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Long COVID-19, Just One Aftereffect of COVID-19

Long COVID-19, Just One Aftereffect of COVID-19

With continued COVID-19 surges occurring worldwide despite the availability of a number of variations of vaccines, some patients continue to experience what is now being dubbed as “Long COVID-19” or “Post COVID-19 Syndrome”. Symptoms that are commonly experienced include a persistent cough, dyspnea, chest and/or joint pain, neuralgia, and headaches. These symptoms can last up to 12 weeks and in some cases, even longer. The more people that develop long COVID-19, the greater the strain on the healthcare system and need for appropriate diagnosis and treatment options.

A recent paper by A.V. Raveendran from January 2021 proposed diagnostic criteria to help confirm a diagnosis of long COVID-19. Depending on clinical symptomology, duration criteria and the presence or absence of a positive swab or antibodies, a long COVID-19 diagnosis can be categorized as confirmed, probable, possible or doubtful. Having an appropriate diagnosis will allow the practitioner to prescribe the relevant treatment plan.

In the United Kingdom, where the number of people exhibiting long COVID-19 continues to increase, a guideline has been developed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to provide recommendations to help identify, assess, and manage the effects. As more evidence is collected, the plan is to update the document on a continuous basis to maintain its validity. The guideline takes into consideration clinical symptomology, duration criteria, and the presence or absence of a positive SARS-Cov-2 test. It also provides guidelines for suggested referrals, and a plan of care with follow-up and monitoring.

While the guideline manual has many useful suggestions, there are a number of gaps where further detailed information will be needed.  As new information is discovered, the goal is to include comprehensive reviews of symptomology, and pathology of the disease process and a better understanding of the variation in impact. Simultaneously, there needs to be an increase in rehabilitation and community resources to allow for individualized evidenced based care for those suffering from the debilitating effects of long COVID-19.

The Michigan Value Collaborative continues to assess data related to COVID-19 and will be sharing a dedicated COVID-19 push report with members in the coming months. If you would like access to the MVC registry, please request it here or via email michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com

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Cardiac Rehab Stakeholder Meeting Motivates Improvements in Care

Cardiac Rehab Stakeholder Meeting Motivates Improvements in Care

On Monday, March 22, 2021, a “stakeholder meeting” was hosted by the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) Coordinating Center with multiple key players in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) from around Michigan. As MVC has written about before, cardiac rehabilitation is a highly valuable but underutilized service and is the focus of one of MVC’s ongoing value coalition campaigns. The goal of the stakeholder meetings is to bring together key constituents to work towards solving the problem of underutilization. Attendees included managers of cardiac and pulmonary rehab facilities, quality improvement leaders and executives from  several MVC members, our payer partners from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and representatives from the Michigan Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons (MSTCVS), the Michigan Society for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehab (MSCVPR), and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Cardiovascular Consortium (BMC2).

The stakeholder meeting occurred the week after MVC distributed new Master Cardiac Rehab reports, which detail several metrics on cardiac rehabilitation after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), and surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) procedures. The collaborative-wide average cardiac rehab utilization varied by procedure: 52.6% for SAVR, 30.1% for TAVR, 56.3% for CABG, and 32.3% for PCI (see Figure 1). The mean days to first cardiac rehab visit also varied by procedure: 46 days for SAVR patients, 43 days for TAVR patients, 45 days for CABG patients, and 34 days for PCI patients (see Figure 2).

Figure 1

Figure 2

The Master Cardiac Rehab reports were also distributed by our partners at MSTCVS and BMC2. The aim is to increase awareness of hospital-level CR utilization and encourage as many players as possible (cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiac rehab staff, quality improvement staff, and executive leadership) to work together to increase CR utilization at every hospital. These reports were well-received at the March 22nd stakeholder meeting, with one attendee emphasizing that the information contained in the reports was “the envy of other states,” speaking to the utility of MVC data and the success of BCBSM Value Partnerships. Attendees also provided excellent suggestions for improvement which will be taken into account during the next report refresh later this year.

The data is distributed, and the stakeholder meeting is over, but the value coalition campaign is just getting started.  There’s still a lot of work to do in order to equitably increase cardiac rehabilitation use in our state, including studying barriers to entry, exploring the intricacies of benefit design, and making various operational changes hospital by hospital, health system by health system. Nevertheless, that Monday afternoon showed that sometimes, when you have the right people around the same (virtual) table, everyone can walk away connected, motivated, and ready to carry out their respective roles to improve health care.

