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Updated: 19 hours 40 min ago

Leading Through Change

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 08:30

At a time of rapid and fundamental shifts in healthcare, top leaders must evolve their skill set and their management style to achieve the goals of better, more efficient healthcare delivery.

Categories: Healthcare News

Slideshow: HIT Investments Target Population Health Management

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:58

Four senior healthcare leaders describe the health information technology infrastructure investments they've made to better manage population health.

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'Pay Attention to How Doctors Talk'

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:49

"If you want to understand the culture of medicine, you should pay attention to how doctors and other health professionals talk," says Brian Goldman, MD. He was interviewed by MedPage Today about his reasons for dissecting the way healthcare professionals speak to each other.

Categories: Healthcare News

US House passes bipartisan bill to fix Medicare doctor payments

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:40

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill to permanently repair the formula for reimbursing Medicare physicians, marking a rare bipartisan achievement and sending the issue next to the Senate. The measure drafted and driven forward by Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi would fix a long-standing problem with how Medicare pays doctors. It would also make adjustments to the health program for seniors. The House vote was 392-37. The Senate may not act until it returns from a two-week recess that starts this weekend. Some senators in both parties had concerns about the bill, but it also had strong support.

Categories: Healthcare News

White House crafts first-ever plan to fight superbugs

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:36

The White House is due to issue an ambitious plan to slow the growing and deadly problem of antibiotic resistance over the next five years, one that requires massive investments and policy changes from a broad array of U.S. government health agencies, according to a copy of the report reviewed by Reuters. The 60-page report is the first ever to tackle antibiotic resistance so broadly. It was compiled by a government task force led by the administration's top officials for health, agriculture and defense. A White House official confirmed that it would release the plan on Friday.

Categories: Healthcare News

Ebola not mutating into 'supervirus,' study finds

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:35

The Ebola virus that is causing the current outbreak in West Africa is not mutating as quickly as earlier reports had suggested, a new study finds. This finding helps allay fears that the virus could change into a more infectious or deadly form, the researchers said. In the study, published online today (March 26) in the journal Science, researchers compared virus samples from people in Africa who became infected with Ebola up to nine months apart. They found that the viruses' genetic sequences were almost identical, meaning that the virus had undergone relatively few mutations -- or changes in the genetic sequence -- over that time period, the researchers said

Categories: Healthcare News

Maker of medical scopes linked to 'superbug' outbreaks issues new cleaning instructions

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:33

The maker of medical scopes that have been linked to two recent "superbug" outbreaks at California hospitals has issued new cleaning instructions for the devices amid scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and medical professionals. Olympus America sent the new guidelines to U.S. hospitals on Thursday, recommending that its customers begin using them as soon as possible. The updated guidelines call for using a smaller cleaning brush and additional flushing steps to remove debris and disinfect the scope's crevices and hinges. Olympus plans to send the new brush to hospital customers by May 8.

Categories: Healthcare News

NY to investigate insurers' cybersecurity work after hacks

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:32

Insurers doing business in New York State must tell a regulator there about efforts to prevent computer hacking, detailing the precautions taken and the personnel devoted to the task. Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services, said in a letter to insurers Thursday that they must provide the information by April 27 and submit to examinations by the agency. About 160 life, health and property & casualty insurers are affected. "The department intends to schedule IT/cybersecurity examinations after conducting a comprehensive risk assessment of each institution," Lawsky wrote.

Categories: Healthcare News

TN state hospitals stand to benefit from Congressional compromise

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:30

The state of Tennessee stands to receive more than $530 million in federal funding over the next 10 years to help cover costs of treating uninsured patients. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which includes a compromise that will guarantee disproportionate share hospital allotments totaling more than $530 million over the next 10 years to help hospitals and community health centers in Tennessee recoup expenses from treating patients who cannot afford to pay. Tennessee is the only state in the nation that does not receive DSH allotments automatically. Under the Act, hospitals in Tennessee will receive $53.1 million in annual DSH payments.

Categories: Healthcare News

The nurse will see you now: Expanded authority proposal gets moving in FL legislature

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:27

A plan to expand the powers of nurses hasn't yet caught on in the legislature, but eased out of a House Health panel Wednesday. The fate of bill remains cloudy, but its sponsor says even if it fails this year—the issue isn't going away. After initially stalling last week, a bill that would let nurses see patients without having the oversight of doctors, finally got moving Tuesday. House Bill 547 was the final proposal heard by the Health Innovation Subcommittee, and even though lawmakers approved it on a 9-to-4 vote, unclear whether the bill is enough of a priority, or even if it has enough support—to get through the House.

