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With the Future of CMMI in Dynamic Flux, One Federal Advocacy Leader Shares His Perspectives

October 13, 2017
by Mark Hagland
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Blair Childs shares his perspectives on where CMMI might be headed in the coming months

With so much in a state of flux in Washington, D.C. these days when it comes to federal healthcare policy, policy and advocacy leaders across U.S. healthcare have been particularly anxious to get a sense of where the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), also referred to as the CMS Innovation Center, might be headed. CMMI is a center for payment innovation within the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). As described on its website, “The Innovation Center allows the Medicare and Medicaid programs to test models that improve care, lower costs, and better align payment systems to support patient-centered practices. The Innovation Center carefully evaluates innovative reform efforts widely used in the private sector, and is unique in its ability to develop provider-proposed approaches and quickly adjust models in response to feedback from clinicians and patients.”

Further, as the website description for CMMI notes, “The Innovation Center was established by section 1115A of the Social Security Act (as added by section 3021 of the Affordable Care Act). Congress created the Innovation Center for the purpose of testing “innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce program expenditures …while preserving or enhancing the quality of care” for those individuals who receive Medicare, Medicaid, or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits. Congress provided the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) with the authority to expand the scope and duration of a model being tested through rulemaking, including the option of testing on a nationwide basis.”

At the dawn of the Trump administration, there was considerable concern that CMMI might be shut down entirely; that concern was partly based on statements that Tom Price, M.D. had made when he was a Republican congressman, prior to his appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services. With the failure of attempts to repeal and replace the ACA this year, and then with Price’s resignation as HHS Secretary, the landscape appears to have changed somewhat.

And while some in the healthcare industry might think that some of the developments around the ongoing dynamics around the CMMI might be perceived as “inside baseball,” some mainstream media are picking up on the significance of the “CMMI question.” For example, in a September 21 report in POLITICO’s “Morning eHealth” section online, Darius Tahir wrote, under the headline, “CMMI DRAMA HITS OPERATIC LEVEL,” “As we teased in Wednesday’s Morning eHealth, CMS’s request for information on CMMI has landed. That’s the controversial office chartered by the Affordable Care Act with sweeping powers to reshape Medicare. The broad brushes are vague, but intriguing, and have piqued the interest of all the players in this drama. Let’s start by reviewing the RFI,” he wrote, linking to the RFI document. “Outlined in broad strokes is the new direction CMS intends to set for the Innovation Center, but the document also emphasizes that CMS wants to hear from you. Of particular interest to eHealth: the center wants to facilitate more advanced payment models; to empower consumer choice (potentially by “facilitat[ing] and encourag[ing] price and quality transparency”); to explore value-based pay models for drugs; to pay for behavioral health in novel ways (potentially by focusing on integrating care); and program integrity (i.e. fighting fraud). The office specifically asks for technologists’ input in the area of consumer choice.”

In fact, Tahir wrote on Sep. 21, “The mere announcement touched off controversy,” noting the fact that
“Former CMS staffer Aisling McDonough argued on Twitter that CMS’s method of soliciting comments was a blow against government transparency. The agency directed readers to submit their thoughts via an informal survey (here), and advised respondents that the agency may or may not publicly post the comments. The information gleaned through this process may be used by the government, the text of the survey further advises. Typically,” Tahir explained, “when the government engages in these sorts of administrative processes, they post the comments online — which is a good way to track what different organizations publicly think about policy. Depending on CMS’s approach to the information it gathers, outside observers will lose a tool to track the government’s policy process.”

Meanwhile, just two days earlier, on Sep. 19, CMS Administrator Seema Verma had published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, in which she stated that CMMI is interested in testing models in eight focus areas including increased participation in advanced alternative payment models, consumer-directed care and market-based innovation, physician specialty models, prescription drug models, Medicare Advantage innovation models, state-based and local innovation, including Medicaid focused models, mental and behavioral health models and program integrity. “Providers need the freedom to design and offer new approaches to delivering care,” Verma wrote. “Our goal is to increase flexibility by providing more waivers from current requirements.” Further, she said, CMS wants to see more competition between providers to compete for patients in a free market system. Transparency is needed for consumers to be more cost-conscious, she emphasized. “We will move away from the assumption that Washington can engineer a more efficient healthcare system from afar -- that we should specify the processes healthcare providers are required to follow,” Verma added.

