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Category: Commentary

Isn't It Time That The Impact on Patients Be the Major Concern?

When exactly did we cross the threshold where we became more concerned about the financial impact on hospitals and doctors than on the health, and sometimes, actual lives of patients? Why do commentaries, such as this one , which call out the shame of not righting this wrong in New York state, still include an argument that expanding laws allowing malpractice claims are likely to only result in a minimal increase in actual claims? To give the author's credit, they make many of the right... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, August 31, 2015 | 0 comments

Narrow Networks Can Result in "Surprise" Bills for Patients and Employers

We've all heard the stories, or even experienced it ourselves, about finding out after-the-fact that the anesthesiologist used during surgery was out-of-network and, therefore, the patient and employer owe a lot more for those services that expected. This happens even though the hospital is in-network. This situation is becoming even more frequent due to the expanded number of narrow-networks put in place with the advent of the Marketplace (aka public health insurance exchange) and in the... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, August 31, 2015 | 0 comments

Out-of-Network Charges Can Break the Bank

A recent report from America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) shows that across the US, some physicians are charging patients fees that are 10 times, and in some cases as much as 100 times, the amount Medicare pays when patients go outside their health plan's network. In Tennessee, for the selected procedures, out-of-network charges range from 7 times what Medicare pays to 33 times what Medicare pays. Hospitals have adopted a similar strategy. A study reported in the June edition of ... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, June 19, 2015 | 0 comments

MBGH & Methodist: Innovation Has Been the Key

Thinking back over the MBGH-Methodist Healthcare relationship, the first word that comes to mind is “innovation”. In many ways, Methodist has been a “Mikey” for MBGH. You remember “Mikey”, that little boy at the breakfast table in commercials that is willing to try anything for breakfast. Some highlights from the list of “Mikey-like” innovations with MBGH include:   The first worker’s compensation PPO network for self-insured... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, May 18, 2015 | 0 comments

Menu and Vending Machine Calorie Labeling Regulations Announced

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finalized two rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments and vending machines.  This is a significant act and will go a long way in helping your employees and their families make wiser choices when they eat out or use your company vending machine. We know that transparency changes behavior!   Menu labeling final rule: Applies to restaurants and... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, November 26, 2014 | 0 comments

Beginning to See the Change We Want

An insightful article by Mark Hepler, CFO of Munson Healthcare, an 8-hospital system based in Traverse City, MI, on HealthLeadersMedia.com, reveals that health care providers, well, at least his, are beginning to make the changes that we want to see and that have, to a large extent, been spurred by the Affordable Health Care Act (see recent blog post on whether the ACA is working). What changes are happening in how health care is delivered? Investing in becoming clinically... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 0 comments

Creating a Burning Platform for Payment Change

In their December 2013 Issue Brief "A Burning Platform and Trust: Key Ingredients for Payment Reform" prepared by Bailit Health Purchsing, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation encourages the following to advance payment reform and delivery system change: Create a momentum for change by continuing the discussion and paying attention to payment change. Once everyone believes that the old rules have changed, behavior will change. No one wants to be left behind. Emphasize that it is better to... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Saturday, January 18, 2014 | 0 comments

Evidence Mounts: Much Work Still Ahead to Get High Quality, Safe Health Care

In one week (week of October 7, 2013) I was reminded three times that with all the progress we have made in shedding the light on the quality and safety of health care services and providers, we still have so much more to do. Rosemary Gibson , a tireless advocate for reducing medical harm and waste within the health care system and a colleague of mine when she was with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, made a powerful case to actually  "Count the Dead from Medical Harm" in her... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, October 15, 2013 | 0 comments

TN Receives an "F" in Price Transparency

Tennessee is one of 29 states that received an "F" in a report released today by Health Care Incentives Improvement and Catalyst for Payment Reform. Tennessee is among the majority of states that provides information on hospital and some outpatient "charges". But we know that "charges" are only relevant to those that have no insurance since both public and private insurance plans negotiate prices and therefore do not pay charges. In fact, the negotiated price has little, if any, relationship... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, March 18, 2013 | 0 comments

National Commission Calls for Changes in Physician Payment Methods

On March 4, 2013, the National Commission on Physician Payment Reform  issued a report detailing a series of recommendations aimed at reining in health spending and improving quality of care by fundamentally changing the way doctors are paid. The Commission’s 12 recommendations provide a five-year blueprint for transitioning to a blended payment system that will yield better results for both public and private payers, as well as patients.Highlights from the recommendations include: 1.... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, March 11, 2013 | 0 comments

How Many Things Can Go Wrong For A Patient in 3 days? Read On..

