doing her own laundry."
For this one patient alone, Medicare paid close to $170,000 in claims between 2009 and 2012, according to the complaint.
An analysis by Justice found that Vitas' billings for crisis care in general were "almost six times what would be expected if its crisis care figures were in line with the national average."
A Vitas nurse, cited in the complaint, reported that on more than one occasion she had arrived at the home of some patient described by Vitas as needing crisis care, only to find the patient out—"at church, at the beauty parlor, or playing bingo." Despite the fact that these patients did not need or receive crisis care, says DOJ, Vitas nonetheless billed Medicare for the services.
The crux of the government's charge is "that Vitas focused on maximizing Medicare reimbursements for as many patents as possible while disregarding patients' medical needs and Medicare guidelines. Vitas regularly ignored concerns expressed by its own physicians and nurses regarding whether its hospice patients were receiving appropriate care."
A request by ABC News for further comment from the U.S. Attorney's Office got no response. A request for comment from Chemed and Vitas was answered by a repetition of a statement Chemed released May 3rd, which says in part that Chemed and Vitas intend to defend themselves vigorously. It confirms that the government is seeking treble damages, statutory penalties, court costs and interest.
Copyright © 2013 ABC News Internet Ventures
HHS to providers: Check lists of excluded Medicare personnel
HHS maintains a list of 51,588 people who are categorically excluded from providing even indirect care to Medicare patients, and new guidelines that will be published today recommend healthcare providers check their personnel rosters against the list ...
Slowdown In Health Care Spending Growth Could Save Americans $770 Billion08 May 2013
A slowdown in the growth of U.S. health care costs could mean that Americans could save as much as $770 billion on Medicare spending over the next decade, Harvard economists say.
In a paper published in Health Affairs, David Cutler, the Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics, and co-author Nikhil Sahni, a senior researcher in Harvard's Economics Department, point to several factors, including a decline in the development of new drugs and technologies and increased efficiency in the health care system, to explain the recent slowdown.
If those trends continue over the next decade, they say, estimates of health care spending produced by the Congressional Budget Office and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary could be off by hundreds of billions.
"Historically, as far back as 1960, medical care has increased at about one-and-a-half to two percent faster than the economy," Cutler said. "In the last decade, however, medical care has not really grown as a share of the GDP. If you forecast that forward, it translates into a lot of money."
Money, Cutler said, that could have a profound effect not just on government spending, but on average workers as well.
If the growth in costs remains flat, Cutler said, money companies might otherwise spend on health care could be directed back to workers in the form of increased salaries. Reduced health care costs could also help relieve financial strain on other critical government programs at both the state and national level.
"At the federal and state level, we've cut everything but health care," Cutler said. "If we can hold the growth in health care spending down, it would reduce the pressure on government, and would allow us to avoid funding one program at the expense of others, or raising taxes."
While recent forecasts by the CBO and Medicare actuaries have taken the recent slowdown in health care spending into account, those estimates come with a fatal flaw - an assumption that costs have slowed largely due to the 2007 recession.
By comparison, Cutler and Sahni's study suggests that just over a third, about 37 percent, of the decrease could be chalked up to the recession. Instead, they say, the bulk of the decline could be attributed to factors like a decline in the development of new treatments.
"For whatever reason, the technology that's available for treating people seems to be improving at a slower rate than in the past," Cutler said. "In recent years, there have been a number of oncology drugs that have been touted as potential blockbusters, but most haven't sold as well as expected. Other analysts have also noted that while research and development spending by pharmaceutical companies has increased dramatically, the number of new drug approvals has remained flat."
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Cutler said, health care providers received new incentives to increase efficiency and reduce costly problems, such as readmitting patients soon after discharge and in-hospital infections.
"There are a variety of different programs where we've said if you're efficient you'll be rewarded, and so that's what a lot of institutions are trying to do," he said.
Steep out-of-pocket costs have also resulted in many people - even those who are insured - choosing to defer some treatments in the interest of saving money.
"A typical insurance policy now has a deductible of over $1,000 for an individual, and maybe $2,000 for a family, and most people don't have that amount of cash in the bank," Cutler said. "It's a big hurdle. People look at their cost-sharing, and they say this is a lot of money, I'm not sure I can afford it, so they're cutting back on discretionary imaging, they're cutting back on elective surgeries, and on referrals to specialists that might not be covered.
"At the same time, insurers have become a lot smarter about directing people to cheaper alternatives when you do seek treatment," Cutler added. "For example, it used to be that everyone took the branded version of a drug. Now, if you're taking the branded version of a drug, you've gone out of your way to do that."
Ultimately, Cutler said, the question of whether earlier estimates of health care costs are correct will depend on whether insurers, providers and the public continue to work to keep costs under control.
"Don't think of this as plate tectonics, where the Earth's crust is moving and we just need to figure out how fast it's moving," Cutler said. "We have a lot of control over this, through policies in the Affordable Care Act and Medicare and Medicaid. It's not easy -- no change is ever easy -- but if we continue to do the right things, like stressing efficiency and helping people choose less expensive alternatives, then we can make sure this trend continues."
Study Models Three Big Changes To Medicare
By Ankita Rao
MAY 7TH, 2013, 3:52 PM
Lawmakers are looking for ways to tackle the growth of Medicare spending, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will account for 24 percent of the federal budget by 2037. But some strategies to cut program costs could leave millions of beneficiaries without coverage.
A study from the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, compared the impact of three
proposals that have been discussed by Congress or the White House to curb the costs of the government health care program for seniors and the disabled. The study is published in the May issue of Health Affairs.
Here are the three policy changes the study modeled.
Means testing Part A: Medicare Part A includes coverage of care in hospitals and nursing homes, and unlike Part B (which covers doctor visits, labs and equipment), the Part A premium is the same no matter how much a beneficiary earns. The idea of making wealthier seniors pay more for Part A has been around for a long time: It was suggested by thebipartisan Kerrey-Danforth commission back in the mid-1990s.
Premium support: Premium support would give seniors a set amount of money to purchase a private or Medicare-like health insurance plan. It’s a proposal similar to the one championed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Raising the eligibility age: If Medicare mirrored Social Security, the eligibility age would be 67. This proposal has been floated by both parties and has stoked heated debate. Medicare’s age requirement has not changed since the program’s inception in 1965, though life expectancy has increased by eight years in that time.
“The magnitude of savings can vary quite substantially,” said author Christine Eibner, a senior economist at RAND, about the results of the comparative study.
The researchers found that premium support and raising the eligibility age were the most effective changes to curb costs. Increasing the eligibility age, for example, reduced federal spending by 7.2 percent through 2036, compared to 2.4 percent if a premium for Part A was added. And the premium support plan resulted in the most savings after 2019 of all three options.
The savings from raising the eligibility age in the RAND study was different from earlier Congressional Budget Office estimates because the Rand authors modeled the outcome with the idea of raising the age in 2014. The government office instead assumed the age would gradually be raised and not be in full effect until 2027.
But all three scenarios had downsides and the two scenarios that produced the greatest potential savings also produced the greatest possible burden for Medicare enrollees both financially and in terms of access to health care.
In the means-tested strategy, somewhere between 2 and 20 percent of eligible beneficiaries may choose not to enroll in Medicare Part A, researchers found. For the premium support plan, the authors estimate 13 percent of seniors would forgo coverage. And raising the eligibility age to 67 also would reduce enrollment by approximately 13 percent, according to the study.