Premier weighs in

The Charlotte-based Premier Inc., a nationwide collaborative of hospitals and other provider organizations, is one of the national healthcare professional associations that has been watching developments very closely. As Premier noted in a bulletin to its member organizations late last month, “CMS has solicited input on ‘new direction’ for the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation Center. Reading the tea leaves, CMS Administrator Seema Verma has laid out some thoughts on where the organization may be heading, including the need to focus on creating new payment models that move from fee-for-service to paying for value, holding providers accountable for outcomes; as well as empowering patients with information to seek value and quality as they shop for services.” That “What We’re Watching” bulletin went on to say, “What we’re saying: We are strongly encouraged that there is still a strong commitment to moving toward value-based, alternative payment models that promote high-value care, but we’d like to see increased incentives for providers moving in this direction. We highlight additional strategies CMS should consider in the efforts to improve the value-based care movement and would love to speak with you about what we’re seeking here.”


Blair Childs

In that context, Healthcare Informatics Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland recently interviewed Blair Childs, Premier’s senior vice president of public affairs, about the current moment. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Where does Premier stand with regard to the role that CMMI can or might play going forward, and what do you think will happen with CMMI in the near future?

It’s definitely surviving; the fact that they put out the RFI [request for input], gives the clear sense that they remain committed to CMMI, and realize it’s an important tool in their toolbox. There’s an enormous flexibility they’ve got, with CMMI. Second, everything is really bogged down, though. You don’t have a lot of key spots. And Patrick Conway has left [Patrick Conway, M.D., who had been director of CMMI, announced in August that he was leaving that position to become president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, effective Oct. 1], and he’s an incredibly valuable person to have lost. He left on September 18. So he’s gone. But they’re supposed to announce somebody new to that position any day. But [President Donald] Trump made a comment today that he doesn’t want to appoint a lot of people. But I still think that they will, and apparently, have a final candidate, and my understanding is that that person will be a solid person.

What do you think will happen over the short and medium term, at CMMI?

It depends on the leadership. They just did the RFI. If Tom Price were still there, there are things he would be trying to do; but obviously, it could be different, now that he’s gone. So I think right now that it’s a very confused situation. And it’s hard to be predictive until we get a new person in there, and they get the RFI done, and they sift through that. I know everybody’s going to be providing ideas.

What would you like them to do?

We have a whole bunch of recommendations. We’ve been saying for some time that this is a time to have a new level of leadership in HC, and these are all bipartisan ideas—MACRA [the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015] and so forth. We’d like to see more of a use of waivers, to give more flexibility to providers. We have a number of payment model ideas; one is a layered payment model, in which you’d have a more comprehensive way to help providers to manage their costs—primary care, patient-centered medical home, with a capitated model and bundles, inside an ACO [accountable care organization]. We also have an idea for critical access hospitals. We’ve developed a whole health policy roadmap, in fact.

Do you see CMMI as moving forward in a robust way, and really becoming capable of helping to lead transformation in the healthcare system?

The article that Seema Verma put in the Wall Street Journal was pretty good. It talked about the need to pay for value, and so there’s definitely a commitment to that. I don’t think, though, that there is as much of a commitment to the public payer side. There’s much more of a focus on getting private payers to make change. There’s just a lot more focus on, let private payers act, don’t have the government lead. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, you would have seen mandatory bundles executed for a lot of procedure areas. you won’t see that now. But you won’t see a retreat. I just don’t anticipate seeing a lot of new energy.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

We’re in a little bit of a holding pattern right now, until we get clearer direction, from the RFI, and also, supposedly, Seema Verma is going to become more visible and out talking more. When we get a new secretary, that will help, and when we get a new head of CMMI. And Seema Verma is not visible right now in Washington, so there are a lot of openings. I’d like to have some greater clarity.