I know that there are stories all over the country just like this one. I wonder why we as purchasers and patients allow the system to work this way? There are many examples of a broken system in this story and I have highlighted a few of them. I imagine I left some out so feel free to chime in with more that you notice. As my friend says  "you can't make this stuff up". I stopped the the story at an arbritrary point but I imagine it will continue, probably for some time to come. There... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, February 20, 2013 | 0 comments

Most ACOs are Accountable in Name Only

In his KevinMD blog post , Brian Klepper, Ph.D. voices what many employers fear: that most Accountable Care Organizations are "accountable in name only". Klepper notes that although there is some movement toward change, few organizations are turning their operations "in a different direction". The culprit? Fee-for-service payment, which results in "business as usual" and provides no real threat to existing health care excesses. As several health system CFOs have said to Klepper "Why... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, January 3, 2013 | 0 comments

South Carolina's Interesting Approach to Health Reform

Leah Binder, CEO of The Leapfrog Group, puts a spotlight on Governor Nikki Haley's (R-South Carolina) approach to health care delivery system reform and how it complements the health insurance reforms put forth through the ACA. Haley's approach hinges on developing new payment systems which are tied to health care quality and cost. Transparency will be a critical factor in making this payment change possible. Purchasers and patients need to know how physicians and hospitals compare on quality... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Sunday, November 11, 2012 | 0 comments

Higher Prices Drive Cost Increases in Employer-Sponsored Insurance Plans

"Despite some increases in utilization,HCCI found spending growth was driven primary by increases in prices paid." That's the bottom line of a report just released by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) which found that per capita healthcare spending for employer-sponsored health insurance plans rose by 4.6%, breaking the trend of decreasing "increases" seen over the past three years. (NOTE: this report focuses on spending as measured through claims, not on premiums) Major findings... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 27, 2012 | 0 comments

Adult Obesity Rates Could Exceed 60% in TN by 2030

As you read this article on the impact of diabetes in the US and Tennessee and the potential we have to decrease the financial as well as disease-related impact by just decreasing our average BMI by 5%, consider participating in MBGH's efforts to bring the Center for Disease Control's National Diabetes Prevention Program to Memphis and Tennessee! See the presentations from our Annual Conference on this evidence-based, highly successful program and contact Cristie Travis at ... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 20, 2012 | 0 comments

How Long Will We Accept Preventable Medical Mistakes?

My heart breaks and then I get mad when I read about preventable medical mistakes, aka medical errors, causing so much pain and even loss of life for patients! When you read the full article below, you will see that in California (CA) at least 8 of the 14 hospitals cited have had penalties levied against them before. Why are these multiple-offenders allowed to stay open? Why do health plans continue to contract with these hospitals? Why do doctors continue to refer patients to these... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, August 31, 2012 | 0 comments

Business as Usual for Employers After Supreme Court Upholds Health Reform

I have to admit that when we finally got the whole picture and the Supreme Court had upheld PPACA, it was a little anti-climactic Not because health reform itself is any less impactful, but because the employers I know have been moving forward with compliance and implementation assuming that health reform would stand and continue as the "law of the land". What else could they do? Waiting was just not an option as there was a lot of work to do. So, although the ruling itself was interesting... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Saturday, June 30, 2012 | 0 comments

Costs of Many Preventive Services Vary Widely: What Employers Can Do

Kelly Kennedy's April 6, 2012 article in USA Today sheds light on the significant variance in the costs of preventive services, now required to be covered by insurance at 100%, not subject to co-pays or deductibles. "Over the past year, health plans and self-insured employers began paying for wellness exams — diabetes screening, mammographies, Pap smears and colonoscopies — as required by the law, without charging consumers a deductible or co-payment. But in looking at 15,000 consumers, a... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | 0 comments

