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Forget the Billing Blues, Sing a Song of Success with OneTouch<p>Providers and their teams have never been under so much pressure to produce quality outcomes and provide excellent care while managing the bottom line and maintaining census.</p><h3>The Team Can Help</h3><p>Billing is always a challenge, but never more so with staffing shortages and other issues contributing to delays, gaps, and errors. The answer is a team of dedicated, knowledgeable partners to take the weight off providers’ shoulders. They get that and more with PharMerica’s OneTouch Billing Support. <br></p><p><img src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2021/1021/bs_Jennifer%20Yowler-2020.jpg" alt="Jennifer Yowler" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;170px;height&#58;213px;" />“Billing is complex. There are many different elements involved to ensure you have accurate statements going out to customers and that claims move through the system quickly and efficiently,” says Jennifer Yowler, chief financial officer of PharMerica. <br></p><p>“When the provider is working with different people or waiting days for call-backs, there are going to be areas where things are not done correctly. With OneTouch, by having a single person responsible for working with each customer and serving as their advocate, we develop a relationship that allows us to understand what the customer needs and work together to create more accurate billing that also lowers costs,” she says. <br></p><p>“We reduce our customers’ workloads, while cutting costs and eliminating claim rejections. At a time when they are watching every dollar, this is extremely important.”</p><h3>Customers Gain an Advocate</h3><p>This isn’t just dedicated customer service. This is white-glove customer experience. Clients don’t just get a personal contact, they get an advocate, a billing and census partner who knows their business and understands their specific needs, goals, concerns, and challenges.<br></p><p>“Their advocate knows the organization’s census and can recognize right away if something is off or doesn’t look quite right,” Yowler says. <br></p><p>“Our people learn all components of billing, and they can pull them all together and be true billing advocates. We also train them on customer service. We’ve invested significantly in training to ensure a full suite of services, all with the customer at the center.”<br></p><p>In the past, Yowler says, “Customers didn’t know who to call in the billing department if they had a question. By putting teams together that work with each customer, they now know who to call and can feel confident that they will get prompt attention from someone who knows them and their organization.” <br></p><p>In developing and refining OneTouch, PharMerica didn’t just guess or assume what their customers want and need. <br></p><p>“As we developed the program, we solicited feedback about how to make sure OneTouch would meet their needs and enhance the customer experience,” Yowler says “Their insights were very valuable in helping us launch a program that would improve their day-to-day functions and make things easier for them and better for their patients and their bottom line.”</p><h3>Driving Accuracy, Savings</h3><p>Working with the OneTouch program and their advocates, customers can feel confident that the appropriate payers are being billed promptly. As a result, payments come in more quickly and more accurately. At the same time, OneTouch team members proactively notify facilities of noncovered and high-dollar medications prior to dispensing. <br></p><p>In fact, OneTouch drives savings at all stages of the census and billing cycle. In addition to personalized customer care, seamless software and eMAR integration improve access to information, transparency, and accuracy. With centralized data, OneTouch also enables insights into recurring issues to help reduce high-cost drives and spend through recommended actions, such as engaging with prescribers and medications that are repeatedly denied. <br></p><p>In a study last year, 94 percent of long term care facilities identified billing efficiency and accuracy as important or very important. OneTouch checks all the boxes and adds the personal touch that not only enables peace of mind but creates partnerships with a common goal of quality care and business success. <br>If any billing concerns arise, they are speedily resolved—typically within 24 hours. Yowler notes, “To keep facilities informed of their efforts, advocates hold weekly calls about what’s in process and what’s been approved or rebilled.”</p><h3>Billing Excellence, Sweet Dreams</h3><p>Providers have a lot to deal with every day—COVID-19 and its aftermath, rebuilding census, connecting residents with their families, and addressing staffing shortages and hiring issues, among other tasks and responsibilities.