GEISINGER OFFERS DEBT-FREE PRIMARY CARE MEDICAL SCHOOL

https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/clinical-care/geisinger-offers-debt-free-primary-care-medical-school?spMailingID=16548061&spUserID=MTg2ODM1MDE3NTU1S0&spJobID=1760517984&spReportId=MTc2MDUxNzk4NAS2

Program offered for medical students who’ll commit to primary care at the Pennsylvania-based health system after graduating.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The program will pick 40 first- and second-year students in each medical class through a competitive application process.

Selection criteria include  financial need, academic merit, diversity, and predictors of whether the applicant will stay in Geisinger’s service area.

The program will provide full coverage of tuition and fees plus a monthly $2,000 stipend through four years of medical school. 

Geisinger and Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine have created the Geisinger Primary Care Scholars Program that will offer debt-free medical school and living assistance to medical students who agree to work within primary care at the health system after they graduate.

Medical students often carry $200,000 or more in debt, which pushes them into higher-paying specialties. Geisinger President and CEO Jaewon Ryu, MD, says that removing the financial strain in exchange for a four-year commitment to practice at Geisinger will make it easier for more med students to pursue primary care.

“At Geisinger, we’ve been able to prove that by focusing on primary care we can improve outcomes, lower costs and improve satisfaction among patients and providers,” Ryu said.

“We’ve built some innovative programs that expand upon the notion of what is primary care and where it is delivered. With all of these different offerings, we are thrilled to welcome anyone who shares this passion around new and exciting ways to deliver this core care,” Ryu said.

“So, it’s only natural that we extend that commitment to training the next generation of physicians. These scholars have the opportunity to learn and later work in Geisinger’s innovative primary care environment without the worry of how they will pay for their education,” he said.

The program will pick 40 first- and second-year students in each incoming medical class through a competitive application process. Selection criteria include demonstrated financial need, academic merit, diversity, passion for serving their communities, and predictors of whether the applicant is likely to stay in Geisinger’s service area.

The program will provide full coverage of tuition and fees plus a monthly $2,000 stipend through the four years of medical school.

“I can’t think of a better opportunity for these scholars to pursue their commitment to primary care than by providing debt-free medical schooling,” said Steven J. Scheinman, MD, executive vice president and chief academic officer at Geisinger and Dean of the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

Last year Geisinger started the Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program. Which gives 10 students in each class up to four years of tuition in the form of a loan, which is forgiven upon completion of a service commitment as a Geisinger physician in any specialty.

“I CAN’T THINK OF A BETTER OPPORTUNITY FOR THESE SCHOLARS TO PURSUE THEIR COMMITMENT TO PRIMARY CARE THAN BY PROVIDING DEBT-FREE MEDICAL SCHOOLING. ”

 

 

 

5 WAYS HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS CAN ADDRESS SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH

https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/clinical-care/5-ways-healthcare-organizations-can-address-social-determinants-health

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has published a detailed report on implementing efforts to address the social needs of patients.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Social needs play a pivotal role in patient outcomes.

Before setting strategies to address social determinants of health, healthcare organizations should assess their level of existing social needs activities.

Partnerships are a crucial component of addressing the social needs of patients.

Healthcare providers can address social determinants of health through five approaches—awareness, adjustment, assistance, alignment, and advocacy, according to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Social determinants of health (SDOH) such as housing, food security, and transportation can have a pivotal impact on the physical and mental health of patients. By making direct investments in initiatives designed to address SDOHs and working with community partners, healthcare organizations can help their patients in profound ways beyond the traditional provision of medical services.

“The consistent and compelling evidence concerning how social determinants shape health has led to a growing recognition throughout the healthcare sector that improvements in overall health metrics are likely to depend—at least in part—on attention being paid to these social determinants,” the National Academies report says.

The report outlines the “5As” strategies that healthcare organizations can implement to address SDOHs in the communities they serve. The strategies were developed by the National Academies’ Committee on Integrating Social Needs Care into the Delivery of Healthcare to Improve the Nation’s Health, Board on Health Care Services, Health and Medicine Division.