Disturbing Anti-Smoking Ads Convince Thousands to Quit

"(RNN) - Calls to a national stop-smoking line doubled and traffic to the government's anti-smoking website tripled after a hard-hitting TV advertising campaign seems to have convinced many Americans to quit the deadly habit. The Tips from Former Smokers ad campaign was launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office on Smoking and Health on March 19. The commercials profile former smokers and others who have been affected by second-hand smoking. The... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Saturday, April 7, 2012 | 0 comments

For One Little Soul At A Time...

This video explains it all...why MBGH is working with our regional hospitals to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of their care. For one little soul at a time. Plan to attend MBGH's April 24, 2012 celebration of 10 years as a Leapfrog Regional Roll-Out, and thank the employers and hospitals, and their teams, that have taken on the work of saving lives. Click here for registration information. And, plan to watch the full-length documentary on the Discovery Channel April 28th,... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, April 6, 2012 | 0 comments

Physician Groups Identify Tests and Procedures That are Often Not Necessary

Nine physician organizations have each identified five tests or procedures that may be overused or unnecessary as part of the Choosing Wisely campaign led by the ABIM Foundation, with Consumer Reports, in an effort to improve health care quality and patient safety. Patient advocates are calling the move a significant step toward improving the quality and safety of health care. As the nation increasingly focuses on ways to provide safer, higher-quality care to patients, the overuse... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, April 6, 2012 | 0 comments

Will CFOs Play or Pay Under Healthcare Reform?

Click here for copy. Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, April 5, 2012 | 0 comments

Some Good News for Shelby County in the County Health Rankings

The recently released 2012 County Health Rankings have some good news for Shelby County as well as continuing to point out where we need to focus efforts to improve the overall “health” of our community. The good news is that Shelby County is improving in some key health measures including: Fewer people are dying prematurely, from 10,646 in 2010 to 10,334 in 2012 Fewer adults are smoking, from 22% in 2010 to 19% in 2012 Fewer preventable hospitals stays, from a score of 74... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, April 5, 2012 | 0 comments

A Must Watch: Easy Way to Explain "Bundled Payments" or "Flat Fees"

Yet another great video from BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, this one explains "bundled payments" or "flat fees" in a way that anyone can understand.   Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | 0 comments

We Must Start Shining the Light on Quality & Cost of Healthcare

Great little video from BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina about how they are beginning to shine the light on the quality and cost of care for their members. We need to do this in Memphis! MBGH is helping employers move in this direction.   Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | 0 comments

Are You Meeting Your Obligations to Nursing Mothers?

One of the highlights of MBGH's "Believe in a Healthy Memphis: the 2011 Let's CHANGE Summit" held last July in collaboration with the Healthy Memphis Common Table, the Shelby County Health Department, and Shelby County Mayor Luttrell's office, was the decision to encourage breastfeeding friendly practices in all area birth hospitals. The Shelby County Breastfeeding Coalition is taking the lead on this important initiative. Clearly the hospital and its staff play a significant role in... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 0 comments

Catalyst for Payment Reform Releases Model Contract for Employers

From the National Business Coalition on Health : The Catalyst for Payment Reform released a tool ( see model health plan contract language ) to unite employers and other health care purchasers around the shared goal to make 20% of health care payments based on value by 2020. This tool will help MBGH with our efforts to reform payment in the greater Memphis area. The model contract highlights immediate opportunities to reform how health plans pay doctors and hospitals. Together... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, January 19, 2012 | 0 comments

Take Steps to Reduce Your Labor & Delivery Costs

Labor and delivery account for nearly 25% of all hospitalizations for many employers, and costs associated with pregnancy and its complications are a driving factor in the rising costs of health care. The growing use of medically unnecessary interventions is increasing costs and complications among mothers and babies, with no evidence of improved outcomes. The Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR), an independent, non-profit corporation working on behalf of large employers to catalyze... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, December 12, 2011 | 0 comments