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CMS: 93% of Clinicians Get Positive Payment Adjustments for MIPS Year 1

November 8, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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Ninety-three percent of MIPS (Merit-based Incentive Payment System)-eligible clinicians received a positive payment adjustment for their performance in 2017, and 95 percent overall avoided a negative payment adjustment, according to a CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) announcement today.

The first year of MIPS under MACRA’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) was dubbed by CMS as a “pick your pace year,” which essentially enabled clinicians to avoid payment penalties as long as they submitted at least the minimum amount of quality data. As such, in its announcement, CMS did admit that the overall performance threshold for MIPS was established at a relatively low level of three points, and the availability of “pick your pace” provided participation flexibility through three reporting options for clinicians: “test”, partial year, or full-year reporting.

CMS said that 93 percent of MIPS-eligible clinicians received a positive payment adjustment for their performance in 2017, and 95 percent overall avoided a negative payment adjustment. CMS specifically calculated that approximately 1.06 million MIPS-eligible clinicians in total will receive a MIPS payment adjustment, either positive, neutral, or negative. The payment adjustments for the 2017 program year get reflected in 2019.

Breaking down the 93 percent of participants that received a positive payment adjustment last year, 71 percent earned a positive payment adjustment and an adjustment for exceptional performance, while 22 percent earned a positive payment adjustment only. Meanwhile, just 5 percent of MIPS-eligible clinicians received a negative payment adjustment, and 2 percent received a neutral adjustment (no increase or decrease).

Of the total population, just over one million MIPS-eligible clinicians reported data as either an individual, as a part of a group, or through an Alternative Payment Model (APM), and received a neutral payment adjustment or better. Additionally, under the Advanced APM track, just more than 99,000 eligible clinicians earned Qualifying APM Participant (QP) status, according to the CMS data.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma noted on the first pick-your-pace year of the QPP, “This measured approach allowed more clinicians to successfully participate, which led to many clinicians exceeding the performance threshold and a wider distribution of positive payment adjustments. We expect that the gradual increases in the performance thresholds in future program years will create an evolving distribution of payment adjustments for high performing clinicians who continue to invest in improving quality and outcomes for beneficiaries.”

For 2018, the second year of the QPP, CMS raised the stakes for those participating clinicians. And in the third year of the program, set to start in January 2019, a final rule was just published with year three requirements. Undoubtedly, as time passes, eligible clinicians will be asked for greater participation at higher levels. At the same time, CMS continues to exempt certain clinicians who don’t meet a low-volume Medicare threshold.

Earlier this year, CMS said that 91 percent of all MIPS-eligible clinicians participated in the first year of the QPP, exceeding the agency’s internal goal.

What’s more, from a scoring perspective in 2017, the overall national mean score for MIPS-eligible clinicians was 74.01 points, and the national median was 88.97 points, on a 0 to 100 scale. Further breaking down the mean and median:

  • Clinicians participating in MIPS as individuals or groups (and not through an APM) received a mean score of 65.71 points and a median score of 83.04 points
  • Clinicians participating in MIPS through an APM received a mean score of 87.64 points and a median score of 91.67 points

Additionally, clinicians in small and rural practices who were not in APMs and who chose to participate in MIPS also performed well, CMS noted. On average, MIPS eligible clinicians in rural practices earned a mean score of 63.08 points, while clinicians in small practices received a mean score of 43.46 points.

Said Verma, “While we understand that challenges remain for clinicians in small practices, these results suggest that these clinicians and those in rural practices can successfully participate in the program. With these mean scores, clinicians in small and rural practices would still receive a neutral or positive payment adjustment for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 performance years due to the relatively modest performance thresholds that we have established. We will also continue to directly support these clinicians now and in future years of the program.”

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HHS Secretary Azar: HHS Is Planning New Mandatory Bundled Payment Models

November 8, 2018
by Heather Landi, Associate Editor
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is revisiting mandatory bundled payment models, possibly for radiation oncology and cardiac care, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, which signals a strong about-face in the Trump Administration’s policy about bundled payment initiatives.

HHS is reexamining the role that mandatory bundled payment models can play in the transition to value-based care, Azar said in a keynote speech at the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative Conference on Thursday. HHS published Azar’s comments.

