Jon Gingrich, CEO of Echosens North America
Leveraging advances in technology to facilitate new patient engagement opportunities and incorporating non-invasive technologies into a liver disease program will not only improve individual outcomes and reduce costs, but also strengthen the financial performance of healthcare systems and provider organizations that incorporate this testing approach .
At a time when America’s hospitals and health care groups are facing lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to cut costs while maintaining quality patient care. There is growing awareness of the prevalence and cost of underdiagnosed liver disease, which has an annual direct cost of over $ 100 billion.
FibroScan® is a painless, non-invasive examination of the liver in which liver stiffness and fat levels are determined in a single 10-minute procedure. Both are important components in diagnosing and monitoring chronic liver disease, including:
– Non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD), an asymptomatic condition characterized by high levels of fat in the liver and the most common type of liver disease in the western world. Over 30% of the US population have some level of NAFLD, which is related to diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, and other metabolic risk factors. NAFLD affects 75 to 100 million adults in the United States.
– Alcohol-free steatohepatitis (NASH), the more severe form of NAFLD, is a potentially progressive liver disease that can lead to cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), liver cancer, liver transplant, and death. It is estimated that 357 million people worldwide will have NASH by 2030.
Treatment and patient loyalty
Because NAFLD and NASH are so closely linked to obesity, diabetes, and lifestyle, a patient engagement approach is needed to support behavioral changes that lead to better outcomes in the comorbid conditions that affect individual patients.
Early detection is needed as lifestyle changes and strict control of metabolic risk factors are the most effective treatments. Because disease progression is usually slow, patients can be treated well by general practitioners, although NAFLD patients with advanced liver fibrosis should be referred to a specialist for further assessment. While finding and treating fibrotic NASH is an important component in the treatment of liver disease, patients with steatosis alone are at higher risk of cardiovascular mortality and morbidity.
Diet and exercise interventions are the first line of therapy aimed at reducing body weight and modifying cardiometabolic risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. In the early stages of NAFLD, eating a healthy diet and losing at least 7% weight might be sufficient. Often, patients are also treated with vitamin E. Aggressive management of high blood pressure, diabetes, and lipid disorders is also crucial.
A follow-up visit will ensure that they are following the weight loss program, consulting a dietitian or nutritionist, and sticking to the program. It is also useful to share the patient’s liver test score to illustrate the change in liver fat and the need to adjust their treatment.
The need is now
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Hospital Association (AHA) estimates the financial impact on American hospitals and health systems at four months at a total of $ 202.6 billion, or an average of $ 50.7 billion per month. The 2020 calendar year service fee decrease is nearly $ 68,000 per doctor, contributing to an estimated 12.5% decline in sales. This loss jeopardizes the financial viability of many practices and could exceed $ 15 billion over the course of the year.
To address these tax challenges and to play an important role in reversing the country’s liver disease epidemic through early detection and monitoring of NAFLD / NASH, medical offices and hospitals are making a point of acquiring a non-invasive tool for liver health at the exam site. With quantifiable information that can improve individual health outcomes, doctors also help reduce payers’ costs by avoiding expensive, invasive procedures like painful liver biopsies.
As a result, more and more physician groups and hospital systems are introducing liver health management programs to proactively care for patients and contain the tide of this silent epidemic, which is growing at astounding rates. Many use non-invasive tests such as FibroScan®, an FDA-cleared technology for diagnosing and monitoring adult patients, as part of an overall assessment of liver health. Unlike blood tests, which measure circulating markers of inflammation such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), FibroScan directly and non-invasively measures the physical properties of stiffness and fatty liver. This fast and reliable tool provides reproducible results and enables both diagnosis and monitoring of liver stiffness and liver fat.
FibroScan was developed as a point-of-care tool – highly mobile, operated by a medical assistant and interpreted by medical staff. It produces numerical measurements rather than images, which allows for simplified interpretation and consistency of measurement for monitoring changes in liver tissue over time. These liver stiffness and fat measurements were validated using liver biopsies and MRI-based instruments.
FibroScan is supported by over 2,500 peer-reviewed publications and is the reference for non-invasive testing in major international guidelines. Rapid, non-invasive tools that enable consistent liver measurements are expected to be performed as a routine part of patient management.
About Jon Gingrich
Jon Gingrich is the CEO of Echosens North America, a high-tech company that offers the FibroScan family of products. Prior to joining Echosens, Gingrich was the Chief Commercial Officer of AxoGen, Inc., a global, publicly traded company focused on peripheral nerve repair. Previously, he was Global Vice President and General Manager for Skeletal Health Solutions and Group Global Vice President of Marketing, Breast and Skeletal Health Solutions for Hologic, Inc., a global health and life sciences developer, manufacturer and supplier of diagnostics. medical imaging and surgical products.