Access to Care

One of the WSHA’s priorities is to improve patients access to care. SB 6519 is an example of the success they have had in this area, as it makes is so physicians can be reimbursed for virtual visits that occur in the patient’s home. As WSHA ensures that our members can deliver the right care in a way that best meets the needs of the patient, all while keeping up with technological advancements, WHS has been looking for the right partners to meet the work flow needs of our members. Carena and InSight represent two outstanding telemedical solutions.

Carena

Carena has successfully partnered with Washington hospitals to provide virtual urgent care solutions. Their business model is unique because they supplement existing services instead of replacing them. This has allowed members to expand their patient care hours to include late nights and weekends without having to increase staff.

Insight

InSight provides telepsychiatry in a way that sets them apart from their competition. They employ the physicians that provide their service. These physicians then become members of the medical staff of the hospital so that the ED physicians are able build relationships with the same physicians all the time. It also allows those virtual physicians to gain familiarity and understanding for the specific needs of a community’s patient population. InSight was also the only company that we found that provided access to physicians who were trained in the needs of adolescents.

Advances in technology have created exciting opportunities for new business to provide innovative solutions that can improve patient outcomes. While WSHA makes sure that the legislative structures are in place that allow our members to take advantage of those opportunities, WHS will continue to find vendors that represent the very best that the market has to offer, such as Carena and InSight.

Credentialing

Credentialing and enrollment with plans is a multifaceted issue for our members. Enrollment with plans is such a burden for physicians that this year the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) put forward HB 2335, which WSHA supported, in an attempt to find a legislative solution for this issue. While it remains to be seen if more needs to be done on this front, WHS brought on a partner, CredSimple, to help our members streamline the other side of the process. This partnership is opportune because with all the changes to credentialing that have taken place, we have seen many of the traditional players either exit the market completely, or raise prices.

CredSimple

CredSimple offers a streamlined virtual process that is designed to enhance the traditional credentialing processes that are largely paper and mail driven for a fraction of the cost. Their solution is designed to scale up or down, depending upon the needs of the hospital member. WHS is confident that if any of our members find themselves in a situation where they are faced with having to evaluate their internal credentialing processes, CredSimple can become the solution that meets their needs.

Found Money

One of Washington Hospital Services’ (WHS) core missions is to help our hospital members find business solutions that can help them navigate this turbulent time in health care. As health care moves to value-based reimbursement models and technology plays an ever larger role in health care delivery, a common question that we hear is, “where are we going to find the money?” While we are hardly a cornucopia, WHS has found partners that may be able to help you find some financial opportunities that are not in the traditional places our members have looked.

Commerce Bank

Commerce Bank represents an Automated Payment Solution. With over 400 hospital clients of all sizes nationwide, they have returned millions of dollars of shared revenue to those hospitals. SunRX has begun a prescription saving program that not only helps patients save up to 90% on their prescriptions, but also generates revenue for hospitals that before was going to pharmaceutical companies. Network Services Solutions helps members by assessing the bandwidth needs for things like electronic health records and population health tools and then helps the members acquire the tools to get that bandwidth. More importantly, they help our rural members take advantage of an underutilized grant program that can help reduce the cost by up to 90%.

PARA HealthCare Financial Services

Para HealthCare offers comprehensive revenue cycle management solutions with a passion and expertise for providing service to critical access and rural hospitals. For public hospital districts, the Association of Washington Public Hospital Districts (AWPHD) was successful in getting HB 2771 passed. If there are plans to take advantage of the rule change to renovate or take up any other construction projects, Meridian Leasing Company may be someone to talk to. They specialize in enabling hospitals to get the financing that they need in order to offer the services that their communities need.

Nothing in life is ever certain, but given all of these companies’ history of success with hospitals across the country, there is a good chance that they will be able to help find some revenue that may have been over looked.

The Opioid Epidemic: Illuminating Solution

The opioid epidemic is a front and center issue for our state. Like most complex issues, there are no simple answers, and it will take collaborative efforts that span the health care continuum to effectively address. An excellent example of such collaboration was the passing of HB 2730 this legislative session.

Key stakeholders recognized that the Physician Monitoring Program (PMP) data, a key component in understanding the epidemic, was cumbersome and underutilized, and so they began to work on a solution. The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) supported HB 2730 in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Health and the Washington State Medical Association, and the result was a law that made it so that 14,000 licensed providers, hospitals and health systems would have a much easier time accessing this vital data.

Cordant Health Solutions

Washington Hospital Services’ (WHS) Industry Partner Cordant Health Solutions was also working with the legislature to help tackle this problem. In 2012, Cordant felt that if they could integrate toxicology with the PMP data, they could create a service that could improve how care was delivered to patients. In 2015, they testified in favor of SB 5027, which would allow clinical laboratories with SAMHSA certification to use the PMP database. This bill passed, and as a result, Cordant — one of two SAMHSA certified laboratories in Washington — is now able to correlate their laboratory results with prescribing patterns to create reports that can illuminate what is going on in any given patient population. This report demonstrates just how detailed these can be, and now that they can use the PMP data, they can help providers and organizations quantify the results of their prescribing practices.

This is just one way that Cordant is dedicated to helping stakeholders understand and address the opioid epidemic. They have also expanded their services to include a controlled substance pharmacy and drug take back programs so that their clients have even more tools to close the loop on opioids.

Filling the pipe line

Today the physician shortage in the United States is estimated to be around 40,000, and experts predict that this number will grow to over 120,000 by 2025. In Washington State, the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) seeks to assist its members to recruit and retain physicians with a twofold effort.

On the policy side, WSHA seeks to create an environment in which physicians can more easily practice medicine, improve access to care for all of our residents and leverage state mechanisms that can help increase the number of physicians in our state. In 2015, WSHA won two important victories in the legislature that advanced these goals. First, it secured $9.3 million in state funds for loan repayment for providers who are willing to practice in underserved areas. Second, it gained an additional $16.2 million dollars of state funds for additional residency training slots. These victories are key because they better position our members to take advantage of two trends among the physician work force that specifically impact Washington State.

The first trend is that less than 3% of graduating residents said that they desired to work in a population center of under 100,000 people. Loan repayment not only incentivizes those residents to consider those communities in Washington more favorably than those of other states, it also increases the pool of residents that would consider working in smaller communities. The second trend is that Washington has one of the best rates in the country in retaining the residents who train here. By increasing the number of resident slots in our state, we can capitalize on this trend by increasing the number of candidates who will be predisposed to stay and practice here.

To compliment efforts like these, WSHA has tasked Washington Hospital Services (WHS) to find a partner who can both keep members informed about the realities of the physician work force and effectively recruit physicians who meet our state’s specific needs.

Merritt Hawkins

For this task, WHS has turned to Merritt Hawkins, which has been an endorsed Industry Partner for over 10 years. Merritt Hawkins has been dedicated to informing our members of overall physician trends through white papers, such as their Annual Physician Salary Review. They also have spoken frequently at our conferences and will do so again this year at Chelan, where Kurt Mosley will present strategies and tactics for rural hospitals in recruiting. Their value on the recruiting front should not be understated. Merritt Hawkins has placed over 47 permanent physicians, generating over $73 million in revenue for our institutions over the last three years. Ninety percent of those physicians have remained in those placements for at least five years.

The real and positive impact that they have for our members is why WHS trusts Merritt Hawkins to help our members face the challenges of the physician shortage and fill their pipe lines for executive placement, permanent provider placement and recruitment, as well as temporary and locum placement.