The VA: What Long-Term Care Facilities can Learn from a Broken System

June 15, 2016 - Leave a Response

Va Spending HealthcareTwo years ago, we learned that as many as 1,000 of our nation’s veterans passed away while waiting for medical care from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Despite the increased attention directed at the VA in the wake of the scandal, and the numerous pieces of legislation passed to turn the department around, in 2016 nearly half a million veterans are still waiting more than 30 days for an appointment.

The causes of the VA’s inefficiencies are manifold, but chief among the department’s shortcomings are its decentralized procurement methods and its lack of spending discipline.

Procurement Failures

Regularly procured pharmaceuticals and medical devices without terms and conditions

  • Allowed officials without authorization to make major purchasing decisions
  • Government purchase cards given to contracting officers with little or no oversight
  • Individual VA employees buying thousands of medical supplies at retail rates, right off the shelf
  • Did not track unauthorized spending on medical care and supplies

Institutionalized Waste

  • The VA spent $751.1 million on ‘household’ and ‘office’ furniture between 2010 and 2015.
    • Shockingly, two contracts worth a combined $94.94 million went to luxury, high-end furniture manufacturers: Herman Miller and Knoll, Inc. The latter has 40 designs in The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
  • The VA spent $303 million on gardeners, interior designers and painters between 2012 and 2015.
  • The VA has spent $99.4 million on ‘Public Affairs’ (PR) salaries and bonuses since 2012.
  • In 2015, the VA spent nearly $2 million on police gear.
    • Items purchased included riot helmets, body armor, armored mobile shields, Kevlar blankets, tactical gear, and other security-related products.
    • In 1996, VA police officers didn’t even have the authorization to make arrests or carry firearms.
  • The VA spent $1.7 million on ‘employee engagement’ and other satisfaction surveys between 2010 and 2014.

Caretech Group: Expense Management Solutions for Healthcare Facilities

Caretech Group helps long-term care facilities break free of perpetual overstocking, increase standardization, and reduce variance in procurement by giving purchasing directors expert consulting, advanced analytic software, and assisting with vendor selection. To learn more about our services, please visit our homepage or contact us today!

Improving Outcomes with Small Clinical Teams

May 15, 2016 - Leave a Response

Improving Outcomes with SmallNew incentives and payment models are inspiring health systems to escalate health care delivery innovation in many ways. Even in this continuously advancing environment, there is still one obvious method of care and financial outcome improvement that continues to be overlooked by the vast majority of systems.

Utilizing a small clinical team to design and administer care to specific factions of patient populations is a modest innovation that comes with low risk and high potential to be a win for profits and patients alike.

A Real-World Example

Essentia Health, a care provider in Duluth, MN, serves as the perfect example of the power of small clinical teams. In 1998, they assigned a team to care only for patients who had been released from the hospital after receiving treatment for congestive heart failure. At first, that team consisted only of one full-time nurse practitioner, one full-time medical assistant, a part-time medical director, and one cardiologist available on-call.

The Results

From the beginning, the success of the program was clear: patients were healthier, the number of hospitalizations decreased, and the number of emergency room visits plummeted. By 2016, Essentia’s team had expanded to include seven nurses and seven nurse practitioners, tasked with overseeing the care of more than 2,500 post-discharge congestive heart failure patients.

Providing treatment to patients freshly discharged from the hospital after congestive heart failure had been a big challenge for Essentia before developing the small clinical team solution. Developing a dedicated, small-team approach focused on time, trust, and education to overcome the confused state that most patients were in following a traumatic health event.

An Overlooked Solution

Any provider can attest that it’s extremely rare to find a device, drug, or innovation that can provide a double-sided win that boosts patient outcomes while reducing costs. At the same time, simple measures like the one taken by Essentia often go unnoticed. Few health systems are copying the successful model that has worked wonders for Essentia and a select few others around the nation.

Providers may view small, full-time teams as a potential net-negative because of fee-for-service reimbursement. This becomes a catch-all reason never to pursue such a strategy. In actuality, utilizing small, precise teams in situations where they can be effective is simply low-hanging fruit that no organization can afford to overlook.

Senior leaders at health systems would be wise to look to small clinical teams for a cure to some of the issues that ail their organizations.

