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Health Management Technology News
  June 23, 2014
In this issue:
 Who leaked healthcare info to Wall Street?

 Improve the patient experience by consulting models outside of healthcare

 Breaking down barriers to healthcare

 Consumers seek to get more for their healthcare dollars

 Medicaid expansion key healthcare issue in Wisconsin’s governor's race

 15 recent hospital, health system layoffs

What you need to know about ICD-10
Download this white paper on switching from using ICD-9 to ICD-10 codes for all medical services. The deadline for completing the switch is October 1, 2015, which will be here sooner than you think. Healthcare facilities need to start planning their communication strategy now to be fully prepared to meet the upcoming transition.

Read the white paper.   Sponsor

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.

Read the white paper.   Sponsor

Who leaked healthcare info to Wall Street?

On the evening of April 3, 2013, the Wall Street Journal published a striking investigative piece: shortly before federal officials announced good news for private insurers regarding Medicare payments, those companies’ stocks jumped. It appeared that some investors had benefited from inside information, possibly in violation of insider-trading laws.

Less than a day later, according to materials provided to MaddowBlog by a Democratic source, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, seeking an explanation. Soon after, Grassley sent a related letter to the Office of Management and Budget, suggesting the Iowa senator suspected Obama administration officials as the source of the leak.

It now appears Grassley may have been barking up the wrong tree.

Read the full article from here  

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Improve the patient experience by consulting models outside of healthcare

Healthcare is hospitality with healing. Or, if you prefer, it’s healing with hospitality.

The healing part of this equation, the clinical outcome, is indisputably important. But the hospitality side of the equation, what we call “the patient experience,” also matters to patients and to their loved ones. Unfortunately, the approaches we’re currently taking with the patient experience aren’t ever going to bring us the results–the hospitality–that patients and their loved ones are looking for.

An obstacle to improving patient satisfaction in healthcare is the industry’s insular nature, which makes the status quo self-reinforcing. In other words, healthcare providers and institutions compare themselves to each other – to the hospital in the next town, the surgeon in the next O.R. – and benchmark their customer service accordingly. And to do so is to set the bar in the wrong place.

Read the full article from Forbes here  

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Breaking down barriers to healthcare

When Dr. Karen Winkfield leaves Massachusetts General Hospital to discuss health issues at Boston-area churches and clinics, she refers to her message as the “triple A:” awareness, advocacy, and ambassadorship.

It’s a message that the 44-year-old radiation oncologist says she developed during her outreach work with racial and ethnic minorities, who report having more difficulty accessing health care than their white counterparts, according to a federal study.

Winkfield said she wants to break down the barriers these communities face in accessing health care, including obstacles to enrolling in clinical trials.

“I was really struck by the fact that I didn’t see very many minority patients in many of the Harvard affiliates when I was training,” Winkfield says in an interview at her office at MGH. “I was really curious about that.”

Winkfield, who grew up on Long Island, N.Y., says she first became interested in barriers to health care as a medical student at Duke University, where she volunteered at a health clinic in a public housing development in Durham, N.C.

Read the full article from The Boston Globe

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Consumers seek to get more for their healthcare dollars

Michelle Nichols had lived in pain since a childhood injury damaged her left knee.

“It just got worse over the years. When the question on the doctor’s form asked, ‘How many steps can you take without pain?’ my answer was zero. It choked me up. I had never thought about it like that. I just pushed through.”

She needed a knee replacement, doctors told her. But she didn’t have health insurance.

“I had to put it off until I got health insurance. It was always, ‘You want insurance or do you want to eat?’ ”

For patients, navigating the health care system and understanding medical costs can be difficult.

In April, she finally had her left knee replaced at Kansas Surgery and Recovery Center after signing up for health insurance on the new online marketplace that was created as part of the Affordable Care Act, which left her with mixed feelings.

“I’m not a cheerleader of Obamacare. There are other ways to do it,” said Nichols, 51. “Part of me is angry it was forced upon me, but at same time, I’ve gotten my knee replacement.”

Read the full article from here  

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Medicaid expansion key healthcare issue in Wisconsin’s governor's race

A Republican governor, Tommy Thompson, started Wisconsin’s BadgerCare health insurance for low-income families in 1999.

A Democratic governor, Jim Doyle, expanded the program in 2008.

The parties have disagreed on details over the years, but no aspect of the Medicaid program has been as explosive as a further expansion allowed this year through the federal Affordable Care Act.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker rejected the expansion. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke says she would accept it.

How much the Medicaid expansion or other health care issues will resonate with voters in November is hard to tell.

“This is untested ground,” said Jon Peacock, research director for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. “I can’t recall an election where there have been such significant differences of opinion with regard to BadgerCare.”

But the Medicaid expansion is technical, involving poverty levels, funding formulas and comparisons with private insurance that can easily make heads spin, said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University Law School poll.

“Will it motivate voters? I think that hinges on whether the Burke campaign wants to focus on the issue and how convincing the governor can be,” Franklin said. “It’s hard to reduce to a sentence or two, let alone a bumper sticker.”

Read the full article from The Wisconsin State Journal here  

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15 recent hospital, health system layoffs

The following five hospital and health system layoffs and workforce reductions were covered by Becker's Hospital Review in the last three weeks. They are listed below by number of employees and/or positions affected.

1. Hartford HealthCare to Eliminate 350 Jobs
Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare plans to eliminate 350 jobs through layoffs and attrition. About 230 employees will be laid off or leave through buyouts and retirement, while the rest of the positions are vacant.

2. Mercy to Lay Off 300 Across 4 States
Chesterfield, Mo.-based Mercy is planning to lay off up to 300 people across four states this month. The health system is attributing the workforce reduction to a lack of Medicaid expansion in most of the states it serves.

3. Kindred Healthcare to Close 2 Texas Hospitals, Trim 246 Jobs
Louisville, Ky.-based Kindred Healthcare is closing two Texas hospitals and eliminating 246 jobs. The transitional and extended-stay hospital operator will close its 83-bed location in Channelview, which will eliminate 139 jobs, and its 86-bed facility Houston, which will cut 107 jobs.

4. Mayo Clinic Cuts 188 Medical Transcription Jobs in Wisconsin
Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic Health System is eliminating 188 medical transcription positions in Wisconsin as it outsources the service.

5. Supervisors Approve Kern Medical Center Layoffs
The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted to approve layoffs at the financially troubled Kern County Medical Center in Bakersfield, Calif. Now, the hospital will eliminate 111 positions, 51 of which involve layoffs.

6. Abington Health to Lay Off 95
Abington (Pa.) Health will lay off 95 employees and cut the hours of others before July 1. Eighty-five of the affected employees are full-time workers.

7. Ellwood City Hospital Lays Off 67
Ellwood City (Pa.) Hospital laid off 67 employees, eliminating the equivalent of 44 full-time positions. Seven of the layoffs were voluntary, with employees retiring or relocating.

Read the full article from Becker’s Hospital Review 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

Click here to read the white papers

Industry News

Secretary Burwell announces steps to bolster management and accountability

AMA outlines ways to address physician shortages

AMA adopts telemedicine policy to improve access to care for patients

CMS: Opportunity to apply for Navigator grants

AMA adopts policy to define team-based medical healthcare


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