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Updated: 21 hours 6 sec ago

CMS to Speak with ICD-10 Backers Tuesday

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:45

AHIMA and other ICD-10 stakeholders say they want to know when federal officials intend to set a new implementation date for the delayed code set.

Categories: Healthcare News

Last-minute change in TN law lets hospitals drop patients

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:28

A few weeks before Terry Gordon died, a court-appointed lawyer paid a visit to the 63-year-old homeless man in his seventh-floor hospital room at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital. "I explained to him that this was not the Hyatt Regency, but we had to find him another place for him to stay," the lawyer, George Duzane, later reported to the court. But the visit, which took place in August of last year and led to Gordon's temporary departure from the hospital, had its origin in a last-minute amendment to legislation involving conservatorships approved earlier that year.

Categories: Healthcare News

Opinion: ICD-10 delay—What's next for healthcare organizations?

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:26

Many of the complexities of medicine are distilled down to a vocabulary of diagnostic codes, called the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which are used by doctors, insurers, and hospitals. Today's ICD-9 codes are now more than four decades old. Although the US was aiming to transition to ICD-10 by Oct. 2014, the recently announced postponement, until at least October 2015, presents a dilemma for many providers that were ready to activate the new system. The question that remains is how best to move forward? It's not hard to imagine how the added specificity will drive advancements in managing patient populations, as providers and payers transition from roughly 14,000 codes in ICD-9 to around 69,000 in ICD-10.

Categories: Healthcare News

Hospitals challenge observational case designation

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:21

Finally, some pushback against hospital visits that insurers categorize as an observation case rather than admission, costing hospitals a bundle in recent years. The American Hospital Association has filed two related lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Services to challenge the government's "two-midnight" admission rule. Effective this year, the stay of two consecutive midnights constitutes a hospital admission rather than an observation case. The federal standard is used by private insurers. But the standard is arbitrary, according to AHA, which deprives hospitals full Medicare reimbursement for providing care.

Categories: Healthcare News

AMA report: Doctors support nearly 572,000 jobs

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:19

New York's doctors supported nearly 572,000 jobs while generating billions of dollars in taxes and other revenue, according to a new trade group report. The American Medical Association, or AMA, recently released a study of the economic impact of more than 720,000 total physicians in the U.S., including almost 60,000 in New York. In 2012, the physician industry played a role in nearly $100 billion worth of sales. That accounts for about 8 percent of the state's total economic output, or gross domestic product, the report shows. The national association of physicians released its economic impact report as health care issues dominated the news.

Categories: Healthcare News

House calls are making a comeback

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:17

A relic from the medical past — the house call — is returning to favor as part of some hospitals' palliative care programs, which are sending teams of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and other workers to patients' homes after they are discharged. The goal is twofold: to provide better treatment and to cut costs. Walter Park, 68, of San Francisco says house calls prevented an expensive return visit to the hospital, where he initially stayed for seven weeks after a heart attack in 2012. After his discharge, palliative care specialists from the University of California, San Francisco, were among those who visited his home to monitor his physical and emotional health.

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15-minute visits take a toll on the doctor-patient relationship

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:14

Patients – and physicians – say they feel the time crunch as never before as doctors rush through appointments as if on roller skates to see more patients and perform more procedures to make up for flat or declining reimbursements. It's not unusual for primary care doctors' appointments to be scheduled at 15-minute intervals. Some physicians who work for hospitals say they've been asked to see patients every 11 minutes. And the problem may worsen as millions of consumers who gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act begin to seek care — some of whom may have seen doctors rarely, if at all, and have a slew of untreated problems.

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Court to consider Natchez hospital ombudsman

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:12

A federal bankruptcy court overseeing Natchez Regional Medical Center's Chapter 9 filing may decide this week whether to appoint some to oversee patient care. A hearing is scheduled Thursday in Natchez. The hospital is opposing the appointment of an ombudsman. Bankruptcy attorney Eileen Shaffer tells The Natchez Democrat that any time there is a health care-related case, the question of an ombudsman come up. "We don't think (the ombudsman) is necessary because we have enough internal controls to maintain quality of care," Shaffer said. "There is oversight by federal, state and local programs. Any time you interject a third party into a case, it creates a great amount of cost. We would rather see those dollars go to the creditors."

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Intensive care patient to face charges of selling drugs from hospital bed

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 06:09

A Youngwood woman is accused of selling heroin from her hospital bed while she was in the intensive care unit at a Westmoreland County hospital. The 38-year-old woman will likely be charged criminally Tuesday, according to Greensburg Police Capt. Chad Zucco. He said she was a patient at Excela Westmoreland Hospital for an unrelated medical issue when hospital staff noticed unusual behavior in and out of her room. "What they noticed last week was an exorbitant amount of foot traffic happening to a patient's room. Not patients coming to stay two hours, but patients coming to stay two minutes. They thought that was really odd so they contacted security at Excela Westmoreland Hospital," said Excela Vice President of Marketing, Jennifer Miele.

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CU system resets healthcare with $63M personalized medicine division

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 06:47

The accelerating speed of DNA sequencing, drug development and data analysis has led UCHealth, the University of Colorado Medical School and Children's Hospital Colorado to join in an effort to fundamentally change the way they care for patients.The partnership will invest more than $63 million over the next five years to create a new division, adding clinicians, genetic counselors, researchers and advanced practice nurses — and also expanding a DNA bank and advanced data warehouse.

