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Healthcare Associations, Stakeholders Respond to MACRA Finalized Rule with Cautious Hopefulness

October 17, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Industry leaders discuss how CMS responded to their MACRA concerns

The initial reaction from healthcare stakeholders to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) Final Rule was one of cautious optimism. Indeed, industry leaders seem pleased with how federal officials have responded to their concerns, but also realize that future years of the Quality Payment program could prove challenging for eligible Medicare physicians.

Following the release of the 2,398-page rule on Oct. 14, Healthcare Informatics took a first look at some of the key changes between the proposed and final rule and the rationales that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) offered for its decisions. Many of these adjustments were responses to stakeholder feedback, as provider-led associations pushed the government to: reduce burdens, help ease them into the new program, lower risk thresholds for what qualifies as advanced alternative payment models (APMs), and provide plenty more flexibilities so smaller physician practices don’t get penalized for not having the tools or resources to thrive under MACRA.

For the most part, CMS seemed to listen very closely to these concerns, as the agency continues to collect feedback in the 60-day window before the first reporting period kicks in on Jan. 1, 2017.  

Washington, D.C.-based The Advisory Board released a statement applauding the relief that the Final Rule afforded in the first year. “Most—if not all—clinicians should be able to avoid a negative payment adjustment for performance year 2017. CMS proposes three options for providers subject to MIPS [Merit-Based Incentive Payment System] in 2017, the easiest of which providers can meet by reporting a single metric. CMS has also raised the low-volume threshold, exempting more small practices from MIPS,” the statement read.

Indeed, last month, CMS announced flexibilities that will allow eligible Medicare physicians to pick their pace of participation for the first performance period of the program that begins Jan. 1, 2017, aiming to allow physicians to ease into the program if they choose without getting hit with negative payment adjustments right away. These pathways range from sending in only some data into the Quality Payment Program; to sending in more data but for a reduced period of time; to “going all in” for an advanced APM.

Confirmed via the Final Rule, in 2017, only those clinicians on the MIPS track who don’t send in any data will receive a negative 4 percent payment adjustment; all others will receive a neutral or positive payment adjustment. The negative/neutral/positive payment adjustments in MIPS will grow to 9 percent by 2022. To this end, The Advisory Board also expressed satisfaction that providers will not be scored on the “resource use” category in 2017 and can satisfy full-year reporting requirements by reporting for a 90-day period.

Enough Risk?

MACRA’s Quality Payment Program has two tracks for eligible Medicare doctors—the APM track for those participating in what CMS calls an “innovative payment model,” and the MIPS track which is for Medicare Part B providers who will earn a performance-based payment adjustment. For months since the proposed rule was released, a key talking point was what would qualify as an advanced APM, and further, if the prerequisites for these alternative payment models were too aggressive in terms of how the government defined the “nominal risk” financial requirement.

Much of this was cleared up in the Final Rule. For one thing, CMS announced a new advanced APM in 2018—ACO Track 1+, which has lower levels of risk than other accountable care organizations (ACOs). CMS also changed one of the qualifications for participation in advanced APMs to be practice-based as an alternative to total cost-based.

What does this mean? CMS now predicts a much greater push into the APM track from what was previously considered. As Healthcare Informatics’ David Raths noted in this first look at MACRA, in the proposed rule, CMS had estimated that 30,000 to 90,000 clinicians would be qualified APMs in 2017, or less than 10 percent, give or take. However, with new advanced APMs expected to become available in 2017 and 2018, including the Medicare ACO Track 1+, and amendments to reopen applications for or modify current APMs such as the Maryland All-Payer Model, the Oncology Care Model and Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, the agency now anticipates approximately 70,000 qualifying APM participants in 2017 and 125,000 to 250,000 in 2018, or upwards of 25 percent.

