Category Archives: doctors

March 31 is an Unproductive Deadline: The “Doctor Fix” Put On Hold for Another Year

Lawmakers have agreed to yet another 12th hour, 12 month “temporary patch” to the issue known as the “doc fix” problem. Briefly, because House and Senate leaders suddenly realized that they wouldn’t be able to agree on a permanent fix prior to their self-imposed March 31 deadline, they have instead worked out yet another deal to make sure physicians will still treat their Medicare beneficiaries (doctors were otherwise facing as much as 24% reduction in their reimbursements this year –based on the wildly unpopular sustainable growth-rate formula (SGR)). Enacted back in 1997, the SGR combines physician expenses, per capita growth in [...]

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PathXL: New Tissue Marking Technology Improves the First Stage of Cancer Detection

New software developed by biotechnology specialists PathXL in Belfast, Northern Ireland, provides pathologists with the potential to measure hundreds of cancer characteristics in tissue, improving what can be achieved with the naked eye and conventional microscope–based inspection.TissueMark software, which works with all the major slide scanning platforms, delves more closely into the structure of tissue samples and renders a tissue heat map that provides far more actionable information about the tissue than can be achieved through manual inspection. The software is precisely tailored for use in the detection of several forms of cancer and in just a few seconds can [...]

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Michigan’s Business Community Shows Discretion is Still the Better Part of Valor –And Accepts Medicaid Expansion

Despite so much of what we hear to the contrary, a growing number of states are now embracing a major provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) —the part that expands Medicaid and provides government funded health benefits for the poor. And why not? Although it’s optional under the law which is why so many states initially said “no,” several are now making compromises with the White House to get their hands on that money. Despite being a “blue state centerpiece,” not even Michigan’s state politicians could get their act together with local business leaders until very recently. It provides the [...]

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Investment in Healthcare Startups Has Skyrocketed –Outsiders Beating Insiders to the Punch

Earlier this week, Greylock Partners, one of the principal investors behind Facebook and LinkedIn, put together a $1.2 million round to fund First Opinion – a simple service that provides a way for patients to text message their doctors anytime. What’s interesting here is that deals like First Opinion exemplify a noteworthy trend, because as reported in Tech Crunch this week, ever since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), investment in healthcare startups has skyrocketed. According to CrunchBase metrics, when the ACA was signed into law back in 2010, there were only 17 true seed round and/or early stage [...]

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CMS Will Tell You What Your Doctor Makes –Reimbursement Data To Be Released Under Freedom of Information Act

HHS will soon begin releasing information on payments to individual physicians and will publish aggregate data sets about physician pay. The planned payment data release followed a 2013 federal judge’s decision to dissolve a decades-old ban on releasing Medicare physician data due to privacy concerns –physician privacy concerns. The judge ruled, however, that those privacy concerns were secondary to the public interest of having such payment data disclosed. No doubt, when these data are released, they will fuel examinations of Medicare waste and fraud (a good thing), provide unprecedented insight into physician practice variance (maybe not so good if you’re a [...]

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Case-Based Reasoning (CBR): Real Time Applications Driving New Standard in CV Surgeries

Case-based Reasoning (CBR) is the process of solving new problems based on the solutions of similar past problems. For example, a mechanic who fixes an engine by referencing another car that exhibited similar symptoms is using case-based reasoning. It sounds simple enough, and it has a ring to it very much like the current evidence-based movements in healthcare, but in fact, they aren’t the same. By the way, Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is defined as “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.” So why again aren’t they the same? Because among [...]

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Apnea Sufferers Listen Up: New Device Can Reduce Sleep Apnea Episodes by 70 Percent

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 8, 2014 – Implantation of a sleep apnea device called Inspire® Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS) therapy can lead to significant improvements for patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. After one year, patients using the device had an approximately 70 percent reduction in sleep apnea severity, as well as significant reductions in daytime sleepiness. The multi-center, prospective Stimulation Therapy for Apnea Reduction (STAR) trial was conducted at 22 medical centers in the United States and Europe, and is the first to evaluate the use of upper airway stimulation for sleep apnea. OSA, [...]

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Pharmacist Survey Finds Patients Suffering Due to Prescription Painkiller Supply Chain Disruptions

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) represents the interests of America’s community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies. Together they represent an $88.7 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 300,000 individuals, including over 62,000 pharmacists. According to a recent survey of more than 1,000 of its members, some of society’s most vulnerable patients, including seniors and those battling cancer, are having an increasingly difficult time obtaining medications prescribed to alleviate pain. The survey found that surprise and ongoing disruptions to what has become an unpredictable supply chain [...]

