Blogs

Matrix Featured as an Active Employer During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Matrix Featured as an Active Employer During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Matrix Medical Network joins Glassdoor’s list of 33 companies eager to hire amid COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic many people may find themselves in difficult situations, especially in the workplace as the coronavirus disrupts the American economy. Despite this uncertainty, Matrix Medical Network continues its commitment to reaching health plan members across the country and was recently featured by Glassdoor as one of 33 companies eager to hire amid COVID-19.

The article, which features Matrix among hospitals, health care services and additional organizations that are actively hiring, highlights several open positions at Matrix for nurse practitioners, physician assistants, medical coders, contact center representatives and many more career fields across the country.

Now more than ever, Matrix is dedicated to serving vulnerable populations, including older Americans and those with chronic conditions who are at the highest risk of suffering severe illness and who are often the most difficult health plan members to reach.

Matrix providers are uniquely positioned to make an impact on these populations by meeting them in the safety and comfort of their homes where clinicians are then able to provide valuable care, education and resources. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, these in-home visits serve not only to inform of best practices and CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus, but also eliminate the need for members to leave their home and enter high-contagion areas.

By continuing to expand its network of 3,000+ nurse practitioners in the field and additional corporate and clinical support staff in Scottsdale, Arizona and Largo, Florida, Matrix continues its commitment to bringing care directly to members where they live.

Learn more about the innovative and collaborative work culture you can discover at Matrix by visiting our careers page or view our open positions across the country.



Telehealth as an Alternate Modality for Medicare

Telehealth as an Alternate Modality for Medicare

Written by Ted Kyi

March 17, 2020

Today, CMS published a fact sheet and FAQ which answered a lot of questions about the use of telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries.  I still have questions as to the degree to which these announcements pertain only to FFS Original Medicare, or also apply to Medicare Advantage.

To understand today’s documents, we have to go back to March 6, 2020 when H.R.6074 — the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 — was signed into law.  This act amended the section 1135 waiver authority granted to the HHS Secretary.  Secretary Azar declared a public health emergency on January 31, 2020, and as soon as the act became law, used the expanded section 1135 waiver to broaden access to telehealth services so that Medicare beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.

The waiver applies to three virtual services:  Telehealth visits, Virtual check-ins, and E-visits.  In brief, these services are defined as:

  • Telehealth visits pertain to general office visit services
  • Virtual check-ins are brief communications with established patients
  • E-visits are communications with established patients via an online patient portal

Wearing my risk adjustment hat, prospective health assessments, like the Matrix Comprehensive Health Assessment, are neither brief nor patient initiated through an online patient portal, so they align with telehealth visits.

Under the telehealth visits provision, visits with a provider (which include NPs) that generally take place in-person may take place using audio and video telecommunications between a distant site and the patient at home.  The usual restrictions regarding a prior established relationship or the originating site are explicitly waived.

Additionally, providers are allowed to use everyday communications technologies, such as FaceTime or Skype, without fear of penalties for HIPAA violations.

“Effective immediately, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will exercise enforcement discretion and waive penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients in good faith through everyday communications technologies, such as FaceTime or Skype, during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.”

This will make a significant impact on the ease with which providers will be able to ramp up telehealth, since they will be able to use commercially available products, and not have to stand up HIPAA certified applications.

Expanded telehealth services will be allowed from March 6, 2020 through the end of the public health emergency.

Both the CMS fact sheet and FAQ are available on the CMS website.


Have a question or want to learn more about Matrix's Telehealth offering?

Ted Kyi
SVP, Business Intelligence & Analytics at Matrix Medical Network

Ted Kyi is a leader in the Business Intelligence & Analytics group responsible for measurement and analysis of current and new products and services at Matrix.  Ted leads the healthcare analytics and data science teams, and is a subject matter expert on risk adjustment and government programs.  He has worked in healthcare analytics for over twenty years.  Prior to joining Matrix, Ted was president of the analytics vendor Ascender Software, and vice president of the consulting firm Infotech Systems Management.