Flurry of Activity in Physician Practice Acquisition in Memphis

It seems a week does not go by without at least one physician practice forming a partnership or being acquired by a Memphis area health system. The most recent announcement, just today, was Methodist's acquisition of Eastmoreland Internal Medicine. Have you tried to keep up with who owns who? Check out a list developed by doing searches on the Commercial Appeal and Memphis Business Journal websites for Methodist and Baptist.   Although the list may not include all health... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, October 31, 2011 | 0 comments

Following a Blog on a Blog

Well, not quite a blog in the truest sense, but a Facebook version of a blog. Here is a recent conversation on Facebook about public reporting of hospital infection rates! Bottom line, whose burden is it? The hospital's burden of data collection, measurement and reporting? Or the patient's burden of dieing or going through the pain of treatment to survive? At some point we have to get to the bottom line. We all deserve to know the basics about the quality of the hospitals that serve us. Thank... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | 1 comments

If I were King....

If I were King, and could wave my magic wand, my three wishes would be (ooops, I think I am mixing metaphors, oh well): Engage my employees as partners with me in the quality and cost of their health benefits. I would Implement a benefit design similar to the State of Tennessee , offering lower payroll deduction for premium co-shares, lower deductibles, lower co-pays, and lower co-insurance in exchange for employees and their families taking an HRA, getting their biometrics, and agreeing... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, September 23, 2011 | 0 comments

NBCH Hospital Patient Safety Action Brief Details Actions for Employers

The National Business Coalition on Health's (NBCH) Action Brief on Hospital Patient Safety, lays out the issues, details how health plans across the country are or are not working to improve safety, and details actions employers can take to have an impact on patient safety for their employees. 2011 eValue8 results were used to track how health plans are or are not working to improve safety. MBGH is an active participant in the eValue8 process and this year both BlueCross BlueShield of... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 22, 2011 | 0 comments

State Governments Requiring More from Employees in New Health Benefits

Maybe it's time for the private sector to look at how state governments are ratcheting up the requirements for employees to get health benefits and follow suit. Whether it is called the Health Enhancement Plan, like it is in Connecticut, or the ParTNers for Health Plan, as it is in Tennessee, state governments are offering new plans that offer lower employee costs (through payroll deductions, deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance) in exchange for employee engagement in health risk... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 22, 2011 | 0 comments

Do You Understand the Impact of the Individual Mandate?

Great article from Milliman explaining why something has to be done to address adverse selection in health reform. If it is not the individual mandate, what will it be? As Tom Snook, Principal & Consulting Actuary, Milliman Inc., says, people will operate in their own economic self-interest. If they are healthy and the cost of health insurance is high, they will not purchase health insurance, especially if it is not highly subsidized by their employer. If they are sick, they are more... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 22, 2011 | 0 comments

John Moses Debunks Old Approaches to Employee Engagement at MBGH Annual Conference

Every employer MBGH talks to says they want to increase the “health engagement” of their employees, but the strategies they have used so far just have not been successful. Does this sound like you? If so, plan to attend MBGH’s Annual Conference “Got the Health Reform Blues?” on September 8, 2011 and hear John Moses, Principal at AON Hewitt, talk about the new “marketing” principles that employers should adopt to lead employees to short-term action and long-term behavior change. ... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, July 6, 2011 | 0 comments

Ever Wonder What A Never-Event Looks Like?

Every year 1,300 to 2,700 Americans are harmed by wrong-site errors. Even after all the attention to this issue since 1999, brought to light by To Err is Human , and an understanding that it is possible NOT to have these injuries, highlighted in 2001 in Crossing the Quality Chasm , these numbers are not going down and people are still harmed. It is critical to put a face on this problem. It is not just numbers, it is people that are harmed -- it can be you, your family, your co-worker,... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, June 17, 2011 | 0 comments

What work place policy change would you support to improve health?