Regarding the Oncology Care Model (OCM) specifically, Brenton Fargnoli, M.D., associate medical director, strategic initiatives at healthcare technology Flatiron Health, and practicing oncology hospitalist, says that the OCM was initially set up was so that downside risk would become an option starting in 2018—but as a response to the MACRA Final Rule considering this model for an advanced APM, downside risk will be an option for participating practices on Jan. 1, 2017. However, by virtue of the requirements, if downside risk is not elected, participants in the OCM would qualify for the MIPS track, notes Fargnoli.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte, N.C.-based Premier Alliance, previously disappointed with how CMS had defined nominal risk under MACRA, released a statement that said, “While we are pleased that CMS eased the policy defining the advanced APM to allow additional programs to qualify and has signaled it will increase the number of available models, the nominal risk standard remains way too high. As we have learned from members in our bundled payment and population health management collaboratives, these models require significant investment in redesigning care through new technologies, data analytics, and additional staff. CMS has chosen to ignore these realities.”

In a more in-depth interview with Healthcare Informatics, Danielle Lloyd, Premier’s vice president for policy development and analysis, says the hope was that “CMS might be taking into account the other takes of risk that organizations take on. It takes a few million dollars of capital to start an ACO and we consider that a form of risk that’s more than nominal.”

To this end, according to Farzad Mostashari, M.D., founder of Aledade, a company that focuses on physician-led ACOs, says that the most significant thing CMS did was “creating a smart way of defining what nominal risk was based on your income for Medicare Part A and Part B.” So, he says, “It starts at 8 percent and goes up to 15 percent, meaning if more than that proportion of your Medicare revenue is at risk, in a two-sided risk model, then that is more than nominal risk for you. This will absolutely shift the equation in terms of how many doctors will be in advanced APMs and out of MIPS,” he says.

While Premier’s Lloyd appreciates that CMS reduced the total Medicare Part A and Part B risk level requirement, for a health system-led organization, the Medicare Part A and B risk at 8 percent in many cases is going to exceed all other thresholds, she says. “So we don’t think this new option helps health systems and hospitals as much as physician groups,” Lloyd says.

Relief for Smaller Practices

Speaking of smaller physician practices, much of the industry reaction so far has been extremely complimentary towards CMS regarding how the agency listened and responded to the overwhelming concern of how MACRA would lead to the demise of small practices.

A Black Book survey from June revealed that two-thirds of high Medicare-volume small practices said they foresee the end of their independence due to the physician payment changes that will take place under MACRA. Additionally, much was made about a CMS-made table in the proposed rule that estimated 87 percent of eligible solo practitioners and 70 percent of practices with two to nine physicians could get hit with a negative payment adjustment early on in the program.

In the Final Rule, however, the new table estimates far less damage for small practices—as Politico’s Morning eHealth reported on Oct. 17, now, just “10 percent of doctor practices of fewer than nine physicians will be penalized.” Mostashari says that with how the proposed rule was outlined, participating physicians would have to take on total cost of care downside risk, meaning payments to Medicare totaling millions of dollars. For small and solo practices, this was considered detrimental to their independence. But now, due to redefining nominal risk based on a provider’s Medicare income, that’s no longer the case, he says.

CMS also did more to help small practices transition, including allowing them to join “virtual groups” to combine their MIPS reporting. Premier’s statement called for the acceleration of these groups, which aren’t scheduled to begin until 2018. CMS further said that many of these solo and small doctors will be excluded from MIPS; an estimated 32.5 percent of clinicians, or over 380,000, will not meet the low-volume Medicare threshold, which includes clinicians with $30,000 or less in Medicare Part B allowed charges or less than 100 Medicare patients, per the Final Rule.

Meanwhile, the Englewood, Col.-based Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) released a statement that said it is “pleased with the significant burden reduction for physician practices in the first year of the MIPS program and new alternative payment model options outlined in the final rule. It’s disappointing that flexibility provided for quality reporting in 2017 largely disappears in 2018 and beyond. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services missed an opportunity to close the two-year gap between the measurement and payment periods, which would facilitate improved patient care by providing actionable feedback to physicians and more timely incentives. The sheer magnitude of a 2400-page regulation and its impact on physician practices can’t be ignored.”

Mostashari, though, feels that much of the flexibilities granted in the Final Rule essentially make both 2017 and 2018 “transition years.” He says, “They would do rulemaking in 2017 to see what 2018 will be like. I tend to be in the camp that feels you don’t want to push everything back; there should be rewards for the early majority and first movers. You wouldn’t want to see this increased flexibility come at the expense of those who are ready to go more aggressively. They will have to balance that,” he says.


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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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