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MVC Launches New Push Report on ED and Post-Acute Care Use

MVC Launches New Push Report on ED and Post-Acute Care Use

The emergency department (ED) is a unique and critical component of the healthcare system in the U.S., treating acute injuries or illnesses and acting as a safety net for patients who are uninsured or low income. ED visits are also very expensive, and that spending is growing according to a recent retrospective study of ED trends. This week the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) is distributing its newest push report on ED and post-acute care (PAC) utilization to support members' efforts in this space.

Since the ED serves as a safety net for patients experiencing barriers to healthcare access, the Coordinating Center report purposefully integrates measures tied to social determinants of health and health equity. Reports contain a patient population snapshot table showcasing several patient characteristics by payer (see Figure 1), including age, race, comorbidities, zip code, dual-eligibility status, and economic distress scores. Dual-eligible patients are those who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare; these patients tend to have a higher prevalence rate for chronic conditions, disabilities, and other care needs that substantially increase healthcare utilization.

Figure 1.

Economic distress scores range from 0-100 with a higher score indicating greater economic distress. These scores come from the Economic Innovation Group’s Distressed Communities Index (DCI), which is derived from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Business Patterns and American Community Survey. The DCI combines seven complementary economic indicators (see Figure 2) to provide a single, holistic, and comparative measure of economic well-being across communities in the U.S. In MVC’s report, there is a proportion of patients living in an “at-risk” or “distressed” zip code across all payers, as classified by the DCI. However, as the literature often indicates, the Medicaid population has the highest average distress score and a larger proportion of patients living in an “at-risk” or “distressed” zip code.

Figure 2.

The bulk of MVC’s latest report aims to provide its members with more granular insights into PAC utilization in the 30-day post-discharge period than is available on the MVC registry. Using index admissions for medical conditions from 1/1/18 through 12/31/20, the report focuses predominantly on ED utilization, which is categorized as either “ED to Home” or “ED to Readmission.” ED to Home represents ED visits that do not occur on the same day as readmission, and ED to Readmission refers to those visits occurring on the same day as readmission.

The report includes figures illustrating trends in 30-day ED to Home rates between 2018 and 2020, top reasons for ED visits at a given hospital, the number of ED to Home visits within 30 days post-discharge, the number of days until the first ED visit post-discharge, the ED to Home rate and the breakdown of total PAC spending for a hospital’s three highest-volume conditions, and the average ED facility payment. MVC included the following payers in this report: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) PPO Commercial, BCBSM Medicare Advantage (MA), Blue Care Network (BCN) HMO Commercial, BCN MA, Medicare Fee-for-Service, and Medicaid.

Overall, the MVC report confirms published findings that Medicaid patients utilize the ED at a higher rate than patients insured by other payers. The Coordinating Center also finds that ED use differs between types of providers. For acute care hospitals, for example, over half of ED visits occur on the same day as readmission, whereas these visits account for 40% at Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs).

MVC also finds that ED to Home visits most often occur once in the 30 days following discharge for most of the collaborative (see Figure 3). There are some members, however, with three or more ED to Home visits within the 30-day post-discharge period.

Figure 3.

The Coordinating Center envisions this report being of particular importance to its CAH members, whose structures, services, and patient populations make the ED and PAC a top priority. As such, MVC prepared versions of this report for both CAHs and acute care hospitals using their respective comparison groups throughout. In other words, the CAH version of the report includes comparison points for all other CAHs in the collaborative. Acute care hospitals can see their traditional collaborative-wide and regional comparison data, not including hospitals with a CAH designation.

As members review and discuss the findings in their report(s), MVC encourages providers to utilize the Michigan Emergency Department Improvement Collaborative (MEDIC), which is dedicated to improving the quality of ED care across the state of Michigan. In addition, if members wish to discuss additional custom analyses on ED and PAC utilization, please contact the MVC Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com.

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New MVC Northern Summer Meeting Planned for August

New MVC Northern Summer Meeting Planned for August

MVC will launch a new in-person event this summer when it hosts members and speakers from Northern Michigan. This new MVC Northern Summer Meeting is modeled after the collaborative-wide semi-annual meetings, but it aims to focus on unique challenges and opportunities in delivering healthcare in this part of the state. The event will take place on August 18, 2022, from 12-5 p.m. at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, MI.

