Here are some other local, state or national stories we are reading that may impact you, your practice or your patients.

Breaking Down the Senate Draft Bill on Patient Healthcare Costs | Late last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a discussion draft on legislation that would address healthcare costs, patient financial responsibility, surprise medical bills, and public health. The Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019 aims to improve the overall patient experience of care while cutting down on out-of-pocket patient spending. There is a critical need for considerable healthcare overhaul, according to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), one of the bill’s co-sponsors and chairman of the HELP Committee. “There's one issue I hear a lot about from Tennesseans, and it is, ‘What are you going to do about the health care costs I pay for out of my own pocket?’ Well, we've got an answer,” Alexander said in a statement last week. “These are common sense steps we can take, and every single one of them has the objective of reducing the health care costs that you pay for out of your own pocket. We hope to move it through the health committee in June, put it on the Senate floor in July and make it law.” The draft legislation represents one of the bigger bipartisan efforts to address healthcare costs, patient access to care, and healthcare quality, according to Patty Murray (D-WA), the Committee ranking member and bill co-sponsor.

Understanding the New CMS primary care payment models | In April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced five new payment models for primary care, known as the CMS Primary Cares Initiative.

The five models are:

  • Primary Care First

  • Primary Care First – High Need Populations

  • Direct Contracting – Global

  • Direct Contracting – Professional

  • Direct Contracting – Geographic

R. Shawn Martin, senior vice president, advocacy, practice advancement and policy at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), says the organization has partnered with CMS over the past few years to help develop proposed alternative payment models that include a strong foundation in primary care, and helped contribute to the development of this initiative. “We have seen positive development and implementation of these new models,” he says. “While we still have some questions with respect to how the Direct Contracting models will work, we are very pleased to see the construct of the Primary Care First path strongly resembles core elements of the AAFP’s Advanced Primary Care Alternative Payment Model, which was presented to CMS in 2017.”

EHR intervention teams may help reduce clinician burnout, study finds | A team-based intervention approach to improve EHR use and efficiency may help alleviate burdens that physicians report feeling when dealing with computer-based clerical work, according to a recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Aurora, Colo.-based UCHealth researchers developed a two-week "Sprints" EHR intervention, which was led by an 11-member team trained to help clinic staff make the EHR more user friendly. The team comprised one project manager, one physician informaticist, one nurse informaticist, four EHR analysts and four trainers. Sprints interventions had three main components: train clinicians to use EHR features more efficiently, redesign the clinic's multidisciplinary workflow and create new specialty-specific EHR tools. Sprints are completed as a two-week process. Sprints were conducted at six UCHealth clinics between January 2016 and July 2017. Sprints leaders met with clinic officials 90, 60- and 30-days pre-Sprints intervention to identify EHR frustrations. Clinicians participating in Sprints interventions were surveyed on their EHR satisfaction pre- and post-intervention on a net promoter scale ranging from -100 at the worst to +100 at the best.

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