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Roundtable: Changing Culture, Leading Strategy at Healthcare Organizations

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:59

Organization culture and strategies might be considered "soft" elements of leadership, but they are vital nonetheless. Four healthcare leaders recently joined with HealthLeaders Media to discuss this topic.

Categories: Healthcare News

Slideshow: Population Health—Are You as Ready as You Think You Are?

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:55

This HealthLeaders Media research report shows that for some health systems, hospitals, and physician groups, the ambitious journey to improving the health of defined populations has begun in earnest. But for others, the trek toward innovative new strategies in care delivery has barely left the planning stages.

Categories: Healthcare News

Doctor in New York City is sick with Ebola

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:38

A doctor in New York City who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea became the first person in the city to test positive for the virus Thursday, setting off a search for anyone who might have come into contact with him. The doctor, Craig Spencer, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center and placed in isolation at the same time as investigators sought to retrace every step he had taken over the past several days. At least three people he had contact with in recent days have been placed in isolation. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which dispatched a team to New York, is conducting its own test to confirm the positive test on Thursday, which was performed by a city lab.

Categories: Healthcare News

HHS reshuffles amid Ebola crisis

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:37

The Department of Health and Human Services is shuffling its decks amid the fight against the Ebola virus. On Thursday, the agency tapped Karen DeSalvo to become the acting assistant secretary for health, a position that oversees the surgeon general's office — among a long list of others — and plays a heavy role in issues of global health and disaster response. DeSalvo, currently the HHS's national coordinator for health information technology, told staff Thursday that the switch will allow her "to become part of our Department's team responding to Ebola and work ... on other pressing health issues."

Categories: Healthcare News

HHS prescribes $840 million to help doctors transform their practices

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:35

The federal government will spend $840 million over the next four years to help doctors move their practices away from a volume-based business model to one that's focused on rewarding them for good patient outcomes. That's one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act, which provided the funding for the Department of Health and Human Services' Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative. The program aims to improve the coordination of patient care by primary care doctors and specialists, expand the use of electronic health records, give doctors better access to patient information, and expand the ways patients can communicate with the team of physicians caring for them.

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HHS chief rallies docs to boost Obamacare enrollment

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:30

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell is calling on thousands of family physicians across the country to boost ObamaCare sign-ups, less than one month before open enrollment begins. "We're going to need your help and your support just as much as we did last year, if not more," Burwell said in prepared remarks to the American Academy of Family Physicians. "We hope you'll encourage [your patients] to stay covered, and we hope you'll encourage any uninsured patients to go ahead and take that important step and get covered," she said.

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How Medicare 'self-referral' thrives on loophole

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:22

In a letter to a friend, the manager of a Florida urology practice worried in 2010 that her company would attract federal scrutiny for its frequent use of an expensive bladder-cancer test. The manager's concern involved a program at 21st Century Oncology Holdings Inc.?a national chain of cancer practices?that gives its urologists a financial incentive to order the test from a central in-house lab. A federal law since the 1990s has prohibited "self-referral," in which doctors can profit from Medicare-reimbursed procedures they order. But 21st Century Oncology and many physician groups around the country have found ways to do it anyway, exploiting an exception to the law in ways its writers didn't anticipate. [Subscription Required]

Categories: Healthcare News

Knowing prices tied to lower healthcare spending

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:20

People who search and compare the prices of common healthcare services tend to spend a bit less than people who don't, according to a new study. The overall amount of money people and their employers spent on office visits, laboratory services and imaging tests was between $1 and $125 less than normal when they looked up the prices ahead of time, researchers found. "It makes sense," said the study's lead author Christopher Whaley, from the University of California, Berkeley. "If you give them the information on services, they respond to it." He and his colleagues write in JAMA that people are paying a bit more of their own healthcare costs after recent changes to the U.S. healthcare insurance market.

Categories: Healthcare News

Opinion: Ebola will elevate respect for nurses

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:16

Back in the day, nurses will tell you, if a doctor came into a room and no chair was available for him, a nurse would have to give up her seat. Those days are long gone, but for a long time, nurses didn't have a guaranteed seat at the health care policy table—until now. The Ebola epidemic, and its intrusion into the U.S. health care system, brought nurses fully into the national conversation about how to handle this potential public health threat. For the overall good of our health care system, we need to stay there.

Categories: Healthcare News

Primary care doctors to patients: Don't forget about us

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:15

With an estimated 25 million new people becoming insured over the next few years, a coalition of family physicians has a message for the country: Don't forget about us. The timing is right for the group, which on Thursday announced a five-year, $20 million campaign aimed at promoting the importance of primary care. The flood of newly insured patients presents a big opportunity for primary care doctors, when you consider this: just one-third of uninsured adults said they have a regular doctor, about half the rate of the insured population, according to a 2013 Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

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Ebola: A New Normal in Dallas

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 10:54

While residents of the city are getting back to their normal routines in the wake of an Ebola scare, it may take a while for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to recover.

