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BCBSM Initiative Incentivizes Data Collection on Social Factors

BCBSM Initiative Incentivizes Data Collection on Social Factors

Health equity is a top priority for providers across the country, who are keenly aware of the prevalence and exacerbation of existing health inequities. The state of Michigan in particular ranks poorly in measures of population health and social determinants of health (SDOH), which represent a huge opportunity to improve equity and health outcomes for patients. Health equity is currently a key strategic focus of the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) Coordinating Center in the years ahead, as well as for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM). As work in this area grows, some suggest that better data collection is the next critical step to improving health equity.

Data collection is the focus of BCBSM’s latest initiative - the SDOH Standardized Data Collection and Aggregation Initiative - which offers incentives to physician organizations (POs) for collecting and submitting SDOH screening data. Its goal is to increase SDOH screening by primary care physicians during annual wellness visits as well as enhance SDOH data submitted to the Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN), Michigan's nonprofit statewide health information network.

This data will be used in the short term to improve data conformance and SDOH definitions within the Michigan provider community. Ideally, this initiative will help BCBSM to improve care coordination between providers, identify gaps in resources and community-level social need trends, and provide analytics and reporting to the provider community. The long-term goal is to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes.

There are multiple pathways for POs to participate, primarily by either submitting screening data through MiHIN’s SDOH use case, or by developing infrastructure to enable participation in MiHIN’s SDOH use case. BCBSM sees this incentive program as an important step toward ensuring all patients receive the care they need.

“The SDOH initiative is valuable for both patients and providers because it encourages providers to screen for SDOH needs in patients and also encourages that the data from these screenings is exchanged in an interoperable way,” said Karolina Skrzypek, MD, Medical Director of Clinical Partnerships at BCBSM. “It is very important that providers across the state of Michigan have the ability to access SDOH screening data regardless of where the screening took place. Screening for SDOH needs by providers is the first step in helping to address these needs in our patients.”

These points were echoed by Martha M. Walsh, MD, MHSA, FACOG, Medical Director of Clinical Partnerships and Engagement at BCBSM, who said, “We know that when patients have SDOH needs, that it is more difficult for them to have their healthcare needs met and for patients to care for their chronic conditions. Our initial goal in having providers screen for SDOH needs is for patients to have their needs addressed at the point of care.”

Some POs are already actively submitting this data to MiHIN and can receive incentive payments for continuing to do so. The other pathways are focused on those who have capacity to store and extract SDOH data but are not submitting it to MiHIN, or those POs who don’t yet have the digital infrastructure in place. Helping all POs to achieve a similar capacity and submit their data to the same vendor will allow for a broader understanding of the gaps and communities in need of further funding.

“By aggregating this data, we hope to learn more about specific domains of need and geographic areas with the most needs so that we can start to address these more broadly,” said Dr. Walsh. “We hope that by screening for and addressing SDOH needs, we will start to be able to decrease disparities in care for our most vulnerable patients.”

Incentives for the MiHIN SDOH use case pathways are paid out of the BCBSM Physician Group Incentive Program (PGIP) reward pool. Therefore, any deadlines related to participation are based on PGIP payment cycles. Those POs wishing to participate in the October 2022 cycle should submit their opt-in form and any other required materials by the end of August.

A separate value-based reimbursement (VBR) reward was created specifically for patient-centered medical home (PCMH) designated primary care physicians for completing SDOH screenings using Z codes. This VBR payment was available when the SDOH initiative launched in January. Provider offices had six months to work towards meeting the criteria to receive VBR effective 9/1/2022. Criteria for the 2023 cycle was previously announced and updates to the criteria will be provided during the upcoming BCBSM September PGIP quarterly meeting.

Any POs or providers interested in learning more about this initiative and the pathways for participating can read the full brochure here and submit questions directly to BCBSM at POPrograms@bcbsm.com. In addition, if your PO or hospital has success stories or insights that have resulted from collecting SDOH screening data, please consider sharing your story and insights with the MVC Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com.

Support for MVC is provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan as part of the BCBSM Value Partnerships program. Although BCBSM and MVC work collaboratively, the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of BCBSM or any of its employees. To learn more about the Value Partnerships program, visit www.valuepartnerships.com.

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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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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.