Industry News

January News Roundup: Social Determinants Gaining Attention on Multiple Fronts, and New Hypertension Guidelines Released

January 3, 2020

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

FQHC Reimbursement Traps

The National Law Review is continuing its series for FQHCs with an article on four key areas of FQHC payment requirements that can be impacted by state interpretations. The article provides insight and advice on the following areas:

 

  • Scope of services changes
  • Productivity standards
  • Billable visits
  • Incentive payments and managed care contracts 

 

Patient Communication & Texting

The Benefits of Texting with Patients

Medical Economics dives into the benefits of two-way texting as a method of patient communication and how practices can leverage it to improve operations. 

The benefits covered include education and support, increased compliance, generating inbound calls, addressing payment-related communication, and providing updates on weather and other schedule changes. 

Patients Warming up to Tech in Healthcare 

An article in MD Mag addresses patient attitudes toward healthcare in tech, specifically covering how healthcare expectations are being shaped by experiences from other industries. 

It highlights the convenience of real-time texting and its importance in influencing whether a patient returns to a practice. The article also covers survey results that suggest the majority of patients would rather receive an email or text message appointment reminder over a phone call. 

 

Serving the Underserved

AHA Addresses Rural and Underserved Communities in Letter to House

The American Hospital Association (AHA) recently sent a formal letter to the House of Representatives’ Rural and Underserved Communities Health Task Force, urging them to consider policies that address access to rural healthcare and strategies to “ensure access to essential services in vulnerable urban and rural communities.” 

The letter includes a list of suggested considerations, such as comprehensive coverage, Medicare coverage of telehealth, and taking the unique needs of rural and underserved communities into consideration in the design and implementation of quality improvement and reporting programs. 

 

FQHCs and VBC

AHRQ Turns 20

An article in Forbes written by former senator, Bill Frist, commemorates the passage of the Healthcare Research and Quality Act, which was co-authored with Senator Ted Kennedy and signed into law on December 6th, 1999 with bi-partisan support. The bill established the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) as the federal agency responsible for the quality and safety of the American healthcare system. 

Controversial at the time, the legislation mandated research on healthcare errors and continuous quality improvement in patient care. 

 

HEDIS Measures

New Performance Measure for Hypertension

The American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) have announced 22 new performance and quality measures that address the detection and treatment of high blood pressure in adults. Previously, HEDIS, which set the standard at a goal of less than 140/90 mm Hg, has been the only standard used. 

The new measures will lower the threshold of stage 1 hypertension from 140/90 mm Hg to 130/80 mm Hg.

 

Social Determinants of Health

Nurses Need Support in Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Nurses stand at the front line of patient care and by extension, in addressing social determinants of health. While the role has always involved social determinants, today’s nurses still need support. This means education on social determinants, how they lead to health complications, and patient screening. Additional support includes proper staffing and workflow support that helps nurses balance the many clinical duties they already manage. 

Healthcare Urged to Look Inward to Tackle Social Determinants

Donald Berwick, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement is urging the healthcare industry to explore how its institutions are contributing to social issues such as institutional racism if it wants to address social determinants of health. 

At their annual forum in Orlando, Berwick asked system leaders to face these issues as a moral imperative, in areas including workforce treatment, criminal justice issues, and the involvement of healthcare workers and practitioners in political issues. 

Forbes Summit Faces Social Determinants 

This year’s Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York City turned its attention to solutions for improving social determinants of health. While much of the discussion of social determinants has revolved around problems, this event highlighted specific solutions including:

 

  • Improving diets and access to healthy food
  • Addressing the physical environment including housing options, transportation options, and parks
  • Increasing internet access
  • Understanding the needs of individuals and bringing care to them 

Highlights of Successful Social Determinants Initiatives

Modern Healthcare’s recent Critical Connections event in Detroit called out a need to move beyond pilot programs in addressing the social needs of patients. 

The event highlighted specific efforts including a program that helps cities improve the health of their residents through evidence-based policies and Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital’s work in reducing infant mortality among African-American babies through a partnership with three other local health systems to launch the Women-Inspired Neighborhood Network, a program that connects at-risk mothers with community health workers, among others.   




We’d like to invite you to learn more about our own findings from our panel on social determinants from an FQHC perspective, here.

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