Caretech Group Offers Innovative Solutions

Caretech Group is an all-inclusive service provider that helps long-term care facilities maximize efficiencies and reduce costs. We offer the buying power of Prime Source GPO for procurement, end-to-end purchasing consultation from industry experts, and analytics software to identify savings opportunities as they arise. For more information on how Caretech Group serves the LTC community, please visit our homepage or contact us today.

3 Actionable Tips for Supply Chain Optimization

April 21, 2016 - Leave a Response

3 Actionable Tips for Supply ChainHave you ever tried to do one of those enormous 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzles? No? Well, if you’ve ever been responsible for working out the supply chain strategy for your company, then you probably have a good comparable.

Sorting contracts within a complex web of factories, suppliers, customers, and transporters is no easy task. When you’re neck deep in it, it’s easy to let potential cost-saving measures slip right by your eyes without even noticing.

Even experienced business leaders with meticulously mapped supply chains are probably falling at least a little bit shy of perfect optimization. A crucial detail missed here or there is all it takes to leave some valuable cost savings on the table.

To ensure you are uncovering every possible dollar of savings within your supply chain, here’s a list of the top three optimization steps you should take right away.

  1. Don’t Make Assumptions

Assuming that you know exactly what your customers want is a big mistake. Offering shipping options before asking customers about their needs is a prime example. Surprisingly few people in your customer base may actually require two-day or even same-day shipping. Before you act on assumptions, start with what you absolutely know and then reach out to the marketing department for deeper answers about customer needs that they can learn through surveys and feedback. There’s no point investing your money and time on services that are ultimately unwanted.

  1. Cut Out Unnecessary Checkpoints

Wal-Mart has built its empire on being the king of supply chain cost-cutting. Their main focus has always been on minimizing the number of links in the chain. They’ve even moved to vendor-managed inventory that allowed them to remove the warehouse management checkpoint, thus reducing costs and complexity.

Take another look at each checkpoint in your chain. Determine the costs associated with every point and then identify any that could be consolidated in order to help you lower expenses and boost efficiency.

  1. Evaluate Printing Costs

Shipping labels and transport detail attachments add up to significant printing costs for companies managing supply chains. If all of your printing is handled in-house, don’t forget to keep an eye on the costs of those tasks. When you account for all of the time spent collating and printing materials that your team has to invest, the costs can wind up much higher than anticipated. Outsourcing could potentially lead to 25-30 percent in savings without you having to lift a finger.

Streamline Your Supply Chain with Caretech Group

Unnecessary expenditures can pop up almost anywhere in a supply chain. Caretech Group can help your facility identify areas that need improvement and start correcting them. Visit our homepage or contact us today for more information.

Does Your LTC Facility Meet the New Dietary Guidelines?

March 23, 2016 - Leave a Response

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Resources have released the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Major changes include a renewed focus on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as well as suggested reductions in sugar intake. The report also analyzes two new “healthy eating” patterns: Mediterranean and Vegetarian. Today we’ll run through the latest dietary recommendations and explain how Caretech Group can help your long-term care facility put them into practice with procurement, supply chain management, and consultation from industry experts.

Recommended Increases

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans report identifies several food groups that are currently being under-consumed by Americans. They include:

  • Vegetables from all subgroups : red orange, dark green, legumes, and starchy
  • Whole fruits
  • Grains, with at least 50% being whole grain
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Protein foods including lean meats and poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts, and seeds

Recommended Decreases

  • Added sugars should make up less than 10 percent of calories consumed per day
  • Saturated fats should make up less than 10 percent of calories consumed per day
  • It is recommended that no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) be consumed per day

Healthy Eating Patterns

“Eating Patterns” vary depending on age, region, and culture. The Department of Health and Human Resources has identified Healthy Eating Patterns for many different dietary requirements. The latest report identified two eating patterns that differ greatly from the typical American diet: the Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern and the Healthy Vegetarian Pattern.

The Mediterranean pattern contains more fruits and seafood and few saturated fats than the typical American diet. It also includes higher levels of olive oil than butter or corn oil. The Healthy Vegetarian Pattern is particularly heavy in legumes, seeds, nuts, soy products like tofu, and whole grains.

Dietary Services from Caretech Group

Caretech Group offers dietary services as part of a complete materials management solution for long-term care facilities. Caretech Group and Prime Source GPO deliver instant savings and supply chain support so you can meet your facility’s dietary requirements without breaking your budget. For more information on our capabilities and our services, please visit our homepage or contact us today.