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How Physicians Can Help Ease Mental Health Provider Shortages

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 13:01

By integrating a behavioral health team and a telemedicine component into all 250 of its primary care practices, Carolinas HealthCare System is trying to head off a potential behavioral health crisis in doctors' offices and emergency departments.

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Reform Puts Vise Grips on Physicians

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 07:02

To say doctors are under tremendous pressure may be the understatement of the year. One key indicator to how well they are navigating the healthcare system is reimbursement.

Categories: Healthcare News

Medicare Opt-Out a Viable Physician Strategy

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:52

Two Pennsylvania physicians share their experiences decoupling from Medicare. They've lost 12% of their patient population, but say they're providing more personalized care and the effects on their revenue and financial viability have been positive.

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Medicare kept paying indicted, sanctioned doctors

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:33

In August 2011, federal agents swept across the Detroit area, arresting doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals accused of running a massive scheme to defraud Medicare. The following month, several of those arrested, including psychiatrist Mark Greenbain and podiatrist Anmy Tran, were suspended from billing the state's Medicaid program for the poor. But the indictment and Medicaid suspensions didn't deter Medicare from continuing to allow the doctors to treat elderly and disabled patients — and didn't stop the physicians from billing taxpayers for their services. Greenbain and Tran were among dozens of doctors identified by the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica who kept getting Medicare payments after they were suspended or terminated from state Medicaid programs, indicted or charged with fraud, or had settled civil allegations of submitting false claims to Medicare.

Categories: Healthcare News

Opinion: ICD-10 delay—Politics trump health data quality

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:31

Progress toward more specific medical data gathering has been halted, once again. President Obama recently signed the "doc fix" legislation (HR 4302) to delay scheduled cuts to Medicare physician reimbursement rates. The bill also pushes back the ICD-10 compliance date until at least October 2015, further delaying the switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10, which was endorsed by the Forty-third World Health Assembly in May 1990 and released to WHO member states 20 years ago in 1994. The switch to ICD-10 means that health care providers and insurers will have to replace 14,000 codes with 69,000 codes.

Categories: Healthcare News

Are docs 'choosing wisely'?

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:27

Challenged to list several questionable procedures that are commonly used in their field, America's joint surgeons came out against custom shoe inserts and two types of dietary supplements. They also discouraged the long-term use of wrist splints after carpal tunnel surgery and an infrequently performed procedure in which doctors wash a painful knee joint with saline. These choices share one thing: None would significantly affect a surgeon's income. "They could have chosen many surgical procedures that are commonly done, where evidence has shown over the years that they don't work or where they're being done with no evidence," said Dr. James Rickert, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Indiana University. "They chose stuff of no material consequence that nobody really does."

Categories: Healthcare News

MGH doctors to pay $4.5m over death

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:25

It began as a day spent engaged in spring cleaning. It ended the next morning in the death of a Plymouth woman. And now, two top doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital have agreed to pay the woman's family $4.5 million because, a medical malpractice lawyer said, the physicians failed to take measures that might have prevented the death. Geraldine Moran, 62, was cleaning her home on March 23, 2005, when she fell off a 6-foot-tall ladder and broke several ribs, according to the attorney for her estate, Benjamin Novotny of the Boston law firm Lubin & Meyer. Moran was taken to Jordan Hospital, now known as Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, where she received a high-tech medical scan of her pelvis and chest.

Categories: Healthcare News

Doctors' free samples have a hidden cost

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:23

Most people appreciate a free sample. But at the dermatologist's office, that freebie might come with a hidden cost. A new study finds that giving out samples may actually change which drugs a doctor prescribes. Stanford University researchers looked at data from a national survey of office-based doctors, most of whom distribute samples. They found that doctors were more likely to prescribe medications if they also were distributing samples of those drugs. The researchers also compared doctors who gave samples to those at Stanford, an academic medical facility where samples aren't allowed. What they found was dramatic: Doctors who gave samples were giving patients more frequently prescribed brand-name drugs instead of cheaper generics.

Categories: Healthcare News

Hospital visits fell when seniors got drug coverage

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:20

Eleven years ago Bob Bennett, then a Republican senator from Utah, made a fiscal sales pitch for including prescription drugs in Medicare coverage for seniors. "Medicare says if you go to the hospital and run up a bill of however many tens of thousands of dollars to stay that many days, we will pay for it," he said in June 2003. "But if you take the pill that makes the hospital visit unnecessary, we will not. That clearly doesn't make sense." Researchers at the University of Illinois and the Johns Hopkins University have made the broadest test yet of Medicare Part D prescription drug program's promise — that covering drugs would keep seniors out of the hospital.

Categories: Healthcare News

Doctors, medical staff on drugs put patients at risk

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:18

America's prescription drug epidemic reaches deep into the medical community. Across the country, more than 100,000 doctors, nurses, technicians and other health professionals struggle with abuse or addiction, mostly involving narcotics such as oxycodone and fentanyl. Their knowledge and access make their problems especially hard to detect. Yet the risks they pose — to the public and to themselves — are enormous. A single addicted health care worker who resorts to "drug diversion," the official term for stealing drugs, can endanger thousands. Nearly 8,000 people in eight states needed hepatitis tests after David Kwiatkowski, an itinerant hospital technician, was caught injecting himself with patients' pain medicine and refilling the syringes with saline.

Categories: Healthcare News