Tag Archives: medical provider network

California SB 863, a Guide to Building and Monitoring Networks with Intelligence, Part 3

This is Part 3 of a multi-part series on building and monitoring networks with intelligence. Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 can be found here.

California has defined how medical networks in Workers’ Compensation should be structured and managed. Part 1 and Part 2 of this series described how California’s SB 863 LC 4616 (b) (2) and LC 4616 (b)(3) takes medical provider network directives to a new level. The key imperative is, “Every MPN must establish and follow procedures continuously to review the quality of care, performance of medical personnel, utilization of services, facilities, and costs. However, a few additional key points should be considered when selecting and monitoring medical providers for the California MPN or any network.

Beyond legislation
Escalating problems in the industry with Opioid overuse and abuse, as well as physicians who are dispensing medications from their offices are additional factors that must be considered. While the California SB 863 legislation does not address these issues, the data should be scrutinized to identify physicians who demonstrate unfavorable prescriptive practices. Analyzing the data to evaluate physician performance in that regard is essential to vetting physicians for membership in a network. It is also crucial to monitoring networks going forward.

Opioid Over-Prescribers
Workers’ Compensation literature is replete with information about Opioid overuse and abuse with its disastrous human and resource waste. Unfortunately, measures taken to curb inappropriate prescribing behavior are few and vary widely across the country.

Simply stated, the best way to reduce Opioid abuse is to avoid Opioid over-prescribers. Analysis of the data will identify the perpetrators. They should never be a part of a Workers’ Compensation medical network.

Back to California – CURES
California has a program that approaches the problem by monitoring patient utilization of prescribed Schedule II drugs and making that information available to authorized prescribers and distributors (pharmacies) of controlled drugs.

California’s program is called CURES (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, and PDMP (California Prescription Drug Monitoring Program).1 The California Department of Justice, has a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) system which “allows pre-registered users including licensed healthcare prescribers eligible to prescribe controlled substances, pharmacists authorized to dispense controlled substances, law enforcement, and regulatory boards to access timely patient controlled substance history.

The California Attorney General's Office said that if doctors and pharmacies have access to controlled substance history information at the point of care it will help them make better prescribing decisions and cut down on prescription drug abuse in California. The role of the CURES/PDMP ensures that well-informed prescribers and pharmacists can and will use their professional expertise to evaluate their patients’ care and assist those patients who may be abusing controlled substances.

The state’s database known as the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (C.U.R.E.S) contains over 100 million entries of controlled substance drugs that were dispensed in California. Each year the CURES program responds to more than 60,000 requests from practitioners and pharmacists. The online CURES/PDMP system will make it much easier for authorized prescribers and pharmacists to quickly review controlled substance information via the automated Patient Activity Report (PAR) in an effort to identify and deter drug abuse and diversion through accurate and rapid tracking of Schedule II through IV controlled substances.”

Submission Of Controlled Substance Data
Pursuant to Health & Safety Code Section 11190, and Business & Professions Code Section 1170, all licensees who dispense Schedule II through IV controlled substances must provide the dispensing information to the Department of Justice on a weekly basis in a format approved and accepted by the Atlantic Associates Inc. (AAI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Similarly, pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Section 11165(d), dispensing pharmacies and clinics must provide weekly dispensing reports to the DOJ on Schedule II, III, and IV prescription drugs.

For purposes of creating an intelligent MPN, ensure any physician under consideration for an MPN in California is a member of CURES/PDMP. That notwithstanding, the data should be monitored continuously to determine actual performance.

Physician-Dispensed Medications
Another prescription abuse issue not addressed by the California legislation is physician-dispensed medications. While it is portrayed as a patient convenience, and probably is, the medications are prepackaged and extraordinarily costly. Once again, this practice can be monitored in the data. Bills reflecting drugs dispensed by the treating doctor are not monitored by Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBM). Rather, they appear in normal provider billing.

Networks With Intelligence
All medical provider networks serving any jurisdiction should analyze integrated data, meaning all data associated with claims. Integrated data is sourced from claims level systems, bill review systems, PBM systems, and other sources such as utilization review to understand the broad spectrum of claims and all individuals, organizations, and events touching them. The goal is to select best-in-class doctors by objectively identifying excellent provider performance.