Management of Diabetes in Long-Term Care and Skilled Nursing Facilities

February 21, 2016 - Leave a Response

Nursing FacilitiesType 2 diabetes is a long-term disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, and it accounts for 9 of 10 cases of diabetes. Its causes are a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors, namely obesity and lack of exercise in those who are genetically predisposed. It currently affects 190 million people globally, and that number is expected to surpass 300 million by 2025. Research shows about 25% of residents in long-term care facilities have diabetes, and of those, 80% have cardiovascular disease, 56% have hypertension, and 69% have two more other chronic conditions.

Diabetes Treatment in LTC Facilities

More commonly found in older adults, it is not surprising that diabetes has a high prevalence in long-term care facilities. Its association with significant diseases and high costs means rising rates have become a serious global issue.

ADA Report

A report reviewed and approved by the American Diabetes Association discusses management and treatment of diabetes in long-term care and skilled nursing facilities. Understanding the similarities between diabetes patients regarding other diseases held simultaneously is vital to building personalized goals and treatments, the report says. It advocates for simplified treatment plans and against the sole use of sliding scale insulin, or SSI. The authors also provide a classification system for the older long-term care population, describe how other diseases the patient has should chart the course for goals and management, pinpoint essential concerns when using glucose-lowering agents, and present recommendations for on replacing SSI in long-term care facilities.

The report goes on to say that patients transitioning between treatment settings or service providers have an increased risk for adverse events. It argues that integration of diabetes management into long-term care facilities is crucial and requires an inter-professional team concept, including acceptance by administration, relevant protocols, and potentially systemic changes. Clinicians need to understand the characteristics, challenges, and barriers related to the older population of long-term care residents, as well as the proper functioning of the facilities themselves. Once all challenges are successfully identified, individualized approaches can be designed to improve diabetes management while decreasing the risk of hypoglycemia and ultimately enhancing quality of life.

Purchasing and Supply Chain Management with Caretech Group

Caretech Group along with Prime Source GPO serve as the link between vendors and long-term care facilities. Prime Source GPO uses manufacturer agreements with Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals and other suppliers to drastically reduce costs for long-term care facilities, and Caretech Group gives purchasing directors a complete picture of their facility’s supply chain so they can make objective purchasing decisions. Together, Caretech Group and Prime Source GPO deliver instant savings and logistical efficiencies that pay off for decades. For more information on our services, please visit our homepage or contact us today.

Three Strategies for an Efficient Healthcare Supply Chain

January 21, 2016 - Leave a Response

Caretech Group_Blog_Three Strategies for an Efficient Supply ChainSupply chains account for roughly 25% of a healthcare facility’s operating budget, and a recent report from Healthcare IT News suggests that this percentage will only increase in coming years. While the rising cost of care has pinched some healthcare facilities, new reporting software, purchasing platforms, and maintenance trackers are helping stretch each dollar without sacrificing quality. Caretech Group offers healthcare facilities top-to-bottom IT consulting, low prices from group purchasing organizations (GPOs), and objective reporting and tracking from an advanced suite of digital tools. We don’t simply help healthcare facilities make the best purchases, we help them create systems that ensure smart purchasing, documentation, use, and maintenance of every asset—from toilet paper to advanced diabetics equipment.

Obtain “Buy-in” from Upper Management

If you’re a purchasing director, you know the needs of your supply chain better than anyone. All too often, purchasing directors are not given the tools they need to maximize profits and minimize spending. That’s where we come in. Our suite of digital tools track orders, invoices, and even automate maintenance orders. The first thing you’ve got to do to build an efficient supply chain is get everyone on board.

Bring the Team Together

To tackle supply chain issues, healthcare facilities must get input from all departments. That means multiple perspectives and points of view. The supply chain affects everyone in an healthcare facility, whether they realize it or not. The most mundane tasks, like keeping track of invoices and maintenance projects, have a direct result on the quality of care, and that’s why it’s important to bring together everyone from nurses to upper level management. You’ve just got to explain the benefits of a streamlined supply chain.

