Guest Blog Post: Participate in MeHI’s Health IT Research Study

By Laurance Stuntz, Director at the Massachusetts e-Health Institute (MeHI)

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Care Providers: Make your voice heard!  Participate in MeHI’s Health IT Research Study

Here at the Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI), we have been busy traveling across the state to meet with healthcare providers, listen to their concerns, and share many of the programs our organization is undertaking to help with health IT adoption in the Bay State.

Our series of regional meetings have continued this fall, and have been very well attended from many healthcare segments including home care. These events have provided a great forum for providers and their organization’s leaders to ask questions about what’s ahead for health IT and how it will affect their particular area of specialty in the patient care continuum. In addition, we have been speaking at important local home care events including the Home Care Alliance Financial Management Conference.

With all of this activity and interest, we recognize that providers have a wide range of attitudes, opinions and needs regarding health IT adoption. We know there is much more work to be done and we want to partner with you to develop new strategies and programs to support complete EHR and Health Information Exchange adoption across the state, including ongoing improvement of the overall effectiveness of use of EHRs. It’s vital that you and your colleagues have a seat at the table.

This is why MeHI is undertaking a Provider and Consumer Research Study. This effort is aimed at gathering comprehensive information on the use, needs and attitudes toward health IT among both providers and consumers.

The research firm Market Decisions will be contacting thousands of health care providers and hundreds of consumers across Massachusetts to speak with them about health IT. The research will help identify specific challenges with health IT adoption and provide us with valuable insights.

If you are contacted, we encourage you to take 5 to 10 minutes to speak with the Market Decisions representatives to provide your perspective about the use of health IT in Massachusetts, including what you see as the major challenges in adopting these technologies. If you would like to take the survey now, please follow the link below to participate. We want your input!

We hope that you will take the time to participate in this important survey. We are confident the first-hand perspectives we collect will lead to the development of thoughtful, well-informed strategies for providing the best health IT support and services to providers, as well as an improved healthcare experience for patients.

Laurance Stuntz is a Director at MeHI, a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. MeHI was empowered by the Massachusetts legislature to expand the adoption of eHealth technologies and further innovation in health IT across the Commonwealth. Follow Laurance on Twitter at @lstuntz

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New Web Resource on Hospital Quality Adds Home Health Data

A collaborative effort of three leading healthcare trade associations has brought a new, first-in-the-nation website for consumers to find quality data on the state’s hospitals and, more recently, federally-certified home health agencies.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts and the Organization on Nurse Leaders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island have teamed up to build the website called PatientCareLink. The site aims to deliver transparent quality and safety information from hospitals and home care agencies to patients and other healthcare stakeholders.

The data itself is drawn directly from the Medicare Home Health Compare website and is updated regularly. An alphabetical list of agencies is presented and each agency has their contact information and website included with selected quality measures that are compared to the national average for home health agencies.

The Alliance invites all to browse through the website, which will be continually promoted and improved, and see the website’s introductory video above with HCA’s Executive Director Patricia Kelleher.

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HCA Celebrates National Nurses Week

The Home Care Alliance is proud to join associations and medical providers from across the state and country in celebrating National Nurses Week.

Every year on May 6-12, National Nurses Week raises awareness of the value of nursing and the hard work performed everyday by nurses in all health care settings. In particular, the Home Care Alliance thanks the nurses working in home health care – along with the therapists, social workers, aides and other staff that are part of the care team with nurses – to ensure that people can remain at home for as long as possible.

Recently, the Home Care Alliance held the annual Home Care Innovations Showcase and Star Awards where the association recognized Patricia Darling from the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston and Shirley Lucier of VNA Care Network  with HCA’s “Clinician of the Year” awards. Many of the Innovation Awards to home health agencies recognized forward-thinking practices or policies that involved nurses as a vital component.

For those looking to join in recognizing nurses, the American Nurses Association hosts a special National Nurses Week website with resources and reports on the nursing profession and how to celebrate.

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Nominate Your Best Nurses for Boston Globe Honors and Annual HCA Event

The Boston Globe will be running a special section called the “Salute to Nurses,” which will be a standalone broadsheet section appearing in The Boston Sunday Globe on May 5, 2013. This section will focus on the stories that readers submit, recognizing the impact nurses have on patients’ lives.

Over the past 11 years, thousands of people have found “Salute to Nurses” to be a meaningful and public place to give thanks to the nurses who have helped them or loved ones through difficult times.

Visit the Boston Globe’s online form and submit your best nurse stories and, for agencies, encourage your patients to do the same if they have had a exceptional experience. This is an excellent opportunity to shine a light on the work of home health nurses.

Another opportunity to spotlight the great work from nurses, aides, and other staff is to nominate them for a “Star Award,” which will be given out at HCA’s annual Innovations Showcase and Star Awards Ceremony on April 17th at the Revere Hotel in Boston.

See the posting on the Alliance’s Calendar of Events for more details.

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Partnership for Patients Introduces Patient Safety Webinar Series

The Partnership for Patients and the National Priorities Partnership are promoting a free webinar series to help advance patient safety practices and improve both the partnerships between health care providers and the processes within organizations.