In the published remarks, Azar said the Trump Administration is revisiting mandatory bundled payments and exploring new voluntary bundled payments as part of the Administration’s goal of paying for outcomes, rather than process.

“We need results, American patients need change, and when we need mandatory models to deliver it, mandatory models are going to see a comeback,” Azar said.

In his speech, Azar said, “Imagine a system where physicians and other providers only had to worry about the outcome, rather than worrying about their staffing ratios and the individual reimbursements for every procedure they do and every drug they prescribe. That kind of payment system would radically reorient power in our healthcare system—away from the federal government and back to those closest to the patient.”

He continued, “One way we can do that is through bundling payments, rather than paying for every individual service. This is an area where you have already seen testing from CMMI for several years now—and I want to let you know today that you are going to see a lot more such ideas in the future.”

Azar highlighted the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI), which, he said, has shown significant savings in several common inpatient episodes, including joint replacement and pneumonia.

During his speech on Thursday, Azar said, “I want to share with all of you for the first time today: We intend to revisit some of the episodic cardiac models that we pulled back, and are actively exploring new and improved episode-based models in other areas, including radiation oncology. We’re also actively looking at ways to build on the lessons and successes of the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement model.

“We’re not going to stop there: We will use all avenues available to us—including mandatory and voluntary episode-based payment models,” he said.

One industry group, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), already has voiced concerns about a mandatory payment model. In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Laura Thevenot, CEO of ASTRO, made it clear that the organizaiton strongly supports a radiation oncology alternative payment model (RO-APM). "ASTRO has worked for many years to craft a viable payment model that would stabilize payments, drive adherence to nationally-recognized clinical guidelines and improve patient care. ASTRO believes its proposed RO-APM will allow radiation oncologists to participate fully in the transition to value-based care that both improves cancer outcomes and reduces costs."

Thevenot said ASTRO has aggressively pursued adoption of this proposed model with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). However, Thevenot said the group has concerns "about the possibility of launching a model that requires mandatory participation from all radiation oncology practices at the outset."

Further, Thevenot said any radiation oncology payment model will represent "a significant departure from the status quo." "Care must be taken to protect access to treatments for all radiation oncology patients and not disadvantage certain types of practices, particularly given the very high fixed costs of running a radiation oncology clinic," Thevenot stated.

Back in January, CMS announced the launch of the voluntary BPCI Advanced model, noting that it “builds on the earlier success of bundled payment models and is an important step in the move away from fee-for-service and towards paying for value.” The BPCI Advanced model includes more than 1,000 participants that are receiving episode-based payments for over 30 clinical areas, Azar said.

“BPCI Advanced is a voluntary model, where potential participants can select whether they want to join. But we’re not going to stick to voluntary models. Real experimentation with episodic bundles requires a willingness to try mandatory models. We know they are the most effective way to know whether these bundles can successfully save money and improve quality,” Azar said.

The Obama Administration introduced mandatory bundled payment for care for heart attacks and for cardiac bypass surgery in July 2016.

In the past, CMS Administrator Seema Verma has said that she does not support making bundled payments mandatory, and former HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. had strongly opposed mandatory bundles, going so far as to direct the end of two mandatory bundled payment programs—one existing and one previously announced. In November 2017, CMS finalized a rule, proposed in August 2017, that cancelled mandatory hip fracture and cardiac bundled payment models.

As per that final rule, CMS also scaled back the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model (CJR), specifically reducing the number of mandatory geographic areas participating in CJR from 67 areas to 34 areas. And, in an effort to address the unique needs of rural providers, the federal agency also made participation voluntary for all low-volume and rural hospitals participating in the model in all 67 geographic areas.

On Thursday, Azar acknowledged that his statements signaled HHS was reversing course on its previous stance, noting that last year the administration reduced the size of the CJR model and pulled back the other episode payment models, including those on cardiac care, before they could launch.