Karen Wolfe collaborated with Margaret Wagner to write this article. Ms. Wagner is President and CEO of  Signature Networks Plus. She is considered an expert in network selection, monitoring and management, thereby creating Networks with Intelligence™ for clients.

1 http://oag.ca.gov/cures-pdmp

California SB 863, A Guide For Building And Monitoring Networks With Intelligence, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a multi-part series on building and monitoring networks with intelligence. Part 1 can be found here. Part 3 will be published soon.

California has defined how medical networks in Workers' Compensation should be structured and managed. Part 1 of this series described how California's SB 863 LC 4616 (b) (2) and LC 4616 (b)(3) takes medical provider network directives to a new level. The key imperative is, “Every MPN must establish and follow procedures continuously to review the quality of care, performance of medical personnel, utilization of services, facilities, and costs.”

California SB 863
The emphasis on network review is a chief imperative of SB 863, effective January 1, 2013. Many directives in the bill require continuous data monitoring to discover provider and network compliance and non-compliance. Some of the directives that require continuous attention are:

  • Chiropractors are limited to a 24 adjustment maximum [LC 4600(c)].
  • MPN's must have geo-coding of network physicians, updated every four years to insure access requirements are fulfilled.
  • LC 4616 (b)(2) and LC 4616 (b)(3) state every MPN must establish and follow procedures continuously to review quality of care, performance of medical personnel, utilization of services, facilities, and costs.
  • Anyone can complain, initiate an investigation, and petition to suspend or revoke an MPN.
  • Injuries while under unapproved, non-MPN care are no longer compensable!
  • Multiple conditions of escaping the MPN, non-MPN payment, and disputes must be monitored.
  • Home Health Care must be prescribed by an MD or DO.
  • MPN's are approved for four years from date of the most recent application or modification.

Provider Performance Analysis
Medical provider performance must be analyzed and monitored not only for compliance with SB 863, but also for acknowledgement of the nuances of Workers' Compensation in the treatment process. Work loss and disability payments, return to work and modified work, claimant legal involvement, along with frequency, duration, and costs of medical services should be analyzed and scored for individual providers, groups, and facilities, whether in California or another jurisdiction.

Provider Data Issue
A problem confronting many organizations is that their medical provider data is insufficient, making accurate analysis impossible. Unfortunately, most provider records in claim systems and bill review systems is severely lacking in quality and comprehensiveness.

Until now, these records were used only to pay bills, consequently, name, address, and FEIN (Tax ID) were adequate. Now, however, because of SB 863 and increased attention to the medical portion of claims nationally, much more information is needed.

Duplicate Records
Most systems contain duplicate provider records. Slight differences in data entry create multiple records for the same provider, each associated with different claims. Under those conditions, provider analysis is inaccurate and incomplete. Such duplicate records must be scrubbed and merged before beginning performance analysis.

Medical Specialty
Medical specialty or specialties should be included in provider records in the data. Those providers certified in a specialty should be compared with others who are similarly certified. Without the provider's specialty, analysis of performance is non-specific and often misleading.

For instance, pain management doctors' performance should be compared to that of other pain management doctors, rather than dermatologists or internists. Pain management physicians often receive cases when they are growing more complex and already costly. Analyzing providers of similar specialties is a matter of comparing “apples to apples.”

Differentiating Individuals
Medical providers who are members of groups or facilities should be analyzed and selected for networks individually even if the group or facility is approved. Some believe all members of a group should be included in the MPN when the group is approved. Actually, individual members might be problematic and automatic approval should not be guaranteed.

Currently many doctors and other providers submit bills under a single Tax ID. Measuring collective performance quality is not acceptable for a network with intelligence. The way to differentiate individuals is to analyze their unique performance using specific identifiers such as the state medical license number or NPI (National Provider Identification).

Networks With ROI
Whether complying with California SB 863 or building Workers' Compensation medical networks anywhere in the country, developing quality networks will return huge savings. Medical providers, especially doctors who score poorly in comprehensive data analysis, drive complexity, high costs, and poor outcomes. Those should be avoided and injured employees should be directed to best in class doctors to receive the best medical care with the best medical and employment outcomes. The business of developing and managing Networks with Intelligence should be given high priority.