<br></p><p>“Providers have more challenges than we can imagine,” Yowler says. “One thing we can do is reduce the time they need to manage billing and address problems that arise. If we can reduce their expenses and delays in payment and streamline processes that take burdens off their shoulders, they can focus on resident care and have fewer worries when they turn in at night.” ​</p><p><br></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/logos/PharMerica.jpg" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;250px;height&#58;51px;" /><br></p>2021-10-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2021/1021/JenniferYowler.jpg" width="592" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Caregiving;FinanceProviders and their teams have never been under so much pressure to produce quality outcomes and provide excellent care while managing the bottom line and maintaining census.
Getting Physical for Mind, Body, and Spirit<p>There is no question that physical activity has tremendous benefits for everyone, including older adults. But enabling and implementing activities and programs has been challenging during the pandemic.<br></p><p><span><img src="/PublishingImages/Headshots/KevinO%27Neil.jpg" alt="Kevin O'Neil" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;135px;height&#58;174px;" /></span>Now providers are grappling with ways to get residents active and strong while planning for ways to maintain physical conditioning during future quarantines or other crises. <br></p><p>“Our residents are mostly excited to get out and be more active and social, but we have to be cautious because there has been some muscle wasting and strength decline due to the pandemic-related lockdowns,” says Kevin O’Neil, MD, CMD, chief medical officer of North Carolina-based ALG Senior.<br></p><p>“While we made a concerted effort to do things creatively to engage them in the past year and a half, the ability to get out and spend time with family, friends, and other residents has really created a welcomed energy for residents.”</p><h2>Body, Mind, Spirit, and Safety</h2><p>Physical activity is a key factor in the prevention of numerous diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even some types of cancer. It is also associated with improved mental health, delays in the onset of dementia, and quality of life.<br></p><p>“We know physical activity plays a major role in fitness and training, as well as falls prevention,” O’Neil says. “Fitness involves the mind, body, and soul. What happens in one area affects the others.”&#160; However, he stresses, “We need to make sure physical activity is safe.”<br></p><p>To promote safe exercise, it is important to start by determining each person’s baseline and limitations. The Exercise Assessment and Screening for You (EASY) is one tool for this. It was developed specifically to help older adults, their providers, and others (such as physical therapists and lif-enrichment staff) to identify what types of exercise or activities can be tailored to people’s needs, interests, and abilities.<br></p><p>Screening in this population, say the authors, should be a dynamic process where participants are engaged to appreciate the importance of regular exercise and motivated to participate as much as possible on an ongoing basis. It is a paradigm shift from traditional screening approaches that focus on the benefits of physical activity. EASY involves six questions&#58;<br></p><ul><li>Do you have pains, tightness, or pressure in your chest during physical activity (walking, climbing stairs, household chores, similar activities)?</li><li>Do you currently experience dizziness or lightheadedness?</li><li>Have you ever been told that you have high blood pressure?</li><li>Do you have pain, stiffness, or swelling that limits or prevents you from doing what you want or need to do?</li><li>Do you fall, feel unsteady, or use an assistive device while standing or walking?</li><li>Is there a reason not mentioned why you would be concerned about starting an exercise program?</li></ul><p>“If someone answers ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s important to have a physician or nurse conduct a further evaluation,” says O’Neil. “We have to rely on clinical partners to help assess and identify patients who may need special attention or additional assessments.”</p><h2>Continually Monitor</h2><p><img src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2021/1021/CF2_ARISE.gif" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;479px;height&#58;623px;" />There are other assessments, including the ARISE Flowchart, which provides an algorithm for decision making about fall risk and possible interventions to build strength and balance and improve gait.<br></p><p>Kelly Cooney, CCC-SLP, CHC, vice president of clinical compliance at California-based Therapy Specialists, a HealthPRO-Heritage company, says, “In skilled nursing, we are conducting quarterly MDS [minimum data set] assessments and identifying people with changes in function, range of motion, and fall risk, but we should be looking at residents even more frequently so we know their fitness level and what barriers there are to them participating in fitness activities or outings.