Azar, who was confirmed as HHS Secretary earlier this year, signaled early on that he diverged from Verma and Price on his views about mandatory bundled payments. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing in January on his nomination for HHS Secretary, he said, on the topic of CMMI [the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation] pilot programs, “I believe that we need to be able to test hypotheses, and if we have to test a hypothesis, I want to be a reliable partner, I want to be collaborative in doing this, I want to be transparent, and follow appropriate procedures; but if to test a hypothesis there around changing our healthcare system, it needs to be mandatory there as opposed to voluntary, then so be it.”

During his speech Thursday, Azar pointed to the Administration’s first mandatory model, which was unveiled two weeks ago, called the International Pricing Index (IPI) Model for payments for Part B drugs. Azar said the model is a “mandatory model that will help address the inequity between what the U.S. and other countries pay for many costly drugs.”

Further, Azar said CMMI also will launch new primary care payment models before the end of the year, with the aim of introducing a spectrum of risk for primary care providers, Azar said.

“Before the end of this year, you will see new payment models coming forth from CMMI that will give primary care physicians more flexibility in how they care for their patients, while offering them significant rewards for successfully keeping them healthy and out of the hospital,” he said.

“Different sizes and types of practices can take on different levels of risk. As many of you know, even smaller practices want to be, and can be, compensated based on their patients’ outcomes,” he said. “We want to incentivize that, with a spectrum of flexibility, too: The more risk you are willing to take on, the less we’re going to micromanage your work.”

Azar also noted HHS’ efforts to examine impediments to care coordination, such as examining the Stark Law, the Anti-Kickback Statute, HIPAA, and 42 CFR Part 2. CMS has already launched and concluded a request for information on the Stark Law, and the Office of the Inspector General has done the same on the Anti-Kickback Statute, he noted.

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Heartening Speech at CHIME18 Should Inspire U.S. Healthcare Leaders

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The story of an Amazonian tribe could serve as a motivational lesson for U.S. healthcare stakeholders

It was inspiring to hear Sanjay Gupta, M.D., the well-known neurosurgeon and medical reporter, give the closing keynote at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) 2018 Fall CIO Forum in San Diego last week. Dr. Gupta, who serves as associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, while also best known as CNN's multiple Emmy Award-winning chief medical correspondent, discussed the fascinating balance that he strikes between medicine and media.

“Oftentimes, I see people at their best, and sometimes at their worst. I get to travel the world, where I learn so much, but also teach others. Sometimes the dance between medicine and media can be awkward and emotionally challenging. But almost always, the stories we do have a significant impact,” Gupta told the Fall CIO Forum attendees.

What was perhaps most captivating about Gupta’s speech was when he spoke about visiting a primitive Amazonian tribe that appears to have the best heart health in the world. The Tsimane people of Bolivia do not speak a language, live a simple existence, and are disease-free, explained Gupta. So he went to visit the tribe with the goal to understand its lifestyle and what led to its members having such healthy hearts.  

Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

“I went spearfishing with one [tribe member], who thought he was 84-years-old, but he really didn’t know for sure. His shirt was off, and he was ripped, balancing himself on the canoe, just looking at the water, spearing fish. His eyesight was perfect. The entire indigenous tribe was just like this,” Gupta recalled.

After examining the Tsimane tribe’s diet, Gupta noted it was a hunter-gatherer society, meaning there was nothing technological. “The most mechanical thing I saw was a pulley for the well,” he said. Seventy percent of what they eat is carbohydrates—unrefined and unprocessed—while 15 percent of their diet is protein, and 15 percent fat, he added. “You need farmed food because oftentimes you don’t have successful hunting days, so the farmed food was the food in the bank. And they would do intermitting fasting, too. These are the people with the healthiest hearts in the world,” Gupta exclaimed.

When it comes to activity, when hunters are hunting, they’re never outrunning their prey, but rather outlasting it, noted Gupta. “We found that they walked about 17,000 steps per day. But they didn’t run; they only walked. They are active, but not intensively active. They also hardly every sit—they are either lying or standing all the time. And they would get nine hours of sleep per night, waking up to the rooster’s crow. There are no devices. Again, these are the people who have the healthiest hearts in world. They don’t have a healthcare system and don’t spend a dollar on healthcare,” Gupta stated.