As MVC has gained new members, it has also diversified with the addition of more rural and critical access hospitals. These types of sites – many of which are located in the upper peninsula or northern half of the lower peninsula – play an integral role in the health system and have a unique care delivery experience. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), these types of hospitals have higher performance quality measures than their urban counterparts for areas such as safety, community engagement, efficiency, and cost reduction. At the same time, however, they also face unique challenges related to low patient volumes, higher rates of chronic disease, insufficient workforce recruitment and retention, and low reimbursement rates, among others.

It is these unique strengths and challenges that will be the focus of the day’s agenda, which will include speakers representing area hospitals, rural health organizations, community agencies, and the MVC Coordinating Center. The event’s keynote speaker will be Crystal Barter, MSA, Director of Programs and Services for the Michigan Center for Rural Health. Her presentation on “Michigan’s Rural Health Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities” will set the stage for the afternoon and be followed by speakers on specific topics, such as Hospital at Home care models and the aging population.

The other speakers include Stephanie Pins, MSA, Director of Quality Management, Risk, and Compliance, and Kristine Boyer, MSN, RN, Clinical Quality Manager, of MyMichigan Medical Center - Sault; Dr. Aditya Neravetla, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital; and Jenna Lindholm, RN, CCM, Clinical Quality Supervisor at the Region 9 Area Agency on Aging.

The MVC Coordinating Center will also provide its latest updates as well as unblinded data to encourage member collaboration. The event includes dedicated networking sessions at the start and end of the day’s agenda when members can compare notes and glean ideas from peers.

MVC distributed invitations to northern members at the beginning of June and plans to share the full agenda with additional event specifics in the coming weeks. Those members who received invitations are encouraged to RSVP now.

If you have any questions about the upcoming event, contact the MVC Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com.

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MVC Shares New Pneumonia Push Report with Hospitals

MVC Shares New Pneumonia Push Report with Hospitals

The Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) introduced its first ever pneumonia push report this week when the Coordinating Center shared individualized reports with 89 hospitals across Michigan. This report was created in response to member interest and incorporated 30-day claims-based episodes with index admissions from 1/1/18 – 12/31/20 for the following payers: Medicare FFS, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) PPO Commercial, Blue Care Network (BCN) Commercial, BCBSM MA, BCN MA, and Medicaid. Reports were created for all MVC member hospitals that had at least 11 pneumonia episodes per year in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

One goal for this report was to provide data that would be useful for a broad range of MVC’s increasingly diverse membership. Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), for example, are some of MVC’s newest members and differ in several meaningful ways from other hospitals in the collaborative. Therefore, MVC distributed two different versions of the pneumonia report in order to refine comparison groups and provide a more tailored view of the data. As a result, 81 general acute care hospitals received a pneumonia report comparing their performance to 1) all other eligible general acute care hospitals in the collaborative and 2) acute care hospitals in their geographic region. The second version of the report was shared with eight eligible CAHs, which compared their performance to other MVC CAHs. By providing hospitals with tailored comparison groups when appropriate, MVC hopes to strengthen the usability of its claims-based data to inform quality improvement initiatives.

After much consideration, the MVC team decided to remove any pneumonia episodes containing a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 (U07.1) in the first three diagnosis positions of an inpatient facility claim from this report. Members can now replicate this approach on the MVC registry for episodes from April 2020 or later using the new COVID-19 filter, which allows users to include or exclude episodes that contained an inpatient facility claim with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. For the purposes of this push report, the Coordinating Center further excluded all pneumonia episodes from March 2020 in order to remove COVID-19 hospitalizations that occurred in Michigan before an official COVID-19 diagnosis code was available and were coded as pneumonia.

Measures included in the pneumonia report were trends in average price-standardized risk-adjusted total episode payments, average index length of stay, index in-hospital mortality rates, trends in 30-day readmission rates, rates of 30-day post-acute care utilization, and rates of seven-day outpatient follow-up. Overall, the Coordinating Center found that the in-hospital mortality rate for both groups of hospitals was about 2%. One noticeable difference between the two report groups was that CAHs had a shorter average length of stay for index pneumonia hospitalizations (4.6 days, see Figure 1) than general acute care hospitals (5.8 days, see Figure 2).

Figure 1. Average Index Length of Stay at CAHs

Figure 2. Average Index Length of Stay at Acute Care Hospitals

Post-acute care utilization rates were stratified by emergency department (ED), home health, rehabilitation, and skilled nursing facility (SNF). In general, the most frequently utilized category of post-acute care for pneumonia episodes was home health at a rate of 20% for acute care hospitals (see Figure 3) and 24% for CAHs (see Figure 4). Furthermore, there was wide variability in seven-day outpatient follow-up rates for both types of hospitals, but the average for acute care hospitals was higher at 39.7% (see Figure 5) compared to 24.4% (see Figure 6) for CAHs.

