Innovation and Disruption

Healthcare News of Note: New PCORI initiative targets industry’s slowness in adopting results of comparative effectiveness research

March 3, 2023 4:00 pm

Over the past few weeks, I have found these industry news stories that should be of interest to healthcare finance professionals.    

1. Goal of PCORI initiative: Reduce the estimated 17-year wait time to adopt new and better treatments

Forty-two health systems have signed on to an initiative to translate new research into changes in clinical practice more quickly.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) will pitch in $50 million to fund the effort, called the Health Systems Implementation Initiative (HSII), and has gained participation from some of the largest and most well-known systems in the country, as well as smaller systems. Included on the list of participants are AdventHealth, Altamonte Springs, Fla.; CommonSpirit Health, Chicago; and Valleywise Health, Phoenix.

PCORI officials said the goal of the initiative is to reduce the estimated 17-year wait to get new and better treatments adopted in the field, something that healthcare greatly needs.

“Comparative clinical effectiveness research produces actionable information that helps people make informed health care choices and improve their outcomes, but even the best evidence only works if clinicians and health systems are aware of it and can use it,” Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH, PCORI executive director, said in a news release.

The first HSII funding opportunity was launched around capacity building, with participating systems eligible to receive up to $500,000 for a project that supports preparation for implementation strategies and program evaluation. Projects after that will promote the adoption of specific evidence from PCORI-funded research and will be funded with up to $5 million each, according to PCORI.

Peter Pronovost, MD, chief quality and clinical transformation officer for participant University Hospitals in Cleveland, hailed the initiative at a news conference. Amid news about increases in COVID-related harms and with hospitals struggling financially, he said, improved efficiency and effectiveness are even more important.

“It couldn’t come at a more important time,” Pronovost said.

— Paul Barr, MS, MBA, HFMA senior editor

2. Female high school students are struggling more with mental health and other issues than their male peers

Female students fare “more poorly” than their male peers regarding “almost all measures of substance use, experiences of violence, mental health, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” according to results of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Trends and Report.

“These differences, and the rates at which female students are reporting such negative experiences, are stark,” wrote the authors of the report, which provides surveillance data from 2021 and 10-year trends from 2011 through 2021.

More teens reported poor mental health in 2021

Report authors noted that “nearly all indicators of poor mental health and suicidal thoughts and behaviors increased from 2011 to 2021.”

The survey results below focus on data for 2021*, which is “the first national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data collected since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic”:

  • 57% of female students compared with 29% of male students indicated they had “experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness”
  • 30% of female students compared with 14% of male students said they had “seriously considered attempting suicide”
  • 24% of female students compared with 12% of male students had “made a suicide plan”
  • 13% of female students compared with 7% of male students indicated they had “attempted suicide” 

Additional issues

Other areas where female teens fared worse than their male counterparts include:

  • Nearly 20% experienced sexual violence by anyone, and nearly 15% had ever been forced to have sex.
  • 27% indicated they drank alcohol during the past 30 days.
  • 18% said they had used marijuana during the past 30 days.

The report also parses the data by demographic, including heterosexual, LGBQ+, Asian, Black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, white and multiracial youth.

*For the 2021 national YRBS, 17,508 questionnaires were completed in 152 schools by students in grades 9-12.

3 UC Davis Health assessment of telehealth visits’ carbon footprint shows substantial savings for patients and the environment

Although many benefits of telehealth are well known, particularly for patients in remote areas or where the number of mental health providers is lacking, there are other benefits to consider as well, according to an assessment of data on outpatient visits in five University of California health systems over the pandemic’s first two years.

“The statewide university system serves close to 40 million people,” states a news release, which adds that the health systems’ clinics had close to 16.8 million outpatient visits, approximately 18% of which were telehealth visits, between January 2020 and December 2021.

The researchers assessed telehealth visits’ carbon footprint and found indications of “potential savings in lives, costs and time compared to in-person visits,” states the release.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Telemedicine and eHealth in December, shows “substantial savings for patients and the environment,” states the release. Specifically, telehealth visits:

  • Eliminated 53.7 million miles of commuting to and from in-person appointments
  • Saved patients an estimated 204 years of travel time and more than $33.5 million in travel-related costs
  • Prevented 42.4 injuries and 0.7 fatalities
  • Eliminated 21,466 metric tons of CO2 emissions

“Our study documented the many benefits of utilizing telehealth for ambulatory visits,” Sristi Sharma, a UC Davis preventive medicine physician and lead author of the study, said in the news release. “It is the first, large-scale study to evaluate the round-trip distance, time, and cost-saving, and greenhouse gas emissions prevented [through] telehealth use during the pandemic.”

HFMA insights on telehealth

Read “Telehealth is primed for growth despite post-lockdown fade,” which discusses how virtual healthcare will be key when it comes to achieving true cost effectiveness of health.

Read the June 21 Healthcare News of Note edition, where the second story reviews why a shortage of mental health providers in rural areas may have fueled demand for telehealth services during one pandemic period.

HFMA bonus content

Listen to the Voices in Healthcare Finance podcast episodeThe real dangers of an obesity diagnosis,” with host Erika Grotto. Ragen Chastain, a medical researcher and patient advocate, discusses why the body mass index is misleading and how it can lead to discrimination in healthcare.

Read the March issue of hfm magazine, including the cover story, “Collecting with compassion: Patient financial care is growing in importance,” by contributing writer Jeni Williams, and the article, “Monument Health revamps its revenue cycle leadership structure for the benefit of patients and the organization,” by Nick Hut, senior editor.


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