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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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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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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.