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Value-Based Care Fuels Drive to Make Deals

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 08:09

The drive toward delivering value-based care provides compelling motivations for healthcare organizations to join forces, creating an active environment of mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships.

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CMS Puts the Squeeze on Medicare Advantage Plans

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 08:01

In its proposed rules and payment rates, federal officials double down on efforts to wring value out of the Medicare Advantage program.

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Christ Hospital surgery deal could lower costs for 85 local employers

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 07:48

Christ Hospital has negotiated a contract with Custom Design Benefits, one of the largest employee benefit firms in Greater Cincinnati, and it could lower some surgical costs for dozens of local companies that self-fund health plans. The contract, which involves fixed prices for total hip or knee replacement surgery, also would eliminate co-payments and other costs usually incurred by employees and their covered dependents. "Employees are currently responsible for covering their portion of the cost of the procedure through co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance," said Julie Mueller, president of Green Township-based Custom Design Benefits. "We estimate that this amount could be between $1,500 and $2,500, and even higher for high-deductible health plans."

Categories: Healthcare News

Patients, doctors see benefits of sharing medical records

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 07:47

When Stacey Whiteman was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years ago, she didn't realize the toughest challenge would be its impact on her brain. The 53-year-old from Massachusetts was forced to quit work as an executive assistant after becoming easily confused and prone to forget, even about priorities like doctor appointments. When her physician suggested OpenNotes, an electronic portal allowing patients full access to their medical records, including doctors' notes, Whiteman was eager to log on. "For somebody like me who has a hard time processing things, I need this convenience," she said. Whiteman now refers to OpenNotes daily, to review what happened during appointments, be reminded of future ones and check lab results.

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Hospital employee receives 18 month jail term for HIPAA violations

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 07:44

Accessing the healthcare data of patients without authorization is prohibited under HIPAA legislation, and the disclosure of this information to a third party is a criminal matter. The offense carries a jail term of up to 10 years in addition to a maximum fine of $500,000 if the disclosure is made for personal gain. One of the latest examples of wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information comes from the Eastern District of Texas where former Longview resident, Joshua Hippler, 30 has been convicted this offence and sentenced to serve 18 months in jail.

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UPMC nurses undergo mindfulness training to cope with job pressures

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 07:42

Caring for patients can be "organized chaos," nurses say. As the foot soldiers of health care, they function at the pressure point, the front lines of the war zone, where "you have to be flawless." "You can't make one mistake," said Daniel Griffiths, 47, of Greenfield, a nurse at UPMC Montefiore. "It's physically draining. You're on your feet for a 12-hour shift." It helps explain why stress levels in nursing can lead to mental and physical exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and sleep disorders, with occupational hazards trespassing onto one's free time.

Categories: Healthcare News

Fancy flourishes at hospitals don't impress patients

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 07:37

The sleek hospital tower that Johns Hopkins Medicine built in 2012 has the frills of a luxury hotel, including a meditation garden, 500 works of art, free wi-fi and a library of books, games and audio. As Dr. Zishan Siddiqui watched patients and some fellow physicians in Baltimore move from their decades-old building into the Sheikh Zayed Tower, the internist saw a rare opportunity to test a widespread assumption in the hospital industry: that patients rate their care more highly when it is given in a nicer place. For decades, hospital executives across the country have justified expensive renovation and expansion projects by saying they will lead to better patient reviews and recommendations.

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Bill filed easing private cancer hospital restrictions

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 06:45

Legislation easing restrictions on a for-profit cancer hospital in Newnan was filed in the state House on Tuesday. House Bill 482, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, would eliminate the 50-bed cap on the Cancer Treatment Centers of America campus in Coweta County. It would also eliminate the requirement that 65 percent of the hospital's patients come from out of state. The Legislature in 2008 agreed to allow CTCA to build its "destination cancer hospital" as long as the company agreed to provide charity care, serve patients covered by Medicaid and attract most of its patients from other states.

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Geisinger Health System, known for innovations, names UCLA Health president as chief

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 06:44

Geisinger Health System, which is viewed as a national model in providing both high-quality and cost-effective medical care, announced on Monday that it had chosen Dr. David T. Feinberg, the president of the UCLA Health System, as its next chief executive. Hospitals and doctors are struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing environment, where employers and insurers are increasingly rewarding them for the value of the care they deliver rather that the amount of care they provide. Dr. Feinberg is expected to bring a strong emphasis on providing a positive patient experience, increasingly viewed as an important part of care.

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U.S. lawmaker seeks congressional hearing on 'superbug' outbreak

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 06:33

A U.S. lawmaker on Monday called on the Congress to investigate the medical scopes blamed for an outbreak of a bacterial "superbug" at a University of California, Los Angeles hospital that has infected seven patients. Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, said in a letter asking for a congressional oversight committee hearing that the outbreak of the drug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, bacteria posed "both health and national security" risks. Officials say the duodenoscopes, which are inserted down a patient's throat during gastrointestinal procedures, spread the antibiotic-resistant bacteria to seven patients at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, contributing to two deaths.