Medicare Advantage Allowed to Expand Telehealth

Medicare Advantage allowed to Expand Telehealth

Written by Ted Kyi

March 10, 2020

This blog is intended to discuss data-driven decision making in healthcare, in particular with risk adjustment and managed care. Given that these days the top story every day is about the novel coronavirus, there are many interesting questions about how telehealth may play a role as people look to reduce the amount of contact they have with others.

With growing numbers of cases and numbers of deaths due to the coronavirus around the globe, questions are beginning to arise about the safety of in-person healthcare visits. These concerns are exacerbated here in the United States by a number of factors, including:

  • Lack of testing
  • Lack of contact tracing of positive patients
  • Possibility of mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic patients who are contagious

For these reasons, many people have discussed avoiding elective procedures and not seeking in-person care unless it is an emergency. This is especially true for seniors, and even more so for those with multiple chronic conditions.

Telemedicine offers an alternative modality for delivering care – a modality which does not carry the risk of infection. Today, CMS released a memo authorizing Medicare Advantage plans to expand access to telehealth. Here is the key passage:

“Medicare Advantage Organizations may also provide enrollees access to Medicare Part B services via telehealth in any geographic area and from a variety of places, including beneficiaries’ homes. In response to the unique circumstances resulting from the outbreak of COVID-19, should an Medicare Advantage Organization wish to expand coverage of telehealth services beyond those approved by CMS in the plan’s benefit package for similarly situated enrollees impacted by the outbreak, CMS will exercise its enforcement discretion regarding the administration of Medicare Advantage Organizations’ benefit packages as approved by CMS until it is determined that the exercise of this discretion is no longer necessary in conjunction with the COVID-19 outbreak. CMS consulted with the HHS OIG and HHS OIG advised that should a Medicare Advantage Organization choose to expand coverage of telehealth benefits, as approved by CMS herein, such additional coverage would satisfy the safe harbor to the Federal anti-kickback statute set forth at 42 CFR 1001.952(l).”

The memo also gave permission to change cost sharing for members for COVID-19 services, including telehealth.

“Medicare Advantage Organizations may waive or reduce enrollee cost-sharing for beneficiaries enrolled in their Medicare Advantage plans impacted by the outbreak. For example, Medicare Advantage Organizations may waive or reduce enrollee cost-sharing for COVID-19 laboratory tests, telehealth benefits or other services to address the outbreak provided that Medicare Advantage Organizations waive or reduce cost-sharing for all similarly situated plan enrollees on a uniform basis.”

You can read the full HPMS memo on the CMS website.


Have a question or want to learn more about Matrix's Telehealth offering?

Ted Kyi
SVP, Business Intelligence & Analytics at Matrix Medical Network

Ted Kyi is a leader in the Business Intelligence & Analytics group responsible for measurement and analysis of current and new products and services at Matrix.  Ted leads the healthcare analytics and data science teams, and is a subject matter expert on risk adjustment and government programs.  He has worked in healthcare analytics for over twenty years.  Prior to joining Matrix, Ted was president of the analytics vendor Ascender Software, and vice president of the consulting firm Infotech Systems Management.


A Healthy Heart for the Rest of Your Life

A Healthy Heart for the Rest of Your Life

Michelle, a Matrix Nurse Practitioner, recently shared her personal experience with a heart health story and the ways to promote a healthy heart:

My grandmother of 98 years asked that I accompany her to a results visit with her Primary Care Physician (PCP) since I was “almost a doctor” and could help her understand anything if needed. For the record, I am a Matrix Nurse Practitioner and I gladly consented.

We were having a fun conversation when the PCP entered and warmly greeted us as if we were family. He reviewed the results of her lab-work, and then discussed decreasing the dosage on a few medications as she was doing so well.

He discussed continuing her current diet and encouraged her daily walk to the mailbox and back…about 1/4 mile round trip.