1. AWARENESS

The committee says awareness should focus on identifying the social risks and assets of specific patients and populations of patients.

“On the clinical side, patients visiting healthcare organizations are increasingly being asked to answer social risk screening questions in the context of their care and care planning. In some places, screening is incentivized by payers. As part of the MassHealth Medicaid program, for instance, Massachusetts accountable care organizations now include social screening as a measure of care quality,” the report says.

2. ADJUSTMENT

Instead of addressing social needs directly, healthcare organizations can pursue a strategy that focuses on adjusting clinical care to address social determinants of health.

“Many examples of adjustment strategies were identified in the literature, including the delivery of language- and literacy-concordant services; smaller doctor-patient panel sizes for cases with socially complex needs (e.g., teams caring for homeless patients in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health system have panel sizes smaller than the size of other VA care teams); offering open-access scheduling or evening and weekend clinic access; and providing telehealth services, especially in rural areas,” the report says.

3. ASSISTANCE

Healthcare organizations can pursue strategies to connect patients with social needs to government and community resources.

“The literature contains descriptions of a variety of assistance activities that have been undertaken by health systems and communities. These assistance activities vary in intensity, from lighter touch (one-time provision of resources, information, or referrals) to longer and more intensive interventions that attempt to assess and address patient-prioritized social needs more comprehensively,” the report says.

Intensive interventions include relationship building, comprehensive biopsychosocial needs assessments, care planning, motivational interviewing, and long-term community-based supports.

4. ALIGNMENT

Healthcare providers can pursue an alignment strategy that assesses the social care assets in the community, organizes those assets to promote teamwork across organizations, and invests in assets to impact health outcomes.

“The committee defined alignment activities to include those undertaken by healthcare systems to understand existing social care assets in the community, organize them in such a way as to encourage synergy among the various activities, and invest in and deploy them to prevent emerging social needs and improve health outcomes,” the report says.

5. ADVOCACY

Healthcare providers can form alliances with social care organizations to advocate for policies that promote the creation and distribution of assets or resources to address social determinants of health. For example, healthcare organizations can call for policy changes to overhaul transportation services in a community.

“In both the alignment and advocacy categories, healthcare organizations leverage their political, social, and economic capital within a community or local environment to encourage and enable healthcare and social care organizations to partner and pool resources, such as services and information, to achieve greater net benefit from the healthcare and social care services available in the community,” the report says.

IMPLEMENTING THE FIVE STRATEGIES

Assessing the level of existing social needs activities should be a starting point for healthcare organizations that want to address social determinants of health, the chairperson of the National Academies committee told HealthLeaders.

One of the first steps healthcare organizations can take is identifying activities they may already have underway that fit the 5As, then expand or enhance those activities through greater commitment from leadership, investment of resources into supporting infrastructure, and strengthening of engagement with patients and community stakeholders, said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD, MAS, professor and chair, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCSF School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.

“Healthcare organizations may not have activities in all of the 5As and should use this framework to develop strategies that will work within their local context. In all cases, it is critical to be aware that addressing health-related social needs of their patients is essential to achieving goals of high quality and high-value care,” she said.

“Partnerships are crucial,” Bibbins-Domingo said.

“Activities in the clinical setting should be designed and implemented in a way that engages patients, community partners, frontline staff, social care workers, and clinicians in planning and evaluation, as well as in incorporating the preferences of patients and communities. Establishing linkages and communication pathways between healthcare and social service providers is critical, including personal care aides, home care aides, and others who provide care and support for seriously ill and disabled patients.”

