Study: Increase Patient Activation To Cut Costs & Improve Outcomes

Increased levels of patient engagement through patient activation may improve outcomes and lower healthcare costs, according to a new study published in Health Affairs. Researchers analyzed patient activation levels for more than 32,000 adult patients at Minnesota’s Fairview Health Services under the Patient Activation Measure, a “metric used to quantify a person’s knowledge, skills, and confidence in managing one’s own health and healthcare” on a scale of one to four. Researchers found patients with higher levels of activation demonstrated nine out of 13 improved healthcare outcomes. Lower activation levels were associated with significantly reduced chances of positive outcomes for seven of 13 measures compared to patients who remained at level four. The research team also found activation had similar effects on billed costs. Patients with the highest levels of activation had projected costs 31 percent lower than those at the lowest activation levels. Additionally, costs increased or decreased as patients’ activation levels changed.

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Federal Health Exchanges Face Challenges

According to a new policy brief by Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RJWF), federally operated health insurance exchanges may find it challenging to attract healthy patients and maintain stable insurance markets.

The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA) created the exchanges to provide individuals and small businesses with a means to shop for coverage options. Though some states have opted to develop their own marketplaces, about half are leaving it up to the federal government to run exchanges in their states with a handful choosing a state-federal partnership approach where states retain traditional insurance regulatory authority.

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Hospice Enrollment Policies Restrict Patients

HMS Healthcare Management SolutionsA study published in Health Affairs found many patients are unable to take advantage of the services hospice provides because of restrictive enrollment policies which discourage patients from signing up.  In fact, results reveal 78% had at least one enrollment policy that may restrict access to care for patients with potentially high-cost medical care needs.

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Study: Extended Hours Leads To Less ED Visits

A new study released by Health Affairs reveals patients who have an easier time reaching their primary care clinician after regular office hours visit the hospital emergency department (ED) less often.  Patients also enjoyed better after-hours access if they belonged to a practice with extended office hours.

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Study: Medicare Fixed Payment Method Discourages Patient Intake

A new study published in Health Affairs warns Medicare’s fixed daily payment method to hospices may be discouraging many from taking on patients with expensive needs. The study also concluded for-profit hospices are more likely than are nonprofits to limit which patients they will accept based on their special needs.

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Study Reveals Seniors Overspend On Medicare Part D

According to a Health Affairs study released earlier this week, seniors spent on average $368 more than they needed to on drug coverage through Medicare Part D plans in 2009.  The study found only 5.2% of Medicare recipients chose the most economic Part D plan available.

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