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(1/75) An innovative approach to reducing medical care utilization and expenditures.

In a retrospective study, we assessed the impact on medical utilization and expenditures of a multicomponent prevention program, the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health (MVAH). We compared archival data from Blue Cross/Blue Shield Iowa for MVAH (n = 693) with statewide norms for 1985 through 1995 (n = 600,000) and with a demographically matched control group (n = 4,148) for 1990, 1991, 1994, and 1995. We found that the 4-year total medical expenditures per person in the MVAH group were 59% and 57% lower than those in the norm and control groups, respectively; the 11-year mean was 63% lower than the norm. The MVAH group had lower utilization and expenditures across all age groups and for all disease categories. Hospital admission rates in the control group were 11.4 times higher than those in the MVAH group for cardiovascular disease, 3.3 times higher for cancer, and 6.7 times higher for mental health and substance abuse. The greatest savings were seen among MVAH patients older than age 45, who had 88% fewer total patients days compared with control patients. Our results confirm previous research supporting the effectiveness of MVAH for preventing disease. Our evaluation suggests that MVAH can be safely used as a cost-effective treatment regimen in the managed care setting.  (+info)

(2/75) Differences in costs of treatment for foot problems between podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons.

We examined charge data for health insurance claims paid in 1992 for persons under age 65 covered by a large California managed care plan. Charge and utilization comparisons between podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons were made for all foot care and for two specific foot problems, acquired toe deformities and bunions. Podiatrists provided over 59% of foot care services for this commercial population of 576,000 people. Podiatrists charged 12% less per individual service than orthopedists. However, podiatrists performed substantially more procedures per episode of care and treated patients for longer time periods, resulting in 43% higher total charges per episode. Hospitalization was infrequent for all providers, although podiatrists had the lowest rates. In a managed care setting in which all providers must adhere to a preestablished fee schedule, regardless of specialty, the higher utilization by podiatrists should lead to higher overall costs. In some cases, strong utilization controls could offset this effect. We do not know if the utilization difference is due to actual treatment or billing differences. Further, we were unable to determine from the claims data if one specialty had better outcomes than the other.  (+info)

(3/75) Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's coronary services network: a managed care organization's approach to improving the quality of cardiac care for its members.

OBJECTIVE: To describe a managed care organization's efforts to improve value for its members by forming a coronary services network (CSN). DESIGN: To identify high-quality facilities for its CSN, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield reviewed claims data and clinical data from hospitals that met its general quality standards. An external firm measured and risk-adjusted applicant hospitals' mortality rates. Hospitals that demonstrated superior performance were eligible to join the CSN. In 1996, 2 years after the CSN was formed, clinical outcomes of participants and new applicants were analyzed again by the same external firm. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Data on more than 10,000 consecutive (all-payer) inpatients discharged after coronary bypass surgery in 1993 were collected from 16 applicant hospitals using a uniform format and data definitions. This analysis was expanded to 23 participating and applicant hospitals that discharged more than 13,000 patients who underwent either bypass surgery or coronary revascularization in 1995. We compared risk-adjusted routine length of stay (a measure of efficiency), mortality rates, and adverse outcome rates between CSN and non-CSN facilities. RESULTS: From 1993 to 1995, overall length of stay in the network decreased by 20%, from 12.3 to 9.8 days (P < or = 0.01) and severity-adjusted mortality rates decreased by 7.3%, from 2.9% to 2.7%. Initially, facilities outside the network had comparable efficiency but much higher mortality. However, they improved so much in both measures that their severity-adjusted mortality rate for bypass surgery in 1995 was no more than 10% higher than that of CSN hospitals. CONCLUSION: The creation of a statewide CSN that emphasized and improved the level of performance among providers ultimately benefited the carrier's managed care members. The desirability of participation was evidenced by an increase in the number of applicant hospitals over the 2 years. This may have stimulated quality improvement among competing providers in the region and among CSN facilities themselves.  (+info)

(4/75) Incorporating clinical outcomes and economic consequences into drug formulary decisions: a practical approach.

BACKGROUND: In 1994, Regence BlueShield (Regence), a large non-staff model health plan, adopted guidelines governing the review of new and existing drug products. However, certain limitations were apparent: adequate data were not available in a timely fashion; unpublished studies and information on unapproved indications were difficult to obtain; data addressing humanistic and economic outcomes were not routinely supplied by manufacturers; and the time required by Regence staff clinical pharmacists to assemble and summarize published clinical studies for the pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committee was excessive. OBJECTIVE: To describe the process used by Regence to collect and review clinical, economic, and other health outcomes data as part of the plan's drug formulary adoption process. PROCESS DESCRIPTION: To address these limitations, Regence revised its process to require pharmaceutical manufacturers to submit a detailed dossier with clinical and economic data from published and unpublished studies, along with a disease-based economic model projecting the potential impact that introducing the product would have on health outcomes and economic consequences occurring across the entire Regence system. After performing independent literature reviews to ensure the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the information obtained, clinical pharmacists at Regence complete a detailed summary of each drug for the P&T committee. CONCLUSION: The new process has addressed the limitations of the previous system and, by improving the timeliness and relevance of available information, it supports Regence's goal of maintaining an evidence-based formulary.  (+info)

(5/75) The effects of fee bundling on dental utilization.