Categories: Healthcare News

Opinion: The key to making safety and quality a priority at hospitals

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:23

When you are a patient at a hospital, you want to know that the executives who run that facility put the safety and quality of care above all other concerns. Encouragingly, more of them are saying that safety is indeed their number-one priority—a fitting answer given that preventable patient harm may claim more than 400,000 lives a year in the U.S. Yet when you look at the way most hospitals and corporate health systems are organized, weak infrastructure exists to support that priority. True, some hospital boards of trustees have made safety and quality their first order of business.

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Access Improves for Latinos, But Key Age Group Left Behind

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 09:25

CDC data shows the numbers of uninsured are at their lowest point in 15 years. But research reveals that efforts to improve access to healthcare to a key portion of the Latino population have failed.

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Dealing with Drug Diversion

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 09:24

Leaders must first acknowledge that their organization is at risk, and then devise and implement programs to address staff who steal pharmaceuticals.

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Two CT hospitals could be out of network soon for UnitedHealthcare customers

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 07:46

People who have UnitedHealthcare insurance could face more expensive, out-of-network rates at Hartford Hospital and the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, or they'll have to seek care elsewhere, if the health system and insurer don't resolve a contract dispute by April 14. Hartford HealthCare, parent company of both hospitals, is planning to send 16,883 notices later this week to UnitedHealthcare and Oxford Health Plans customers who have been patients recently at one of the two hospitals. UnitedHealthcare spokeswoman Maria Gordon-Shydlo said about 13,500 of the insurer's customers visited one of the two hospitals in the past year. The insurer has about 475,000 customers in Connecticut.

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Lower Costs Linked to Minimally Invasive Surgical Techniques

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 07:13

Compared with open surgical procedures, the use of laparoscopic surgery for some common conditions is associated with fewer complications, shorter length of stay, and lower hospital costs, researchers find.

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Proposed SGR Fix Adds $141B to Deficit, Says CBO

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 07:11

While the price of ending the Sustainable Growth Rate formula is steep, the Congressional Budget Office says it's cheaper than doing nothing, because the status quo would cost $900 million more than the proposed reforms over the next 10 years.

Categories: Healthcare News

Doctors sweat as deadline nears for Medicare cuts

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 07:00

Like other doctors, Virginia Beach family practitioner Mitchell Miller is frustrated as he waits - once again - to find out whether Congress will halt a deep cut in Medicare payments set to begin next week. Miller, who stopped taking new Medicare patients a decade ago because he says the federal payments are too low, said it's time for Congress to change how the government pays for elderly medical care. He might get his wish. The immediate problem is a 1997 Medicare spending formula that ties the size of provider payments to economic growth, regardless of the need for care.

Categories: Healthcare News

Obama health law hasn't increased doctor burden, study finds

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 06:58

The implementation of the national health care overhaul has not, as once feared, been a burden to doctors, according a new report from a Massachusetts health care technology company and a New Jersey foundation. Even while 10 million Americans gained insurance coverage last year through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the proportion of new patients visiting primary care providers only rose slightly, to 22.9 percent in 2014 from 22.6 percent in 2013, the report said. And the new patients were no sicker than the patients those doctors saw in years past, said Josh Gray, vice president of research at athenahealth Inc., a Watertown company that provides electronic health records and other software to doctors nationwide.

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Economic burden of universal MRSA screening could be too costly for hospitals

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 06:57

Despite calls by experts and policymakers for hospitals to screen patients for MRSA infections and isolate those posing high risk, and laws in several states that require testing on admission, the economic burden may be too much for hospitals to bear, researchers found. "Prior research has shown that expanded MRSA screening would prevent infections, save lives and reduce costs for the entire healthcare system," James A. McKinnell, MD, an infectious disease specialist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, told Infectious Disease News. McKinnell and colleagues conducted two separate studies modeling the direct economic impact of expanding surveillance in an individual hospital.

Categories: Healthcare News

Medical identity theft is fastest-growing identity crime in the US

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 06:50

By now, most people are aware of the consequences that data breaches create by exposing personal information, including credit card fraud or tax fraud. However, until recently, medical identity theft, the fastest-growing identity crime in the country impacting more than 2.3 million Americans, has mostly flown under the radar. In February, Anthem, the nation's second-largest health insurer, announced that its systems had been the target of a sophisticated external cyber attack. This attack, one of the largest data breaches in U.S. history, impacted one in three Missourians, according to state officials.

Categories: Healthcare News