In The News

Start your Health Literacy Training Plan Today!

Do you and your colleagues want to know more about health literacy? The CDC Health Literacy Training Plan features 5 courses created by CDC's Office of the Associate Director for Communication (OADC). Learners begin with the introductory Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals course and then select one or more of the following courses to complete the plan:

  • Writing for the Public
  • Speaking for the Public
  • Using Numbers and Explaining Risk
  • Creating Easier to Understand Lists, Charts, and Graphs

OADC and CDC TRAIN created a national health literacy training plan to help build health professionals' knowledge and skills consistent with new professional communication competencies.

Preventing Chronic Disease: February 2016 Releases

Have you seen the recently published articles in Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD)? Below you will find links to all manuscripts published in February 2016. Please visit our site at www.cdc.gov/pcd, where you will find other downloadable articles and information on PCD.

PCD Articles Now Feature Altmetric Scores
PCD is excited to announce that we are now using Altmetric for Publishers to measure article impact. This month, you'll see the Altmetric badge at the top of PCD articles. This tool tracks and scores a range of sources, including social media, media exposure, blogs, and author impact to capture and collate conversations surrounding scholarly content. The score is a calculated, weighted count of all of the attention an article has received based on volume, sources, and authors. By clicking on the article's Altmetric badge, you can visit the Altmetric Details Page for the article and see the mentions and references that have contributed to the score. We are excited to offer this new feature.

PCD GIS Snapshots
Did you know that PCD publishes regular GIS Snapshots? These map and text articles feature Geographic Information Systems (GIS) used to display national, state, or county data for important health topics related to chronic disease. PCD publishes these Snapshots on a regular basis, so check out the GIS section of our website often for new articles. Interested in submitting your map and research for consideration as a GIS Snapshot? Visit the For Authors section on our website for more information.

Connect With PCD on Facebook
Share your favorite PCD articles and updates with friends and colleagues by liking and following the PCD Facebook page. Like and share article links, engage with others in the field of chronic disease, and help us spread the word about the importance of health promotion and chronic disease prevention.

Important Medicare Announcement

Dear Dr Kim,
 
We are pleased to share with you an important announcement involving payment reform in Medicare. As you recall, our shared goal in the LAN is to get 30% of health care payments in alternative payment models by the end of 2016 and 50% by the end of 2018. Today, President Obama announced that Medicare met the 30% goal in January of 2016, almost a year ahead of schedule. As you can see from the note below, Patrick Conway, the CMS Principal Deputy Administrator, commented on the important role of the Health Care Payment Learning & Action Network (LAN) in helping Medicare reach this goal; indeed, the announcement relies on the LAN’s payment reform framework. While we all still have much more to do in terms of payment that supports better care for patients and lower costs, this progress reflects the contributions of many LAN members. We thank you for that, and look forward to our next steps. 

Mark Smith and Mark McClellan 
Co-Chairs of the LAN Guiding Committee
  

Dear LAN Guiding Committee Members, 

Earlier today, the President announced two landmark achievements for the U.S. health care system since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. First, more than 20 million Americans have gained health insurance. We have the lowest uninsured rate ever recorded. Second, as of January 2016, more than 30% of Medicare Part A and B payments are tied to alternative payment models. This latter milestone is particularly important to our shared work with the Health Care Payment Learning & Action Network (LAN) and follows the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ challenge to us all to shift the way we pay for health care away from the quantity of services to the quality and value of care we provide. CMS is proud to achieve the 30% target almost a year ahead of schedule, and we appreciate that we would not have been able to do this without the help of you and the LAN. Moreover, we know that true transformation of our health system cannot be done through Medicare alone, and so we look forward to continuing to work with the LAN membership at-large to achieve the goals of tying 30% of spending to APMs by the end of 2016 and 50% by the end of 2018 for the entire U.S. health care system. We encourage anyone who has not set specific goals to consider doing so, and to join the LAN effort to track progress across the public and private sector. Working together we can implement new payment models, learn what works, scale successes, and improve patient care. We can deliver on the promise of a health system that achieves better care, smarter spending, and better health outcomes for everyone in our health system. Thank you for your service on the LAN and for your leadership in this effort.


Warm regards,
Patrick Conway

Two Landmark Affordable Care Act Achievements

Earlier today, the President announced two landmark achievements for the U.S. health care system since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. First, more than 20 million Americans have gained health insurance. The country has the lowest uninsured rate ever recorded. Second, as of January 2016, more than 30% of Medicare Part A and B payments are tied to alternative payment models. This latter milestone follows the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ challenge to shift the way health care is paid for, away from the quantity of services to the quality and value of care provided. CMS is proud to achieve the 30% target almost a year ahead of schedule. Moreover, true transformation of our health system cannot be done through Medicare alone, and so CMS looks forward to continuing to work with partners across the country to achieve the goals of tying 30% of spending to APMs by the end of 2016 and 50% by the end of 2018 for the entire U.S. health care system. Any healthcare professional who has not set specific goals to consider doing so, and to join the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (LAN) effort to track progress across the public and private sector. Working together we can implement new payment models, learn what works, scale successes, and improve patient care. We can deliver on the promise of a health system that achieves better care, smarter spending, and better health outcomes for everyone in our health system. Thank you for your service and for your leadership in this effort.