He asked if she had questions and spent a few minutes asking about family. He shook her hand and said, “You are such a wonderful person, and have the softest heart I know.”

When we got into the car, she looked angry which is unusual for my grandmother. I asked her what was wrong and she said, “I don’t have a soft heart! My heart is strong as an ox. I don’t think he is a nice doctor to wait until the end of the visit to tell me that!”

I looked at her and said, “He meant that you have a soft spot in your heart for your family, friends and life. He said you were a wonderful person and he meant it.”

She smiled and exclaimed, “He is the nicest doctor I know!”

Whether in the home, mobile clinic or facility, Matrix providers get an opportunity to promote a healthy heart. This opportunity may be presented, or stated in as many different ways as there are providers, but let me leave you with the following:

Help yourself to as much education as you can get. Know what your numbers are, and should be, for your BP, Weight, A1C, and Cholesterol for starters.

Eat a balanced meal that includes a protein, vegetable, starch and carbohydrate. Moderation is key. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day!

Activity should be a part of your daily routine. Start with what you can do, and then do what you can do every day.

Rest and Relax are the hardest to do but most important to plan into your life.

Take time for yourself, family and friends. Share your “soft heart.”


Heart Health Tests — Early Detection Saves Lives

Heart Health Tests — Early Detection Saves Lives

Our heartbeat, strongly linked to our mission at Matrix Medical Network (Matrix), is to create solutions to improve the quality and affordability of health care for the members that are entrusted to us by our health care customers.

Our “heart” longed to reach more members, so Matrix decided to take our “heart health” mission where they live …in the form of Mobile Health Clinics.

One of the unique features of the Mobile Health Clinic to improve quality and affordability of health care is cardiovascular testing. Our Mobile Health Clinics offer a comprehensive health assessment conducted by a board certified provider, who is able to order an Electrocardiogram (ECG) and/or an Echocardiogram (ECHO) for members who have cardiac risk factors. The tests are performed on board the mobile health clinic by a cardiovascular technician in a comfortable setting.

The ECG looks at the electrical activity of the heart and helps the provider determine the rate and regularity of the heartbeat.

The ECHO looks at the pumping activity of the heart, the valves and chambers, using an ultrasound machine. An Interpreting Physician will evaluate the results and a report is sent to the member’s primary care physician (PCP) to support the goals of quality patient care. The PCP assumes responsibility for treating and referring the member to a specialist if indicated.

These two tests are so important to the heart health of the member as they provide a good measurement of how healthy the heart is, or can be, with the proper intervention and treatment that starts with the Matrix team and continues with the member’s PCP or Specialist.

Remember, early detection saves lives!

Matrix mobile health clinics deliver community-based care with enhanced cardiovascular diagnostic capabilities that cannot be done in the home. Learn more about the mobile health clinics.


February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month

During the month of February, matters of the heart are often top of mind. From chart-topping songs telling stories of heartbreak to holidays dedicated to the celebration of love, we all seem to be focused on the heart, in a metaphorical sense anyway.

But, behind those multi-colored candy hearts and arrow-wielding cherubs there lies a more serious topic. February marks the beginning of American Heart Month, a federally-designated event that has sought to raise awareness for heart disease and stroke since it was first proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

It’s the goal of organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and the American Heart Association to increase awareness of heart health and lower the risks for heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Both organizations emphasize the importance of regular exams and testing from a healthcare provider.

Within our Matrix Medical Network (Matrix) Clinical Education team, and the Matrix providers in the field, the heart is an organ or pump that sits behind the sternum and sends oxygen rich blood throughout the body with every beat that is electrically initiated. The heart beats at an average rate of 80 times per minute, which is about 42 million times a year.

