Regulatory Reform Improves Health & Wellness in AZ

April 18th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

web regulatoryreform Three years ago we made the commitment to overhaul the way we regulate Arizona’s 5,500 licensed healthcare facilities.  Our goal was to move from the existing prescriptive regulations to a new set of outcome-based rules.  The idea was to shift from the former 2-dimensional standards to a deeper set of 3-dimensional regulations.

The final regulations that we’re publishing at the end of April are tied to outcomes.  The model puts more responsibility on the facility’s managers to ensure that they’ve developed policies and procedures to ensure they’re meeting the needs of the people they serve.

The new model basically sets some prescriptive minimum standards- and then requires facility operators to develop an additional set of policies and procedures to ensure patient and resident health & safety.  Facilities are also required to measure patient and resident outcomes.  If they have bad (preventable) outcomes- our survey teams will determine whether they weren’t following their policies and procedures, had inadequate policies and procedures, or both.

The new final regulations aren’t the finish line.  Our next task is to educate and train our survey teams and regulated healthcare facilities on the new regulations.  Because the final rules depend largely on outcomes and solid policies and procedures rather than just static standards- this effort won’t happen overnight.  It’ll probably take about 18 months to get everybody up to speed on the new expectations.

Congratulations to our committed Stakeholders and Team ADHS for collaborating on the development of regulations that’ll be improving Health and Wellness for all Arizonans for years to come.

ADHS SWAT Team Strikes

April 17th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

ASH recheckLast week the ASH Pharmacy began having problems with the computer system that the medical staff use to order prescriptions for patients.  Orders weren’t consistently showing up on the pharmacy computer screen or printing out.  We implemented our back-up system right away, but the temporary work-around was time consuming.  Our Information Technology team made this their highest priority to figure out what was wrong and fix it.

Our I.T. team and our vendor (Netsmart) found a creative solution and the the system is up and running again.  A million thanks go out to Raghu Ramaswamy, Chris Long, Robert Cooprider, Nita Surathu, Desi Grosso, Daryl Hall, Eric Hill, Chris Peak, Dave Gilbert, Janet Slawinski, Paula Mattingly for the creative technology solution and the Hospital leadership team; our pharmacy team (especially Brianna Englett) for their diligence in working out the emergency back-up process to ensure patient safety; and our nursing and medical staff for ensuring that patient safety was priority #1.

 

5 Years of Behavioral Health Innovation Paying Dividends (Part I)

April 15th, 2014 by Will Humble 3 comments »

MPeople with a serious mental illness die more than 30 years earlier than people without those challenges.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reflecting about some of the innovative strategies that we’ve implemented with our behavioral health community partners over the last several years to improve the health status of folks with a serious mental illness.

I’ll start with a project that began with modest funding from SAMHSA, through a grant meant for small pilots to test concepts in our community.  In 2009, we and AHCCCS jointly applied for and got a Transformation Transfer Initiative grant which was used to initiate a peer-based whole health program Maricopa and Pima Counties.  The goal of the program was to help transform the behavioral health system into one that applies a holistic approach to consumer health.

Magellan Health Services of Arizona launched the first phase of Integrated Health Homes as part of this initiative- bringing together mental health and physical health care.  The model was a partnership between Magellan, Maricopa Integrated Health System, and CHOICES Network, Partners in Recovery, People of Color Network and Southwest Network.  By 2013, there were 10 Integrated Health Homes in Maricopa County that have been providing coordinated care for members.  Thousands of people have received coordinated care and achieved better outcomes through these health homes.  Here are some additional typical health home participant vignettes that profile service recipients who can benefit from the initiative.

In the coming weeks, I’ll cover improvements in the Crisis Response System, the kids system of care, children’s substance abuse, coordination with the correctional system, and performance dashboards.

FDA Approves Painkiller Overdose Field Treatment

April 14th, 2014 by Will Humble 3 comments »

EIt’s no secret that misuse and abuse of opiate painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin are a large and growing public health threat in Arizona-  misuse and abuse of these medicines are now killing more Arizonans than car crashes.

Last week the FDA approved a prescription treatment called Evzio that can be used in medical emergencies caused by prescription opiates or heroin.  It’s approved to approved to rapidly deliver a single dose of the drug naloxone using a hand-held auto-injector.  The goal is to put this in the hands of non-medical folks who might encounter overdose patients.  Our EMS agencies and hospitals have used naloxone for decades- but this new approval potentially opens administration opportunities to other first-responders as well.

There’s some concern in the medical community about using naloxone in the field because it can cause some pretty bad side effects in folks that have been using opiates for a long time…  but given the increase in deaths related to overdoses, the FDA has taken a pretty bold move.

More Arizona Parents Choosing Not to Vaccinate their Kids

April 11th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

Vac2_031.jpgAs I mentioned in a blog post last year, more AZ parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kids- using “personal exemptions” when they enroll their kids in school.  This has jeopardized our immunization rates enough that this week’s measles case in Maricopa County could spread.  We’ll know in a couple of weeks.

Vaccinating yourself and your kids is more about community protection than personal protection.  We need just about everybody to participate and get vaccinated in order to get the herd immunity we all need to prevent the spread of diseases like measles.   It’s a social contract that we have with each other to keep all of us healthy- just like it’s everyone’s responsibility to be a Good Samaritan when you see a car crash.

Last year we asked the UA’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman’s College of Public Health to conduct a Study Summary and provide Recommendations to overcome the trend toward increased vaccine exemptions.  Using the study results, we developed and implemented an Action Plan to Address Vaccine Exemptions last year.  Here’s a link to our Action Plan Summary with the details of the key interventions we’ve conducted over the last year.

