Dr. Steven Flanagan is Howard A. Rusk Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Chairperson of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Langone Health. He joined NYU Langone Medical Center in 2008 as Professor and Chairman of Rehabilitation Medicine and Medical Director of Rusk Rehabilitation after serving as Vice Chairman of Rehabilitation Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He serves on numerous medical advisory boards and is a peer reviewer for several scientific journals. He has authored numerous chapters and peer-reviewed publications, and has participated in both federally- and industry-sponsored research. His medical degree is from the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey and he completed his residency at Mt. Sinai Medical Center/Cabrini, Rehabilitation Medicine.
In Part 1 of his presentation, Dr. Flanagan discussed the value that physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) add to health care.His objective in this session is to give an overview of health care reform and its impact on PM&R. Many changes have occurred since he began practicing medicine three decades ago. Health care reform is real. From 1960 to 2010, wages and GDP increased, but nowhere close to the enormous rise in health care expenditures, which are not sustainable. Also, we no longer can claim that we have the best health outcomes compared to other nations. Recognizing that health spending could no longer continue at such a rapid pace, the government came up with something called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) to limit the outlandish expansion of health care costs. The attempt never achieved what was intended and Congress terminated the SGR in 2015. It was replaced by MACRA, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, which redefined how physicians would be reimbursed and it is based on quality measures that they would have to meet. The objective is to achieve the triple aim of health care reform: improve health care quality, produce better outcomes, and improve the patient experience. A quadruple aim includes improving the satisfaction of providers. He indicated that management of post-acute care is of importance and that PM&R is uniquely situated to be involved in achieving the triple aim. It can do so by focusing on patient-centered coordinated care that is comprehensive across the entire continuum.
Listeners to Part 1 of Dr. Flanagan’s presentation may recall that he discussed health reform efforts to control health care costs and how the provision of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) services has a unique role to play in achieving health reform’s triple aim. In Part 2, his comments had a focus on intensive care unit patients, a group associated with large health care costs and one not usually associated with the provision of rehabilitation services. What about safety? It’s feasible, but is it wise? Should we get folks up and walking who are so critically ill? Aren’t we putting them at risk of all sorts of bad things from happening? It is safe and the outcomes are fine and there is research to prove it. We are enhancing mobility, decreasing the number of days patients are on ventilators, and in some cases, not only are we not causing worse mortality, we are decreasing mortality. If you are doing all of this, the last question is what about costs? Despite increasing the use of PT, OT, and Speech staff, by getting patients out of the hospital faster, there is a cost savings. A pilot study was done at NYU to look at what happens to patients after they left the hospital to see if there were any additional savings. The results show that it was possible to reduce hospitalization, reduce the average direct cost per day, and there was a significant increase in the proportion of patients who were discharged to the community with no services at all. The latter outcome represented an overall cost savings for the health system. He also provided information about something that is relatively new and what they are working on at NYU, which is site neutral payments. A question and answer period followed his presentation.