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Health Management Technology News
  June 4, 2014
In this issue:
 
 Exclusive content: Squashing the status quo – there's an app for that

 GAO report finds self-referring doctors may be driving up healthcare costs

 Computers not a panacea for healthcare troubles

 Healthcare leadership must shift from cottage industry to big business

 Ventas to buy American Realty Capital Healthcare for $2.6 billion

 Maine hospitals tout Medicare cost data, but watchdog says ‘we could be a lot better’

 Home in the range: Healthcare retirement costs as much as a house


What you need to know about ICD-10
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Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction
Hospital reimbursements are now influenced, in part, by patient satisfaction scores. Read about seven areas to target in your hospital for happier, more satisfied patients.

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Exclusive content: Squashing the status quo – there's an app for that

There’s an excellent chance that you’re reading these words on a machine, and when you finish the article, you may want to share it with hundreds of friends and colleagues. You can easily call up loads of different applications and send it winging their way. Most smartphone owners have scores of apps at their fingertips, and can download others from Apple or Android’s app stores in a matter of seconds.

In the last decade, immense creativity and entrepreneurial drive have flourished in almost every information industry. You can download apps for everything from video games to astronomy. My question is this: How can we nurture a similar explosion of apps in healthcare? Every app, after all, is an attempt to solve a problem for a customer, or to deliver a service. We need the best brains of our generation focused on doing just that for healthcare. This is crucial. Unlike most other fields, ours has lives at stake. What’s more, we have an industry that threatens to consume our national economy, one that desperately needs efficiency and new tools (and to master the Internet). Plenty of tech visionaries, from AOL’s Steve Case to the leaders of Google, have attempted to colonize the hostile health care information economy, and have retreated, battered and bruised.

What’s the trouble with healthcare? For starters, it’s not really a marketplace. There’s not much information at hand. It’s cloaked in mystery, and people don’t shop. They pay with insurance.

But from an entrepreneur’s perspective, there’s another problem, too. The industry seems to be dominated by behemoths - big university hospitals, insurance giants, massive pharma companies, and the government. There are few accessible let alone nimble buyers in healthcare, and their purchasing decisions often appear to defy reason. Often the idea has to percolate through layers of bureaucracy. There are meetings, and lots of questions. Can it be incorporated into our legacy IT system? What are the risks? Let’s consult and have another meeting. Next month, perhaps? The system conspires against newcomers. So most of them turn away from healthcare.

But some persist. Many of them are coming up with great apps to deliver better, faster medical care, and enhanced customer service. It’s by embracing these new approaches, and the efficiencies they deliver, that we can move on from the creaky old ways of healthcare and deliver the disruption this industry so desperately needs.

Read the exclusive article by Jonathan Bush from Health Management Technology here  

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GAO report finds self-referring doctors may be driving up healthcare costs

Doctors appear more likely to refer Medicare patients to physical therapy if they have a financial interest in the service, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The report found family practice and internal medicine providers in urban areas are more commonly referring physical therapy if they had a stake.

The report also found that family practices that could refer patients to physical therapy at the same practice increasingly did so compared to physicians who could not “self-refer.”

Also, once providers began to “self-refer” patients to physical therapy, referrals increased at a faster rate than for providers who could not refer patients to physical therapy services where they had a stake.

The report did find exceptions. Orthopedic surgeons, for example, were less likely to refer patients to physical therapy services where they had a financial stake than surgeons who did not have a stake in services.

The study was requested by Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).

They said the report showed physicians were most likely to refer patients to physical therapy if they had a financial stake, at a cost to taxpayers.

“It is clear based on the totality of the recent self-referral reports from the Government Accountability Office that we need to move toward a value based health care system that promotes better care, not higher volume,” Levin said.

Read the full article from The Hill here  

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Computers not a panacea for healthcare troubles

If you listen to the lobbyists for medical device manufacturers and many of their best friends forever in the health care industry and Washington, health IT is the answer to our biggest health care troubles, from medical errors to the high costs of care.

America's registered nurses, who interact with the machines and have to implement their regimen, all too often have a very different daily experience.

We've launched a national campaign intended to emphasize the point that all that glitters is not gold.

Our campaign describes a number of changes occurring in health care delivery at the bedside that RNs believe are putting patients at risk. These include the premature discharge of patients to other settings, including the home, where the burden for care falls entirely on family members.

A central theme of our message is about the rapid spread of unproven medical technology and the untested implications for patients. That concern is captured, with a humorous vent, in this video starring an unlikely hero, "FRANK", and this radio ad.

Obviously, with the tens of billions the hospitals are spending on buying health IT systems, and the $23 billion the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has paid in incentives to hospitals and other providers since 2011 to implement them, the machines are not likely going away soon.

National Nurses United has long held that technology should be skill enhancing, not skill displacing, that doctors and RNs should not be mere adjuncts to machines that supplant their professional expertise, experience, education, and judgment.

Read the full article from The Huffington Post
here
 

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Healthcare leadership must shift from cottage industry to big business

For several years, the healthcare industry has been teetering on the brink of upheaval. With the launch of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it’s now facing a state of emergency – one in which the current changes are shining a spotlight on the fact that healthcare has become a fragmented industry of silos. Today, the onus of navigating the healthcare system is put on consumers (patients), which is further complicated as they are passed from doctor to doctor, department to department, and specialist to specialist.