First Steps
The first step in building quality medical networks is to scrub and enhance medical provider data in the organization's systems. The next step is selecting best practice providers based on integrated and comprehensive data associated with the claim. Developing and monitoring medical networks requires analytical knowledge and technical skill. Because internal resources are often limited, a practical solution is to outsource to the experts for provider performance analytics and continuous monitoring.

Karen Wolfe collaborated with Margaret Wagner to write this article. Ms. Wagner is President and CEO of Signature Networks Plus. She is considered an expert in network selection, monitoring and management, thereby creating Networks with Intelligence™ for clients.

California SB 863, A Guide For Building And Monitoring Networks With Intelligence, Part 1

This is Part 1 of a multi-part series on building and monitoring networks with intelligence. Subsequent parts in the series will be published soon.

Building a medical provider community for Workers’ Compensation can be challenging, regardless of the jurisdiction. Nevertheless, carving out a legislatively-compliant, outcome-based, quality network is doable, and the return on investment is certain.

Injured workers deserve good medical treatment while employers and payers deserve transparent and fair costs. Moreover, industry research clearly shows that poorly performing providers are costly and lead to abysmal outcomes for injured employees, their families, and employers. This article features California SB 863 regarding MPNs (medical provider networks), but the concepts apply to creating intelligent medical provider networks anywhere.

Traditional Medical Networks
Medical networks in Workers’ Comp are not new, in fact, PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations) have been around in Workers’ Comp since the early 1990s. Traditionally, the network administrator contracts with all physicians and other treating providers available. The trade-off is that providers exchange their discounted fees for increased patient volume. However, quality of medical care measured by outcomes and acknowledgment of Workers’ Comp nuances such as return to work are not considered. Some jurisdictions have made attempts to modify this practice.

Old SB 899 — LC 4616 Medical Provider Network (MPN)
In April of 2004 the governor of California signed SB 899 into law. It addressed MPNs under section LC 4616 (d) stating “In developing a medical provider network, an employer shall have the exclusive right to determine the members of their network.”

Encouragement to analyze provider performance is clear under section LC 4616.1: “Economic Profiling means the evaluation of a particular physician, provider, medical group, or individual practice associations based in whole or in part of the economic costs or utilization of services associated with medical care provided or authorized by the physician, provider, medical group, or individual practice association.” In other words, quality and costs matter and should be analyzed and monitored.

Direction Of Care
An important opportunity in California and many other states is that employers and payers are allowed to direct care for injured employees to doctors and other medical providers in their medical provider networks. After selecting the best doctors for a network, injured workers can be directed to them, a win-win scenario.

Even in states where direction of care is not permitted, payers or employers who have intelligent networks can give injured employees information regarding who are the best-in-class doctors based on objective analysis. Doing so is a service to employees who will often make use of them in selecting a doctor.

Ramping Up — SB 863
The logic of creating an intelligent network with measureable outcomes was recently fortified with California SB 863, effective January 1, 2013. The old bill is strengthened under SB 863, LC 4616 (b) (2) and LC 4616 (b)(3) “Every MPN must establish and follow procedures continuously to review the quality of care, performance of medical personnel, utilization of services, facilities, and costs.”

Quality Control
In other words, all MPN plans must have procedures in place to continuously review the quality of care and costs for medical providers in the network. The mandate is now even stronger to evaluate and monitor medical provider performance. No longer is it adequate to contract with medical providers, print the list of providers in the network, and forget it.

However, many employers and payers are at a loss about how to analytically select and continuously review provider performance.

Intelligent Networks
Legislative mandates and industry wisdom remove the question about whether to upgrade network quality through outcome analytics and monitoring. Yet, selecting the right doctors and other providers, then monitoring, and managing an intelligent MPN is a business in itself.

Most organizations do not have the appropriate resources and should outsource to companies that focus on intelligent network design, provider selection through analytics, review, and management. The following are some details for building and managing intelligent networks, whether they are legislated or not.