 

 

 

Medicare Advantage is booming but not producing savings, report finds

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/medicare-advantage-is-booming-but-not-producing-savings-report-finds/561187/

Image result for Medicare Advantage is booming but not producing savings, report finds

Dive Brief:

  • Medicare Advantage is not producing any savings but spends between 2% and 5.5% more than traditional Medicare, a report in Health Affairs finds.
  • On the other hand, the report found Medicare’s accountable care organizations are reducing costs as compared to traditional Medicare. The Medicare Shared Savings Program, which includes accountable care organizations, saved about 1% to 2% in 2016. 
  • The authors suggest a number of changes for policymakers to consider if they want to improve competition and address flaws among the two programs.

Dive Insight:

As the popularity of programs such as Medicare Advantage grows, it’s important to understand the spending ramifications and whether the program is yielding any savings for taxpayers.

More and more seniors are choosing coverage options outside of traditional Medicare. Together, Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Shared Savings Program cover about half of all Medicare beneficiaries. In a six-year period, Medicare Advantage alone grew by 57% and as of 2018 covered nearly 20 million seniors.

Medicare Advantage allows private insurers to contract with the federal government to care for eligible Medicare beneficiaries. Private plans receive a fixed payment — typically a per member, per month allotment — to coordinate care for beneficiaries who choose MA plans. 

It’s these “predictable” payments that allow MA plans to invest in unconventional coverage options such as meal delivery and transportation to appointments, the authors said.

But despite the program’s popularity, it’s not yielding the savings that was originally expected.

“When a beneficiary joins MA, Medicare spends more, on average, than it would have if the patient had remained in traditional Medicare. We find the opposite in the MSSP: When a patient joins the Medicare ACO program, Medicare costs fall,” according to Health Affairs.

There are also differences between the two programs that should be fixed, the authors said. 

The MSSP is only punitive, which is not true for the star-rating program for MA. One way to achieve a more equitable ratings system is to “radically” reduce the number of quality measures, which have become a burden for physicians, the authors said.

“We propose limiting quality measurement to five measures that are outcome oriented: hospital and ER use, patient satisfaction, and diabetes A1c and blood pressure control.”

It’s also important to find a risk adjustment model that can be used for both MA and MSSP populations, the authors said.

CMS has committed itself to reducing the amount of burden on payers and providers, and paring down quality ratings overhead is a key part of that. The agency’s removed a number of measures across its reporting programs in 2018 as part of its “Meaningful Measures” initiative, and is currently looking at others in MSSP, MA and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.

 

 

 

Nurse viewpoint: Modern healthcare system prioritizes profits over care quality

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/quality/nurse-viewpoint-modern-healthcare-system-prioritizes-profits-over-care-quality.html

The American healthcare system benefits companies, hospital systems and administrators over patients and providers, wrote Theresa Brown, PhD, BSN, RN, in an op-ed for CNN.

 Five highlights from Dr. Brown’s opinion piece:

1. Providers work in an environment of “scarcity,” whereas CEOs, pharmaceutical companies and hospital systems live in “a world of plenty.”

2. Dr. Brown cites her own experience at a teaching hospital in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center system, where she says nurses who requested more life-saving devices were told to do “more with less,” despite the hospital system’s multibillion-dollar revenues.

3. Dr. Brown writes nurses at the teaching hospital also faced staff shortages, which have been shown to negatively affect patient health outcomes.

4. In contrast, 14 pharmaceutical companies made profits of at least $1 billion in 2018. Yet Dr. Brown argues that vilifying such companies misinterprets the problem, which is the long line separating cash-strapped hospital floors from the large profits that benefit systems, companies and administrators over patients.

5. Dr. Brown supports Medicare for All, writing that it is a critical measure for the 66 percent of American households that say they must choose between purchasing food and healthcare.

 

 

The Drivers of Health: What makes us healthy?

The Drivers

 

What makes us healthy?

We have an intuitive sense that things like what we eat, how much we exercise, the quality of our water and air, and getting appropriate health care when sick all help us stay healthy, but how much do each of these factors matter?

Studies have also shown that our incomes, education, even racial identity are associated with health — so-called “social determinants of health.”

