Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Thursday Three-fer: Diabetes Predictive Modeling, The Threat of Ambulatory Care Write Offs and It's the National Debt, Stupid!

At Risk?
Diabetes Predictive Modeling: Evidence Based, Peer Reviewed and Open Domain:

As Accountable Care Organizations, Patient Centered Medical Homes, care management vendors and managed care organizations continue to grapple with health care costs, they want to know who is at greatest risk in the coming months.  When it comes to diabetes mellitus, John McAna and colleagues (one of whom is the Disease Management Care Blog) is riding to the rescue with their American Journal of Managed Care paper "A Predictive Model of Hospitalization Risk Among Disabled Medicaid Enrollees." 

While the data were based on two states' Medicaid claims data sets, the research may be generalizable to other populations.  Factors that most strongly predicted a future hospitalization were increasing age (especially more than 65 years), a prior pattern of repeated hospitalizations (especially 3 or more) and the Charlson Comorbidity Index. The good news is that all the independent variables and their odds ratios are not-only evidence based, they're available for use by your actuaries and statisticians as quick as you can download the paper (after signing in) at the bottom of page 4.

Rumored Ambulatory Care Write-Offs: An Achilles Heel of Integrated Delivery Systems and ACOs?

In its recent travels, the DMCB was informed by two credible and astute physician-leaders that hospitals that have recently acquired outpatient physician practices are typically "writing off" ambulatory care bills because a) contesting small fee disputes are relatively costly and b) the threat of Medicare "overcharge" or RAC audits is existential.  That's significant because those small charges add up into millions and can mean the difference between a profitable outpatient clinic system and a loss leader.

It's Not the Economy, It's Not the GDP, It's the National Debt, Stupid:

The DMCB also recalls repeatedly hearing that it was President Nixon who first called attention to the growing fraction of the nation's gross domestic product going toward health care. The problem was that no one knew what was the "right" percent of GDP.  Mr. Nixon thought 7% was too high. If 7% isn't, in retrospect, bad, why is the current level of about 18% so bad?  What's so different?

The answer: it really is different this time.  What's bad is that health care is responsible for the lion's share of the separate problem of the growing national debt, which has been directly linked to national security.  Yikes.

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