The next cardiac rehab stakeholder meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 28, 2021 from 4:00-5:00pm. If you have an interest in joining this group, or if you have not received your Master Cardiac Rehab report, please email michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com.

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Telehealth Use: Maintaining Access to Surgical Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Telehealth Use: Maintaining Access to Surgical Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a unique situation which led to the high use of telehealth in caring for the medical patient population. However, it was unknown whether these same patterns would transfer to surgical care. The Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) registry allows health systems to leverage administrative claims data from a variety of sources and better understand trends in telehealth use. Using MVC BCBSM data, the Telehealth Research Incubator at Michigan Medicine found in their study that telehealth was a viable way for patients to access surgical care.

Historically, surgery is the medical field least likely to use telehealth. However, with in-person care constraints resulting from the pandemic and updated policies making it feasible for telehealth visits to be eligible for reimbursement, a large uptake in telehealth among surgeons was witnessed.

Approximately 60% of active surgeons used telehealth in some capacity during the pandemic. Specifically, our study examined telehealth use for new patient visits. We were curious if surgeons were able to use telehealth to evaluate new patients, and the results proved that this was a viable and beneficial option to provide care. Significantly,  27% of all active surgeons used telehealth for new patient visits.

As shown in Figure 1, at peak use, we found over a third of visits for new patients were performed using telehealth. This is in contrast to the fewer than 10 telehealth new patient visits in 2019.

 

Figure 1

In addition, the study indicated that telehealth was successfully used for many surgical visits across multiple different surgical specialties, with urology and neurosurgery being the highest utilizers. This is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2

There were two distinct periods of telehealth use: an early pandemic (fast uptake) and late pandemic period (slow decline). The slow decline that occurred during the late pandemic period indicated the reopening of clinics in June, and an increase in more in-person visits being used again. These are shown as Period 2 and Period 3 in the preceding figures.

Of note, our study looks at new patient visits because of the way that claims data is collected. Anecdotal evidence suggests that surgeons used telehealth even more for their established patients and for follow-up visits post-surgery. Although telehealth might save patients time and money in traveling to clinic, needing child care, and missing work, this type of consultation would be most appropriate for patients without post-operative complications.

It was noticed that telehealth provided access to surgical care for a significant proportion of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any sustained use of telehealth will require ongoing updated policies and infrastructure to ensure patients have continued access to this option for their care.

Please reach out to the Michigan Value Collaborative at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com for further information.

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Introducing Bradley Raine, MVC Analyst

Introducing Bradley Raine, MVC Analyst

I am happy to join the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) in the role of Analyst and am looking forward to working with the MVC team to help improve the quality and value of healthcare provided in the state of Michigan.

I graduated from the University of Michigan with my Bachelors of Science in Biology in 2015, and spent nearly three years working in the prep lab for the Michigan Clinical Research Unit (MCRU) based at the Cardiovascular Center. There I developed an interest in research methodology and wanted to learn more about how research teams use their data to publish their findings. Therefore, I decided to pursue a degree in Statistics, and graduated from Central Michigan University in August 2020 with a Master’s of Science degree.

In order to complete my graduate degree, I worked on a visualization project for COVID-19 data using Tableau. I found this product to be a great tool for creating dashboards to tell stories about data, and am hoping to take the skills learnt and implement them in a professional setting.

As an analyst for MVC, I am excited to learn how to analyze data using medical claims information to identify areas for improvement in quality of care. This has been important to me ever since having worked at MCRU and seeing how much data can do towards improving patient outcomes.  I am looking forward to taking the knowledge and experience gained at Central Michigan University and using it for this purpose. If you have any questions or wish to get in touch, please feel free to email me at bjraine@med.umich.edu.

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Reducing Admissions and Readmissions in the COPD Patient Population

Reducing Admissions and Readmissions in the COPD Patient Population

At a recent MVC chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) workgroup, representatives from McLaren Physician Partners presented on their recent quality improvement initiative involving their COPD patient population. McLaren Physician Partners worked to identify areas for improvement within this specific patient population and found some common patient struggles consisted of higher utilization of the emergency department and in-patient settings, as well as higher readmission rates, specifically among their Medicare patients (38%). Five nurse managers were tasked with doing case reviews in order to identify possible areas for improvement. Five to ten patients that had three or more encounters in the last six months were taken from each nurse managers case load. Around 83% of those patients had other significant comorbidities (e.g. Diabetes Mellitus, Congestive Heart Failure, Hypertension.) Additionally, the reason for readmission was most often related to either respiratory insufficiency or a cancer treatment side effect.