<br></p><p>“We have been doing a lot of bus rounds,” she adds. “Getting on and off a bus is no joke, particularly if someone is deconditioned.”</p><h2>Start Small, Go Slow</h2><p>“Our residents have been somewhat confined during the past year, so we have to reintroduce them to activities and exercise slowly, whether they are enthusiastic and eager to get out and about or they are hesitant,” says O’Neil. <br></p><p>For those residents who are eager, he says, “We bring them out to activities and monitor them to ensure their safety. For those who are hesitant, we bring activities to them—things to keep them engaged—and slowly start to get them more engaged.”<br></p><p>Even for those who are enthusiastic about engagement, O’Neil says, “We started with three-person groups, then five people, then seven. That’s as large as we’ve gotten so far.”<br></p><p>To keep people’s energy and motivation up, as well as to keep them safe, O’Neil says, “We can’t just plug in a video. We need activities with a trained instructor guiding the program. We want to look for issues or red flags that could indicate a problem that needs to be addressed.”<br></p><p>Many older adults haven’t participated in balance and resistance training during the pandemic, so they will need to focus on these, not only to improve their mobility and reduce their fall risk but also to increase their confidence. One option is Tai Chi, which has been shown to be effective in improving balance and coordination, as well as stability and flexibility. </p><h2>Can’t Wait for ‘When Things Open’</h2><p>“There are a lot of people, including residents and families, saying, ‘I will be more active and exercise more when things open up.’ We just can’t wait for this. We need to figure out how to make the most of the ‘now,’” says Cooney. “We need to get used to doing things we need and want to do that aren’t dependent on the public emergency.”<br></p><p><img src="/PublishingImages/People%20on%20the%20Move/POTM%202021/1021/potm_KellyCooney.jpg" alt="Kelly Cooney, RN" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;147px;height&#58;186px;" />This might mean virtual groups for exercise and activities, things that can be held in a room with staff onsite and the leader at a remote location, she says. “We can’t wait to hold programs and activities like they used to do. We need to figure out how to do things when our facilities are open and when they’re closed.”<br></p><p>For instance, she notes, “We have a Healthy Living On-The-Go program that involves prerecorded items that bring expertise to places where they don’t have it onsite, such as chair Zumba classes, ‘laughter is the best medicine’ activities, and education about topics like hydration.”</p><h2>Re-establishing Routines</h2><p>Getting out after a year in isolation is a big change for everyone. “We’ve learned how to help people feel more secure and safe. For many people, this means creating a comfortable and familiar routine,” Cooney says. During the pandemic, sitting in their room became the routine for many residents, she says. “We have to establish new routines that give them back some joy and control.”<br></p><p>At the same time, she stresses that it is important to find a way to maintain some of these new routines if another lockdown or quarantine were to happen. “These are things we all want to be paying attention to and knocking down barriers to participation,” she says.<br></p><p>To help, Cooney says, occupational therapists can create occupational profiles on residents, figuring out what they love to do, what creates joy, and what is meaningful to them. Then they can identify which activities or programs will bring people out and enhance their quality of life.<br></p><p>Getting to know each resident is essential, Cooney says. “By finding what they love to do, we can get them out and doing things they enjoy safely,” she says, adding, “I like to tap into other residents who are outgoing to reach out to more reticent people and get them involved.”<br></p><p>Sometimes, it’s about small steps, Cooney emphasizes. “We have a Get Up and Get Connected program to help residents practice self-care and calming techniques for when they feel anxious,” she says.</p><h2>Role For Therapists</h2><p>Don’t assume that someone can’t move safely or be active because they are old or frail, cautions Colleen Hergott, PT, DPT, assistant professor and interim chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at the Augusta University College of Allied Health Sciences. “Health is negatively affected by being inactive. At a minimum, we need to focus on decreasing sedentary time and increasing movement,” she says.