How much do social determinants matter? How much does the health system improve our health?

In the 1970s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tried to answer these questions but had little rigorous science to guide it. Though we know a great deal more today, they still have not been fully answered. This is no mere curiosity — knowing what makes us healthy will help us direct investments into the right programs.

Over the years, many frameworks have been developed to illuminate what affects health. The relationships are so complex that no single framework captures everything. To get us started on this research project — and our broader conversation about what drives health — we created a model that allows us to explore some of the dimensions of these drivers, and their relationships to each other.

The Framework

We developed our framework by reviewing research on factors that influence health and surveying similar projects and tools from prominent organizations . It is not meant to be complete, but a starting point that allows us to think about what drives health and how.

Indirect vs. Direct Factors
Many things affect health, some directly and others indirectly. Government/policy, income/wealth, education, and racial identity don’t necessarily affect health in an immediate way. They are indirect factors that tend to affect health through complex pathways. Those pathways usually involve other factors that more immediately affect health. These are the direct factors such as occupation, health care access, and health behaviors.

Why these Outcomes?
There are many possible health outcomes. The framework includes four examples—age-adjusted mortality, life expectancy, quality of life/well-being, and functional status. These outcomes are commonly studied, prevalent in the literature, and reflect the kinds of things people care most about.

The Drivers

 

 

 

Who is blocking ‘Medicare for All’?

https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/445429-who-is-blocking-medicare-for-all

Who is blocking 'Medicare for All'?

Decades of corporate-friendly politics and policy have decimated communities throughout the country. Centrist Democrats who have chosen corporate profits over people’s needs have aided and abetted this decimation. People are hungry for big ideas to improve their lives and to change the rules that serve only to make the rich richer.

Nowhere is this hunger more apparent than in the demand for improved “Medicare for All”. During a hearing at the House Budget Committee this week it was also apparent that the center-right and their wealthy donors won’t go down without a fight when it comes to health care. 

With guns-a-blazing, they are out to block an incredibly successful and popular program: Medicare, from being improved, expanded and provided to everyone.

Yet polling shows that across party lines,majority of Americans are in favor of Medicare for All. And why not? Right now, nearly 30 million people in this country are uninsured; 40 million can’t afford health-care co-pays and deductibles and 45,000 die annually as a result of not having access to health care.

Those reaping the excessive profits from our illnesses and injuries are in a panic. They’re laying all their chips on the table to make sure Medicare for All never becomes reality. It would mean the end of private insurance companies that profit mightily off the most costly and least effective health-care system in the industrialized world.

So, to continue to rake in their profits, they’ve created the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a partnership of corporate hospitals, insurance and drug companies. They must have a lot to lose: last year alone, the group spent $143 million developing attack ads and launching fear campaigns to kill Medicare for All.

It’s time to admit it, while nearly every modern country in the world provides quality, accessible health care for free or very inexpensively to their citizens, the United States stands alone in its willingness to let corporations suck the last pennies out of sick or injured people.

Well, the jig is up. Decades under a corporate-run private health insurance system have proven that we can’t rely on profiteers to provide access to quality health care. We need a publicly held system that is accountable to the people who rely on it. We are able to do so and save trillions of dollars over the next decade.

Medicare for All would reduce national health-care spending by anywhere between $2 trillion to $10 trillion over ten years. Research shows that countries with single-payer systems spend much less on drugs.

Yet opponents continue to decry the “costs” of Medicare for All. They will continue to focus on the cost to taxpayers, conveniently avoiding the truth that already we pay excessive health care costs through insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

Americans suffer from poor health outcomes because they can’t afford to see a doctor until their illness becomes catastrophic. Many weigh the choice between financial ruin and life-saving medicines and treatment. In one of the richest countries in the world that is nothing short of shameful.

The U.S. is a country with abundant resources and more than enough wealth to go around. It’s time to share the wealth in America. It’s a new day and it starts with Medicare for All. Buckle up — because the fight is just beginning.