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Updated: 12 hours 33 min ago

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.

Categories: Healthcare News

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.

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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

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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hospital Groups Back NQF Report on Patient Sociodemographics

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:05

The American Hospital Association wants CMS to adjust measures in pay-for-performance programs to reflect factors such as race and income, even though doing so "would be a complex undertaking" for everyone involved.

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NPP Demand Rising Under Value-Based Care Models

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:56

Multispecialty medical practices with non-physician providers typically perform better financially than those without physician assistants and nurse practitioners, an MGMA report finds.

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Hospitals sue Medicare over 'two-nights' rule

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:44

The Einstein Healthcare Network joined in two civil lawsuits against Medicare administrators alleging that a new rule on what qualifies as an inpatient hospital admission is arbitrary and should be dropped and that a related 0.2 percent cut in Medicare payments to hospitals should be revoked. The rule, adopted in August by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says that a patient has to be in the hospital at midnight on two consecutive days for the hospital to receive an inpatient payment rate. If the patient does not stay in the hospital past the second midnight, into a third day, hospitals are stuck with the outpatient payment - about a third of what they would receive for an inpatient.

Categories: Healthcare News

FL lawmakers will re-evaluate funding model for safety net hospitals

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:41

With the federal government making clear last week that no new Medicaid money is coming Florida's way, legislators say it's important they re-evaluate a new funding model that safety-net hospitals say will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars a year. "Tiering" is set to take effect in July unless the law is changed before session ends May 2. It requires counties that use local dollars to draw down more federal money for hospitals to begin sharing that money statewide. Lawmakers in charge of crafting the budget say changes to the new funding model, or at least a delay, will be at the top of their healthcare agenda when negotiations begin next week.

Categories: Healthcare News

Tufts, Lowell hospital uniting

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:39

Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General Hospital are joining forces to form a new health care system they say will offer lower-cost medical services from Southern New Hampshire to south of Boston at a time of changes sweeping through the industry. The alliance would link a 415-bed Boston teaching hospital that has been scrambling for a niche in the fast-consolidating market with one of the state's largest community hospitals. Lowell General, which two years ago took over a crosstown rival, Saints Memorial Medical Center, has 434 beds on two campuses. Under terms of a tentative agreement approved by both boards, each nonprofit hospital would continue to operate independently under a new parent organization, which has yet to be named. Other health care providers could eventually be added.

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Medical research rises from Boston Marathon tragedy

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:38

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the blasts at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured more than 260 others, the city looks to the lessons and messages of hope that have risen out of the tragedy. It's all a part of the physical and emotional healing. Here is one of those stories, where the impact of a tragedy has resulted in groundbreaking research on blast-related ear trauma. Fifth-year otolaryngology resident Dr. Aaron Remenschneider at Massachusetts Eye and Ear was on-call last year on April 15, 2013. It was a shift change at the hospital when two explosions at the finish line sent injured people to nearby hospitals in a matter of minutes.

Categories: Healthcare News

Summa Health eliminates weekend premium pay for nurses

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:36

Summa Health System is eliminating premium pay for about 230 nurses who work weekend shifts at Akron City, St. Thomas, Barberton and Wadsworth-Rittman hospitals. The nurses recently were notified that they will no longer receive bonus pay for working weekends beginning June 29, Summa spokesman Mike Bernstein said Monday. "Based on current compensation models at similar organizations in our market, we have adjusted our nursing compensation as related to premium pay for weekend hours worked," Bernstein said. "No changes have been made to anyone's base pay. … We did not announce a reduction in hours for the nurses in question, and we did not make any changes to care at the bedside."

Categories: Healthcare News

Report: 5 died after infections tied to linens at Children's Hospital

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:34

The five children ranged in age from 35 days to 13 years. They arrived at Children's Hospital from different homes, had severe illnesses of various types and were admitted to assorted hospital wards in 2008 and 2009. The one thing the three boys and two girls had in common, before they all died, was the hospital linens, and that's how they were infected by a nasty fungus that ate them away, according to a soon-to-be-published research study. News of the outbreak, five years after investigators with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sleuthed out its likely source, prompted a former New Orleans city health director to slam the hospital and state on Tuesday for failing to sound the alarm to the public when it happened.

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Man found dead of gunshot wound in Johns Hopkins Hospital bathroom

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:30

A man entered Johns Hopkins Hospital with a gun early Tuesday morning and is believed to have fatally shot himself inside an emergency room bathroom, an incident that came days after the medical center held a national symposium on safety inside hospitals. The man, who was 69 years old, was found dead with a gunshot wound to his chest shortly after midnight, Baltimore police spokeswoman Sgt. Sarah E. Connolly confirmed. Police would not identify him or provide additional details of the shooting, saying it was under investigation. The man's wife identified him as Donald G. Wizeman, a tourism and marketing consultant who was living in Virginia Beach.

Categories: Healthcare News

Crisis Spurs Healthcare Payment Reform in Arkansas

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:06

A federally backed drive to create a value-based healthcare delivery system in partnership with providers and payers is under way nationwide. Three years ago, an unprecedented financial crisis prompted Arkansas "to bet the farm" on a similar value-based healthcare model.

Categories: Healthcare News