How HMO Organizations Can Improve Preventive Care to Enhance Patient Outcomes
Preventive care is a key component of health care that aims to prevent or delay the onset of diseases and complications. Preventive care can include screenings, immunizations, counseling, and lifestyle interventions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preventive care can save lives, improve quality of life, and reduce health care costs (CDC, 2020).
However, not all health care organizations provide adequate preventive care to their members. In particular, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) have been criticized for limiting access to preventive care services and focusing on cost containment rather than quality improvement. HMOs are a type of managed care organization that offer a network of providers and facilities for a fixed fee per member per month. HMOs have an incentive to reduce unnecessary or expensive services, but this may also result in underutilization of preventive care (Glied and Zivin, 2002).
In this blog post, we will discuss how HMOs can improve their preventive care practices to enhance patient outcomes and satisfaction. We will also provide some examples of successful HMO initiatives that have implemented preventive care strategies.
How to Improve Preventive Care in HMOs
There are several ways that HMOs can improve their preventive care delivery and performance. Some of the possible strategies are:
– Expanding the scope and frequency of preventive care services offered to members. HMOs can follow the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which provides evidence-based guidelines for preventive care interventions for various age groups and risk factors. For example, the USPSTF recommends screening for breast cancer every two years for women aged 50 to 74 years, screening for colorectal cancer every 10 years for adults aged 50 to 75 years, and screening for diabetes every three years for adults aged 40 to 70 years who are overweight or obese (USPSTF, 2021).
– Increasing the accessibility and affordability of preventive care services for members. HMOs can reduce or eliminate copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance for preventive care services, as well as provide transportation, outreach, education, and reminders to encourage members to use preventive care services. HMOs can also leverage telehealth and mobile health technologies to deliver preventive care services remotely or at home, especially for rural or underserved populations (Bashshur et al., 2016).
– Improving the coordination and integration of preventive care services across providers and settings. HMOs can use electronic health records (EHRs), health information exchange (HIE), and clinical decision support (CDS) systems to facilitate the sharing of information and the delivery of appropriate preventive care services among primary care providers, specialists, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care entities. HMOs can also implement team-based care models that involve multidisciplinary teams of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, dietitians, and other health professionals who collaborate to provide comprehensive and coordinated preventive care services to members (Bodenheimer and Sinsky, 2014).
– Evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of preventive care services and programs. HMOs can use quality measures, performance indicators, feedback surveys, and cost-benefit analyses to monitor and assess the impact of preventive care services and programs on patient outcomes and satisfaction, as well as on health care utilization and expenditures. HMOs can also use benchmarking and best practices to compare their preventive care performance with other HMOs or national standards and identify areas for improvement or innovation (Donabedian et al., 2003).
Examples of Successful HMO Initiatives on Preventive Care
Several HMOs have implemented successful initiatives that have improved their preventive care delivery and performance. Some of the examples are:
– Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest and most renowned HMOs in the United States that has a strong focus on preventive care. Kaiser Permanente has developed a comprehensive system of preventive care that includes standardized screening protocols, evidence-based guidelines, integrated EHRs, proactive outreach and reminders, patient education and empowerment, team-based care coordination, quality improvement programs, and population health management. Kaiser Permanente has achieved high rates of preventive care utilization and adherence among its members, as well as improved outcomes such as lower mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and cancer (Chen et al., 2010).
– Group Health Cooperative is another leading HMO in the United States that has implemented innovative preventive care strategies. Group Health Cooperative has adopted a patient-centered medical home model that emphasizes primary care access, continuity, coordination,
and comprehensiveness. Group Health Cooperative has also invested in telehealth and mobile health technologies to deliver preventive care services remotely or at home. Group Health Cooperative has reported increased patient satisfaction and engagement with preventive care services,
as well as reduced emergency department visits and hospitalizations (Reid et al., 2010).
– Geisinger Health System is a regional HMO in Pennsylvania that has launched a preventive care program called ProvenHealth Navigator. ProvenHealth Navigator is a team-based care model that involves primary care providers, care managers, pharmacists, and other health professionals who work together to provide preventive care services to high-risk or complex patients. ProvenHealth Navigator uses EHRs, HIE, CDS, and telehealth to support the delivery of preventive care services. ProvenHealth Navigator has demonstrated improved outcomes such as lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and hemoglobin A1c levels, as well as lower health care costs (Maeng et al., 2012).
Preventive care is a vital component of health care that can improve patient outcomes and satisfaction, as well as reduce health care costs. However, not all HMOs provide adequate preventive care to their members. HMOs can improve their preventive care practices by expanding, increasing, improving, and evaluating their preventive care services and programs. HMOs can also learn from the examples of successful HMO initiatives that have implemented preventive care strategies.
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USPSTF. (2021). Recommendations for Primary Care Practice. Retrieved from https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation-topics