<br></p><p>A physical therapist (PT) can help by performing an assessment and developing a plan to optimize balance, strength, and mobility, she says. For those who are reluctant to become more active due to concerns about safety or falls, the PT can identify compensatory strategies such using a cane or walker that may provide a temporary boost in confidence to get out and be more active.<br></p><p>Of course, don’t forget the emotional and psychological aspects of physical activity. “It’s all in the delivery,” says Hergott. “We have to make it fun for them to get active. We have to be enthusiastic and energetic in our efforts. They don’t want to hear the negative consequences of being inactive. We have to make the message positive&#58; ‘What matters most to you? These recommendations will help you get there.’”</p><h2>Team Takes the Field</h2><p>Whatever approach taken to enable and encourage residents to pursue safe physical activity, success depends on the team.<br></p><p>“Partnerships, such as between therapy providers and life enrichment teams, can’t be overstated. Working together, we can identify what brings joy to residents, what limitations or barriers they face, and how to get and keep them safely active. If we fail to do this, inactivity becomes a cycle and people continue to decline,” says Hergott. <br></p><p>“There are so many health benefits of physical activity, and some are immediate. When we are focusing on balancing physical health, disease management, quality of care, and quality of life, physical activity needs to be in the mix in a meaningful way.”&#160; ​</p>2021-10-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2021/1021/1021_CF2.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Caregiving;Mental HealthJoanne KaldyWhile residents are excited to be more social, providers must screen them carefully to determine fitness levels for each activity.
Former White House Coronavirus Coordinator Joins Real Time Medical Systems<p>​<a href="https&#58;//realtimemed.com/" target="_blank">Real Time Medical Systems,</a> a leading health care interventional analytics solution, is honored to announce that <a href="https&#58;//realtimemed.com/about/team/?team=board-of-advisors" target="_blank">Deborah Birx, MD,</a> has been appointed to its Board of Advisors. As an advisor, Dr. Birx will work with Real Time’s Executive Team to analyze current facility data for the earlier detection of infectious diseases to advance the company’s infection prevention and control solution offerings for health care organizations nationwide. Earlier detection with proactive solutions will ensure fewer transmissions and more rapid care with significantly improved outcomes.</p><h3>Credentials</h3><p>​A world-renowned medical expert specializing in HIV/AIDS immunology, infectious disease, pandemic preparedness, vaccine research, and global health, Deborah Birx, MD, served as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator and previously managed some of the most high-profile, influential programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of State.</p><p>In 2014, Dr. Birx became an Ambassador-at-Large when she assumed the role of the Coordinator of the U.S. Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. She has published more than 230 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and authored nearly a dozen chapters in scientific publications, as well as developed and patented vaccines.<br></p><h3>The Job at Hand</h3><p>“I am thrilled to be working with Real Time, an organization that is dedicated to utilizing technology and live data analysis to improve care for our senior population—and do it in a timely, meaningful, and cost-effective way,” Dr. Birx says.<br></p><p>“It is really quite remarkable how Real Time’s system is able to capture live post-acute EHR [electric health record] data and deliver clinical insights and alerts for specific patients when their symptoms change, so clinicians know immediately which patients require prompt attention.”<br></p><p>Real Time Executive Chairman <a href="https&#58;//www.linkedin.com/in/scott-rifkin-6a506a67/" target="_blank">Dr. Scott Rifkin</a> says he is excited to welcome Dr. Birx to the team at such a critical time. “We look forward to leveraging her significant expertise to enhance Real Time’s infection prevention and control capabilities and help the country’s nursing facilities and their health care partners detect communicable disease earlier to minimize outbreaks.”</p><h3>Taking On The Variants</h3><p>Dr. Birx sought to join Real Time to address vulnerabilities in the country’s nursing facilities regarding the pandemic response and emerging variants. She explains that many patients will not exhibit the same constellation of symptoms as the original strain, making it more difficult for clinicians to detect COVID-19 variants as the virus evolves.<br></p><p>“These variants develop quickly,” she says. “Accessing live patient data allows us to evaluate symptomatology now, not three months from now, thereby enabling facilities to make timely, well-informed decisions that make a difference in patients’ lives today.”