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Switching EHRs Adds Functionality but Not Always Satisfaction

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 07:12

Providers who switch from one electronic health record to another do so to add more functionality, but often it doesn't make them more satisfied, according to a recently published survey. From MedPage Today.

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Medicare Issues its First Star Ratings for Patient Experience

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 07:08

The ratings aim to encourage continuous improvement in the patient experience, says CMS. But the AHA says the ratings come with "a risk of oversimplifying the complexity of quality care" in hospitals.

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Obama signs bill fixing Medicare doctors' pay

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 06:52

U.S. President Barack Obama signed a bill into law on Thursday that repairs the formula for reimbursing Medicare physicians after Congress, in rare bipartisan fashion, passed a fix earlier this week to prevent a 21 percent cut in doctors' pay. Sitting outside in the White House Rose Garden in his shirt sleeves, Obama said he was signing the bill now rather than waiting for a formal ceremony so it could go into force right away. "This was a bipartisan effort," Obama said, adding he hoped the practice of Republicans and Democrats working together would become a habit on Capitol Hill.

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VA officials say disastrous hospital project in Denver is now too small

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 06:48

The VA hospital project in Denver needs $830 million to finish construction, and by the time it's finally completed, the facility will already be too small. "To simplify all of that for you, the Denver project has been discussed for 15 years, is a billion dollars over budget, several years behind schedule, and — on the day it opens — will apparently be too small," said Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee stating at a hearing on Wednesday. The total cost of the hospital comes in at $1.73 billion dollars. Last year, VA officials were still in denial about budget issues, saying that the hospital could open in 2015 and cost just $630 million.

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Prognosis good for NY healthcare broadband access

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 06:44

Modern health care is growing increasingly dependent on broadband Internet. But according to the governor's office, nearly 7 million New Yorkers – 70 percent of them upstate residents – don't have access to an Internet connection with the minimum 100 megabits-per-second bandwidth that the National Broadband Plan determined is needed for health information technology and telemedicine. So when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to expand broadband access across the state, he won support from more than 30 health care providers and organizations. "Technological infrastructure is key to health care innovation such as telemedicine and electronic medical record transmission, and expanding broadband will allow for expanded access for patients across the state, particularly in underserved communities," said Melissa Mansfield, a spokeswoman for the Healthcare Association of New York State.

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Hospitals to fight bill that would open NC medical market

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 06:42

An influential state senator wants to repeal laws that were designed to curb health care costs, arguing that they have actually accomplished the opposite. A bill introduced by Sen. Tom Apodaca, the Henderson County Republican who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, would eliminate the state's certificate-of-need laws. Intended to prevent excessive facilities and equipment, the CON program requires hospitals and other medical providers to get state approval for expansions and major acquisitions. But Apodaca contends that the program's most vigorous supporters are the health care providers who are protected by them.

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UA research: Twitter helps predict emergency room visits

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 06:41

University of Arizona study suggests social media posts could be a useful predictor of emergency room visits. The study used an algorithm that pulled data from Twitter, air quality sensors and electronic medical records to predict whether a hospital's emergency room could expect a low, medium or high number of asthma related visits. "People kind of share all kinds of things in social media and this is real time data," said Sudha Ram, the lead scientist on the project. "Health-care records are very episodic. Usually, you end up going when you're sick and that's often too late to do any forecasting.

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Detroit health system rolls out 35,000 new hospital gowns that cover butts

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 06:39

Say so long to that draft in the back. A Detroit-based health system is rolling out a hospital gown that aims to offer more style and fix a lack of rear coverage by other gowns. Resembling a wrap-around robe, the "Model G" gown closes the once-drafty back, using adjustable snaps on the front and along the shoulders. Henry Ford Health System said Thursday that more than 35,000 gowns are going to its hospitals this month; and, according to a news release, patients in several hospital inpatient units "already are comfortably wearing Model G."

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The problem with satisfied patients

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 06:36

When healthcare is at its best, hospitals are four-star hotels, and nurses, personal butlers at the ready—at least, that's how many hospitals seem to interpret a government mandate. When Department of Health and Human Services administrators decided to base 30 percent of hospitals' Medicare reimbursement on patient satisfaction survey scores, they likely figured that transparency and accountability would improve healthcare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials wrote, rather reasonably, "Delivery of high-quality, patient-centered care requires us to carefully consider the patient's experience in the hospital inpatient setting." They probably had no idea that their methods could end up indirectly harming patients.

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Few physicians think EHR technology improves outcomes

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 04:46

The adoption of EHR technology was expected to improve patient health outcomes and quality of care. To determine whether EHR systems have truly helped with these healthcare objectives, who would be the most trustworthy professional to ask? Physicians and other medical professionals are the ones working directly with patients and utilizing the systems to store and access relevant data. This is why a new survey from Accenture is concerning, as it shows that only some doctors actually believe EHR technology improves health outcomes or reduces medical errors. The survey polled 2,600 physicians around the globe with 600 doctors from the US and found that health IT use has grown significantly since a similar survey was administered in 2012.