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Measles outbreak in U.S. tops 150 cases

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 06:19

The number of measles cases in the U.S. has reached 154, according to new numbers released Monday. Between Jan. 1 to Feb. 20, more than 150 cases in 17 different states have been reported to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). The majority of these cases are tied to an outbreak linked to Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, Calif. Some have blamed the latest outbreak on parents who don't vaccinate their children for measles ? or anti-vaxxers ? and the CDC reports that the majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated. Travelers from other parts of the world where the disease is still prevalent could also be bringing it into the U.S., the CDC said.

Categories: Healthcare News

What too many hospitals are overlooking

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 06:11

With all the changes in healthcare over the past few years, many system and hospital leaders now acknowledge the importance of employee engagement. Employees are the one constant in the healthcare equation, and their ability to persevere during times of change can determine whether a healthcare system maintains its quality of care and patient service. Yet, for some reason, the concept of physician engagement isn't getting the attention it deserves. Perhaps healthcare leaders assume that physicians are self-motivated and their interest in their patients or research trumps the need to engage them.

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NY Health System, FL Hospital Partner for Snowbird Care

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 08:14

An arrangement between North Shore-LIJ Health System and Boca Raton Regional Hospital may eventually pave the way for an accountable care organization that enables both hospital systems to share attributed lives for shared savings.

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Monetizing Real-Estate Assets

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 08:12

Some hospitals and health systems are accessing considerable amounts of capital by selling medical office buildings and other properties.

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Despite new laws, Carolinas HealthCare is still suing patients

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 07:57

Despite new state and federal laws aimed at reining in aggressive collection practices, North Carolina's largest hospital system continues to file hundreds of lawsuits each year to collect on unpaid bills. Since 2013, nonprofit Carolinas HealthCare System has filed more than 2,700 bill-collection lawsuits against patients, state records show. An Observer review found that a number of those lawsuits were filed against low-income patients who lacked health insurance. That appears to defy the intent of new laws aimed at protecting vulnerable patients, advocates say. Carolinas HealthCare, the Charlotte-based hospital chain that runs Carolinas Medical Center and about 40 other hospitals, says it follows the law.

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New hospital buildings define future of healthcare

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 07:55

Across the country, the health care industry is pouring billions of dollars into new hospitals and medical centers. And the new hospitals of today are very different than the ones they're replacing. This summer, the new $1.3 billion dollar Parkland Memorial Hospital will open. It's being called the biggest healthcare construction project in the country, and less than a mile away, another $800 million dollar hospital, just opened its doors. From KERA in Dallas, Lauren Silverman looks at how these new buildings are defining the future of healthcare.

Categories: Healthcare News

It costs WHAT to have a baby at IN's hospitals?

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 07:47

Hospital fees are notoriously complicated. Now, the Indiana Hospital Association has unveiled a website that can help patients unravel some of the fees before they don that hospital gown — with caveats. CareINsight ( aims to make hospital pricing at least a little more transparent, providing average fees for a number of procedures at hospitals around the state along with quality measures. Here are five different common conditions that could require a hospitalization and a sense of the range of hospital bills that they could incur, according to CareINsight. Childbirth with a vaginal delivery. The state average cost for childbirth is $9,997.32.

Categories: Healthcare News

Charlotte (NC) hospital system steps up efforts against 'superbug'

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 07:44

Carolinas HealthCare System is stepping up its efforts to combat the spread of an antibiotic-resistant "superbug" that has claimed the lives of two Charlotte-area people in recent months and sickened more than a dozen others, officials said Sunday. Citing medical privacy laws, Carolinas HealthCare officials did not release specifics about the people who have died from carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, commonly known as CRE, during a news conference Sunday. But because of the threat, officials said, the Charlotte-based hospital system has started screening patients from populations likely to have CRE. Once identified, CRE patients are isolated from other patients. When they're released, the hospital takes extra steps to decontaminate their rooms.

Categories: Healthcare News

OH certified home healthcare agencies have faults

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 07:41

Gov. John Kasich's plan for rooting out fraud in Ohio's publicly funded home health-care industry relies more heavily on certified agencies while scaling back on independent providers. The state would like to do business primarily with the 800 Medicare-certified home healthcare agencies in Ohio as well as the more than 80 agencies that have been accredited in other ways. But if that plan moves forward, the state will remain at risk of doing business with dozens of poorly run agencies. In the federal fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, Ohio had far more Medicare-certified home health-care agencies with serious deficiencies than any other state, according to a government database obtained by The Dispatch through a public-records request.

Categories: Healthcare News

Opinion: Another FL healthcare crisis

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 07:39

The rejection of federal funds for Medicaid expansion by leaders in Tallahassee was never a smart decision. Now it looks even worse as the feds prepare to shut down a healthcare pipeline that pours about $1.3 billion into a statewide program that aids hospitals that care for Florida's neediest. Federal subsidies for "safety-net" hospitals — under a program known as LIP, the Low Income Pool — are set to expire at the end of June. LIP mitigates the cost of providing healthcare to the under-insured and uninsured. It's being eliminated because the Affordable Care Act was supposed to reduce the need for such supplemental funding by increasing the number of Americans with healthcare coverage.

Categories: Healthcare News