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Opinion: Reality check—There's no easy way to put a lid on healthcare costs

Healthcare News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 06:33

Critics of the 2010 Affordable Care Act complain that it doesn't do much to control the healthcare costs that are becoming unsustainable for families and businesses. In fact, the law does many small things; the latest is the grant program announced last week to teach Medicare and Medicaid doctors new ways to offer higher-quality, better-coordinated, more cost-effective care. The four-year goal is to turn $840 million in grants into $5 billion in savings — a number that sounds big until it's compared with the nearly $4 trillion in annual healthcare spending in the United States.

Categories: Healthcare News

The rise of retail healthcare clinics in America

Healthcare News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 06:25

When Uwe Reinhardt noticed pus coming out his son's eye, he panicked. "When he is your firstborn, and you don't know where to go" you worry, Reinhardt, a Princeton healthcare economist, said. It was past 5 p.m. – after hours for his family doctor –so he had to take his son to the emergency room. They waited three hours just to be told that his son had an eye infection and needed a topical cream to treat it – a diagnosis that any doctor could have made. "How is this consumer friendly?" Reinhardt wondered. He is not alone.

Categories: Healthcare News

Opinion: Social skills and leadership in healthcare—The case for boosting doctors' EQ

Healthcare News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 06:21

How emotionally intelligent is your doctor? Although answers to this question vary, it is not surprising that physicians' social skills or "EQ" are related to their job performance. After all, regardless of doctors' technical competence, their ability to deal with patients and influence their behavior will depend more on their personality and attitude than what they learned in medical school. But as James Stoller, the Institute Chair for Education at Cleveland Clinic, argued, doctors have not been traditionally selected on their social skills. In fact, given that medical training mostly rewards individual competitiveness and academic knowledge, most doctors are ill-equipped to cater to the human side of patient demands.

Categories: Healthcare News

Study: User, EHR Errors Both To Blame in Ebola Misdiagnosis

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 13:15

A new study in the journal Diagnosis finds that human and computer errors both contributed to the initial misdiagnosis of the first Ebola-infected patient in the U.S. However, Epic Systems President Carl Dvorak maintains that the electronic health record system was not responsible for the mistake. Modern Healthcare et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

AMA Urges CMS To Better Align Meaningful Use, Two Other Programs

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 12:53

The American Medical Association is urging CMS to better align the meaningful use program, Physician Quality Report System and the Value-Based Payment Modifier so physicians are not penalized under conflicting standards. EHR Intelligence, AMA release.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

CMS’ $840M Care Transformation Initiative To Leverage Health IT

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 12:45

Health IT will play a critical role in a new four-year, $840 million CMS initiative that aims to help provider networks improve care quality, efficiency and coordination by sharing best practices. Among other things, the project calls for expanding the use of electronic health records. Health Data Management et al.  

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Health IT Business News Roundup for the Week of October 24, 2014

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 12:34

IBM and AirStrip, a developer of mobile analytics, have partnered with the University of Michigan Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care to develop a health monitoring system for acute and critically ill patients. Massachusetts has extended by five years its Medicaid management information system contract with Hewlett Packard for $50 million.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

DeSalvo Leaves ONC Post To Lead Ebola Efforts at HHS

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 12:17

National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo will leave her post, effective immediately, to serve as acting HHS assistant secretary and lead the agency’s Ebola response efforts. Meanwhile, Jacob Reider will step down as deputy national coordinator at the end of November. The announcements add to a growing list of top officials who have left the office in recent months. Modern Healthcare et al. 

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Roundtable: Changing Culture, Leading Strategy at Healthcare Organizations

Healthcare News - 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?

Healthcare News - 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

Healthcare News - 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

Healthcare News - 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

Healthcare News - 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.

Categories: Healthcare News

HHS chief rallies docs to boost Obamacare enrollment

Healthcare News - 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.

Categories: Healthcare News

How Medicare 'self-referral' thrives on loophole

Healthcare News - 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

Healthcare News - 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

Healthcare News - 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

Healthcare News - 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.

Categories: Healthcare News

New - Ebola Information and Resources from ASA

ASA - News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 00:00

ASA has developed recommendations as well as a list of frequently asked questions to help educate anesthesia providers on how best to handle contact with patients suspected or confirmed to have the Ebola virus. Read more.

Categories: Anesthesia News

Health Data Breach Lawsuits Face Uphill Battle in California

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 13:44

Two California courts recently sided with Sutter Health and Eisenhower Medical Center in separate class-action lawsuits over data breaches. The courts ruled that under the state’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act providers are not liable for patient information being released if it does not include data on medical histories, conditions or treatments. FierceHealthIT, Beazley release.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use