51% of those responding to MBGH's informal Facebook poll on what work place policy change they would support to improve health voted for "no tobacco use on property". This is exciting news as decreasing the number of tobacco users is a high priority to improve the overall health of Tennesseans and the nation! Recent legislation that banned or restricted smoking in the work place has gone a long way in improving the health of your workforce by eliminating second hand smoke and encouraging... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | 0 comments

Dow Chemical Maps Connection of Employee Health to Company Success

In the first of a two-part interview with Dr. Cathy Baase, Global Director of Health Services for Dow Chemical, The Benfield Group's article outlines the key philosophy and approaches Dow has taken over the past 20 years to increase value to Dow by improving employee health. Central to Dow's approach is their map which focuses on employee effectiveness and illness/injury management.   As you can see, the common element between employee effectiveness and illness/injury management... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | 0 comments

MBGH is First TN Employer Group to Sign Pledge for Partnership for Patients

Memphis Business Group on Health is the first employer/employer group in Tennessee to sign the pledge to support the " Partnership for Patients ' Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs was launched today, April 12, 2011, by HHS Secretary Sebelius and CMS Administrator Berwick along with consumer groups, industry representatives, and other key stakeholders, including the Leapfrog Group and the National Business Coalition on Health. MBGH was the first Tennessee employer group... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | 0 comments

What's most important to you when you get health care services?

Getting care that is best for your condition? Getting care when you need it? Getting care from skilled & knowledgeable professionals? Getting care that does not harm you? 44% of those responding to MBGH's informal Facebook poll chose "getting care that is best for my condition". 20% chose "getting care from skilled & knowledgeable professionals". As you may have guessed, all four of these choices are components of getting quality care. But, it is... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, March 31, 2011 | 0 comments

The Double Whammy: We Still Have Unsafe, Expensive Healthcare

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to draw the conclusion that we still have unsafe, expensive healthcare in the US, and right here in Memphis, when you read the headlines of recent reports: AHRQ: Rate of Adverse Events in Medicare Cases "Disturbing" Case 34-2010: A 65-Year Old Woman with an Incorrect Operation on the Left Hand Surgery on Wrong Patients, Surgical Sites Persists, Study Finds   Top 10 Most Costly, Frequent Medical Errors These articles not only focus on the... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, November 17, 2010 | 0 comments

Glad You Have "Most Favored Nation" Pricing? You Should Read This

Most favored nation pricing means that you (or your health plan) have the best pricing a hospital or physician practice gives any plan.On the surface, this looks good; after all, all other payors will pay more than you. However, all may not be good at all. If the price you have as the floor is a high price, then you and everyone else pays more than you really should be paying, leading to higher overall health care costs in your market. This is just one of the issues being litigated in the... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | 0 comments

Stunning Medical Mistakes Still Happen 6 Years After Introducing Universal Protocol

According to a report published in the October issue of the Archives of Surgery, introducing the universal protocol endorsed by the Joint Commission in 2004 has NOT reduced the frequency of such medical errors as wrong site surgery or wrong patient surgery, Read a summary of the report. The protocol requires 3 steps: Pre-procedure verification Marking the correct surgical site Taking a "time-out" for the surgical team just before surgery. Diagnostic... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | 0 comments

Evidence Mounting: 2011 Will be a Messy Year for Both Employers & Employees

Survey results released over the past 2 weeks clearly indicate that employers of all sizes will be asking their employees to share in healthcare cost increases expected in 2011.For example: Large Employers: The National Business Group on Health 's survey of 72 large employers found employers expect an average trend increase of 8.9% in 2011. 63% will increase employee percentage contribution to premium cost, 46% will increase out-of-pocket max, and 44% will increase in-network... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, August 24, 2010 | 0 comments

MBGH Update: Methodist Healthcare Quality Report Cards Now On-line

Memphis Business Group on Health (MBGH) applauds Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (Methodist) for making their quality of care report card public on their websites. Specifically, MBGH is pleased with this initiative for the following reasons: • MBGH has been working with Memphis-area hospitals since 1997 to improve transparency. As advocates for our member employers, we’ve consistently pressured hospitals to measure and publicly report their performance and to use this information to... Read More
Posted by Candace Joseph at Tuesday, July 13, 2010 | 0 comments


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