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Nonprofit Health Centers Move into For-Profit Insurance Business

Healthcare Matters would like to thank The Kaiser Health News for the following guest post. The nation’s 1,200 nonprofit community health centers receive strong federal support to treat millions of uninsured residents, but still face financial challenges. Some are responding with an unusual strategy — starting for-profit insurance plans. In 2008, the Jessie Trice Community Health Center in Miami invested $120,000 to start Prestige Health Choice, a for-profit Medicaid health plan that the state pays a flat monthly fee per enrollee to provide care. Fourteen other community health centers also participated. Last year, Jessie Trice got a $759,000 payout after Florida Blue, the state’s largest insurer, [...]

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Friday Rant: Nonprofit Executive Compensation Not Linked to Meaningful Metrics –And Out of Balance

How much is your hospital’s CEO worth? According to a recent study led by investigators at the Harvard School of Public Health, the answer appears to be as much as your hospital’s board of directors (BOD) is willing to pay. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, the study found no link between nonprofit CEO pay and all the latest hospital quality indicators, despite the fact that these very same metrics are now responsible for directing revisions to the employed physicians’ compensation in the same systems. In fact, the study didn’t even find a connection between CEO [...]

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Patient Safety: Novation To Work with Industry Leadership to “Fix” Tubing Misconnection Problem

Novation announced that it is working with industry leaders on new design specifications to significantly reduce tubing misconnections. The effort  is expected to have an enormous impact on the health care supply chain and patient safety. A little background on “tubing misconnections”: A typical patient may be connected via tubes or catheters to several delivery systems to receive medication, nutrients, and fluids. A universal tube connector, commonly known as a Luer connector used throughout every hospital in the U.S., allows therapeutically dissimilar devices to be easily connected. You can probably guess the problem: since the connector easily fits most devices, health care providers can inadvertently [...]

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A Holiday Reminder: An Apple a Day, Chased by a Six Pack, Keeps the Doctor Away

Thomas Finn - December 18, 2013 12:30 PM | Categories: doctors, General News and Commentary

The following fun-facts are offered to those of you who may be struggling with determining your 2014 New Year’s resolution: Apparently, an apple a day really does keep the doctor away. A new study in the British Medical Journal suggests that if adults 50 and older were to eat an apple a day, 8,500 heart attack and stroke deaths in the U.K. alone could be prevented each year. This isn’t the first time health benefits have been linked with taking a bite out of the apple. A 2011 study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association showed that stroke risk can be [...]

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CMS “Two Midnight Rule” Blamed for November Hospital Traffic at Lowest Level Ever

CMS has been concerned about the growth of long-stay observation cases (those greater than 48 hours) which increased between 2006 and 2011 from 3% to 8%. So, it did something about it. It enacted a new rule to take effect starting in 2014, that revised its guidance on inpatient admissions by stating that an admission would only be appropriate if the stay requires a duration of at least two midnights. The goal was simple: to stop hospitals from relying too much on what are known as “observation stays,” which tend to cost CMS more. That said, CMS actuaries were careful to highlight their belief [...]

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Independence Blue Cross and ReAdmission Solutions Ink Pilot Deal to Dramatically Reduce Hospital Readmissions

Whether you call it “readmission risk assessment” or you’re currently investigating various predictive tools that are purportedly effective at modeling/quantifying patient readmission rates, the bottom line is, you’re not alone. Demand for solutions aimed at figuring this out is exploding. And while researchers have identified numerous common and statistically significant factors that directly correlate to increased risk of re-hospitalization, emergency department visits and other adverse events, getting this information under tow and leveraging it in processes optimized to reduce readmission rates constitutes new territory. Enter the opportunists. ReAdmissions Solutions, LLC (RAS) provides care coordination and management services to health plans, hospitals [...]

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Modern Healthcare’s Top 50 Places to Work –2013

What follows are considered the Top 50 places to work (2013′s edition) in healthcare, according to a study sponsored by Modern Healthcare. I couldn’t help but notice that The Advisory Board and Vendormate, two supply chain focused companies we frequently write about, made the grade: RANK COMPANY CATEGORY LOCATION EMPLOYEES PROFILE 1 Texas Health Flower Mound Providers Flower Mound, Texas 398 PROFILE 2 The Women’s Hospital Providers Newburgh, Ind 460 PROFILE 3 Lovelace Women’s Hospital Providers Albuquerque 515 PROFILE 4 Aspen Advisors Suppliers Morrison, Colo. 72 PROFILE 5 CQuence Health Group Suppliers Omaha, Neb. 29 PROFILE 6 Black River Memorial [...]

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Business First Names ZirMed “Large Company of the Year”

We’ve been following a Louisville, Kentucky based company called ZirMed here at Healthcare Matters, because we remain bullish on companies focused on the development and delivery of tools that facilitate physician practice automation and integration. In fact, congratulations are in order for ZirMed, which today announced it has received a 2013 Eagle Award of Excellence from Business First, an organization that celebrates excellence in the southeastern US regional business community. The company has been on a roll since 2007 when it won a similar award in the “smaller company” category. This year, the firm announced that it signed over 900 [...]

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