Month: January 2015

Compensation Commission Cites USFHP as Important Example of Population Health Management

Arlington, VA – The Final Report of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission calls the U.S. Family Health Plan (“USFHP”) “An important example” of how to use “nonprice tools to manage patient care.” The commission recommends the US Family Health Plan continue to be among the health care choices available to military families in a new OPM-administered program.

“The Commission has reaffirmed USFHP as a provider of high quality care that improves health and keeps people out of the hospital,” said Jim Schweiter, Chief Executive Officer for US Family Health Plan Alliance. “The Commission’s recognition of USFHP as an example of care management practices that the rest of TRICARE should emulate is very gratifying.”

Population health management is the direction of future medical care in the United States. We are pleased that the Commission recognized this trend as it considered the future of the TRICARE health benefit,” said David Howes, president of Martin’s Point Health Care, a US Family Health Plan member and chair of the Alliance’s board of directors. “The Commission also recognized the value of the US Family Health Plan in using tools to avoid inpatient admissions, prevent readmissions and shorten hospital stays. The US Family Health Plan is renowned for providing high quality health care to beneficiaries. As everyone familiar with this plan knows, patient satisfaction among its members has long been among the highest in the Department of Defense health care system.”

In its report, the Commission recognized the USFHP program for its use of “population health” managed care techniques which include “disease management, wellness, and better coordination of care.” The commission report notes that compared to TRICARE Prime, USFHP participants, have 33 percent fewer inpatient days and 28 percent fewer emergency room visits than other TRICARE Prime enrollees.

The commission commended USFHP for “identifying high-risk patients, managing complex cases, keeping chronic diseases under control, and promoting wellness and preventative services.” As a result of the success of the USFHP program’s managed care techniques, the Commission recommended that the program continue in the new system of care proposed in its report.

About the US Family Health Plan

The US Family Health Plan is among the health care choices for eligible beneficiaries of the Department of Defense’s TRICARE Prime program. Health care is provided to active-duty family members, including activated National Guard and Reserve family members, and retirees and their family members. Care is provided through large, local civilian health care networks of primary care physicians, hospitals and affiliated specialists. Patients choose a primary physician who provides and coordinates care and referrals to specialists and hospitals. The US Family Health Plan Alliance is the association that represents the collective interests of the regional USFHP networks in interactions with Congress, the Department of Defense, and the private sector.

To learn about the USFHP in the Northwest follow this link.

Deciding about circumcision for your newborn son

If you and your family are undecided on the best choice for your newborn son, this article provides some basic information. You can also talk with your doctor. In the end, this is a personal decision, and we will respect your choice. Please remember to check with your insurance carrier before scheduling your child’s circumcision as this type of procedure is sometimes considered elective.

What is a circumcision?

When a baby boy is born, the penis has a tube-shaped, double-layered fold of skin at the end. This is called the foreskin. A circumcision (or “circ”) is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of this skin. The desired result of a circumcision is to have the tip of the penis fully exposed and not covered by the foreskin.

With a young, healthy infant, a circumcision can be done safely in the doctor’s office or at the birthing hospital. In either setting, your baby boy will not be unconscious. He will be given medication to help with localized pain and discomfort.

The procedure itself usually takes 30 minutes or less—but be sure to plan for a longer visit because your son will be examined for ongoing signs of bleeding.

Is a circumcision painful?

Yes. Like any surgical procedure that involves cutting the skin, there can be pain. There are several ways to help decrease pain during the procedure and during the healing period:

  • During the procedure, a numbing medication will be used to reduce pain.
  • At the end of the procedure, a gauze with petroleum jelly will be used to help reduce irritation from the diaper.
  • After the procedure, you can help sooth your son by swaddling, comforting, feeding, and talking with him.
  • Lastly, oral pain medications can be given after the procedure to help control pain.

Are there benefits to a circumcision?

Yes. In September 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported a decrease in the risk of urinary tract infections during the first two years of life. The AAP also said that later in life, a man with a circumcision has a lower risk of getting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. Here’s a quote from that report:

“Benefits include significant reductions in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life and, subsequently, in the risk of heterosexual acquisition of HIV and the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections.”*

Further benefits may include:

  • Preventing phimosis. In this condition at a later age, the foreskin cannot retract back from the head of the penis.
  • Reduction in the risk of cervical cancer to future female sexual partners.
  • Reduction in the risk for cancer of the penis. But this is a rare form of cancer (about 10 cases per year per 1 million American men).

Are there risks to a circumcision?

Yes. Like most surgical procedure, there are risks. These include excessive bleeding, infection, injury to the penis or urethra, and removable of excessive foreskin. The AAP notes that such complications are infrequent and most are minor.

The same AAP policy statement states:

“The procedure is well tolerated when performed by trained professionals under sterile conditions with appropriate pain management. Complications are infrequent; most are minor, and severe complications are rare. Male circumcision performed during the newborn period has considerably lower complication rates than when performed later in life.”

Your PacMed provider is professionally trained. Our care team will provide appropriate pain management.

Is circumcision the right choice for me and my family?

This is a personal decision. You and your family will need to make this decision for your newborn son.

In summary, the AAP says that circumcision should be offered as an option:

“Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it…”

We believe that you, the parents, ultimately should decide whether circumcision is in the best interest for your son. If you have further questions or concerns, please discuss them with your physician.

*All excerpts are from the AAP Policy Statement on Circumcision and/or the AAP Technical Report on Male Circumcision. Both were published in the September 1, 2012, edition of the AAP journal, Pediatrics.