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Making the Next Move in MACRA

September 13, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Health IT experts discuss: Which MACRA pathway is best for providers in 2017? And what could they be doing to get ready for Jan.1, 2017?

When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Sept. 8 that it will allow eligible Medicare physicians to pick their pace of participation for the first performance period of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) that begins Jan. 1, 2017, the initial industry reaction seemed to be a collective sigh of long-awaited relief.

After all, ever since the MACRA proposed rule, which is set to overhaul physician payment as the healthcare industry shifts to paying doctors for value rather than volume, was released in April, many doctors were wondering how they would be able to learn all of the regulations and be able to comply with just a few months’ time to prepare. And, smaller physician practices were even more concerned; 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.

But then came the program flexibility news last week, delivered via a blog post on CMS’ website by the agency’s Acting Administrator, Andy Slavitt. Slavitt, while previously leaving the door open for a delay to the outcomes-based program, implied in his blog that the Jan. 1 reporting period start date (which would affect payment adjustments for eligible doctors in 2019) would stay intact, but that other flexibilities would be granted. Although no final rule on MACRA has been published to date, with most healthcare policy experts targeting sometime this fall as when it will come, Slavitt said participating providers will have four pathways to choose from for the first year of MACRA in 2017. These pathways range from sending in only some data to MACRA’s Quality Payment Program, which includes two paths—the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Models (APMs); to sending in more data but for a reduced period of time; to “going all in” as is. The idea, CMS said, is to allow doctors to choose their pace for easing into a brand new physician payment program full of complexities, while at the same time avoiding negative payment adjustments in 2019.

In an in-depth analysis of the CMS announcement from last week, Healthcare Informatics Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland cited multiple healthcare association groups, who at the very least, were appreciative of the government’s efforts to ease the burden on Medicare doctors. But what are providers on the ground saying? John David Goodson, M.D., staff internist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, for one, says that CMS’ message was a strategic move to get doctors to be involved in reporting their data starting next year. Goodson notes how the Physician Quality Reporting System, or PQRS, has been around for a long time, “but many doctors decided to take the financial hit rather than comply with it.” He says that the reporting required in MACRA’s Quality Payment Program will require good, solid data which CMS will never get unless they get doctors to buy into the reporting mechanisms. As such, the pathways laid out by the federal agency are attempts to at the least, get the community of providers engaged at a minor level, Goodson says.

Goodson adds that much of MACRA is baked into Congressional law, and the government is ready to move forward with physician payment adjustments based on quality beginning in 2019. As such, “Congress doesn’t have an appetite for readdressing this program,” Goodson attests. “They want to see this played out, as value-based payment has become so universally accepted,” he says. He adds that at some point, doctors will have to make the choice between staying in Medicare or getting out. “There is a fear that this whole system will implode because doctors won’t want to play this game anymore.  They think it’s too demanding and crazy.” However, Goodson believes that in the end, most providers want to partake in Medicare, and the key will be to be able to obtain the meaningful data that these programs under MACRA will inevitably require.

Weighing the Options

Meanwhile, on the policy front, Mari Savickis, vice president of federal affairs at the Ann Arbor, Mich-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), is pleased with the flexibilities announced by CMS, noting that it shows that the agency is “listening and reacting” to provider concerns. “Anything that points in the direction of increased flexibility for providers so that they would avoid financial penalties is a good thing from our perspective,” says Savickis.

Savickis herself won’t rule out a delay to the start of the program still, as last week’s news came in the form of a blog post rather than an official final rule. “We appreciate that they want to make sure the program is a success, but you have to operate within the parameters of reality, she says. “Finalizing a rule so close to the end of the calendar rule makes it incredibly hard for vendors and providers to meet a full year of reporting.”

Savickis notes the possibility that CMS is using the pathway flexibility in lieu of saying that providers don’t have to start reporting right away. “It’s an option,” she says, referring to the pathways that will allow providers to either “submit some data to the Quality Payment Program, including data from after Jan. 1, 2017,” or “submit Quality Payment Program information for a reduced number of days,” as outlined by CMS. Savickis says, “Obviously your ability to obtain a higher incentive payment would be mitigated if you can’t report to anything or start right away. It’s possible that this is their solution to the full-year reporting period.”