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After Ebola patient cured, NE hospital takes cautions anew

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 07:25

Inside the seventh-floor biocontainment unit at Nebraska Medical Center where Ashoka Mukpo's life was saved, medical crews worked, gingerly, to remove any lingering trace of the lethal virus. They incinerated pounds of infectious waste. Their gowns and head coverings, and loose papers and personal belongings left over from their patient, were being decontaminated with blasts of high-pressure steam. For 48 hours, the 10-bed unit — the largest of its kind in the United States — will sit dormant as doctors hope for any remnants of the Ebola virus to dissipate on their own. Then, another round of cleaning begins — this time, using ultraviolet rays to zap anything that remains of the virus. The biocontainment staff of about 60 takes protective measures beyond those recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Partners HealthCare M&A Deal Under Scrutiny

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 07:16

Public comments filed on a proposed merger and acquisition pact in Massachusetts reflect the breadth of consolidation debates raging across the country.

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Reducing Readmissions Starts with Better Collaboration

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 07:06

With Medicare upping the ante on hospitals to reduce readmission rates, pressure is mounting on hospitals to get the job done. Crafting collaborative relationships with community-based caregivers to boost patient care is key, researchers suggest.

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CDC shifts into overdrive on Ebola

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:54

Health officials at the center of nation's Ebola crisis are moving into overdrive to tame widespread public fears about the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced three new protocols in the three days as it looks to assert control over the deadly virus that infected two Americans this month. "The bottom line here is that we have to keep up our guard against Ebola," Frieden told reporters Wednesday as he announced a three-week mandatory monitoring period for anyone traveling into the United States from West Africa.

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As virus spreads, insurers exclude Ebola from new policies

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:53

As the fear of Ebola spreads to developed economies, U.S. and British insurance companies have begun writing Ebola exclusions into standard policies to cover hospitals, event organizers and other businesses vulnerable to local disruptions. As a result, new policies and renewals will become costlier for companies opting to insure business travel to West Africa or to cover the risk of losses from quarantine shutdowns at home, industry officials told Reuters. "What underwriters are doing at the moment is they're generally providing quotes either excluding or including Ebola - and it's much more expensive if Ebola is included," said Gary Flynn, an event cancellation broker at Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group Plc in London .

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Some US hospitals weigh withholding care to Ebola patients

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:51

The Ebola crisis is forcing the American healthcare system to consider the previously unthinkable: withholding some medical interventions because they are too dangerous to doctors and nurses and unlikely to help a patient. U.S. hospitals have over the years come under criticism for undertaking measures that prolong dying rather than improve patients' quality of life. But the care of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, who received dialysis and intubation and infected two nurses caring for him, is spurring hospitals and medical associations to develop the first guidelines for what can reasonably be done and what should be withheld.

Categories: Healthcare News

CA Prop. 46 pits doctors against lawyers

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:45

Most doctors would face random drug tests, just like truck drivers and pilots. Payouts for medical malpractice would more than quadruple. Doctors would have to check a database to see what drugs patients have already been prescribed before issuing any new prescriptions. Those are the three components of Proposition 46, a statewide measure on the Nov. 4 ballot that is the subject of a heated and expensive battle pitting doctors against lawyers. Supporters of Prop. 46 – mostly trial lawyers and consumer advocates – say the proposed law would make doctors and hospitals more accountable.

Categories: Healthcare News

Deal completed, Tufts, Lowell General look to expand

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:44

Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General Hospital joined together under a new parent company Wednesday and are looking to expand their network to compete with other health systems. So far, the parent company, named Wellforce, includes just the two hospitals, but executives said the company's future acquisitions may include hospitals, doctors' groups, or other health care businesses. "This isn't about buildings, and this isn't about hospitals, but it's about people and physicians and nurses caring for people," said Ellen Zane, vice chairwoman at Tufts and chairwoman of its new parent. "We view ourselves as a group of providers, with hospitals being part of the continuum, but not being at the center of the universe."

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Colorado Springs Health Partners gets new owner; patients unlikely to see changes

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:42

Denver-based kidney care giant DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. announced Wednesday it has acquired Colorado Springs Health Partners, the largest health care practice in Colorado Springs - a deal that could change the face of local health care. Terms of the deal, which is expected to be completed by year's end, were not disclosed. Colorado Springs Health Partners is owned by 76 of its 114 doctors, and all 76 approved the deal, said Deborah Chandler, CEO of the 68-year-old practice. The acquisition isn't expected to mean many changes for CSHP's 110,000 patients, since DaVita will keep the practice's management team and retain its more than 600 employees.

Categories: Healthcare News