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Q&A: Michael Cruz, MD, President of OSF Saint Francis

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 12:06

Cruz, an emergency medicine physician and president of a 609-bed hospital, says continuing to see patients weekly helps him "gain understanding outside of the patient interaction, about everything that is required to be in place to make that work successfully and effectively."

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Half of Cataract Surgery Patients Undergo Unnecessary Tests

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 07:17

Referrals for medical workups prior to low-risk surgeries such as cataract removal needlessly raise costs for Medicare and other payers, researchers find.

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Intelligence Report Slideshow: IT and the Analytics Advantage—Managing Data to Master Risk

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 07:09

Decisions about risk hinge on squeezing more insight out of IT and analytics. The way organizations apply analytics today differs greatly from the analytics applications we'll see in the near future.

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Despite 'doc fix,' some doctors still face cuts

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 06:56

Some Medicare doctors will still face a temporary 21 percent hit to their pay this month, even after Congress met the government's Wednesday deadline to stave off the cuts. The Senate held a late-night session on Tuesday to finalize the repeal of Medicare's flawed payment formula known as the "doc fix," which cuts doctors' reimbursement rates every year unless Congress takes action. The bill passed just before 10 p.m., which Senate leadership said would be just enough to halt the payment cuts. But the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wrote in a notice to providers on Wednesday that "a small volume of claims" will be paid using the reduced rate.

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Hospitals, healthcare facilities changing cancer payment approach

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 06:52

One of the main goals of President Barack Obama's health care law was extending health insurance coverage to more people, but the next phase has arrived: one that looks at how care is delivered and how the colossal costs associated with care can be curbed. Stakeholders are paying attention – and some have already been exercising solutions that work. Tuesday, the American Cancer Society Action Network, the advocacy branch of the American Cancer Society, held several panels at Washington's National Press Club led by members of hospitals and other health care systems, who aimed to discuss delivery models that have worked for them.

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CT hospitals, UnitedHealthcare reach agreement

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 06:51

A contract battle between UnitedHealthcare and the parent company of Hartford Hospital and The Hospital of Central Connecticut concluded after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, less than two hours before the existing agreement expired. The hospitals were about to fall out of UnitedHealthcare's network if the insurer and hospital system didn't reach an agreement by midnight. Customers would have been forced to decide whether to pay higher, out-of-network rates at the hospitals or to seek medical care elsewhere. Last month as negotiations were strained, Hartford HealthCare, the parent company of both hospitals, sent 16,883 notices to customers of UnitedHealthcare and Oxford Health Plans who had been patients recently at one of the hospitals in Hartford, New Britain and Southington.

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US study calls into question tests that sequence tumor genes

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 06:48

New cancer tests that sequence only a patient's tumor and not normal tissue could result in a significant number of false positive results, potentially leading doctors to prescribe treatments that might not work, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, call into question the accuracy of increasingly popular tests that look for mutations within tumors that drive cancer growth. Many laboratories offer such tests to help doctors select personalized cancer therapies. The tests take advantage of new treatments that target changes in the DNA of tumor cells that are important for their survival.

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CA bill to kill personal-beliefs exemption for vaccines stalls

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 06:45

A bill requiring all children in California public schools to be vaccinated for such diseases as polio and measles stalled in the legislature Wednesday, amid opposition from parents who fear vaccines will harm children's immune systems or cause autism. The bill is one of several under consideration in U.S. states aiming to forestall a loss of group immunity as parents take advantage of so-called personal beliefs exemptions, which allow them to forego vaccinating their children before sending them to school. Along with Democratic state Senator Richard Pan of Sacramento, a pediatrician, Allen introduced the bill after a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland last year shed light on the growing number of people who refuse or slow their children's vaccine schedules.

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Hippocratic oaf: My first day as a doctor

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 06:40

Seeing a new patient wheeled into the cardiac care unit, I leapt up from my seat. "Easy," said the physician next to me. He placed a hand on my shoulder and guided me back into my chair like a trainer gentling an unsteady colt. "Give the nurses a few minutes to do their thing." He spoke softly and bore a surprising resemblance to a Charles in Charge-era Scott Baio, all black hair and good-natured smiles. "The nurses are going to do a lot more for him tonight than you and I are." I nodded and eased back into my seat. "Okay," I said to Baio as I straightened my scrub top. I was anxious. I was excited. I'd just chugged a large iced coffee and could hardly sit still.

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WHO demands better clinical trial transparency

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 09:30

The World Health Organization (WHO), in a new position statement, has joined the chorus calling for more comprehensive reporting of clinical trial results worldwide.

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