Thankfully, most of us do not have to think about how or why the heart beats, but ALL of US should be concerned about keeping that heartbeat going strong and healthy for the whole of our lives. Awareness of traditional risk factors, education about heart health and lifestyle modifications can help to mitigate the risk for heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) applies to the arteries that supply blood flow to the heart muscle. The diagnosis of CAD indicates that the individual has atherosclerosis or plaque in the coronary arteries. Atherosclerosis builds up and damages the coronary arteries causing platelet aggregation, resulting in a blockage. Atherosclerosis minimizes the blood flow and can lead to ischemia or a myocardial infarction.[1]

Assessing heart health is part of the Matrix Comprehensive Health Assessment (CHA). During the member visit, the Matrix provider spends a portion of the visit asking about issues of the heart…the organ and the vessels in a physical sense that is.

Matrix providers ask questions to assess the member’s risk for heart related disorders, perform a physical exam, and conduct testing. Members are asked if they have a family history of Coronary Artery Disease and when their last Cholesterol screen was done. Providers assess for signs or symptoms that may indicate a heart problem, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, previous surgeries, and history of hospital admissions. Providers on the Matrix Mobile Health Clinic are able to further evaluate the heart using EKG and Echocardiogram testing. The thorough assessment of the whole body system enables the provider to learn more about the overall health of the member’s heart, and to make recommendations regarding following up with their primary care physician or specialist based on these findings.

Follow our posts this month as we address additional topics focused on heart health during American Heart Month.

1 Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors. (2009, December 2). Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/184989


[Infographic] National Nurse Practitioner Week 2019

[Infographic] National Nurse Practitioner Week 2019

Throughout National Nurse Practitioner Week 2019, Matrix Medical Network is celebrating the exceptional professional accomplishments and hard work of Nurse Practitioners (NPs) nationwide and our own clinical champions that serve health plan members across the country.

Chairman and CEO, Keith Henthorne, started off NP Week by recognizing the tremendous impact that Matrix NPs have on members who rely on the quality of care they provide:

“To all of our nurse practitioners, I can’t thank you enough for both the day-to-day work that you do and for all the times you’ve taken that extra step, making sure the members you meet with are well cared for. I know your time with each of them may be brief, but your guidance and influence stays with them long after your visit. You are more than healthcare providers; you are doing important work that touches the lives of those you care for in ways you may never imagine.”

Matrix NPs were also recognized by clinical leadership who shared their gratitude with their teams, and celebrated their accomplishments on the journey of being a NP and the lives they have impacted along the way by providing high quality care to the members we serve. Matrix is also proud to recognize nine NPs that are celebrating their tenth anniversary with Matrix this year!

Dr. Daniel J. Castillo Matrix Chief Medical Officer, Group President Product, Quality and Innovation addressed the integral role that NPs have on the overall healthcare delivery system and recognized our own broad network for their commitment to clinical excellence as shared in a Matrix Press Release.

Throughout the annual NP Week, we are reminded that the service of nurse practitioners deserves recognition and celebration year-round. Learn more about this growing group of highly-trained medical professionals in the infographic below.


Nurse Practitioners Celebrate Ten Years with Matrix Medical Network

Nurse Practitioners Celebrate Ten Years with Matrix Medical Network

Thank you for your contributions and dedication to Matrix and the members we serve!

During National Nurse Practitioner Week 2019, Matrix is proud to share stories from some of our nurse practitioners that celebrate their tenth anniversary with Matrix this year! Read a snapshot on why they enjoy their roles and some advice for newly graduated nurse practitioners.

The Learning Never Ends

Deb D.

“The largest part of my job is focused on being a clinical resource and providing education about the electronic portal for our providers, staff and clients. I am always looking for ways to enhance the tools for data collected during the assessment. 

I was once told by a wife of a member that I saw that I saved their marriage. Her husband would not take his medication or follow his diet.  His wife was frustrated that he would not listen to advice given about his diabetes. I educated him about how diabetes affects all the different body systems and why the treatment was necessary. He stated that everyone told him what to do, but never why. His wife called me a month later and told me that he was doing everything he was supposed to and that she was saying with him.

For new NPs, the advice I would give is don’t be afraid to ask questions— no one expects you to know everything. The learning never ends!”