Keeping Heart Healthy for African-American Men

One in every 4 men dies from heart disease every year, and African-American men—especially those who live in the southeast region of the United States—suffer from heart disease more than any other race. Why are these rates so high? Unhealthy heart habits such as poor diets, a lack of exercise, high blood pressure, smoking and not visiting the doctor regularly are just a few factors that contribute to undiagnosed heart disease.

African-American men: It isn’t too late to take control and put your heart health first. February is American Heart Month and a great time for you to take action. This month, Million Hearts is encouraging you to adopt one heart healthy lifestyle change and share your success. You can take action with a few small steps.

READ MORE: Keeping Heart Healthy for African-American Men

AHRQ Releases Health Literacy Toolkit for Primary Care Practice

Only 12 percent of U.S. adults have the health literacy skills needed to manage the demands of our complex health care system, and even these individuals' ability to absorb and use health information can be compromised by stress or illness. Experts recommend assuming that everyone may have difficulty understanding and creating an environment where all patients can thrive. Like with blood safety, universal precautions should be taken to address health literacy because we can't know which patients are challenged by health care information and tasks at any given time. AHRQ’s Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit – 2nd edition can help primary care practices reduce the complexity of health care, increase patient understanding of health information, and enhance support for patients of all health literacy levels.

Additional tools for improving health literacy:

Learn more about how to improve primary care by visiting AHRQ’s National Center for Excellence in Primary Care at: http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/systems/primary-care/index.html.

AHRQ’s Primary Care Practice Facilitation Curriculum: An Expanded Resource for Workforce Development

The AHRQ Primary Care Practice Facilitation (PCPF) Curriculum is a new resource designed to help train practice facilitators, also called practice coaches, quality improvement coaches, or practice enhancement assistants on how to take an evidence-based approach to quality improvement in primary care practices. This is the latest addition to the portfolio of AHRQ products that support the growth of practice facilitation. The PCPF Curriculum is organized into five parts:

  • Use of Adult Education Methods in Teaching PCPF Core Competencies
  • Introduction to Practice Facilitation
  • Competencies for Practice Facilitators
  • In the Practice
  • Implementing the Care Model and Patient-Centered Medical Home

“AHRQ created this resource to support development of the workforce needed to provide quality improvement assistance to primary care practices,” said David Meyers, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, AHRQ. “There are a growing number of state and national quality improvement initiatives focusing on primary care, which will increase the demand for trained practice facilitators. A great example of the timeliness of this curriculum is its use by some of the grantees in EvidenceNOW – an AHRQ initiative working with over 1500 primary care practices to advance heart health.”

The PCPF curriculum supports the education and training of practice facilitators, and can be used by organizations that want to build a practice facilitation capacity, including payers, independent practice associations, accountable care organizations, and advocacy groups. Designed to be used as a resource when preparing new and experienced facilitators to work with primary care practices, the curriculum can also provide an introduction to principles and techniques of clinical quality improvement that can be used to educate other health care professionals.

Learn more about how to improve primary care by visiting AHRQ’s National Center for Excellence in Primary Care at: http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/systems/primary-care/index.html.

Learn More about Clinical Decision Support Interventions

Clinical Decision Support (CDS) is a key functionality of health IT that contributes to improved quality of care and enhanced outcomes by avoiding errors and adverse events, improving efficiencies, reducing costs, and enhancing provider and patient satisfaction.

For the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs in 2016, eligible professionals and eligible hospitals must meet the CDS objective by:

  1. Implementing five CDS rules related to four or more clinical quality measures (CQMs) or related to a high-priority health condition for the EP, eligible hospital, or CAH's scope of practice or patient population.
  2. Enabling and implementing functionality for drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checks.

CMS Guidance for CDS Interventions

The CDS objective gives providers flexibility in the types of CDS interventions they employ, as well as the timing of the CDS.

Providers can customize the implementation of the CDS to their own needs for their clinical practice and patient population. The CDS should be implemented at a “relevant point in patient care,” which refers to a relevant point in clinical workflows when the intervention can influence clinical decision-making before diagnostic or treatment action is taken in response to the intervention.

Additionally, providers are not limited to just “pop-up” alert CDS interventions. They can meet the objective by using other methods of CDS, including, but not limited to:

  • Computerized alerts and reminders for providers and patients
  • Information displays or links
  • Clinical guidelines
  • Condition-specific order sets
  • Focused patient data reports and summaries
  • Documentation templates
  • Diagnostic support
  • Contextually relevant reference information

Note: These functionalities may be deployed on a variety of platforms (e.g., mobile, cloud-based, installed).

To Learn More

For more information on CDS, review the specification sheets for eligible professionals and eligible hospitals.

Caregiver tip to keep people with Alzheimer’s active

People with Alzheimer’s disease need to stay active and do things they enjoy, but may have trouble deciding what to do each day. Try creating a schedule so the person does the same activities at a similar time each day and match the activities with their abilities. Doing physical activity like walking together can help both the person and the caregiver to manage stress and stay healthy.

Get more tips on how to plan activities for a person with Alzheimer’s.

Learn how to help a person with Alzheimer’s get exercise and stay physically active.