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MA Plans an Insurance Proving Ground for Providers

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:46

The Medicare Advantage program is emerging as an entry point for healthcare providers such as UNC Health Care and Catholic Healthcare Initiatives seeking to establish their own health plans.

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Targeting Self-Insured Populations

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:38

Healthcare providers are discovering strategic opportunities with large employers that are self-insured, but they need to be willing to partner more directly with payers and employers.

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Obama plans more measures to improve healthcare for veterans

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:27

President Obama on Tuesday promised several thousand military veterans that he would fulfill his "sacred trust" to those returning from America's wars by overhauling a dysfunctional health care system, even as a new report documented "unacceptable and troubling lapses" in medical treatment. Addressing the American Legion's national convention three months after a scandal rocked the Department of Veterans Affairs and forced the resignation of the agency's leader, Mr. Obama said he had "made real progress" in improving services and getting patients off waiting lists. But he added that he was "very clear eyed about the problems that still are there" and about the need to "regain the trust" of veterans.

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Nonprofit hospitals' 2013 revenue lowest since recession, report says

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:26

Nonprofit hospitals last year had their worst financial performance since the Great Recession, according to a report released on Wednesday. The poor operating performance of many hospitals underscored some of the changes in the health care system as the federal government and private health plans became less willing to pay for hospital care and changed the way they paid hospitals in an effort to reduce costs. Hospital revenue growth slowed to a nominal low in 2013 — 3.9 percent — as hospital admissions fell for the first time, according to the report by Moody's Investors Service, which analyzed the results of 383 hospital systems. Hospitals had generally been able to increase revenue by 7 percent or more a year.

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10 ways to strengthen healthcare security

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:20

In the wake of the Community Health Systems breach and FBI warnings about healthcare organizations' vulnerability, security has advanced to the top of many industry executives' to-do lists. Real safeguards and policy implementations, however, speak louder than any number of crisis meetings. Securing any healthcare organization -- from a solo practice to multi-location hospital systems -- takes measured planning, technical expertise, and business knowledge. It's the only way security professionals can balance their quest for impenetrable devices and software against medical users' demand for easy, accessible data and tools.

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Study: Medicaid payouts for office visits may influence cancer screening

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:19

In states where Medicaid pays doctors higher fees for office visits, Medicaid beneficiaries are more likely to be screened for breast, cervical or colorectal cancer, according to a new study. "States tend to vary in their reimbursement rates for different types of medical care services; some states may have low reimbursements for certain services and higher reimbursements for others," said lead author Dr. Michael T. Halpern of the Division of Health Services and Social Policy Research at RTI International at Washington, D.C. Medicaid, a health insurance program for low-income individuals, is jointly funded by the federal government and the individual states. Each state establishes its own coverage and reimbursement policies.

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Opinion: Patient portals—Strategies for engaging users

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:17

To meet Stage 2 Meaningful Use criteria, hospitals and physicians will most likely implement patient portals. There really are no good alternatives to portals to efficiently meet the requirement to provide electronic access to patient records and lab results within the specified time frames (four days for physician office visits, 36 hours for inpatient hospital stays). Also, portals can help streamline patient registration and appointment setting, which benefits both patients and healthcare providers. A variety of surveys over the past couple of years indicate that patients like these portals and that they influence patient satisfaction with physicians and hospitals. So portals will likely be a part of your relationship with patients.

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TN hospitals trail nation in preventing MRSA

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:16

Your chances of getting a MRSA infection in a Tennessee hospital are 12 percent greater than they should be, according to a state report. But you're much more likely to get a urinary tract infection if you end up in an intensive-care unit — where the odds are 40 percent higher than the national hospital standard. The statistics are revealed in the most recent Tennessee's Report on Healthcare-Associated Infections, which also provides raw numbers for the first six months of 2013. There is positive news in the report: Tennessee hospitals are doing a good job at preventing deadly bloodstream infections. The odds of getting one in a Tennessee hospital are significantly lower than the national standard.

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Doctors' pay: IN hospitals fighting to keep it under wraps

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:13

Indiana law gives you the right to know how much public employees make. A quick database search on the Indiana Gateway for Government Units is all it takes to see just how much money every teacher, police officer and city council member brought home last year. Right now, the database includes doctors and staff at county hospitals. But the Indiana Hospital Association is trying to change that. County hospitals say they're put at a disadvantage when they have to make doctor salaries publicly available, said Spence Grover, vice president of IHA. Doing so gives private hospitals they compete with access to internal information from their publicly owned competitors, but the reverse isn't true.

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Docs Fret as HHS Addresses Malpractice Reporting 'Loopholes'

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:52

The recent reaffirmation of mandatory disclosures of all medical malpractice payments has left physicians in Oregon and Massachusetts concerned that it will quash laws crafted in those states for mediated settlements.

