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As Senior Vice President of Corporate Operations for HealthInsight., Kevin Kennedy is responsible for leading the organization's quality improvement division in Nevada. He oversees the management of the Medicare quality improvement contract work and other quality improvement related contracts. Mr. Kennedy joined HealthInsight as a Analyst/Project Coordinator. His experience includes leading project teams, functioning as an analyst for projects in the inpatient and outpatient settings, and providing human factors based technical assistance to providers in the outpatient, inpatient, and home health settings.


Senior Vice President, Corporate Operations

What is Return on Investment for the QIO Program?

2016 QIO Program Progress Report

Thoughts from a fiscally conservative taxpayer

I have been working for HealthInsight since 1995 and most of that time has been spent operationalizing the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) contracts over the years. During this journey, there have been numerous times when the QIO program has been assessed by various entities to determine whether it produces value for Medicare beneficiaries, health care providers and ultimately the U.S. taxpayer who funds the program.

In the effort of being transparent, I believe any taxpayer funded program should be thoroughly reviewed to determine value to the ultimate funder. After all, the U.S. has a national debt approaching $20 trillion or about $60,000 per citizen, so all dollars need to be cherished. If the QIO program is funded in the $1 - $3 billion range—an educated guess—for this contract cycle, what is the estimated return on that investment? What impact, if any, does the QIO program have in driving change?

Being part of the QIO program for over two decades, I have sometimes struggled with my own internal debates and have been defensive when it appears the QIO program has received criticism from various entities for failing to "transform" the health care system or failing to be a cost effective program. I argue of course the QIO program is producing change and transformation. I pull out pre and post measures and data over time to show localized impact as well as community engagement levels. On the other hand, I ponder: is the QIO really a primary lever in any observed changes? Would any of these observed and measured improvements have happened without the QIO program?

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Practicing What We Preach – Looking in the Mirror to Become Internal Change Agents

Meeting in board room

I have previously written about HealthInsight and to a lesser extent myself being a "change agent". A change agent from my perspective is a person and/or organization that aggressively challenges the status quo in health care to drive transformation, while at the same time understanding the world in which health care providers and organizations function.

The art and science of change management is complex, and the implementation of change is often times a stressful and painful endeavor. Giving up on realizing transformational change often seems the best option after experience resistance and heartache. Sometimes we default to the "devil" we know is better than the scary prospects of a radically redesigned system.

Recently, HealthInsight has experienced a tremendous amount of growth in the number and scope of contracts that involve working with physician offices. Using our historical approaches for designing the work, we formed a new team every time we were fortunate enough to get a new contract. This has resulted in at least five physician office teams at HealthInsight who are working with physician offices in our four-state region.

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Beyond End of Life: Random Thoughts on Coping with Personal Loss

Wildflowers

Caring for ourselves and others after a loss can be challenging. At HealthInsight, our work is focused in several arenas aimed at making sure our health and wellness doesn't fall by the wayside, even in times of loss and grief. HealthInsight, through various projects, is working on improving end of life care; depression and behavioral health screenings, and annual wellness visits in older adults; improving the lives of those with diabetes and other chronic illnesses through self-management classes; and improving care in nursing homes and home health agencies to make sure patients are getting the best care possible right up until the very end.

In previous blogs, I have written about my family's journey through end of life issues and my thoughts on how the health care system and providers can positively impact a family's journey. Death and loss hit all of us at various stages of life and in the end we all deal with these challenges in a different manner. The one commonality is, most likely, the impact the loss can have on our physical and mental health.

One year ago today as I write this blog, I received the call, at 8 p.m., we all dread and fear when a family member or loved one is near death. Mom had died in her sleep after a 7-year battle with Alzheimer's. The flood of emotions for me was significant from grief, denial and fear, all the way to relief that mom is no longer suffering and can now be in peace.

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The Powerful Gift Health Care Providers Have In-hand: A Family’s Experience of Interaction with the Health Care System During End of Life

Nurse with Patient

I have previously blogged about my mom, who developed Alzheimer’s disease and was placed into a dementia care facility in 2011 at the age of 71. I still remember the day that I had to have the gut wrenching discussing with my dad and siblings to remove mom from her home and place her in the care of a dementia facility for the safety of both of my parents. This discussion occurred after several 911 calls, since my elderly father could no longer control some of mom’s agitated and sometimes aggressive behavior. We even had a false start where everything was set up for mom to be transferred and at the last minute my dad decided he could not do it. A week later, mom again had major behavioral problems and dad relented. The admission of mom started a three- plus year journey for our family where we would have a large number of touch points with the health care system.

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Texting the Way to Reducing Avoidable Hospital Admissions

Can Protected Health Information (PHI) be sent via Secure Text Messaging?

Mobile Device

Reducing avoidable hospitalizations is a crucial part of improving patient care and reducing costs, and often it comes down to communication.

What if a physician receives a phone call about a change in the status of a nursing facility patient, but is busy with other patients and isn't able to get back to the facility until the resident has already been hospitalized? Could there be a way to get patient information to the doctor in real time and avoid an unnecessary hospitalization?

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Being a Change Agent in a Dynamic Health Care Environment

Doctor With Laptop

Some Initial Thoughts from the Past Two Decades

I have worked for HealthInsight for over 19 years and started as a health care analyst in 1995. At that time, I was fresh out of school and had little to no exposure to quality improvement theory and application. I don't think I even knew the differences between quality improvement and quality assurance upon my arrival.

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Keeping Nursing Home Residents in Their Home: A Personal Perspective

 

iStock senior man in wheelchairAs we grow older, many people are required to leave their home and family and take permanent residency in a nursing home so their care needs can be met. At this point, the nursing home becomes home for these individuals. My mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease which causes memory loss and cognitive decline, is part of this population.

Recent studies have shown that we often expose nursing home residents to undue stress and disruption by sending them to the hospital for an illness when it may not be medically necessary. In fact, research indicates that 30% to 60% of hospitalizations within this population are potentially avoidable. An unnecessary hospitalization not only puts a nursing home resident at increased risk for healthcare-acquired conditions (such as infections) but more importantly, the change of location can be confusing and frightening to the resident.

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