Epidemiologists: Public Health’s Smoke-Jumpers

April 10th, 2014 by Will Humble 2 comments »

MeaslesLike a hotshot team, a rapid response by public health is essential to stopping the spread of measles in unvaccinated persons… and disease detectives in Maricopa County are currently working to squash a measles outbreak right now.

Last week a person with measles visited a restaurant, church and airport in Arizona, exposing over a thousand people to measles.  Press releases and health alerts have gone out- and epidemiologists, public health nurses, and healthcare providers have been dispatched by Maricopa County Public Health to identify, isolate and control further cases.  Time will tell if their efforts pay off.  We should know in a couple of weeks (the incubation period for measles is 10 – 18 days).

Measles seeks out the unvaccinated like fire seeks a dry branch – the chance of an unvaccinated contact getting measles is 90% once exposed.   If you’re not vaccinated against measles, you can get it just by being in a room with someone who has measles.  A measles vaccine can prevent infection if given within 72 hours of exposure as an emergency control measure for unvaccinated folks…  but herd immunity is what keeps the community from getting burned.

Let’s Get Screened

April 10th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

letsgetscreenedColorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Arizona.  Across men and women, all age groups, races, and ethnicities, about ½ of all colorectal cancer diagnoses in Arizona are late-stage, which are more difficult to treat. Our Fit at Fifty HealthCheck Program screens about 1,500 Arizonans per year by providing Fecal Immunochemical Tests and colonoscopies for individuals who qualify. For more information about the Fit at Fifty program, contact Emily Wozniak or Virginia Warren.

The CDC, the American Cancer Society, National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, and Health Resources Services Administration have kicked off the “80% by 2018” initiative to prioritize colorectal cancer screenings nationwide. This movement aims to get 80% of Americans screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. This is a result of the facts surrounding the status of colorectal cancer screening nationwide: not enough Americans are up-to-date on their screenings, and too many are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at late stages. According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20.

Medicare Cost Transparency

April 9th, 2014 by Will Humble No comments »

I’ve always believed that transparency improves the efficiency of any system.  Health care costs are no exception- and health care reimbursement costs are probably at the top of the list of systems that could be improved by applying a healthy dose of cost transparency.

Today the federal government took a giant step forward when they released a public data set called the “Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data: Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File”.  It’s a huge database that contains information on utilization, payment, and submitted charges organized by Provider Identifier, Code, and place of service.

Placing this data in the public domain will give researchers around the country access to critical data that can be used to determine where additional system efficiencies can be found and to propose new evidence-based solutions to improve public health outcomes- while making the Medicare and healthcare delivery system more cost effective.

Healthcare Associated Infections Progress Report

April 8th, 2014 by Will Humble 1 comment »

haiprogressreportHealthcare-Associated infections are a major (often preventable) threat to patient safety. Last week the National and State Healthcare Associated Infections Progress Report expanded on previous reports- detailing progress toward the eliminating healthcare-associated infections.  The HAI Progress Report found significant reductions for nearly all infections- including in AZ. Central line-associated bloodstream infections and surgical site infections continued to approach the 5-year goals set in the National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections.

Arizona’s public health system takes a layered approach to preventing HAI’s in our state.  It starts with our Licensing team- who regulates the healthcare institutions where the care happens.  Our Medical Facilities Licensing team and our HAI Program collaborate to ensure the safety of patients in Arizona by jointly providing technical assistance and guidance to licensed healthcare facilities in response to identified infection control breaches.  The next layer is our network of public health disease detectives.  Our Healthcare-Associated Infections Program and the counties conduct epidemiologic investigations when we get reports of unsafe injection practices affecting multiple patients.

Our HAI Program and Advisory Committee also generate guidance documents for healthcare facilities and provide best practices for infection control and injection safety like materials produced through the CDC’s One and Only Campaign and Arizona’s Stakeholder-driven No Place Like Home initiative- which partners with the national Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs project.

And Now, the Rest of the State

April 7th, 2014 by Will Humble 2 comments »

Now that the transition to a new Behavioral Health Authority in Maricopa County is underway- we’re turning our attention to bringing integrated care to the rest of the state.  We’ll be working hard throughout 2014 to set the course for integrating behavioral health and physical health for folks with a serious mental illness as we select behavioral health authorities in the rest of Arizona – it’s called the “Greater Arizona RFP.

We’ve decided that the Greater Arizona RFP will include integration of behavioral and physical health for folks with a serious mental illness- much like the Maricopa County contract.  People in the general mental health or substance abuse categories will get behavioral health services from the RBHA and their physical health care from an AHCCCS acute care health plan.

We’re also planning to consolidate several of the current Geographic Service Areas (GSAs).  We’re likely to have a total of 3 service zones (North, South, & Maricopa)- rather than the current 6.  We’re also going to ensure that tribal land aligns with the GSAs.  Of course- tribes wishing to continue as a Tribal Behavioral Health Authority would continue as-is. Finally, we’re inclined to include a provision in the solicitation that makes it clear awardees will only be able to hold a contract in 1 GSA.  We’ve also made some decisions regarding how we’ll be dealing with Medicare issues.

We plan on issuing the Request for Proposal (RFP) in July, review the proposals from October through December, and award the contracts just before the New Year- with an October 1, 2015 start date.  Stay tuned.  There’s still more work to be done- and some decisions to be made before we put the procurement on the street this Summer.