Lessons From California’s Public Reporting On Pathways To Health Insurance Coverage

MAGGIE COLBY AND CATHERINE TEARE |

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The recent Medicaid expansion, brought about by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has paved the way for more than 13 million Californians to enroll in the program; another 1.2 million residents have enrolled in qualified health plans (QHPs) through Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace.

Spotlight

Cornerstone Healthcare Group

Cornerstone Healthcare Group is a leading long term acute care hospital group (LTAC) committed to improving the health and well-being of patients by providing an environment of continuous process improvement, teamwork, integrity, fiscal responsibility and endless customer service. Cornerstone, with its recent merger of Solara Healthcare, is headquartered in Dallas and owns 18 hospitals in six states and 8 senior living facilities and 1 Adult, Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital in Tucson Arizona.

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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

Post Pandemic Meltdown: Gamified Dieting Success Rates, Sign-ups Surge Amid ‘Quarantine 15’ Concerns

Article | December 8, 2020

Let’s face it. It’s been one tough year with too many of us sitting idle and indulging in calorie-laden foods for way too long as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the globe. For all too many, sheltering in place has prompted unwelcome weight gain—a troublesome truth as we head into the holiday season where gluttony oft reigns supreme. That said, many individuals did have foresight and motivation back in March and the months that followed, wisely leveraging that extreme downtime to “diet for dollars” with HealthyWage—a pioneer of money-driven weight loss contests and challenges for individuals, teams and business groups. In fact, those who started a 6-month HealthyWager challenge during the pandemic (late March through May) broke company records, spurring a dramatic increase in pound shedding success rates—and in-kind cash payouts—against the norm. So motivated became America to drop, or avoid, the so-called ‘quarantine 15’ and score some cold hard cash in the process, HealthyWage reports that this past May it logged a substantial year-over-year increase in challenge participants at large. This is not surprising given Google search trends indicates the portion of people searching for weight loss hit a 5-year high in May of 2020—a level even exceeding the quintessential New Year’s diet resolution season. Beyond the fact that people who started weight loss wagers during the pandemic achieved much greater success as compared to participant results the prior year, and earning hundreds and even thousands of dollars for their efforts, it is women and individuals under 30 years of age primarily accounting for the sustained increases. For example, among the litany of pandemic era success stories, Lisa S. won over $1,900 for losing 50 pounds in 6 months while Hayden T. won over $1,200 for losing over 62 pounds in 6 months—both during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the coronavirus rages on well into the fourth quarter, we collectively find ourselves again having to shelter-in-place. Those trying to reconcile how they will survive this next round of being home bound, and the holiday season at large, with mitigated waistline and budgetary wreckage—and who are even planning their New Year resolution approach just beyond—would be wise to consider the gamified dieting approach. “Loss Aversion is a powerful dynamic and the reality of having ‘skin in the game’ can propel the results of a gamified weight loss initiative,” notes HealthyWage co-founder David Roddenberry. The efficacy of diet gamification is well-proven. For one, according to study findings published by JAMA Internal Medicine, behavioral economics-based gamification led to “significantly” increased physical activity among overweight and obese Americans. In this particular study, pairing a step tracking device with social incentives led to sustained, long-term behavior change—prompting participants to take more steps then with a step tracking device, alone. While the report explains that “gamification interventions significantly increased physical activity during the 24-week intervention,” with competition being the “most effective.” That’s something HealthyWage has seen play out since launching its weight-loss gamification platform in 2009. HealthyWage is, in fact, founded on earlier substantive research and "double-incentivization" methodology that proves competition and rewards—especially the cash variety—can as much as triple the effectiveness of weight loss programs. “A key element for the success of a gamification program is giving participants something to lose if they fail to meet their