Healthcare Industry

October News Roundup: Text Messages Shown to Improve Diabetes Control; Number of Uninsured Americans Increases for the First Time in 10 Years

Stay ahead of healthcare industry news for FQHC and Health Center leaders with our monthly roundups. CareMessage curates the most important developments in healthcare technology, underserved patient care, value-based care, social determinants of health, and more to keep you informed in your role as a healthcare leader. 

FQHCs

1 out of 3 Community Health Centers Considers Cutting Services After Fund Delay

In response to Congress delaying the expansion of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that 52 percent are mulling over a hiring freeze. Additionally

  • Almost 40% are considering cutting enabling services that address social determinants of health. 
  • 38% are thinking of cutting staff hours
  • 38% are considering laying off staff
  • 23% are considering closing down one of their community health center clinic sites while 2% already have

Also, 33% say that they might reduce hours of operation, a direct hit to low-income patients who often aren’t working traditional office hours. 

Louisiana FQHCs Grapple With Counselor Billing

While Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) working for FQHCs have historically been able to bill Medicaid, a change in federal requirements has that status up in the air. 

The Louisiana Department of Health was made aware of a change to federal requirement 42 CFR 405.2411(a) which became effective July 1. The department is now trying to assess the impact on LPCs, many of whom work in schools through FQHCs and support vulnerable children across the state.

Patient Communication

Study Finds Digital Literacy Barriers in Vulnerable Populations

A study in JMIR examined barriers to app usage among vulnerable populations to better understand variations in patient engagement, limited health literacy, limited English proficiency, and limited digital literacy. 

The study found that, despite the rapid deployment of digital tools for disease management and widespread mobile phone use, digital literacy barriers are still common among vulnerable populations. The study covered a diverse population in terms of race, employment, education, literacy and language, and general health status — traits the study acknowledges are rarely captured in HIT usability studies. 

Text Messages Shown to Improve Diabetes Control

A recent study has revealed that supportive text messages sent to people with diabetes can improve blood glucose control. 

The study found that sending advice to help with diabetes management yielded an average reduction in HbA1c of 2 mmol/mol among the group that received supportive messages. The group that did not receive the text messages saw an average rise of 1 mmol/mol. The results also revealed that more people in the intervention group achieved their HbA1c targets. 

Serving the Underserved

Insured Rates Dropped in 2018

The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that the percentage of Americans who do not have health insurance rose in 2018 from the previous years' rates, a change that is largely attributed to a decline in Medicaid coverage. 

The shift has persisted despite a strong economy and a decrease in the number of people whose incomes fall below the poverty line. The increase is the first seen since the major provisions of the ACA kicked in in 2014.

Reducing ER Overuse 

Program Reduces ER Misuse Pattern by Half

Community Health Center Northwest Florida has launched a program to connect chronic patients with primary care, health advice, and social support. 

Their High-Risk Emergency Department Project identified 32 individuals, some of whom were their most chronically ill, who were showing up most frequently in the ER. Over half agreed to try the program and the center saw their number of ER visits drop from 477 in the Q1 and Q2 of 2018 to 230 during the same period in 2019. Patients are also enjoying reduced wait times by scheduling time with primary care doctors and it’s estimated that the program has saved about $64,000 in EMS transport costs.

Quality Measures

Telehealth Found to Boost UDS Scores

The Health Information Technology, Evaluation, and Quality Center (HITEQ) recently analyzed 2017 UDS data and found that health centers using connected care scored higher on clinical quality measures by 1.18%. 

The difference is slight but does demonstrate a positive correlation between the use of telehealth and patient outcomes. 

Social Determinants of Health

First Lawsuit Filed Over Trump Administration’s “Public Charge” Rule

Two California counties have filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule that permits the government to deny entry and green cards to immigrants based on their history of using public programs, including Medicaid and food stamps. 

The counties argue that the rule is unlawful and hurts “critical public health and safety-net systems, is arbitrary and capricious, flouts federal law, and seeks to usurp Congress’ authority by administratively repealing its longstanding family-based immigration system.”

Gender Bias Drives Misdiagnosis and Dismissal of Women

Many women are left suffering from treatable conditions because doctors aren’t listening to their complaints. From heart attacks to gluten intolerance, doctors tend to dismiss women’s concerns complaints.

Medicine though still hasn’t caught up with women’s needs. For example, the diagnostic tests that discover heart issues in men don’t yet exist for women. 

Would you like to learn more to help underserved patients better utilize ED resources? This post will get you started.

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