August 26, 2016
Care Transformation Road Show

To those of us in health care, and to the policymakers who have a stake in health care, the impressive transformation of Maryland's care delivery system over the past two-and-a-half years has been nothing short of impressive: readmissions rates are decreasing faster than the national rate; hospital-acquired conditions are down by more than one-third; and avoidable hospital visits are down more than 17 percent.


For the most part, the programs and policies that have led to these results were conceived and implemented by hospital staff and leaders. While the initiatives have generated strong results, consumers have been largely unaware of these seismic changes, or what they mean for navigating the rapidly changing world of health care.


MHA's A Breath of Fresh Care public engagement campaign laid the foundation to change that and empower the public to be more actively involved in their health care, with hospitals as their partners.


Starting next month, in partnership with the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, a series of public forums will build on the momentum of A Breath of Fresh Care by bringing the campaign's messages directly to the public through interactive sessions designed to inform Marylanders about the new ways hospitals, doctors, and communities are working together to give them the right care, at the right time, in the right setting. Along with the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative and MHA, the forums are sponsored by AARP Maryland, NAACP, Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches, Young Invincibles, and 1199 SEIU Health Workers East.


For all the positive work you've been doing to change your organization's culture and practices so that care extends beyond your four walls, the results will only be sustainable with the help of patients and communities. I hope each of your organizations is making use of the 1-minute Breath of Fresh Care video, and printed materials in patient areas. Care delivery transformation cannot rely solely on offering different programs to patients; communities must take advantage of them as well, and they will need to be proactive in making lifestyle changes that can help them avoid unnecessary hospital visits. Both of those require that individuals be not only informed, but empowered as the focal point of their own health care.

Save the Date for Taking Action with CANDOR
The MedStar Institute for Quality & Safety and the Collaborative for Accountability and Improvement are holding an interactive training session, Taking Action with CANDOR, October 20 and 21 at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C. CANDOR - "Communication and Optimal Resolution" - is a toolkit published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that contains a suite of interventions to transform the traditional "deny and defend" responses to serious patient safety events. MedStar Health was a CANDOR pilot site. Taking Action with CANDOR is a hands-on session for those interested in implementing a conflict resolution program using the toolkit. MHA is a partner and MHA members receive discounted rates. Click here for more information and more details are in this Save the Date.
Rural Health Association Releases Conference Agenda
The Maryland Rural Health Association has released its draft agenda for the upcoming 2016 Rural Health Conference, October 6 - 7 in Solomons. This year's conference, "Creating a Culture of Health in Rural Maryland," will begin with Paul Kuehnert from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who will talk about the culture of health framework. The goal of the conference is to support and connect rural health stakeholders as they work toward creating a culture of health in this current, dynamic health care environment. Rural health leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors will discuss the major health issues facing rural Maryland. Visit the conference website to register and to see the full lineup of speakers and presentations. 
New Resources Added to Breath of Fresh Care Site
MHA continues to add resources to the Breath of Fresh Care website to help consumers make smart decisions about their health care. Two new resources can help those with health needs determine when to see a doctor, visit urgent care, or go to an emergency room. Where you go for care matters is an informative flyer from the Washington State Medical Association and ER versus Urgent Care or Doctor's Office Settings is a checklist chart from CareFirst to help patients decide where and when to go for care. The Breath of Fresh Care website contains links to community resources at Maryland's hospitals as well as numerous resources for patients with questions about finding a doctor, navigating insurance issues, and even to find links for behavioral health or addiction issues.
CDC Updates Zika Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a key considerations document for health care facilities, including hospitals and health systems, as they prepare to receive patients potentially infected with the Zika virus. The document outlines nine steps to take, including knowing the clinical manifestations of the virus, how to assess pregnant women and advise against sexual transmission during pregnancy, reporting and use of standard precautions. In addition, the document notes steps health care facilities can take to educate patients and their families about the disease, transmission and steps to avoid infection. For more information, visit CDC's Zika website or call the 24/7 Zika hotline at 770-488-7100. If you have questions, contact Roslyne Schulman, American Hospital Association director of policy, at
How MHEI Can Help Your Community of Providers
As all of Maryland's hospitals continue to organize and reorganize their business, often in response to the Maryland waiver and population health efforts, leaders are no doubt developing many collaborations and working arrangements with physician offices, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, rehab facilities, and others.

Improve Patient Access Management
With increasingly changing reimbursement models and high-deductible health plans forcing patients to shoulder more payment liability, health systems must improve their registration and financial clearance to ensure up-front cash collections, reduce front-end denials and improve patient registration efficiencies to maintain patient satisfaction.

CMS Publishes FY 2017 Final Prospective Payment Systems Rule
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published its fiscal year 2017 final rule for the hospital inpatient and long-term care prospective payment systems (PPS) on August 2. The final rule, which takes effect October 1, impacts inpatient PPS hospitals, critical access hospitals (CAHs), long-term care hospitals (LTCHs) and PPS-exempt cancer hospitals.

Modern Healthcare, By Joseph Conn, August 19
The New York Times, By Austin Frakt, August 22
Kaiser Health News, By Michelle Andrews, August 23
Becker's Hospital Review, By Emily Rappleye, August 23
Modern Healthcare, By Elizabeth Whitman, August 23
The Baltimore Sun, By Robert B. Reich, August 23
Modern Healthcare, By Maria Castellucci, August 24