A new podcast featuring Jane Sullivan, PT, DHS, associate professor and assistant department chair in the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Science at Northwestern University, outlines the process a Neurology Section-appointed task force used in developing preferred outcome measures for patients with stroke.
Widespread use of standardized outcome measures is "lacking," says Sullivan, who describes the task force's charges, the framework chosen to assess the outcome measures, and how the task force determined which outcome measures to review. She also illustrates the objectives achieved in the recommendations generated by the StrokEDGE group.
A transcript accompanies the prerecorded podcast. A list of the task force members and the recommended outcome measures are available on the Neurology Section's website.
Beginning June 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will accept suggestions for potential inclusion in the proposed set of quality measures in the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) for future rulemaking years.
Documentation for each measure submitted must be received by 5 pm ET August 1.
Required documentation includes the Measure Submitted for Consideration Form, measure specifications (measure title, description, numerator, and denominator, including exclusions, exceptions, and inclusions), and electronic specification and data tables for electronic health record-specified candidate measures.
Suggesting individual measures or measures for a new or existing measures group does not guarantee that the measure(s) will be included in the proposed or final sets of measures of any proposed or final rules that address PQRS. CMS will determine what individual measures and measures group(s) to include in the proposed set of quality measures. After a period of public comment, the agency will make the final determination with regard to the final set of quality measures for PQRS.
To learn more about the PQRS Call for Measures, visit CMS' Measures Management System webpage, or contact Heather Smith at APTA with questions.
Patients' control of blood pressure improved when their care was provided by a team of health care professionals—a primary care provider supported by a pharmacist, nurse, dietitian, social worker, or community health worker—rather than by a single physician, says the Community Preventive Services Task Force following a review of 77 studies on team-based care. The task force is an independent, nonfederal, uncompensated body of public health and prevention experts, whose members are appointed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The collection of studies showed that team-based care helped increase the proportion of patients with controlled blood pressure, led to a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and improved outcomes in patients who had diabetes and elevated blood lipids.
Team members supplemented the activities of the primary care provider by providing support and sharing responsibility for hypertension care. Support and responsibility included medication management, patient follow-up, and helping the patient adhere to his or her blood pressure control plan, including monitoring blood pressure routinely, taking medications as prescribed, reducing sodium in the diet, and increasing physical activity, says the task force.
Team-based care is a central pillar of the Million Hearts initiative, launched by the Department of Health and Human Services in September 2011. Million Hearts is a national, public-private initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over 5 years. The initiative is aligned with the Healthy People 2020 goal to reduce the number of people in the US with high blood pressure. Blood pressure control is 1 of 4 health behaviors targeted by the initiative—the others are aspirin as appropriate, cholesterol management, and smoking cessation.
Many opportunities and challenges are on the horizon for physical therapists as organizations attempt to eliminate health care silos and integrate patient care. In an effort to prepare physical therapists for health care integration, APTA has produced a video series that highlights innovative clinical practice models and the roles that physical therapists can play in today's health care environment. The videos and accompanying handouts can help physical therapists gain insight and inspiration as they look for ways to become involved in new models of care delivery.
Research literature indicates that wellness programs reduce health care costs, with reductions for large firms averaging $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, says a new policy brief from Health Affairs. In addition, studies show that health promotion programs at organizations of all sizes result in an overall reduction of about 25% in sick leave, health plan costs, and workers compensation and disability costs.
According to the 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust annual survey of employer health benefits, 67% of companies with 3 or more employees that offered health benefits also offered at least 1 wellness program. Slightly more than half (52%) also offered wellness benefits to spouses or dependents of employees.
Almost all companies with 1,000 or more employees offered 1 type of program. Larger employers usually run wellness programs themselves. For small companies, wellness programs typically are run by the same firms that administer the employer's health benefits plan or by another entity referred to as a third-party administrator.
Typical features of wellness programs are behavior modification programs, such as exercise, weight management, and tobacco cessation; changes in the work environment or provision of special benefits to encourage exercise and healthy food choices, for example, subsidized health club memberships; and health-risk assessments and screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol health education, including classes or referrals to online sites for health advice.
Although incentives and disincentives prompt workers to participate in wellness programs, the evidence is mixed on whether the result is real improvements in health outcomes, says Health Affairs. To date, there have been no published, independent studies on how changes in premiums or cost sharing affect health outcomes.
The policy brief also includes information about compliance with federal and state requirements, conflict over programs that tie rewards or penalties to individuals achieving standards related to health status, and concerns with privacy issues.
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are fast approaching. During the games, APTA would like to spotlight member physical therapists (PTs) who have helped the nation's elite athletes prepare to compete on the world's biggest stage. If you work with Olympic athletes and/or will be heading to London to serve on an Olympic team’s medical staff, contact Erin Wendel, senior media relations specialist, by e-mail or phone at 703/706-3397 by Monday, May 28, for more details. APTA also intends to use this opportunity to promote the physical therapist's role in helping athletes of all ages and skill levels reach their goals by preventing and treating sports-specific injuries.