goal—whether tangible or intangible,” notes Roddenberry. “In this particular study, it was just points at stake but even this effected behavior change. There are actually throngs of studies demonstrated that the threat of losing something of value is much more effective than the opportunity to win something of equal value. That’s precisely why we advocate that program participants ‘pay to play’ and make an investment out of their own pocket in order to win rewards—in our case large cash prizes—for losing weight and getting more active in the program.” A few other notable HealthyWager success stories (both female and male) are case-in-point. These include Jean N. who lost 71 lbs. and won $3,357.99 for her efforts, and Jeremy M. who also lost 71 lbs. and won $1,886.32 for his own slimdown success. From its website, HealthyWage.com shares yet more inspirational success stories of both women and men who gained financially for their pound-shedding achievements using the company’s unique gamification approach. This includes Kristin W. who lost a staggering 114 pounds and won $4,000 for her efforts, Anastasia W. who lost 41 pounds and won a whopping $10,000 in kind, and Blake S. who lost an impressive 151 pounds and won $4,670 for his own slimdown success. Figures that are tasty, indeed. These and other such HealthyWage payouts are proof positive. For their weight-loss achievements that collectively exceeds an astounding 1,050,000 pounds for this year, alone—269 of which losing in excess of 100 pounds (and nearly 7.5 million pounds lost since the company’s launch), HealthyWage has reportedly paid more than xx30,000 dieters over $13 million cash in 2020, specifically, and over $55 million cash since its inception in 2009. HealthyWage programs apply these principles: HealthyWager Challenge: participants commit to a weight loss goal and an upfront financial payment and get their money back plus a financial return if they accomplish their weight loss goal. The average participant loses 40.7 pounds and gets paid $1,245. HealthyWage Step Challenge: participants commit money and agree to increase their steps by 25% over 60-days. If they achieve their goal they get their money back plus the money from those who don't hit their goal. Upholding the new findings while also further validating HealthyWage’s well-honed approach, an additional study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine continue to prove that money is an effective motivator to “increase both the magnitude and duration of weight loss.” The same hold true in business for staff wellness initiatives. Results from one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicated that “Loss Incentive’ Motivates Employees to Take More Steps ,” finding that financial incentives framed as a loss were most effective for achieving physical activity goals. As a prolific corporate and group wellness purveyor, since 2009 HealthyWage has worked with an array of hi-caliber participants on workplace and staff wellness initiatives, including Halliburton, ConocoPhillips and more than 25% of the largest school districts in the country. HealthyWage has, in fact, formally created competitive, money-motivated programs for more than 1000 Fortune 500 and other public and private companies, hospitals, health systems, insurers, school systems, municipal governments and other organizations throughout the U.S., and their program has been more informally run at more than 7,000 companies and organizations seeking to bolster staff health and well-being, and boost bottom lines in kind. “Throngs of studies reiterate the importance of the 'stick' in the design of a wellness incentive program, whether for individuals at home or for employee groups,” Roddenberry says. “Many studies have demonstrated that the threat of losing something of value is much more effective than the opportunity to win something of equal value. That’s precisely why we advocate that program participants ‘pay to play’ and make an investment out of their own pocket in order to win rewards—in our case large cash prizes—for losing weight and getting more active in the program.” Studies do consistently show that monetary incentives serve to enhance the effectiveness of, and duly complement, weight-loss programs of any and all sorts, especially when paid out quickly like HealthyWage’s various programs. For its part, HealthyWage reports that the average participant more than doubles their investment if they are successful at achieving their goal. The financial upside potential is impressive. So, if this is the season when you would like to not only resolve to lose those extra lbs. but also actually achieve that worthy goal, consider a cash-fueled approach. It just might give you that extra dose of motivation that’ll truly help you stay the course, shed weight and make some extra money in the process. There’s no better time than right now to bank on yourself.

