News from the Week of March 21

Bi-Partisan Bill Gains Support

Ever wonder?

Ever wonder?

The American Hospital Association announced its support for S. 2082, the Two-Midnight Rule Coordination and Improvement Act of 2014, on March 6, 2014, the same day it was introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Deb Fischer (R-NE). The legislation would delay enforcement of the Medicare inpatient admission and review criteria known as the two-midnight policy.

Credits: Hospitals Support The Two-Midnight Rule Coordination and Improvement Act


Should They Slap the RAC?

Well, we can dream, anyway

Well, we can dream, anyway

It’s not clear to me that CMS can actually implement such a plan, even with new contracts, but it sure sounds fun!

Should the government impose financial penalities on recovery audit contractors if a clawback they performed against a hospital is overturned on appeal? That’s a proposal being put forth by the most senior member of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, AHA News Now reports.  read more

Credits: Financial penalty for successful RAC appeals proposed


The Other Washington Actually SAVES Money

Cutting costs is really pretty simple... outside the Beltway

Cutting costs is really pretty simple… outside the Beltway

“Cost-effective” is not something my readers would normally associate with anyplace called “Washington.” However, there is a second “Washington” in country, one that does not seem to have the same proclivities as the one on the East coast…

After a contentious beginning, the state Medicaid program and a coalition of doctors and hospitals together forged a plan that helped cut nearly $34 million from expensive, unnecessary emergency-room visits last year, both sides announced Thursday. The seven-point plan included connecting hospital emergency departments across the state so doctors can check if a patient is making multiple ER visits, perhaps getting duplicate scans and other tests, as they seek drugs or relief from a chronic condition better managed in a primary-care setting (Ostrom, 3/20).

The Seattle Times: $34 Million Saved In Effort To Cut Needless ER Visits


“For-Profit” Coming to Connecticut?

Being a Provider... is it supposed to be a Trap?

Being a Provider… is it supposed to be a Trap?

The debate rages… should hospitals be allowed to be for-profit? In some states, the answer is No, but pressures on financial survival is raging, as well. Now, with four of Connecticut’s 28 nonprofit hospitals facing potential acquisitions by a for-profit chain, legislators are under siege from competing interests. Hospital officials say the survival of some Connecticut hospitals depends on having the ability to convert to for-profits, something that requires a change in state law. Union leaders want sweeping protections for workers in case hospitals change hands. Some union leaders and consumer advocates want an outright ban on hospitals becoming for-profit. And so far, the proposals advancing through the legislature suggest the critics of for-profit health care have the upper hand (Becker, 3/21).

The CT Mirror: CT Lawmakers, Wary Of Changing Health Care Landscape, Consider Restrictions On For-Profit Hospitals


So EHR/EMR Needs Time… But Do Hospitals Have the Time?

Will time and money run out before these "benefits" every appear?

Will time and money run out before these “benefits” every appear?

Those “on-high” making all the decisions listen to a surprising array of “experts” who seem to me to be motivated by more political concerns than practical ones. Hence, opinions like those expressed in this article, for me, are unsettling — in particular because I’m not at all sure that a significant number of hospitals have the financial depth necessary to allow the “full benefits” of all this stuff to appear.

According to David Blumenthal, former national coordinator for health IT and current president of The Commonwealth Fund, an “asymmetry of benefits” for providers has kept the healthcare industry from ubiquitous adoption of health IT–and electronic health records, in particular–and thus realizing its full potential.  read more

Credits: David Blumenthal: Benefits of HIT programs will surface with time


Forbes to Hospitals: Be Nice or Else?

... or even an Open Door Forum...

… or even an Open Door Forum…

If you want to know why CMS doesn’t seem to care about it’s public image, just consider that they have NO competition. Well, that’s MY take.  To support my conclusion, see this article, where according to Forbes, hospitals that want to stand out among their competitors must emphasize kindness and compassion. What a concept!   read more

Credits: Drive hospital bottom line with culture of kindness, compassion


Tell Us Again Why We Are Doing This?

Sometimes, you need a different solution, once used by Kings and Queens and Lords of Old.

Sometimes, you need a different solution, once used by Kings and Queens and Lords of Old.

In a past life, I created digital systems for new business models, in both production and retail scenarios. So to me, what I learned from doing that for 20 years, was that you need clear processes in place BEFORE you implement an electronic version. This concept seems foreign, looking at what is happening under the ACA and healthcare reform in general, so the following article is not surprising to me…and I suspect many of my readers can closely identify with the challenges it mentions.

For emergency room doctors at Lansing, Mich.-based Memorial Healthcare, the implementation of virtual desktops helped to dramatically improve workflow, according to CIO Frank Fear. In a recent interview with FierceHealthIT, Fear discussed challenges with the virtual desktop rollout, which included personnel needing to focus on federal initiatives like Meaningful Use Stage 2 and ICD-10.  read more

Credits: Memorial Healthcare’s Frank Fear: Federal initiatives strain our workforce

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