Tom Lee, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Chicago-based consulting and software firm SA Ignite, who is as familiar as they come regarding health IT reporting requirements and regulations, agrees with Savickis on the intent of CMS. In an emailed response, Lee notes that for “incentive seekers,” the true start date for MACRA is indeed Jan. 1, 2017. “For providers choosing the first option (some data) or the second (partial year), there effectively can be a later start to the performance period,” he says. That’s why, Lee says, the CMS announcement is good for providers in a "penalty-avoidance" mindset by providing more flexible means to avoid penalties. 

Navigating the Road Ahead

Regarding the overwhelming concern for small and solo practices’ ability to survive under MACRA—as discussed at length during a Congressional hearing this summer—Goodson isn’t buying the narrative of fear that’s being portrayed. While he acknowledges that he is part of a larger enterprise at MGH, Goodson says that MACRA is only deadly for small practices “if they let themselves be intimidated.” He says, “The guys who run the little practices are agile, inventive and autonomous. They know how to get things done. I live within an enterprise and it drives me crazy sometimes. They just don’t know how to steer this large battleship. [Conversely], the little guys are able to move quickly.”

Goodson notes that the smaller practices also have more equity in their patient panel, leading to good will and trust, which is the way to save money in healthcare, he says. “Trust allows you to use time as a diagnostic tool and a therapeutic intervention. So if you’re close to your patients, live in the community, and have a relationship with them, you can be a high quality, low cost provider.” Goodson adds that the key thing for these small practices is to have complete control over their data. This means that they know exactly who their patients are, what their problems and medications are, and what all their diagnostic codes are, so every single thing that has been identified as a problem with the patient maps to an ICD code.

Nonetheless, John Squire, president and chief operating officer of Amazing Charts, a West Warwick, R.I.-based electronic health record (EHR) software vendor, is less confident in small practices’ ability to succeed under MACRA. Squire, whose company’s provider clients are mainly in the 1 to 10 practice size range, says that most of them aren’t the least bit familiar with MACRA’s rules. He notes how many of them don’t have an IT staff, so no one is perusing the latest CMS regulations, meaning they only hear about them over time from physician association groups. “We are focused on educating these practices since they’re simply not ready,” Squire says. “CMS has a long way to go in terms of educating small practices,” he adds.

Goodson notes another concern of providers: a fear that the system will be “gamed,” meaning people are worried they might not be able to play the game as well as their peers. He explains that there is a lot of fear around attribution and risk adjustment—two issues not brought up at all by Slavitt. Regarding attribution, Goodson ponders, “How will we as providers know who we are responsible for and held accountable for?” And for risk adjustment, he notes, “People worry so much about cherry picking, so if I deal with a complicated group of patients, will I be judged against someone who selects a much less demanding group of patients? If that happens, if people figure out how to cherry pick the system, things could start to melt down,” Goodson speculates.

In the end, how can providers best use this breather offered by CMS? Goodson says that uncertain doctors need to find expert help and get the tools to survive. “You need to know how to use the existing service codes within Medicare that are high value service codes—so the wellness visits and the transitional care management codes in particular—because if you’re not using them, you’re giving away work you should be getting paid for,” he says. “You also need to be able to manage your patients, and keep track of data for your patients. This involves developing systems that allow you to have workstations or dashboards so you can look at all your patients who have given conditions, be able to identify patients who have needs, and then do something on the basis of that.”

SA Ignite’s Lee adds that if an organization “falls too behind on the MIPS performance treadmill that starts and accelerates in 2017,” then, when the "real competitive game" starts the following year in 2018, “wherein winners take more money from losers, an organization could see large negative financial impacts by being too far behind competitors in terms of the MIPS score.”  As such, for "penalty avoiders,” as Lee calls them, who are choosing one of the reduced participation options in the first year, he advises to “be cognizant that 2017 is still one where continual MIPS performance improvement is critical as there is currently no plan to provide relief for 2018.”


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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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