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HEALTHCARE ANALYTICS

The Hidden Stress of the Pandemic

Article | December 8, 2020

Tempted to throw in the towel on your New Year’s resolutions? It’s a natural reaction during this unprecedented year. I’m here to tell you it’s okay—and you probably don’t need them anyway. You’re in good company if you’ve given up on the big shifts. According to widely-cited research study, only 19% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. In addition, this may not have been the best time to make changes, given all that’s going on with the pandemic. Also, worthwhile to consider the following insights on the unease with making big changes these days. According to research published in Molecular Psychiatry, when you go through prolonged challenging times (and the pandemic certainly qualifies), chronic stress can change the architecture of your brain and make you feel worn out, anxious, fearful, or depressed. These aren’t the best conditions for making major changes. You may also face “change saturation,” or in other words, you’ve had to make so many transitions, you just can’t make any more. To prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed, focus on attainable aspirations. Here are a few recommendations. DREAM ON A SMALLER SCALE Success for the next 12 months may be closely tied to a less-is-more approach. Instead of seeking a whole new career, maybe you can set your sights on getting assigned to a new project at your current company. In other words, consider how you can tweak your behaviors rather than overhauling them. Cultivate gratitude. Appreciate the little things. When you’re more tuned into what you have, you’re less focused on what you still want. This “enough mentality” can be helpful to your mental health. You don’t have to make big changes to achieve satisfaction or happiness. Contentment starts with gratitude. Avoid perfectionism. Often, the fuel for big changes is a feeling you or your situation are not perfect. Remind yourself that perfection is a myth and focus on what’s working. This will help you find fulfillment with your present reality (even if it’s not all you aspire to). Make a list, then edit down. Another great way to keep your ambitions reasonable is to make a list of all you want to accomplish and then eliminate everything but the top three items. A surefire route to frustration is to expect too much and put unrealistic pressures on yourself. Instead, focus on just a few vital things you want to accomplish, rather than a long list that does not empower you. After you’ve accomplished the first three goals on your list, you can always come back to the others, but give yourself a fighting chance to achieve the most integral top three, first. MONITOR YOURSELF Keep yourself accountable through specific techniques—and pay attention to events that may cause you to slide backwards. Research in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin explains that 40% of your behaviors occur in similar situations, which is to say familiar circumstances encourage the repetition of choices. Therefore, if you’re able to adjust one potentially repeated behavior, it can make a difference. Create routines and conveniences. When you want to nurture a behavior, make it a default so you’re not thinking consciously about it. Research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found when you repeat behaviors in a consistent context, it helps with habit formation and these take hold much more effectively. You can use this to your advantage. Instead of making a conscious choice each morning whether you want the donut or the smoothie, have the sliced fruit ready to go and the blender on the counter so when you arrive bleary-eyed to the kitchen in the morning, you’re just doing what’s already laid out. Start each day with the routine of responding to quick-hit emails. Rather than deciding what to work on first, just create a routine where you’re repeating behavior that works without as much conscious thought. Plan ahead. When you can plan for things, you can usually control them more effectively. If you’re going to be in a situation that might create challenges for your new behaviors, make a plan. Perhaps you’re going to the grocery store and you can make a plan to avoid the cookie aisle. Or if you’re back in the office, avoid the calorie-tempting socially distanced happy hour with colleagues by leaving right on time and get a head start on the big project you’re working on. Anticipating what might present challenges will help you overcome them. FIND SUPPORT Support can be the difference between making small changes and not succeeding at all. Find a source that works for you. Find friends. Create a virtual group of people also trying to make changes. Perhaps there’s an online group where you can exchange healthy recipes or provide mutual encouragement for regular trips to the gym. Also tap into your existing network and ask your friend to check in with you to see if you’ve had your workout for the day. Seek out colleagues who can nurture the writing skills you want to develop. Find people who encourage you, provide feedback, and remind you about your ability to succeed. Use technology thoughtfully. There are a wide variety of virtual solutions to help you shift your behavior. Download the app that allows you to track your water intake or the app that will send you notifications if you haven’t moved enough in the last hour. Look for apps that can help you learn the new language you’ve been wanting to add to your skill set or that can connect you with colleagues who have like-minded ambitions. Behavior shifts are most likely to occur with planning, reminders, and feedback. So, find apps that provide these three kinds of support. Give yourself permission to do less for now and know you can always do more later. In the meantime, stay strong and be satisfied with a little progress for now.