Gather The Data
The way to develop an intelligent network is to select the best in class medical providers determined by analysis of actual performance demonstrated in the data. Historic data must be combined with current and continually updated data to evaluate performance now and going forward. Reviews of updated data should be frequent and regular.

Additionally, the data must be derived from a broad spectrum of sources. Workers’ Compensation organizations typically segment data into bill review data, claims, pharmacy (PBM) and other silos such as UR and Medical Case Management. All are necessary for provider performance assessment. Do not be misled by those who say bill review data is adequate to the task.

Integrate The Data
Integrate the data with claims as the focal point for a complete picture of the claim. Execute algorithms that analyze the data and score provider performance based on multiple performance indicators. Individual medical providers, groups, and facilities should all be analyzed in this regard.

Continuous data update and electronic monitoring insures network and individual provider quality going forward as prescribed in SB 863 legislation. Maximize medical network quality and cost control using analytics, thereby complying with legislation and maximizing positive benefits.

More About Building Networks With Intelligence
Part 2 of this series will add more details of California SB 863 regarding medical provider networks and how to create networks with intelligence using analytics and common sense, an imperative for all medical networks in all states.

Karen Wolfe collaborated with Margaret Wagner to write this article. Ms. Wagner is President and CEO of Signature Networks Plus. She is considered an expert in network selection, monitoring and management, thereby creating Networks with Intelligence&#153 for clients.

Have You Waived Your Right To Medical Control?

In the past, I have discussed the need to make employees who are injured on the job aware that they can retain their own doctors at their own expense.

We are now seeing the injured employee's attorney trying to gain medical control by claiming that pursuant to the Labor Code, you did not offer immediate medical treatment or, if it was provided it was not in a timely manner. As such, they are claiming that you (really your carrier) have waived your right to medical control under your Medical Provider Network. As such, applicant's attorneys are now trying to move their client to their medical provider(s) to see just how many new body parts they can add to the claim. So, when you are the first to receive notice of a claim, here is what we recommend you do.

Immediately schedule an appointment for the injured employee with your clinic and provide the employee with a written notice telling them when and where to go. That way, we will have foiled any attempt by the applicant attorney to grab medical control because of our alleged failure to provide treatment.

To help you facilitate the process, I have added language regarding this medical appointment to the “Acknowledgment of a Claim” letter I recommend you use (see below). The goal is to ensure that your injured employee understands that they must go to our doctors for treatment, as well as at the same time telling them that they are free to obtain medical treatment outside of your Medical Provider Network but that it will be at their own expense.

We have already seen this approach work keeping the injured employee treating within our Medical Provider Network. Injured employees are showing your letter to them to their attorney and are asking if they really have to go to our doctor(s). They are also asking if their attorney is going to pay for any treatment by the attorney's directed non-Medical Provider Network doctor. The answer is almost always “No,” and we find ourselves retaining medical control with a minimum of effort on our part, which we all know is critical to the timely closure of any claim.

You will note below the revised language I recommend you use. You will also note that it should be on company letterhead and given as soon as you first learn of the claim. A copy should also be sent to the examiner for this claim. This way, no time will be lost and there will be no argument over whether or not you have waived any of your rights to retain and maintain medical control.

I have put the medical appointment language in italics so that you understand that it should only be used when you are the first served with notice of a claim. Otherwise, simply leave this out and only use the language about their ability to obtain their own doctor at their own expense.

(On Company Letterhead)


Re: Recent work related injury – (Date of Injury)

Dear (Employee's first name if possible or Mr/Mrs …)

We were sorry to learn of your recent on the job injury. We want to take this opportunity to assure you that our workers' compensation insurance company has been notified. They will be in touch with you to discuss your injury and to make sure that you receive all the benefits necessary to help you with a speedy recovery.

We want to be sure that you know your rights under California law (Labor Code 4605) which says:

“You have the right to provide, at your own expense, a consulting physician or attending physician(s).”

We also understand that you probably feel the need to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. We want you to know that medical treatment is immediately available at (insert your clinic's name here). They are located at (address and phone number).

An appointment has been made for you at (call the clinic and get a specific time for the injured worker to be seen). If this time is not convenient for you, call the clinic and reschedule at your convenience. You will be receiving further information directly from our workers' compensation carrier regarding your claim.