Recognize the Importance of Data

When it comes down to it, supply chains are all about data—or at least they should be. Data gives healthcare facilities, and indeed all organizations, the power to make objective decisions. Important decisions present themselves at every level of the supply chain, including supply procurement, price negotiation, inventory control, distribution, and maintenance. The only way to cut costs in a sustainable, holistic way is to have data from every level of the supply chain. That’s where the Caretech Group comes in. The Caretrak® suite gathers data on everything from invoicing to delivery and inventory levels—and all of it is aggregated into easy-to-read charts and graphs.

Supply Chain Management from Caretech Group

To gauge supply chain success, one must have supply chain goals. Caretech Group can help you develop and meet objective supply chain goals. Our consultants will give you the purchasing power of a group purchasing organization (GPO), plus we’ll give you the IT systems to stretch savings for years to come.  Unnecessary expenditures can pop up almost anywhere in a supply chain. Caretech Group can help your facility identify areas that need improvement and start correcting them. Visit our homepage or contact us today for more information.

Wearable Artificial Kidney Offers Huge Possibilities for Nursing Home Tenants

December 18, 2015 - Leave a Response

Wearable Artificial Kidney Offers Huge Possibilities for Nursing Home Tenants

There’s hope for patients with diabetes and kidney disease: a portable machine that could reduce or even eliminate the need for dialysis and organ transplants. Called a “wearable kidney,” the device was developed by researchers in Washington state.

Traditional Dialysis

Dialysis has evolved very little since it was developed in the 1960s. Dialysis machines perform the job of healthy kidneys when patients’ kidneys are at or near failure. They remove waste, extra water, salt, and other chemicals from the blood and balance blood pressure. At the moment, dialysis treatment is a temporary solution. Kidney failure is usually permanent, and the only long-term solution is either life-long dialysis or an organ transplant.

Limitations of Traditional Dialysis

The average life expectancy of patients on dialysis is between 5-10 years. Most patients waiting for transplants must undergo dialysis treatments multiple times a week at the dialysis center of their local hospital. Besides the fact that dialysis is only a temporary solution, it’s also expensive. Patients undergoing dialysis struggle to lead normal lives. They must carefully control their diets, and their schedules are dominated by their treatments.

Successful Test of the Wearable Artificial Kidney

So far the wearable artificial kidney has been tested on several patients with varying levels of success. The greatest success was with a 73-year old patient, Chuck Lee, who wore it for a period of 24 hours. Lee has oriented his entire life around dialysis treatments, which he must receive three times a week for four hours at a time. His experience with the wearable artificial kidney was a revelation. For his safety, he wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital, but he was able to walk around—a huge improvement over sitting in one place for hours at a time—and eat food he hadn’t tasted in years.

Promise for the Future

Future patients will be able to go where they wish and lead normal lives. Because the device is constantly working, patients will be able to eat what they want—including food high in potassium and phosphorus, which dialysis cannot filter. The wearable kidney is still in an experimental phase, but it could eventually present a viable alternative to kidney transplants and improve the quality of life for nursing home and assisted living residents with diabetes and kidney disease.

Caretech Group Provides Cutting-Edge Technology and Rapid Delivery

Already, the FDA has fast tracked their evaluation of the device. If approved, Caretech Group will work directly with suppliers to provide its clients with the device as soon as possible. We partner with nursing homes and assisted living facilities to provide the best medical supplies available at competitive prices. Our focus on innovation and efficiency includes inventory management and end-to-end operational assessments. Visit our homepage for more information on how we reduce costs and improve service.

Hand Hygiene and Disease Prevention

November 20, 2015 - Leave a Response

International Infection Prevention Week

Shortly after the Infectious Disease Week conference earlier this month, the world recognized International Infection Prevention Week. The leading minds in contagious disease met and discussed new research, new guidelines for safety, and novel concepts to keep the public safe. With Ebola still affecting parts of the globe and well-known bacteria like Clostridium difficile continuing to cause infections in the United States and elsewhere, the message was clear: infection prevention is still a priority, no matter where you are.

Infection Prevention

The experts of the conference were in agreement that the best formula for fighting infectious diseases is prevention. Hand hygiene was of particular note, as many infectious diseases can be contracted from skin contact. As a Group Purchasing Ordering (GPO) provider supplying hand hygiene products to nursing homes, where many residents have weakened immune systems, we were particularly interested in the results of the conference. We’re not just suppliers, however. We also perform detailed assessments on our clients’ facilities to ensure that operations are being carried out efficiently.