Looking at this fragmentation from the outside – with its inevitable lack of coordination and communication – it’s easy to connect the dots to the most prevalent problems we see in the industry today, what one expert calls “the three sins of healthcare”: the cost is too high, the quality is too low, and the access is highly inconsistent.

The ACA addresses one of these and that’s access – and this affects one consumer group in particular. Ten million Hispanics have now become eligible for health insurance and 10% of those signing up on the insurance exchanges are indeed Hispanic, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Health Research Institute. Like every other major industry throughout the country, healthcare must own up to the fact that Hispanics are the fastest growing consumer group they must reach and serve.

Fixing the inefficiencies while at the same time dealing with the changes taking place within the industry, especially the changing demographics and the influx of new patients brought on by the ACA, will require a different type of leadership than traditionally found in healthcare. It will require more people from the business world, less reliance on those with medical backgrounds only, and a profound shift in management styles and leadership techniques.

Read the full article from Forbes here  

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Ventas to buy American Realty Capital Healthcare for $2.6 billion

Ventas, the nation’s biggest health care real estate investment trust, said on Monday that it had agreed to acquire the American Realty Capital Healthcare Trust for $2.6 billion in stock and cash.

At $11.33 a share, the offer is 14 percent above the Friday closing stock of the company, known as A.R.C. Healthcare.

The deal calls for A.R.C. Healthcare shares to be converted into a fixed number of Ventas shares based upon a negotiated Ventas stock price of $67.13. A.R.C. Healthcare shareholders can elect to receive either 0.1688 of a Ventas common share or $11.33 in cash for each share of A common stock they own. The cash portion of the offer has a cap of 10 percent of A.R.C. Healthcare’s outstanding shares.

In a separate transaction, Ventas also announced that it would acquire 29 independent “senior living” housing communities located in Canada from Holiday Retirement for $900 million in cash.

“These acquisitions are consistent with our stated strategy to be the leading owner of health care and senior living properties globally, and position Ventas to continue to deliver growth and consistent superior returns to our shareholders,” the chief executive of Ventas, Debra A. Cafaro, said in a statement.

Read the full article from The Wall Street Journal
here
 

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Maine hospitals tout Medicare cost data, but watchdog says ‘we could be a lot better’

Maine hospitals are touting new data released by the federal government showing the state delivers health care to seniors more cost effectively than most of its counterparts.

A Maine health care cost and quality organization, however, urged examining the numbers from a global perspective.

On Monday, Medicare released a trove of data aimed at making health care costs and outcomes more available and understandable to the public. Among the warehouse of information was data showing geographic variation in costs under Medicare, the government health insurance program for seniors.

Maine’s total Medicare expenditures per capita were 17 percent lower than the national average. The figures account for the portion of the population covered under Medicare, excluding other forms of health insurance, and reflect Medicare reimbursement rates and beneficiaries’ use of health care services across all types of providers.

The Maine Hospital Association highlighted expenditures for inpatient hospital care, which were even lower, falling 20 percent below the national average. From 2009 to 2012, those costs rose less than a half of 1 percent, the association said in a Tuesday news release.

“On a cost basis in Medicare, we’re a good provider,” said Jeff Austin, vice president of government affairs and communications for the Maine Hospital Association. “That’s a message we continually try to deliver to Washington, that they need to become smarter purchasers.”

As for the quality of that health care, the association pointed to a separate set of data previously published by a division of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services showing Maine hospitals delivered the best quality care in the nation.

While Maine hospitals compare well against other states, the U.S. sets a discouragingly low bar for health care, said Nancy Morris, a spokeswoman for the Maine Health Management Coalition.

“We’re better than the national average, and that’s good,” she said. “But the reality is we could be a lot better.”

Read the full article from Bangor Daily News
here
 

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Home in the range: Healthcare retirement costs as much as a house

Many older Americans, stung by a recession that shattered investments and home values, have accepted the reality of a less financially secure retirement that comes later in life. As the golden years approach, they also are discovering that they are unprepared and increasingly concerned about health care costs after leaving the workplace.

Research from Fidelity Investments’ “2013 Retirement Savings Assessment” study released in March suggests that while 84 percent of pre-retirees (ages 55 to 64) wonder whether they’ll be able to cover health expenses during retirement, many greatly underestimate the amount of savings they will need. The study indicated that 48 percent of respondents believe they will need about $50,000 to pay for their individual health care costs in retirement. In contrast, Fidelity’s annual retiree health care cost estimate found that the average couple should expect to spend more than $220,000 in health care expenses over the course of their retirement, the same figure Fidelity reported last year.

According to Fidelity, retirees now spend more on health care than they do on food. If that trend continues, health care will be retirees’ second-largest expense in just a few years, with housing holding the top spot. Still, employees aren’t thinking that far ahead when saving money or managing their health.

“People aren’t making the connection between health today and health during retirement,” said Jeff Munn, vice president of benefits policy development for Fidelity Investments. “They’re thinking, ‘Am I going for an annual checkup? Am I taking my medication? Will I have Medicare?’”

Read the full article from workforce.com here  

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June 2014  HMT digital book

White Papers
 
What you need to know about ICD-10

Seven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction

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