Care managers then engaged the patients and went over a questionnaire with them. Approximately 68% of these patients had a misunderstanding of their medication, 26% had environmental barriers, 14% were not compliant with medication, and less than 15% reported an inability to afford medication/devices. Readmissions related to disease progression and inappropriate medication use were the major contributing factor to higher utilization of the in-patient setting and emergency department. Additionally, all admissions and readmissions were related to some form of respiratory insufficiency or a cancer treatment side effect.

Due to the time of implementation, COVID-19 impacted the type of intervention that could be put into place. McLaren Physician Partners opted to adopt a telephonic intervention in order to address education needs and remove barriers. Specific needs related to managing medications and compliance, triggers that led to an exacerbation, and developing a plan of action at the onset of first symptom were addressed. Additionally, the intervention sought to minimize and remove barriers where possible (e.g. cost of medications, transportation issues for visits). Lastly, a consideration was made if a patient was a candidate for palliative care.

Nurse navigators looked into possible ways to engage patients differently in order to hopefully prevent an exacerbation that caused an admission or a readmission. They were aware that what they were doing wasn't working, and needed some sort of upgrade. A toolkit was developed that was sent to the patient prior to a one to two-hour phone call scheduled in order to  help the patient understand this toolkit. The kit requires active participation and helps the patient develop specific goals and actions to take when they see signs of a potential exacerbation.

After implementation of this pilot program, all navigators came together to discuss their findings. Many things were noted, including the fact that patients did not know the difference between their inhalers (long-acting vs. rescue). Additionally, patients often didn't know that by identifying certain triggers, some symptoms may have been preventable. Of the patients who received and engaged in this telephonic intervention, the readmission rate for those who had been recently discharged decreased by more than 20%. Overall, McLaren Physician Partners saw a decrease in their hospitalizations due to the implementation of this program.

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Michigan Value Collaborative Value Coalition Campaign. Introducing the Preoperative Testing VCC and Report Series.

Michigan Value Collaborative Value Coalition Campaign. Introducing the Preoperative Testing VCC and Report Series.

In 2020, the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) introduced the Preoperative Testing Value Coalition Campaign (VCC) with the aim of reducing the use of unnecessary preoperative testing for surgical procedures.  As part of this new campaign to improve quality, reduce cost, and improve the equity of care delivery in Michigan, the Coordinating Center developed and distributed preoperative testing reports to collaborative members earlier this week. The goal of these reports is to introduce the VCC and provide benchmarking data for some of the common preoperative tests to members.

Currently, the VCC is focused on three elective, outpatient, low-risk surgeries. This includes cholecystectomy, lumpectomy, and inguinal hernia repair. These surgeries were chosen to identify a population unlikely to require much, if any preoperative testing. Metrics included in the reports evaluate hospital testing rates for electrocardiography (EKG), trans-thoracic echocardiography (TTE), cardiac stress tests, chest X-ray (CXR), urinalysis, complete blood count (CBC), basic metabolic panel, coagulation tests, and pulmonary function tests (PFT).  As shown in Figure 1, there is wide variation across the collaborative for overall preoperative testing rates, ranging from 20% to 96%.

Whilst the report provides the MVC all and regional averages as benchmarks, the variation suggests that there is significant room for improvement among Michigan hospitals, and even facilities that are average likely have the possibility to reduce preoperative testing. Furthermore, to allow hospitals to identify areas of opportunity, a more granular grouping of laboratory testing including CBC, basic metabolic panel, coagulation tests, and urinalysis for the three low-risk surgeries is depicted in Figure 2.  To allow hospitals and physician organizations to view more comprehensive preoperative testing data, the MVC Coordinating Center is in the preliminary stages of developing a new preoperative testing report for the MVC registry.

Although many preoperative tests are relatively low cost, large-scale overuse when not necessary can increase episode costs. For these three low-risk procedures, an annual preoperative testing payment of $3.2 million dollars was noted in 2019 across MVC hospitals and according to MVC data, annual preoperative testing payments for these conditions has increased steadily over the last 5 years. In addition, overuse of preoperative testing has the potential to harm patients. Patients with borderline or false positive tests may be subjected to additional testing, have their surgeries postponed, or even experience unnecessary harm from invasive follow up tests.  Questions about appropriate preoperative testing  guidelines can be answered at the Choosing Wisely website.

Please provide us with your feedback on the utilization of these or any other MVC reports, or if you would be interested in joining the MVC Preoperative Testing Stakeholder Group, please reach out to MichiganValueCollaborative@gmail.com.