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mHealth Tackles Readmissions

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:47

Healthcare leaders are finding that consumer-ready technologies can help patients right where they are.

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No link found for deaths and veterans' care delays

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:30

An investigation by the watchdog office for the Department of Veterans Affairs has been unable to substantiate allegations that 40 veterans may have died because of delays in care at the veterans medical center in Phoenix, according to a letter from the new secretary of Veterans Affairs. The allegations of deaths created a national scandal that eventually led to the ouster of the previous secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki. Outrage over the manipulation of waiting list data in Phoenix and other veterans medical centers also led to passage by Congress of a $15 billion plan to improve access to medical providers.

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Medicare star ratings allow nursing homes to game the system

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:28

The lobby of Rosewood Post-Acute Rehab, a nursing home in this Sacramento suburb, bears all the touches of a luxury hotel, including high ceilings, leather club chairs and paintings of bucolic landscapes. What really sets Rosewood apart, however, is its five-star rating from Medicare, which has been assigning hotel-style ratings to nearly every nursing home in the country for the last five years. Rosewood's five-star status — the best possible — places it in rarefied company: Only one-fifth of more than 15,000 nursing homes nationwide hold such a distinction.

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Doctors' house calls for frailest patients save cash, study finds

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:27

Ten or 12 times a year, Beatrice Adams' daughter would race her frail mother to the emergency room for high blood pressure or pain. Then Adams found a doctor who makes house calls. Now, the 89-year-old hasn't needed ER care in nearly two years. The old-fashioned house call is making a comeback as part of an effort to improve care for some of Medicare's most frail and expensive patients. While it might sound like a luxury, bringing team-based primary care into the homes of patients such as Adams, according to a study, actually could save Medicare money by keeping them from needing pricier specialty or hospital care.

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NY ranks second for its number of doctors

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:25

New York ranks second in the United States for its number of doctors practicing in the state per 100,000 population, a New York Public Interest Research Group report shows. The state has 345 doctors for each 100,000 people, which is the second-highest concentration in the nation behind Massachusetts at 402 doctors, the report shows. Figures are based on a study of state, federal and private-sector data in recent years. Still, New York City and its surrounding suburbs are primarily behind the state's high ranking, while more rural parts of the state are struggling to attract doctors who tend to locate in the most lucrative markets, the report shows.

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Doctors reiterate need for free medical clinic

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:23

One by one, patients filled out paperwork, received a folder with personal information and waited to see a doctor. They came for many reasons — a general health check, to have blood work done or even to see a specialist — but all who came were in need of free medical care. About 120 Monroe County residents were expected to take advantage of the fifth annual Free Medical Screening Camp held Saturday at the Salvation Army of Monroe County. Local physicians and specialists offered a variety of services to patients, including free EKGs, cholesterol screenings, dental work and ophthalmological and gynecological exams.

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Novant Health exec pay jumps to $25.2M amid retirement-plan changes

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:21

Compensation for Novant Health's top seven executives jumped 200 percent to nearly $25.2 million in 2013, primarily because of changes to the system's executive retirement program. But with the retirement payments excluded, Novant paid those executives nearly $7.7 million in base salaries and incentive compensation — a 9.4 percent drop from the $8.5 million it paid in 2012. The Winston-Salem-based health-care system paid out roughly $17.5 million in retirement benefit payments last year as it ended a program designed to retain and reward Novant's top executives for long-term service. That figure includes all dollars accumulated over the life of the plan.

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Crittenden Regional Hospital to close next month

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:20

After financial losses, fire and a special tax passed to support it, Crittenden Regional Hospital is closing. The hospital is no longer admitting people, and will close September 7. We are told clinics located within the hospital are looking for alternatives. In a statement, CEO Gene Cashman said, "With counsel from national health care consulting firms and the passage of a county-wide sales tax, we had identified a long-term strategic plan that had set our organization on a path to improvement. This summer's fire and the subsequent shut-down derailed that plan's success."

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Mayo offers at-home colon cancer test; stool sample goes in the mail

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:18

Patients often plead they'll do anything to avoid a colonoscopy for cancer screening. Now doctors at the Mayo Clinic have an alternative that will put that sentiment to the test. Mayo officials announced Monday they will be the first in the United States to offer patients the Cologuard test, by which patients collect their stool samples and mail them in sealed containers for DNA analysis of their colon cancer risks. While the colonoscopy will remain the gold standard for colon cancer screening — particularly among elderly adults with family histories of the disease — Mayo officials said this alternative will lead to more screening of adults who are squeamish about a rectal exam and will identify more colon cancers at early and treatable stages.

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Proton Beam Therapy Poised for Growth in US

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 06:52

Fueled by patient demand and advances in technology, the construction of costly proton beam centers is picking up steam. Insurers are paying for limited applications.

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