What’s even more interesting about this tribe is that each of its members lives with some degree of a parasitic infection, which they usually get it early in life, have a few days of illness, and then just live with these parasites in their bodies for their entire lives. “The belief is that so much of the disease we talk about—that leads to this $3.3 trillion price tag [the total cost of U.S. healthcare spending in 2016]—is actually ignited or worsened by our immune systems. So the parasitic infections could be part of the reason they are protected from all types of diseases,” Gupta offered.

Essentially, it’s living this basic, undeveloped life that “inadvertently provides them extraordinary protection against heart disease,” noted a report in HealthDay last year. “Thanks to their unique lifestyle, most Tsimane [members] have arteries unclogged by the cholesterol plaques that drastically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in modern Americans,” Gregory Thomas, M.D., medical director of the Memorial Care Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial, in California, said in that report.

Tsimane tribe (source: University of New Mexico)

You might be asking what the story of the Tsimane tribe has to do with U.S. healthcare since its lifestyle would obviously never be replicated in a developed country. And while that is true, it’s tough to ignore the $1 billion per day that our healthcare system spends on heart disease—compared to the Tsimane tribe that doesn’t spend a single dime, yet has the healthiest hearts in the world.

In this sense, perhaps we can use the Tsimane story to push ourselves to develop a greater understanding of why we spend so much money on healthcare and don’t have the results to show for it. Gupta asked this $3.3 trillion-dollar question in his speech—why does healthcare in the U.S. cost so much and what do we get in return?

“If you look at the statistics, it’s not impressive. More people die from preventable disease in the U.S. than in 12 other nations. People live longer in 30 other countries compared to the U.S.—including places like Chile and Costa Rica. We still have tens of millions of people who don’t have access, and we still spend all this money on healthcare. Why?” he asked.

Gupta explained that the nation’s high healthcare costs come down to the following: high administrative costs, technology, new drugs and development, and the cost of chronic disease—the last which is incredibly self-inflicted. About 70 to 80 percent of chronic disease is self-preventable, he said.

Indeed, as most of us know, about 5 percent of the U.S. population accounts for 50 percent of the healthcare costs. These are folks who are defined by illness, not by health, Gupta stated. This is why the modern-day healthcare system has proactively taken to targeting that 5 percent to improve their chances of preventing disease and staying healthy. “Data shows that home visits, nutritional counseling, one-on-one coaching, and diligent follow-up care can go a long way in preventing someone from getting sick in the first place, and from turning a disease into something more chronic. Some of these interventions can actually reverse disease. The die is not cast,” Gupta said.

For me, Gupta’s keynote highlighted the need for efforts around value-based care, care management, and population health to be intensified. A big part of that, as noted in the speech, is addressing patients’ social and environmental factors. It’s not at all surprising to see studies such as this one from earlier this year, conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) College of Public Health, Tampa, and WellCare Health Plans, and published in Population Health Management, which found that healthcare spending is substantially reduced when people are successfully connected to social services that address social barriers, or social determinants of health, such as secure housing, medical transportation, healthy food programs, and utility and financial assistance.

And with that, there is also an enormous opportunity for data and IT to play a role. Information sharing, so that providers have access to the right information at the point of care—no matter where the patient is—will be critical to reducing unnecessary costs. As will the robust use of data analytics, so that patient care organizations can be proactive in predicting which patients are at highest risk, when they might need services, and how to intervene at the appropriate time.

But to this point, Gupta, who noted that our society can get too caught up in high-tech, also suggested that “medicine seems to play by slightly different rules when it comes to innovation as opposed to other sectors. Sometimes, innovation moves painstakingly slow in respect to medicine.” At the end of the day, he said, it will be “the innovations that make us, [as a society], healthier, happier, and connect us in frictionless ways, that will be the biggest winners.”

So, will the U.S. population suddenly turn off their iPhone alarms, wake up to the rooster’s crow, and become a hunter-gatherer society? No, I would say that’s quite unlikely to happen. But hearing stories such as the one of the Tsimane tribe might just serve as good enough motivation to bring down the astronomical and unsustainable costs of U.S. healthcare.

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