OBJECTIVE: To examine dental utilization following an adjustment to the provincial fee schedule in which preventive maintenance (recall) services were bundled at lower fees. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: Blue Cross dental insurance claims for claimants associated with four major Ontario employers using a common insurance plan over the period 1987-1990. STUDY DESIGN: This before-and-after design analyzes the dental claims experience over a four-year period for 4,455 individuals 18 years of age and older one year prior to the bundling of services, one year concurrent with the change, and two years after the introduction of bundling. The dependent variable is the annual adjusted payment per user. DATA COLLECTION/EXTRACTION METHODS: The analysis was based on all claims submitted by adult users for services received at recall visits and who reported at least one visit of this type between 1987 and 1990. In these data, 26,177 services were provided by 1,214 dentists and represent 41 percent of all adult service claims submitted over the four years of observation. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Real per capita payment for adult recall services decreased by 0.3 percent in the year bundling was implemented (1988), but by the end of the study period such payments had increased 4.8 percent relative to pre-bundling levels. Multiple regression analysis assessed the role of patient and provider variables in the upward trend of per capita payments. The following variables were significant in explaining 37 percent of the variation in utilization over the period of observation: subscriber employment location; ever having received periodontal scaling or ever having received restorative services; regular user; dentist's school of graduation; and interactions involving year, service type, and regular user status. CONCLUSIONS: The volume and intensity of services received by adult patients increased when fee constraints were imposed on dentists. Future efforts to contain dental expenditures through fee schedule design will need to take this into consideration. Issues for future dental services research include provider billing practices, utilization among frequent attenders, and outcomes evaluation particularly with regard to periodontal care and replacement of restorations.  (+info)

(6/75) The effects of medical group practice and physician payment methods on costs of care.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of payment methods on the costs of care in medical group practices. DATA SOURCES: Eighty-six clinics providing services for a Blue Cross managed care program during 1995. The clinics were analyzed to determine the relationship between payment methods and cost of care. Cost and patient data were obtained from Blue Cross records, and medical group practice clinic data were obtained by a survey of those organizations. STUDY DESIGN: The effects of clinic and physician payment methods on per member per year (PMPY) adjusted patient costs are evaluated using a two-stage regression model. Patient costs are adjusted for differences in payment schedules; patient age, gender, and ACG; clinic organizational variables are included as explanatory variables. DATA COLLECTION: Patient cost data were extracted from Blue Cross claims files, and patient and physician data from their enrollee and provider data banks. Medical group practice data were obtained by a mailed survey with telephone follow-up. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Capitation payment is correlated with lower patient care costs. When combined with fee-for-service with withhold provisions, this effect is smaller indicating that these two clinic payment methods are not interchangeable. Clinics with more physician compensation based on measures of resource use or based on some share of the net revenue of the clinic have lower patient care costs than those with more compensation related to productivity or based on salary. Salary compensation is strongly associated with higher costs. The use of physician profiles and clinical guidelines is associated with lower costs, but referral management systems have no such effect. The lower cost clinics are the smaller, multispecialty clinics. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that payment methods at both the medical group practice and physician levels influence the cost of care. However, the methods by which that influence is manifest is not clear. Although the organizational structure of clinics and their use of managed care programs appear to play a role, this influence is less than expected.  (+info)

(7/75) Group practice strategies to manage pharmaceutical cost in an HMO network.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the prevalence of various pharmaceutical cost management strategies used by group practices within a managed care network and their relationship to drug costs among enrollees. STRATEGIES STUDIED: Care management (gatekeeping, practice profiling, practice guidelines, case management), techniques for maintaining clinic medication records, and policies regulating physician interaction with pharmaceutical sales representatives (PSRs). STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey of primary care group practice organizations (n = 103) affiliated with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota in early 1996. METHODS: Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed on corresponding claims data for members continuously enrolled in these practices from January 1 to December 31, 1995 (n = 76,387), using the patient as the unit of analysis. RESULTS: Substantial variation in strategy prevalence was observed; this variation was thought to influence pharmaceutical costs. Seventy-six percent of practices had medication lists in outpatient medical records, 53% had policies limiting pharmaceutical detailing, and 44% had patients assigned to primary care gatekeepers; however, only 10% used outpatient nurse case managers. Use of outpatient nurse case managers (P < .010), primary care physician gatekeeping (P < .002), policies to control pharmaceutical detailing (P < .001), and medication lists and outpatient charts (P < .001) was found to be independently associated with lower pharmaceutical expenditures. Significant colinearity was found between group size and the strategies studied. CONCLUSIONS: Significantly lower pharmaceutical costs per member per year were observed in the groups reporting primary care gatekeeping, outpatient medication records, outpatient case managers, and policies regarding physician interactions with PSRs.  (+info)

(8/75) Bounceback: Blues thrive as markets cool toward HMOs.

Enrollment in Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) plans has grown by almost seventeen million since 1994, and recent financial performance indicators are positive for most plans in the Blues system. These gains have been achieved by for-profit, nonprofit, and mutually owned plans. A journalistic analysis of distinctive features contributing to recent successes is offered, combining observations of financial analysts, health services researchers, and BCBS officials. Long-term stability, broad provider networks, and conservative financial management have given the Blues advantages vis-a-vis many managed care organizations that have lost market share in the same period.  (+info)