Figure 3. 30-Day Post-Acute Care Utilization Rates at Acute Care Hospitals

Figure 4. 30-Day Post-Acute Care Utilization Rates at Critical Access Hospitals

Figure 5. Seven-Day Outpatient Follow-Up Rates at Acute Care Hospitals

Figure 6. Seven-Day Outpatient Follow-Up Rates at Critical Access Hospitals

By understanding the unique needs of its members, MVC can improve future reports for use in quality improvement activities. If your hospital is interested in sharing feedback about the new pneumonia report or has a specific follow-up request, please reach out to the Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com.

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Approach to quality improvement unique for rural hospitals

Approach to quality improvement unique for rural hospitals

Quality improvement is a key effort for healthcare systems and a driving force behind the work of the Michigan Value Collaborative. It is also an increasingly complex task with significant implications. Not surprisingly, quality improvement is not a one-size-fits-all approach, with the challenges impacting hospitals varying significantly by factors such as size and location. This variability showcases the importance of sharing tailored resources among Collaborative members.

Critical-access hospitals (CAHs) are the newest type of members to join the Collaborative. They play an important role in the healthcare system by caring for rural patients who might not otherwise have access to inpatient services. Defined as hospitals maintaining no more than 25 acute care beds and located more than 35 miles from the nearest hospital, they are unique in their populations, services, and structure. The majority of their patients would have to drive 30 minutes or more for an alternative hospital, and many communities have no alternative. Their offerings and size are reflective of the communities they serve, with services such as emergency care, inpatient care, laboratory testing, rehabilitation, long-term care, maternity care, home health care, and even primary care. As a result, their capacities, priorities, and challenges differ from those of their larger colleagues, as do their quality improvement efforts.

For example, a 2015 report from the National Quality Forum titled, “Performance Measurement for Rural Low-Volume Providers,” highlights several challenges to quality improvement in rural areas including fewer providers, lack of information technology, and fewer people to share the workload. Furthermore, rural hospitals often don't meet patient volume thresholds that are required for meaningful comparative analyses. It is critical, therefore, that CAH facilities are connected to resources tailored to their circumstances. One such resource is the 2021 Small Rural Hospital Blueprint for Performance Excellence and Value, produced by the National Rural Health Resource Center.

The purpose of this Blueprint is to aid rural hospital leaders in taking a comprehensive systems approach to quality improvement using factors and strategies relevant to small rural hospitals. Guided by the components of the Baldrige Framework that first took hold in healthcare over 20 years ago, the Blueprint outlines typical challenges, factors for success, and relevant resources for seven key inter-linked focus areas (see Figure 1): leadership; strategic planning; patients, partners, and communities; measurement, feedback, and knowledge management; workforce and culture; operations and processes; and impact and outcomes.

Figure 1.

The Blueprint also incorporates specific comments and feedback shared during the Small Rural Hospital Performance Excellence Summit that was held in the spring of 2021. For instance, within the section on leadership, the Blueprint suggests that educating and engaging the CAH’s board members on healthcare trends and issues is a critical factor of success, in large part because board members in rural areas often do not have a healthcare background. A quote from the Summit on this issue reads, “changes in healthcare are complicated, particularly for those that don’t spend all day every day focused on it.” The Blueprint then recommends resources listed in its appendix that are specifically designed for engaging CAH board members. In addition, a full companion resource focused on related strategies and resources for state flex programs is also available.

CAHs are an important piece of the healthcare puzzle and, like their larger colleagues, they stand to benefit significantly from quality improvement efforts. In fact, an October 2019 CMS fact sheet, “CMS Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program Results for Fiscal Year 2020,” looked at adjustments made for Medicare payments to hospitals based on their performance on a set of quality measures. Compared to urban hospitals, rural and smaller hospitals generally performed better in both efficiency and cost reduction, among other areas.

The MVC Coordinating Center established regions within its membership in order to help hospitals network and share practices with their peers. Many of the CAH members within the Collaborative operate in region 1 in the northern parts of the state, and a regional networking event was held for region 1 earlier this week. The Coordinating Center is proud of its diverse membership and continues to encourage facilities and POs to leverage the knowledge of peers who operate in a similar capacity so that, together, members can improve the value of healthcare for Michigan patients. If your facility or PO is utilizing a resource that would benefit the work of a peer institution, please contact the Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com so it may be shared with the Collaborative.