As hospitals focus on taking care of COVID-19 patients, the American Hospital Association is stepping up its advocacy for hospitals, fighting on their behalf for everything from PPE to reimbursement for uninsured patients. AHA’s Policy Director, Akin Demehin, dives into the top issues facing U.S. hospital administrators as they scramble to adjust their businesses to meet the unprecedented demands of the pandemic.
Besides the obvious concerns related to the direct delivery of care to a surge of very sick patients, hospitals are worried about cash flow, having enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line clinicians, and the challenges of rolling out massive telehealth and remote monitoring programs to care for non-COVID patients at-home.
As the pandemic wears on, and the evolution of hospitals continues, the way these institutions function as part of the U.S. healthcare system will likely be forever changed. We learn what’s important to the AHA — and its 5,000 hospitals and healthcare system members — as they redefine their role in the healthcare system of the future in real-time.
Out this week is the AHA (or more precisely their SHSMD division’s) Futurescan publication. This year it’s edited by futurist Ian Morrison @seccurve and it features a bevvy of forecasting articles including one called “Flipping the Stack: Can New Technology Drive Health Care’s Future?” by Indu Subaiya and Matthew Holt (i.e. me)
To take a look at the listing and perhaps even buy a PDF or hard copy (yes, it’s not free, remember that whole capitalism thing, but it’s the cheapest thing you’ll ever get from a hospital!) follow this link — Matthew Holt
Over the past decade, I’ve seen a number of studies asking people whom they trust among various health care stakeholders. Nurses, pharmacists, and doctors always come out at the top. Beyond that:
·Trust of hospitals tends to be high (60–80%)
·Trust of health plans is at the bottom of the heap (10–20%)
Is this written in stone for the future? I don’t think so…and the dynamics for change are in motion. Please read on.
Here’s the emerging picture I’m seeing:
·Hospitals are dragging their feet in connecting you with your electronic health information.
·Health plans are highly motivated to connect you with your health information.
Hospitals Keeping You from Your Health Records
Yesterday the American Hospital Association released a 68 page letter commenting on proposed regs for Meaningful Use Stage 2. Putting aside my usual analytic tendencies, I’ll simply describe the letter as whiny, snivelly, “can’t do”, mean, and thick-headed.
In May 2008, when the Roper poll asked a random sample of Americans “If your medical records and personal health information, such as test results and doctor’s instructions, were available to you online, how likely do you think you would be to access those records and information?” Sixty-five percent said they were somewhat, very, or extremely likely to access their records. In the February 2009 stimulus bill, Congress asked the Health IT Policy Committee “to facilitate secure access by an individual to such individual’s protected health information” and “… to facilitate secure access to patient information by a family member, caregiver, or guardian acting on behalf of a patient…”
CMS now proposes that in 2014, hospitals receiving the billions of dollars of Stage 2 federal EHR incentive payments must provide patients with electronic access to their hospital discharge information within 36 hours of leaving the hospital. CMS is not only asking hospitals to give patients reasonable access to their own current and actionable health information, but it’s also trying to help patients and families address the wasteful and dangerous rates of hospital readmission and failures in continuity of care that haunt American healthcare. But the American Hospital Association is arguing that “Establishing a web portal or other mechanism to provide patients online access to this magnitude of data is unrealistic and premature.”
The Federal Trade Commission recently held a day-long workshop focusing on Accountable Care Organizations. ACOs will vertically integrate hospitals and doctors and, in the process, achieve what previous incarnations of vertical integration could not. Let’s forget about whether ACOs will actually fulfill the dream of efficient healthcare delivery and focus on the FTC angle – will the creation of ACOs require the creation of provider market power and should he FTC therefore look the other way?
Many health economists have documented the perils of provider market power. Some of my own research has been instrumental in turning the tide against providers, whose monopolizing tendencies used to get a free pass from the courts. But as policy makers move ACOs to the fore, providers are hoping to sweep antitrust under the rug.
The latest salvo comes from the AHA, which last week released a study challenging two recent studies of hospital market power and then strains to connect their findings to ACOs. The AHA report goes a bit overboard in its criticism of these studies. One study consists of little more than anecdotes and should not be criticized for being anything else. The other study is more complex and the criticism is equally complex, mostly along the lines of “if you had measured things slightly differently, your results would have been slightly different.” The AHA report would have readers believe that these two studies represent the entire body of knowledge about hospital mergers. Having summarily dismissed them, the argument against FTC enforcement would seem complete.