Please do not hesitate to contact (fill in the name of the person) if you have any questions about your injury or benefits.

Again, we wish you a speedy recovery.


Cc – Your insurance carrier

Even More Tips For Building A Workers Compensation Medical Provider "A" Team

Significant dollars can be saved by getting injured workers to the best doctor. Evidence supporting this fact is the mounting Workers' Comp industry research clearly stating treatment by well-informed and well-intentioned medical doctors results in lower costs and better outcomes.

Belaboring A Point
As repeatedly stated in this series, many doctors in networks are not well-informed or well-intentioned regarding management of Workers' Comp claimants. As a consequence of their involvement, claim results are lacking, costs are high, and outcomes are precarious. This series of articles, “Tips for Building a WC Medical Provider A Team,” is intended to describe how to identify doctors who know the ropes in Workers' Comp using indicators in the data.1

Beyond the indicators discussed in the previous articles in this series, additional salient data elements are available in the data to broaden the scope of medical management evaluation. What makes this approach so feasible is that solid knowledge of who demonstrates best practices is revealed in the data. However, to find that knowledge, some operational processes and the data itself need refinement. Access to the data and its quality must be addressed.

Getting To The Knowledge In The Data
Regrettably, access to the data by the right persons is often a problem. Those who know best what to look for, the business and clinical professionals, cannot use current data in a practical, work-in-progress manner. The reasons are many.

First, relevant data resides in separate databases that must be integrated to understand all activity in a claim. Moreover, in most organizations, provider records are simply inaccurate and incomplete. Until now, the need for them was for reimbursement purposes only, not performance evaluation. Yet another problem is that provider records are frequently duplicated in the data, making it difficult to accurately evaluate individual medical providers' treatment process and results.

Data Silos
Critical data for analyzing medical provider performance is still fragmented in most payer organizations. While people have long complained about data silos in Workers' Comp, little has been done to correct the problem. If anything, data sources have increased. Pharmacy databases have been added, for instance. Yet the databases are not integrated on the claim level, thereby portraying the claim as a whole. Data silos too often lead those who are attempting to evaluate provider performance to rely on a single data source.

Single Source Analysis
Relying on one source of provider performance data is foolhardy. Nevertheless, bill review data is often used, but by itself is inadequate to tell the whole story. Claims level data is also critical to weigh return to work data, indemnity payments, and legal involvement associated with claims and ultimately, to individual doctors. None of these data items are found in bill review data, yet these are essential to complete analysis of provider performance. Because in Workers' Comp, doctors drive the non-medical claim costs as well as the direct medical costs, these data items are essential to evaluating the quality of their performance.

Data Quality
The problem of data quality can be even stickier. Traditionally, medical provider records are kept in the claims database, along with records of other vendors for payment purposes. All that is needed for bill payment is a name, address, and tax ID. Unfortunately, the same provider is frequently added to the database when a new bill is received. This outdated database management practice leads to slightly different records added for the same provider.

Data Optimization
To evaluate medical provider performance, more information about individual providers is needed such as accurate physical addresses. PO Boxes will suffice for mailing checks, but injured workers cannot be sent there for treatment.

Merge Duplicate Records
Tax ID's are still important for reimbursement and 1099 purposes, but often multiple doctors are represented by one Tax ID. To evaluate provider performance, individuals must be differentiated in the data. State medical license numbers and NPI (National Provider Identification) numbers are needed. Frankly, some doctors deliberately obfuscate the data by operating under multiple Tax ID's and multiple NPI numbers. Consequently, provider records must be merged, scrubbed, and optimized before any analysis can begin.

What To Do
For most organizations, choosing best practice providers by analyzing the data is challenged by the shortage of accurate and complete data. Therefore, those wanting to control costs by choosing the best providers should obtain provider performance analysis and scoring from a specialty third party, one that is expert in data integration from multiple sources, as well as provider data scrubbing and optimization.

When behaviors of doctors are analyzed using clean, integrated data, the well-informed and well-intentioned in Workers' Comp will rise to the surface.

1 Tips for Building a Medical Provider “A” Team and More Tips for Building a WC Medical Provider “A Team”