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Virtual Reality in Healthcare: Transforming the Future of Healthcare

Article | December 8, 2020

Virtual reality (VR), the new technological advancement, is set to transform practices in the healthcare industry. According to Statista, it is estimated that, by 2022, the second largest market share of VR will be from the healthcare industry. Virtual reality in healthcare operates in various divisions to offer a greater quality of patient care and performance of medical professionals. For the health and healthcare industry, from the clinical process to the user, VR has a multitude of applications such as tutoring future doctors, generating new life-saving routines, etc. Virtual reality in healthcare can confront the challenges in the industry, including efficiently handling huge healthcare databases, training and development of medical professionals, patient engagement, disease awareness, medical marketing, patient treatment, etc. Virtual reality in the healthcare market, according to a report from Reports and Data, is expected to reach USD 8.03 billion by 2027 from USD 2.06 billion in 2019. This article discusses how virtual reality in healthcare is going to transform the industry by applying it in various divisions such as medical training, patient treatment, patient engagement, disease awareness, and medical marketing. Virtual Reality in Healthcare Training VR in healthcare can transport you to areas, inside of the human body, that otherwise would be impossible to access and view. Medical students currently use cadavers to learn, but cadavers do not react the same way live patients do. Also, cadavers are very difficult to get hold of. When VR is used in healthcare training, students can view even minute detail of all parts of the body. This view is possible in stunning 360° CGI reconstruction and creates training scenarios, which would replicate real surgical procedures. Virtual Reality in healthcare can be used to deliver high-quality surgical training. Using virtual reality, 4K 360° video of real-life surgery is filmed from multiple angles. Then it is combined with CGI models of the anatomy, which is being operated. This advanced use of virtual reality in healthcare provides medical students with an interactive and immersive training experience. Treatment Patient Education The ability of virtual reality in healthcare to see inside of the human body is useful for both doctors and patients. With the help of VR, doctors can take patients through their surgical plan. This is made possible by a virtual view of the anatomy and pathology of patients through a patient-specific 360° VR reconstruction. The result of this is an enhanced understanding of the treatment for patients and higher patient satisfaction. Robotic Surgery Robotic surgery is a recent innovation. A robotic device, such as a robotic arm, is used in a robotic surgery while being controlled by a human surgeon. This utilization of virtual reality in healthcare makes sure of fewer or no risk of complications in surgeries. This also makes the surgeon finish the surgery procedure faster with greater accuracy. The robotic devices are accurate with reduced blood loss, smaller incisions, and faster recovery. Mental Health and Psychological Therapy The unique ability of virtual reality technology to take you anywhere virtually can be utilized to create a powerful virtual reality simulation in healthcare of various scenarios in which psychological issues occur. This eliminates the necessity of a therapist accompanying patients to various scenarios such as a tall building or a crowded shopping center to provide proper counseling. These scenarios can be easily created with virtual reality technology in healthcare. Virtual reality in healthcare market has also been used to help autistic children in the classroom, curb memory loss, and gather data for dementia research. Pain Management and Physical Therapy Apart from psychological issues, the healing capabilities of VR are also used in pain management and physical treatment. According to a study by the UW Harborview Burn Centre and the University of Washington Seattle, a full VR immersion acted as a distraction for patients, who were undergoing physical therapy after a skin graft. This distraction subsequently reduced their feeling of pain. Virtual reality in healthcare is also found to be effective in reducing recovery time in physical therapy. Patients performing their daily exercises in a virtual environment, find the task to be more fun than usual. It also keeps the patients focused and helps them keep their spirits up and recover sooner. Patient Engagement With the help of virtual reality in healthcare, patients can experience a virtual tour of the inside of their bodies before surgeries. This is a 360-degree, three-dimensional (3D) tour. This enables patients to know their body, anatomy, and pathology, before the surgical procedures. Virtual Reality Medical Visualization platform is developed for the tour. These advancements with virtual reality in healthcare engage patients thoroughly, which reduces tension and lead to a speedy recovery. Medical Marketing The most popular and initial application of Virtual reality was marketing. Still, it continues to be one of the most effective and powerful marketing tools. The ability to use VR to project the future of healthcare is the most powerful tactic in healthcare marketing. With Virtual