An Amazing Impact

“I believe that most of the members I have seen really appreciate the hour we give them to discuss their health status and feel important when they get the opportunity to ask questions and get a better understanding of their well-being.

The most significant impact on my members was when I was a PA Travel NP for five years. I worked in over 40 counties in PA. I worked in the mountains, the farm lands of Lancaster, Centre County of Happy Valley and coal fracking towns of Schuylkill county and many more! The rural members were even more appreciative when I did their home visits and educated them about health issues, medication treatment and how to improve or maintain a healthy status. The country members were very respectful and appreciated the NP Visit. The impact I personally felt was amazing.”

Teresa D.

Getting Care Back into the Home

Suzanne S.

“I remember the Matrix interview and starting the job so well! I love the freedom and the wonderful members I talked to over the years. I always enjoy meeting members and the facility staff members who I came to know as I visited the skilled and long-term care facilities. Many members were from my hometown and were seen over the years repeatedly. It has been an honor to represent our company as we grew and developed over time. I feel that I took a chance on a new way of doing health care which in reality was getting the care back into the homes as it was done years before us. I had faith that we would grow and I am proud that I was some small part of our success. I am sure that I will never experience something like this again.”

Confidence in Yourself & Your Skills

“I can’t believe it’s been that long! Back at the start we did all the assessments on paper and sent them via FedEx, and the assessments were about 30 pages long. Now we are one of the largest employers of NPs in the country!

As a Matrix NP I am able to connect the member to their health plan and their PCP all in one visit. Sometimes members do not have access to the services they need and we are able to connect those services to them. I have organized member’s medications into pill boxes for the month, connected the member with their doctors and spoken to family members when I am concerned for their loved one’s well-being.

One piece of advice I would pass on to the next generation of NPs is to have confidence in yourself and your skills. You know more than you think you do!”

Lauren N.

A Leap of Faith

Kathleen M.

“My journey started with a ‘ leap of faith’ in Matrix when they just started doing home health assessments in Pittsburgh. In the ‘old days’ we called our members the night before, assessments were done on paper and sent via FedEx. Fast forward ten years and we have come a long way! Ten years…that’s a lot of miles and many members seen— and I still love doing it!  

To me, each visit is like opening up a new novel…we walk into a home and the story begins. We have a unique opportunity to make a differ-ence in a member’s life every time we walk through a new door— to me that’s what it is all about!”

Quality Time with Members

“I feel that my work as a Matrix NP has placed me in a unique position in today’s health care environment by allowing me to spend quality time with members. By taking the time to listen to each member’s story I’m able to meet the member where they are in their journey to a healthy lifestyle. I hope that my day to day interactions with the members leave them feeling listened to and cared for.

As much as I feel like I’m there to educate our members about their health-they have taught me so much in return. There’s a unique perspective on life that you obtain from listening to our member population, and I’ll take all the advice I can get.

For newly graduated NPs, I would say being able to really listen is an important skill to develop. Sometimes taking a step back can really put everything into focus. And to have fun with the members— they really are a treat.”

Katie W.

Making a Real Connection

Becky B.

“In the ten years here, I have seen the company evolve from my very first team meeting where there were only 12 NPs in the Western Pennsylvania area. Matrix has undergone a complete transformation since when I first started.

I approach each visit with the goal of finding a way in which the member will both remember my visit as well as find value in it. Sometimes the difference is made clinically, but other times it is by just spending a little extra time with a member and taking a genuine interest in the member’s life or passions and making a real connection with them. I have met so many interesting people through the years and remember them fondly when I drive past their home, sometimes years later.

One of my favorite stories was of a member that I saw more than once. During his first visit, there were significant issues, which I addressed. A few weeks later, I ran into him in my community and he stopped me and thanked me profusely, stating that I probably saved his life. It was about two years later that I was scheduled to see him again for his annual assessment. When he opened the door, I didn’t even recognize him. He had lost a significant amount of weight and had a huge smile on his face. As we went through the assessment he talked about the first visit with Matrix and how it had changed his life. These are the types of differences all of us make working here at Matrix.