The first two webinars are titled “Creating and Sustaining Successful Partnerships between Hospitals and Community Organizations” and “Using Tools to Enable Rapid Cycle Improvement within Your Organization,” which are taking place on February 15th and 23rd, respectively. Visit the webinar series website to sign up.

Also, check out the Home Care Alliance’s calendar of events to find upcoming webinars and teleconferences.

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HCA Member Publishes Article in Caring Magazine on Employee Engagement

In the January issue of Caring Magazine, Executive Vice President for MetroWest Home Care & Hospice Jane Pike Benton published an article on engaging employees to foster a successful culture within home health agencies.

Benton writes that recognizing employees and showing appreciation is critical. She shares some of the strategies that MetroWest Home Care & Hospice has implemented and some of the processes and planning the agency went through such as creating a Great Expectations (GE) Team, which was assembled with highly motivated and engaged employees who were already setting an example. This team the established a set of standards and values by which all employees on the agency were held accountable and that appears at the top of each performance evaluation.

The article beings on page 20 of the January edition of Caring Magazine.

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HCA Informs Members on Pioneer ACO and Independence at Home Programs

The Home Care Alliance held a well-attended conference call to inform members about two major programs recently announced by CMS:

First, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the first 32 organizations in 18 states that will participate in the new Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) initiative. This program is operated by the CMS Innovation Center under Section 3022 of the Affordable Care Act. Selected Pioneer ACOs include “physician-led organizations and health systems, urban and rural organizations, and organizations in various geographic regions of the country.” Five of those organizations are in Massachusetts:

  • Atrius Health Services
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Physician Organization
  • Mount Auburn Cambridge Independent Practice Association (MACIPA)
  • Partners Healthcare
  • Steward Health Care System

This Pioneer ACO Presentation was given by HCA Executive Director Pat Kelleher on the call and explains some of the points that home care agencies should be aware of as the initiative moves forward.

The CMS Center for Innovation also has a site full of resources on Pioneer ACO’s including FAQ’s and brief summaries of the selected ACO’s.

WBUR’s CommonHealth Blog had a feature on Pioneer ACO’s and asked each of the five accepted systems in Massachusetts what the program will mean for patients.

The second program announced was a solicitation for the new Independence at Home Demonstration Program (IAH), which aims to test a service delivery model that utilizes physician and nurse practitioner-directed primary care teams to provide services to certain Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic illnesses in their homes.

HCA also gave this presentation on the Independence at Home Demonstration on the conference call for members to explain that home care agencies can be a major partner to physician practices, despite the fact that the program is directed by a physician or nurse practitioner-led practice with experience in making home visits.

The IAH Demonstration’s webpage also has FAQ’s as well as the solicitation and application.

The Alliance will pass along any more information as it becomes available.

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CMS Announces Independence At Home Demonstration Program

CMS continues to roll out initiatives from the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to test new ways to improve health care and lower cost.

The latest in this line of programs and funding opportunities is the Independence At Home Demonstration (Section 3024 of the ACA), which aims to test a service delivery model that utilizes physician and nurse practitioner-directed primary care teams to provide services to certain Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic illnesses in their homes.

According to the Independence At Home (IAH) Program Solicitation, in order to be involved in the Demonstration, “practices must be individual physicians or nurse practitioners or interdisciplinary teams composed of various members such as physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, and other supporting staff.” The program itself is designed to provide comprehensive, coordinated, continuous and accessible care to high-need patients and to coordinate health care across all treatment settings.

Even though primary care is the lead in the IAH demo, the focus is on delivering care to patients in their homes and getting beneficiaries what they need to remain independent. In other words, the program could actually be of significant benefit to the home care industry as a whole because primary care practitioners will be making check-ups in the home and witnessing how patients function in their day-to-day environment. Based on those visits, the practices will be identifying services – like home care and other community based services – that help keep people out of costlier settings and the ER.

Practices are required to use electronic health systems and remote patient monitoring, both of which are used by many home health agencies. Also, practices must be available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to carry out plans of care. Applicable beneficiaries must have at least two chronic illnesses, must need human assistance with two or more Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), have had a non-elective hospital admission within the last 12 months and have used acute or sub-acute rehabilitation services within the last 12 months.

HCA encourages agencies to see the other guidelines, which are laid out in the IAH Solicitation and a summary is provided in a PowerPoint provided on the IAH program webpage.

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Health Care Innovation Challenge Announced

A new funding opportunity has been announced by the CMS Center for Innovation (CMMI).

The Health Care Innovation Challenge, relative to Section 3021 of the Affordable Care Act, will award funding to innovative projects that test ways to deliver the three-part aim of better health, better health care and lower costs through improved quality for Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollees.

Preference will be given to projects that focus on rapid workforce development. Eligible applicants include provider groups, health systems, payers and other private sector organizations, faith-based organizations, local governments, and public-private partnerships and for-profit organizations. States are not eligible to apply. Up to $1 billion is available for this opportunity. Individual awards expect to range from $1-$30 million over a three year period. Applications are due January 27, 2012.

If any home care agencies are interested in this opportunity, the Alliance will be providing assistance and guidance as with the Community-Based Care Transitions Program.

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