reality in healthcare, one of the most powerful tactics that you can have to market in the industry is to show people what changes they can expect when they start or stop exercising, lose or gain weight, the progress they make through cancer treatments, etc. As the possibilities of virtual reality in healthcare are endless, healthcare professionals and providers can attract more patients, doctors with high caliber, and nursing staff to your facilities. When those are in short supply, virtual reality in healthcare can be used as an excellent healthcare marketing tool to ensure expected results. Disease Awareness AbbVie, a pharmaceutical research & development company, created an experience to educate medical professionals and raise awareness among them regarding the daily struggle Parkinson’s disease patients undergo. The experience was demonstrated at a pharmaceutical industry trade show. People put on a headset and experienced how Parkinson’s sufferers navigate a virtual supermarket, meeting with difficult moments when they come in contact with other people. Such experiences with virtual reality in healthcare help raise awareness for various diseases among professionals and patients. Virtual reality presentations can be conducted to raise awareness of certain diseases. The Future of Virtual Reality in Healthcare A lot of applications of virtual reality in healthcare are in their nascent stage. In the coming years, virtual reality will be used more in healthcare, which will improve the effectiveness and accuracy of present procedures. It will also enhance the various human capabilities, for both patients and medical professionals. Virtual reality in healthcare has huge potential, but only limited by the ingenuity and creativity of people who create and apply the technology. VR will surely transform medical training, physical and psychological therapies, rehabilitation, mental health treatments, and patient engagement, among others. Virtual reality in healthcare holds the power to transform the way doctors are trained and treatment is provided to patients. According to reports from various market research companies, especially research done by Grand View Research, predict that, by 2025, virtual reality in the healthcare market will grow to a whopping US$5.1 billion. The major driving forces behind this growth are Rapid technological advancements in the healthcare industry and driving demand for rehabilitation and simulation training. Frequently asked questions How is virtual reality used in healthcare? In healthcare, virtual reality is used in treatment, training, and to raise awareness among medical professionals and patients regarding various diseases. Patients and doctors are made to view the inside of the human body using virtual reality. Where is virtual reality used in healthcare? Virtual reality is used in various sectors of healthcare to deliver high quality patient care. Treatment with the assistance of virtual reality also increases the efficiency of medical professionals. Virtual treating is applied in all aspects of medical treatment. What are the benefits of virtual reality? Virtual reality in healthcare saves both, the time and money of healthcare providers. It also makes the work of medical professionals more convenient. It eliminates unnecessary travel for treatments by making appropriate decisions. How virtual reality is changing healthcare? Virtual reality is changing the healthcare by providing different advanced ways of treatments, especially for physical and psychological therapy, surgeries, pain management, and stress management and by assisting the rehabilitation process effectively.

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Embracing healthcare’s digital transformation 2.0

Article | December 8, 2020

Technology is only as useful as the value it helps us deliver. For us to get to the next phase of this evolution, technology must fit into a patient-centric care model. When I shifted my role from a full-time practicing physician to a healthcare administrator 20 years ago, there were no national standards on quality measurements, let alone for performance-based payment or value-based payment models. Today, value-based initiatives are shifting care delivery from compensating volume to compensating value and redefining financial incentives toward better patient outcomes. In this model, providers must think about the entire patient experience across all care settings and between episodic visits. On top of this, consumer behavior is changing the way patients choose and receive care. Patients are increasingly embracing convenient options for their healthcare that match their lifestyle, but still want the peace of mind that comes with support from a consistent primary care provider or care team.

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Spotlight

Cornerstone Healthcare Group

Cornerstone Healthcare Group is a leading long term acute care hospital group (LTAC) committed to improving the health and well-being of patients by providing an environment of continuous process improvement, teamwork, integrity, fiscal responsibility and endless customer service. Cornerstone, with its recent merger of Solara Healthcare, is headquartered in Dallas and owns 18 hospitals in six states and 8 senior living facilities and 1 Adult, Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital in Tucson Arizona.

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