Hygiene Compliance

While there are established guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization for hand hygiene, recent studies have suggested that many medical workers fail to properly sanitize their hands. When you think about it, the average person doesn’t know best practices about how to wash hands. For most of us, it’s not that important how we wash our hands—just as long as they get washed. Doctors must be held to a higher standard. The study found that over 98% of clinicians adequately wash their palms, but less than half sanitize the backs of their hands, 44% sanitize their fingertips, and only 37% clean their thumbs. Improvement can be made by providing clinicians with standardized hand-washing techniques, but also by providing more up-to-date hand sanitizing products. That’s where Caretech Group comes in.

How Caretech Group Helps

Caretech Group is playing an active role in the fight against preventable infectious diseases. We provide nursing homes and assisted living facilities with cutting-edge products—including hand sanitizing systems—at competitive prices. Our end-to-end operational assessments play a key role in highlighting areas in which our clients can improve—operationally, financially, logistically, and otherwise. We enhance our clients’ workflow with a variety of easy-to-use, intuitive applications that track purchases and inventory, ensuring that our clients never run out of essential disease-preventing products. For more information on our services, please visit our homepage or give us a call at (866) 338-2129.

Forget About The Old Methods: New Alzheimer’s Test Poised To Change Industry

March 26, 2014 - Leave a Response

Here is a revolutionary piece of news about Alzheimer’s Disease that you won’t forget anytime soon.

According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, a team of researchers at Georgetown University have developed a simple blood test which they say can predict, with 90 percent accuracy, whether an individual will develop Alzheimer’s Disease within 2-3 years. 

If larger studies uphold the results, the test could fill a major gap in strategies to combat brain degeneration, which is thought to show symptoms only at a stage when it too late to treat effectively.

Currently, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Several promising therapies have been tested in clinical trials over the last few years, but all have failed. However, those trials involved people who had already developed symptoms. Many neuroscientists fear that any benefits of a treatment would be missed in such a study, because it could be impossible to halt the disease once it has manifested in such a severe manner.

The implementation of biomarkers would allow patients to be identified – and recruited into trials – way before their symptoms begin, allowing for a better analysis of potential therapies.

While this is obviously very good news for the over 35 million people worldwide who develop Alzheimer’s disease each year, it may present an unintended consequence: It could destroy private long-term care insurance and any future voluntary government insurance program. A widely available test to predict Alzheimer’s would make any form of voluntary long-term care insurance virtually impossible.

Those scoring positive on the tests will immediate purchase long-term care insurance, eventually overwhelming the system when they become affected. Should insurers get access to the test results, they will either deny coverage or charge significantly higher premiums.

Currently,  more than half of all LTC insurance claims are for cognitive impairment. Surveys show that those who think they are going to contract Alzheimer’s are far more likely to buy than those who don’t.

So the dilemma now deepens.

What happens to those who learn, through this new blood test, they are fated to suffer cognitive impairment with no recognized cure? As a consequence of that knowledge, will they potentially lose access to the only lifeline available to pay for what will prove to be very costly care? What other unseen consequences will arise as a result of this wondrous Alzheimer’s blood test breakthrough?

These are all questions worth asking. Even if we don’t have the answers yet.

A Crazy Tale About Medication Fraud: Teva Pharmaceuticals Forced To Pay Up

March 12, 2014 - Leave a Response

Just how crazy is the following story?

You decide.

According to Crain’s Business Magazine, prominent pharmaceutical manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals and a subsidiary have agreed to pay approximately $28 million to the state of Illinois and the United States in a settlement, following claims that Teva paid a Chicago psychiatrist to prescribe an anti-psychotic medication to thousands of nursing home patients insured by the government.

Details released from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois alleged that in the aftermath of large payments made by Teva to psychiatrist Dr. Michael Reinstein, the doctor apparently became the largest prescriber of generic clozapine in the country.

“Pharmaceutical companies must not be allowed to improperly influence physicians’ decisions in prescribing medication for their patients,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said in a written statement. “Instead, those decisions must be made solely on the basis of the patient’s best medical interests.”

It behooves us all to stay within the boundaries of responsibility and not let money be the be-all-and-end-all. As you can see from this story, this pharmaceutical giant thought that playing the system was going to be super profitable.

To put it mildly: They were crazy for thinking that.

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