</p><p>She also sees value in the company’s interventional analytics platform’s ability to allow nursing homes to share their EHR data beyond the walls of their facilities with partnering health systems and payers.</p><p>“Information sharing improves both acute and post-acute care and can help break the cycle of hospital readmissions and return-to-nursing home,” she says. “Sharing and analyzing live data allows clinicians to assess and improve patient status collaboratively before they require hospitalization.”</p><p>Ultimately, it’s not enough to simply collect information, Dr. Birx says. Rather, it's imperative to capture live data, analyze it, and use it. “The more knowledge nursing facilities, hospitals, and payers have, the more proactive and collaborative we can all be in improving patient outcomes,” she says.</p><p><em>Keri DeSalvo is vice president of marketing for Real Time Medical Systems. She can be reached at </em><a href="mailto&#58;kdesalvo@realtimemed.com" target="_blank">kdesalvo@realtimemed.com</a>. <br></p><h3>About Real Time Medical Systems</h3><p>Real Time Medical Systems is the industry-leading Interventional Analytics solution that turns EHR data into actionable insights. Serving health care organizations nationwide, Real Time improves clinical performance by reducing avoidable hospital admissions/readmissions, managing reimbursement, improving care coordination, and detecting early onsets of infectious disease.</p><h3>Additional Resources&#58;</h3><p>Visit Real Time Medical Systems <a href="https&#58;//realtimemed.com/" target="_blank">website</a>.<br><a href="https&#58;//realtimemed.com/get-started/" target="_blank">Get Started</a> with Real Time.<br>Follow Real Time Medical Systems on <a href="https&#58;//www.linkedin.com/company/myrealtimemed" target="_blank">LinkedIn</a>.<br></p>2021-09-28T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2021/DeborahBirx.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Management;CaregivingKeri DeSalvoWorld-renowned infectious disease expert joins company’s Board to help drive advancements of infection prevention and control solutions for nursing facility residents.
Blood Pressure Medication Could Also Treat Vascular Dementia: Study<p>​A new <a href="https&#58;//www.jci.org/articles/view/149029" target="_blank">study</a> published in the <em>Journal of Clinical Investigation</em> reports that a medicine used to treat high blood pressure could also be used to treat individuals with vascular dementia. Researchers at the University of Manchester discovered that the blood pressure drug amlodipine could help treat vascular dementia or stop it early on.<br></p><p>Small vessel diseases of the brain are considered the most common causes of memory loss, implicated in more than 40 percent of dementia cases, according to the study. The main risk factor for the development of the diseases is hypertension, and a number of clinical studies indicate that elevated blood pressure in mid-life is associated with cognitive decline in late-life. However, the cellular mechanisms linking hypertension to memory disturbance are not yet definitively established, the researchers said. <br></p><p>In the study, mice with hypertension were used to test the effects of two types of medicine—amlodipine, a calcium channel blocker that improves blood flow and dilates blood vessels, and losartan, which keeps blood vessels from narrowing, lowers blood pressure, and improves blood flow.<br></p><p>The test showed that chronic hypertension progressively disrupts on-demand delivery of blood to metabolically active areas of the brain (functional hyperemia) through diminished activity of the capillary endothelial cell inward-rectifier potassium channel called Kir2.1. Despite similar efficacy in reducing blood pressure, amlodipine, a voltage-dependent calcium-channel blocker, prevented hypertension-related damage to functional hyperemia, whereas losartan, an angiotensin II type 1 receptor blocker, did not. <br></p><p>“From a clinical perspective, these data suggest the need for new drug trials that exploit the greater efficacy of amlodipine relative to losartan in preventing vascular dementia in hypertensive patients,” the researchers said.<br></p><p>Further, the data collected suggest Kir2.1 as a possible therapeutic target in vascular dementia and indicate treatments may help to protect against late-life cognitive decline in patients with hypertension.<br></p><p>The study is supported by a number of organizations, including the American Heart Association, the Totman Medical Research Trust, and the British Heart Foundation.</p>2021-09-20T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0220_News4.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />CaregivingAmy Mendoza​Treatments may help protect against late-life cognitive decline, researchers suggest.