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The Michigan Value Collaborative’s Refreshed Cardiac Service Line Reports

The Michigan Value Collaborative’s Refreshed Cardiac Service Line Reports

The Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) Coordinating Center disseminated it’s long-running customized cardiac service line report to hospital and physician organization (PO) members on February 23, 2021. These reports provide hospital-level information on congestive heart failure (CHF), acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) conditions. To receive information on any one of these conditions, a hospital must have at least 20 cases per year over the three-year reporting period (1/1/17 – 12/31/19).

Since the last iteration of the cardiac service line report sent in June 2020, the Coordinating Center has defined four distinct regions within Michigan, allowing members to make regional comparisons. These comparisons have been incorporated into the 30-day risk-adjusted total episode payment trend chart, the post-acute care utilization bar graph, and the 30-day readmission rate trend chart of the reports as shown in the following AMI figures for a fictional institution, Hospital A.

Acute Myocardial Infarction Figures. Hospital A

Figure 1 shows the 30-day risk-adjusted total episode payments broken up into six-month intervals, illustrating that episode payments for AMI hold steady across the Collaborative at an average of around $22,000. Please note that as with all MVC reports, this represents price standardized dollars to allow for fair comparisons between hospitals. The price standardized dollars can be thought of as a measure of utilization as opposed to true dollar amounts.

Figure 2 displays the percentage of AMI patients who utilized home health (15.0% across MVC), rehab (14.1% across MVC), or skilled nursing facilities (9.9% across MVC). Figure 3 illustrates that, between 2017 and 2019, approximately 14% of AMI patients were readmitted within 30 days. Finally, Figure 4 shows Hospital A that based on the most recent claim before a readmission occurred, 90.9% of readmitted patients were coming from home, 8.8% were coming from Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF), and very few were coming from inpatient rehabilitation (0.3%). Hospitals can use this information to observe if they are an outlier in any of the categories and where they may have an opportunity to improve, to benchmark themselves against the MVC all and regional averages, and to notice trends in their performance

These combined-payer push reports are distributed twice a year, meaning the next iteration is likely to be sent out in the summer of 2021. In the meantime, single-payer information is always available on the MVC registry, allowing for continued monitoring of these metrics. Data is added every month for Blue Cross payers and quarterly for Medicare. Michigan Medicaid data will be live on the registry at the start of Q2 this year.

If you need registry access, if you have ideas on how these reports can be made more versatile, or if you are using these data for a quality improvement project at your institution, please contact michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com. Additionally, please reach out if you want further information in the way of custom analytics.

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Opportunity to Share your Perspective in Institutional Participation in the MVC Component of the BCBSM P4P Program

Opportunity to Share your Perspective in Institutional Participation in the MVC Component of the BCBSM P4P Program

MVC Senior Advisor and former Director, Dr. Scott Regenbogen recently received funding from The Donoghue Foundation to lead a team of investigators to learn more about institutional participation in the MVC Component of the BCBSM P4P Program.

As part of this study, Dr. Regenbogen is interested in conducting virtual interviews with lead administrators who were involved with selecting service lines for performance year 2017-2018

What is the value of participating? While participation in this study is completely voluntary and does not carry any bearing on P4P scoring, the insights gleaned from this work will help us to continue improving the MVC measure for the benefit of our members, and improve our understanding of successful strategies in commercial episode-based payment incentives.

What is The Donoghue Foundation? The Foundation supports a diverse portfolio of research projects, from understanding the mechanisms of disease, to improving clinical treatments, to public health initiatives that prevent illness – all founded on excellent science. To learn more about the organization and their mission, please visit https://donaghue.org/

Meet the Key Study Personnel

  • Scott Regenbogen, MD, MPH.  Dr. Regenbogen is an Associate Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Colorectal Surgery at the University of Michigan (UM), and a Senior Advisor of the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC). His research has focused on the role of perioperative care protocols in the costs, outcomes, and value of care around episodes of inpatient surgery, with a particular focus on older adults.
  • Shelytia Cocroft, PhD.  Dr. Cocroft is an applied medical sociologist and mixed-methodologist (qualitative and quantitative research designs).  She is currently a qualitative research analyst at the University of Michigan’s Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy (CHOP) and is collaborating on qualitative centric projects designed to identify systemic and structural mechanisms within surgical care that perpetuate inequalities in access, quality, and delivery of care.
  • Ashley Duby, MS.  Ms. Duby is the Research Director for the Division of Colorectal Surgery within the Department of Surgery and has been working with Dr. Regenbogen for the past 6 years. She has extensive experience in development and deployment of fieldwork protocols in diverse settings – including patient and provider populations.