To the new grads, my advice would be to have confidence in yourself and the education you received. One of my favorite quotes is from Henry Ford who said, “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t— you’re right.”

No Act of Kindness is too Small

“I would have to say that the vast majority of visits I have completed for Matrix have been fulfilling on one level or another. I am always happy when I can take the burden off the facility nurses. Or brighten a members’ day by taking the time to listen to them or make them smile.  The small things sometimes make all the difference to both the members and facility staff.

I also enjoy the family interaction when I have the time to explain how a discharge to home will happen or to head them in the right direction to get their questions answered. When I first began my nursing career, I wanted to be the person who saved lives during a hectic crisis. After 30 years I realize that a kind word or a touch can be just as life saving for someone who is ill.

My advice to new nurse practitioners is to enjoy the small things and remember that no act of kindness is too small to make a difference.”

Tara B.

Also Celebrating Ten Years with Matrix!

Karlie B.


Colorectal Cancer Ribbon Matrix Medical Network

Effective Screening for Colorectal Cancer Saves Lives

Effective Screening for Colorectal Cancer Saves Lives

By Daniel Castillo, MD, MBA

 

Jen, a Matrix Nurse Practitioner, recently shared the following story with me:

John (name changed for privacy), a member who had received a Matrix in-home assessment the previous year, hugged me. I was a bit surprised but before I could say “Hi”, he told me the story of what led to that hug. The previous year, as part of his health assessment, I had discussed the importance of colon cancer screening and left a fecal occult stool test kit with him.  After his screening test had come back positive, his primary care doctor gave him a referral for a follow up colonoscopy, which revealed a precancerous lesion that was successfully removed.  He was told by his doctor that the early screening test that led to the colonoscopy likely saved his life. His hug was his way of saying “thank you”. 

I wanted to share John’s story today since March is designated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. The focus on awareness points to the importance of appropriate education to help individuals overcome barriers on getting screened for colorectal cancer (CRC). There are various risk factors that contribute to the incidence of developing CRC like being age 50 and older, having a first degree relative that’s had colorectal cancer and smoking (for a full list of risk factors, please visit the American Cancer Society website). Screening, which has been shown to have decreased the incidence of colorectal cancer over the last few years is critically important since the disease still affects approximately 1 in 22 men and 1 in 24 women, meaning that most people’s lives will at some point be touched by this disease.1

As with John’s story above, the goal of screening is for the early detection and effective treatment of CRC before it is too late.

Despite the improvements, screening rates still can increase, with only 50 percent of eligible populations currently participating. Colonoscopy has long been the standard methodology for CRC screening, but the required test preparation, test anxiety and costs for the test itself have been barriers for some populations.2

Several other effective screening methods are now available that require no test preparation or dietary restrictions. These tests include stool-based blood detection and DNA tests which can be done by the individual in their home. If abnormal results are detected during the stool based screenings, a follow-up colonoscopy will be performed. Strong evidence indicates that less-invasive screening options have been effective in boosting screening rates.

Matrix Medical Network (Matrix) offers stool-based blood detection as part of our comprehensive health assessment. Matrix receives data files from health plans that identifies members that might not have the recommended CRC screening. Our nurse practitioners educate the members on the importance of the tests and will deliver the results directly to the member’s primary care provider.

Screening for CRC may uncover a life threatening disease when it can still be effectively treated. Matrix works together with health plans, providers and most importantly members to drive an increase in appropriate CRC screening, which can save lives. Just ask John.

Contact us today to learn more about how Matrix CRC screening can help improve members health and wellness.

Dr. Castillo is the Chief Medical Officer for Matrix Medical Network. He is board certified in emergency medicine and provides clinical leadership for Matrix’s growing suite of in-home and mobile based clinical solutions. Dr. Castillo is driven to improve the value of health care access and member care delivery.

 

 

References:

1 American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2019.

2 The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screening. Retrieved March 9, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4365838/