The Rundown | Week of 10.14.2019

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Early Income Instability Linked to Impaired Brain Functioning

A recent study found that financial struggles during “formative earning years” is linked to “worse cognitive function and brain integrity in midlife.” Researchers discovered that income reductions by 25 percent or more impair mental functioning later in life, regardless of cardiovascular or socioeconomic factors. The study, which was published in Neurology, noted that verbal memory was not affected by income instability. Drops in income were also linked with “worse microstructural integrity of total brain and total white matter.”
>> Read More: Relation Between 20-Year Income Volatility and Brain Health in Midlife

Accountable Care Reduced Hospitalizations in Oregon

Oregon’s coordinated care organizations (CCO) reduced Medicaid enrollees’ unscheduled hospital visits, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care. Researchers analyzed data on 86,012 women between the ages of 15 and 44 “who were continuously enrolled in Oregon Medicaid.” Researchers concluded that CCO “led to reductions in hospital admissions, especially preventable admissions.” This suggests that “the accountable care delivery model implemented in Oregon Medicaid promotes efficient resource utilization.”
>> Read More: Can Accountable Care Divert the Sources of Hospitalization?

Patient Portals Led to Greater Preventive Health Behaviors

Patients who utilized patient portals were 50 percent more likely to get their flu shot and twice as likely to check their blood pressure, a recent study from Penn Medicine revealed. Researchers conducted a “retrospective, observational cohort study of 10,000 patients aged 50 years or older” to evaluate “the association between patient portal use and patients’ preventive health behaviors or chronic health outcomes.” After adjusting for factors, the researchers concluded that “patient portal use had a positive and clinically meaningful impact on patients’ preventive health behaviors but not on chronic health outcomes.”
>> Read More: Difference Between Users and Nonusers of a Patient Portal in Health Behaviors and Outcomes: Retrospective Cohort Study

Survey: Patients Will Leave Doctors for Lack of Digital Offerings

A recent survey from Cedar Methodology found that half of “healthcare consumers expressed frustration about their provider’s lack of adoption of digital administrative processes (online bill pay, access to insurance information, etc.).” Furthermore, “one-third of patients “don’t think that healthcare providers have done enough to improve the patient billing and payment process.” The survey investigated digital trends and found that 20 percent of consumers actually changed providers due to a “poor digital experience.” Younger adults were more than twice as likely as adults older than 65 to switch providers for these reasons. Researchers found providers could improve retention through digital payment options, flexible payment plans, and a focus on the end-to-end patient experience.
>> Read More: Frustrated Patients Ready to Switch Providers Over Poor Digital Experience, Report Finds

HHS Proposes Reforms to Stark Law to Promote Value-Based Care

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed revisions to the Physician Self-Referral Law’s (commonly known as the Stark Law) kickback regulations. The Department noted that current regulations may impede value-based and coordinated care for providers and suppliers, both in the commercial and federal sectors. “The proposals would ease the compliance burden for healthcare providers across the industry, while maintaining strong safeguards to protect patients and programs from fraud and abuse,” the announcement stated. “Our proposed rules would be an unprecedented opportunity for providers to work together to deliver the kind of high-value, coordinated care that patients deserve,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
>> Read More: HHS Proposes Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute Reforms to Support Value-Based and Coordinated Care

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