If you have any questions or would like further information related to this project, please contact Ashley Duby, Research Director at agay@med.umich.edu.

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Michigan Value Collaborative: Sepsis Reports

Michigan Value Collaborative: Sepsis Reports

In early 2020, the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) Coordinating Center created a new sepsis service line with the help of the Michigan Michigan Hospital Medicine Safety Consortium (HMS). Initially the service line began with 215,447 episodes and has since grown to 229,673 episodes. In conjunction with the creation of the sepsis service line, reports customized to each collaborative member hospital were developed. The most recent iteration of these, shared in two volumes, were disseminated to members in February 2021.

Each volume of the sepsis reports serves their own unique purpose. The first volume provides a detailed review into specific components of a sepsis episode with the ability for each member to compare individualized information to regional and statewide averages. These metrics help members garner a better understanding of the sepsis patient population from admission to 90-days post discharge with data on length of stay, causes for readmission, and post-acute care utilization. Figure 1 shares information on length of stay, and this example shows Hospital A’s (a fictional institution) average length of stay to be higher than both the regional and collaborative-wide average. Additionally, metrics such as total episode payment and readmission rates are displayed as trends over time as shown in Figure 2 and Figure 3.

Figure One.

Figure Two.

Figure 3 shows that the individual hospital trend for the 90-day readmission rate is higher than both the regional and MVC averages which mirror each other closely. Initially, the overall hospital trend decreases towards the regional average, but climbs again in 2019. MVC members may wish to use this information to investigate the root causes leading to increased readmissions.

Figure Three.

The second volume of MVC’s sepsis reports provides benchmarking for members to identify how they compare to all other MVC hospitals. Figure 4 shows information on a hospital’s total episode payment compared to the regional and MVC averages. In addition, it shows the range of the average total episode payments across the collaborative. By using previously sent reports, hospitals can compare how the metrics have changed - such as an increase or decrease in collaborative-wide or individualized total episode payments. As these reports are disseminated every six months, when comparing, it is important to take notice of the reporting period covered in each report which can be located in the associated cover letter and footnotes. Members can also access their own sepsis related data on the MVC registry.

Figure Four.

If you have any suggestions on how these reports can be improved or the data made more actionable, we would love to hear from you. We are also seeking feedback on how collaborative members are using this information in their quality improvement projects. Please reach out to the Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com to share your story. If you have any questions or are interested in custom data for your facility, contact us at the aforementioned email address.

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MVC Component of the BCBSM P4P Program: PY20 in Review

MVC Component of the BCBSM P4P Program: PY20 in Review

In early January, the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) distributed 2020 Program Year (PY) scores to hospitals for the MVC Component of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) Pay for Performance (P4P) program. This marked the completion of the first year of a two-year cycle for which hospitals have selected two service lines (out of seven) to be scored on their episode spending using MVC data. These service lines include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), colectomy, congestive heart failure (CHF), coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), joint replacement, pneumonia, and spine surgery. Figure 1 shows the frequency of hospital service line selections for the two-year program cycle.

Figure 1.

The program evaluates hospital’s risk-adjusted, price standardized, average 30-day episode payments for their two selected conditions through two methods. One way that hospitals earn points in the program is by reducing their payments from the baseline period (index admissions in 2017) to the performance period (index admissions in 2019). These are termed ‘improvement points’. Alternatively, hospitals are able to earn points by being less expensive than the other hospitals in their cohort. These are referred to as ‘achievement points’. The MVC cohorts are groups of hospitals determined to be peers using bed size, case mix index, and teaching status.

While participants are scored on both improvement and achievement, members receive the higher of the two scores for each service line. Hospitals are also eligible to earn a bonus point for each service line provided all hospitals in their respective cohort who selected the same condition reduce spending by five percent. A maximum of ten points can be awarded for participating members. Figure 2 shows the distribution of total points earned by hospitals for Program Year 2020.

Figure 2.

On average, hospitals earned six points, an increase of around one point from the 2019 program year average. Twenty-four hospitals received bonus points within the COPD, colectomy, joint replacement, and pneumonia service lines. Consistent with previous years, joint replacement had the average points, with pneumonia coming in a close second (see Figure 3).

Figure 3.

If you have any questions regarding the MVC Component of the BCBSM P4P program, please refer to the P4P Technical Document for Program Years 2020 and 2021 and the MVC P4P FAQ PY 2020-2021 . If you would like to set up a meeting to review your hospital’s performance, please contact the Coordinating Center at MichiganValueCollaborative@gmail.com.