Thursday, September 20, 2018

Workgroup for Medicaid and Medicare agency develops yardsticks for measuring rural health-care access

Improving patients' health literacy and reducing out-of-pocket costs can help improve the health outcomes of the more than 59 million Americans living in rural areas, according to a report by National Quality Forum, a non-profit organization that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asked to identify better ways to address and measure rural health outcomes. CMS will use the recommendations to fine-tune its recently announced Rural Health Strategy.

A workgroup created by NQF recommended that health-care leaders facilitate better communication between providers and patients, and educate patients about insurance. For example, patients might not understand the risk of a high-deductible plan, Jessica Kent reports for Health IT Analytics.

The workgroup recommended that insurers speed up processes to help patients see providers more quickly, and develop measures to help them switch from a general care provider to a specialist. And because transportation is a barrier to access for many rural patients, the group suggested health-care organizations partner with existing transportation services and invest more in telehealth.

"Moreover, the workgroup supported the inclusion of measures that address specific conditions that are relevant for rural populations, including measures related to mental health, substance abuse, and chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension," Kent reports.

No comments: