Health Care Insights

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CMS Delays Rating System Release Due to Controversy

Clinical Leadership Council

CMS postponed the release of the new overall quality star rating for U.S. hospitals one day before the scheduled April 21 release, bowing to pressure from lawmakers and industry stakeholders. The delay results from controversy about the ratings methodology used and the potential to mislead consumers.

In a notice to Congress following the decision, CMS said it would delay the release of the star ratings on its Hospital Compare website until July or possibly later if the methodology is still undergoing analysis or revision, National Public Radio (NPR) reported.

"CMS is committed to working with hospitals and associations to provide further guidance about star ratings," the notice said. "After the star ratings go live in their first iteration, we will refine and improve the site as we work together and gain experience."

Of the 3,600 U.S. hospitals reviewed earlier this year, only 87...

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May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month; Help Employees and Patients Prepare

Clinical Leadership Council

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main culprit, along with tanning booths or sunlamps.

Melanoma, the most dangerous type, accounts for only one percent of skin cancer cases but causes the vast majority of deaths. The American Cancer Society anticipates that more than 76,000 new melanoma cases will be diagnosed this year, and over 10,000 deaths will occur as a result.

The good news is that skin cancer can almost always be cured when found and treated early. Health care providers, along with communities and families, can work together to prevent skin cancer or detect it in its initial stages.

Make a Difference This Month

With the summer months approaching, now is the perfect time to get the word out about the dangers of exposure to UV radiation.

These ideas, from the American Academy of Dermatology, sponsor...

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Realizing Value with Telehealth in Chronic Condition Management Programs

Monica Leslie & Rehan Virani

Chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes impact the health of over half of the American population and represent more than 80 percent of all health care spending — over $850 billion dollars.

Many of these conditions are actually reversible or preventable. Typically, they stem from health risk behaviors such as lack of exercise, poor nutrition, use of tobacco, and drinking too much alcohol.

As our population ages, so will the need for effective methods of managing, improving, and, to the extent possible, preventing chronic conditions. Most of that will occur outside the four walls of the hospital, in the patient's home.

Implementing Chronic Condition Management Programs

Some health care organizations have established chronic condition management (CCM) programs, which reduce the incidence of preventable hospitalizations and adverse events by managing the...

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PX Week Celebrates Health Care Staff Who Impact Patient Experience

Clinical Leadership Council

This week, April 25 - 29, is Patient Experience (PX) Week, an annual event to celebrate the many ways health care staff impact the patient experience.

Sponsored by The Beryl Institute, an organization dedicated to improving the patient experience, PX Week provides a focused time for hospitals and other health care facilities to celebrate accomplishments, reenergize efforts, and honor employees who actively contribute to their patients' welfare.

By supporting Patient Experience Week, facilities show their employees that they appreciate their hard work and encourage their continued efforts on behalf of patients.

"In recent years, the concept of patient experience moved from the fringes of the health care conversation to the heart of all health care encompasses," said Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., president of The Beryl Institute.

"Challenged by some as a fad, even in the face of emerging policy...

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Zika: CDC Concludes Zika Virus Causes Microcephaly and Other Birth Defects

Clinical Leadership Council

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have concluded, after careful review of existing evidence, that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.

In the report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the CDC authors describe a rigorous weighing of evidence using established scientific criteria.

"This study marks a turning point in the Zika outbreak," said Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC. "It is now clear that the virus causes microcephaly."

A statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) backs up these findings and suggests there is scientific consensus that the Zika virus not only causes microcephaly but also Guillain-Barré syndrome:

“While intense efforts continue to reinforce and refine the link between Zika virus and a range of neurological disorders within a rigorous...

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Life After Residency: 4 Tips for Graduates to Manage the Transition

Andrew Pacos, MD, Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs

As graduation day approaches and you get ready to move from residency to your first job as an attending EM or HM physician, you will find that your life is about to change drastically.

A blog post from KevinMD sums up the changes best. In it, they explain the shifts from:

  • Student to clinician;
  • Bread eater to bread winner;
  • “Life on hold” to “life on the go”;
  • No business to KNOW business;
  • An internal focus (lectures, rounds, boards, research, study, call) to an external focus (employer, patient care, malpractice, kids, spouse, financial obligations, house and car);
  • Obligations to yourself and obligations to others.

This is a huge transition in your life. As the mentioned post details, you begin to create your own “curriculum” versus having it created for you. You’re certainly approaching the unknown in this post-residency lifestyle.

The four...

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The Emergency Department: Strategic Asset or Necessary Evil?

Clinical Leadership Council

One fact is non-negotiable when it comes to emergency departments: they must continue to deliver an excellent standard of care for patients with acute illness and injury.

However, the shift from volume-driven to value-based care and the need to balance quality, patient satisfaction, and cost of care, has forced hospital administrators and other industry professionals to reevaluate the role EDs play in the care continuum.

And though some consider the emergency department to be a necessary evil due to the significant overall expense, selected outcomes being the same or not better than other care settings, and costs that must be absorbed by the hospital, there are many reasons to value it as a strategic asset.

An article in the March/April 2016 edition of Spectrum, a publication of the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (a division of the American Hospital...

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Telehealth Readiness Factors: What Are They and Why Are They Essential?

Bryan Arkwright, Senior Consultant

If you read any of the growing numbers of recent Telehealth headlines, press releases, and articles, you are aware that the prefix “Tele” can be added to almost anything. Just because it can, however, doesn’t mean it should or that it’s a good fit for your organization and the market in which you operate.

Today, I would like to introduce you to a methodology I have used for years that can help your organization better define and rank Telehealth opportunities: Telehealth Readiness Factors.

Before I list the readiness factors and their definitions, let me first address the reasons why using such a ranking method is essential to your organization.

Reasons to Use Telehealth Readiness Factors

There are at least three reasons why your organization should use a systematic methodology to define and rank the readiness of its Telehealth opportunity.

First, it ensures...

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Celebrate National Doctor's Day, Wednesday, March 30

Clinical Leadership Council

National Doctors' Day is held every year on March 30th in the United States. It is a day to celebrate the contribution of physicians who serve our country by caring for its' citizens.

SCP_DoctorsDay_2016

Here are six facts regarding its history and the reason for the celebration:

1. National Doctors Day marks the date that Crawford W. Long, M.D., of Jefferson, Ga., administered the first ether anesthetic for surgery on March 30, 1842.

On that day, Dr. Long administered ether anesthesia to a male patient and then operated to remove a tumor from the man's neck. Later, the patient would swear that he felt nothing during the surgery and was not aware the surgery was over until he awoke.

2. The first Doctor's Day observance took place March 30, 1933, in Winder, Ga. Eudora Brown Almond, the wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, decided to set aside a day to honor physicians.

According to a paper entitled "How March...

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10 Ways to Show Your Support for Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 13-19

Clinical Leadership Council

March 13-19, 2016, is Patient Safety Awareness Week, a campaign sponsored by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where patients and those who care for them are free from harm.

Patient Safety Week Banner

The campaign is designed to increase awareness, spark dialogue, and promote action to improve the safety of the health care system for patients and the workforce.

NPSF works to bring together and engage health care professionals and patients to help spread the message, "Every day is patient safety day."

As health care providers, there are a number of ways that you can take an active role in promoting the campaign. Use these ten ideas, to get started:

1. Register on the campaign site. Stay connected and informed about Patient Safety Awareness Week activities by registering on the site and subscribing to the mailing list.

2. Take the patient...

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EHRs in the ED - Is there still a cause for concern?

Clinical Leadership Council

ERs are often busy places where events can occur at a pace faster than Mad Max trying to outrun a band of ruthless marauders, metaphorically speaking.

Shefali Luthra, writing for Kaiser Health News, described the scene best: 

"Sneaker-clad doctors and nurses rush between patients, often juggling multiple cases. ... Patients, even after being wheeled in by paramedics, can wait in a triage room for extended periods until a free nurse or physician comes to find out what’s wrong. It’s a different style of medicine, and one that’s often resulted in a distinct workflow."

With federal government incentives to use EHR systems in the ED, the "need for speed" could set up a "technology mismatch that creates challenges that aren’t necessarily as evident in other parts of the hospital," Luthra said. 

While new EHR models are more efficient and offer many...

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Reducing ED Wait Times in ACA Era

Clinical Leadership Council

Emergency departments across the U.S. are doing everything in their power to reduce wait times – the time a patient has to “wait” to see a provider. A reduction in wait times increases patient satisfaction, which can also result in better payment thanks to certain value-based reimbursement systems. Increasingly, these systems emphasize quality of care and the patient’s experience of care, not just the quantity of services provided. And if dissatisfied patients complete a patient satisfaction survey indicating they were not “satisfied”, these scores can have a direct impact on revenue.

ED Visits Rising Despite ACA Provisions

Despite provisions of the Affordable Care Act intended to reduce dependence on emergency departments as a significant source of health care, patients are flocking to ERs at a rate that, according to a 2015 ACEP poll, is...

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SCP Consulting Services Brings Substance, Style to Address Health Care Payment Reform

SCP Consulting Services

Helping hospitals and health care providers address the financial, operational and clinical implications of payment reform is the goal of Schumacher Clinical Partners' newly integrated Consulting Services division. From market strategy through operations and technology implementation, our team of experts works with health care organizations of all sizes to provide value-added consulting services.

Currently, the national shift from volume (e.g., Fee for Service) to value-based payment methodologies has triggered the need for strategic and operational adaptations in the health care industry that our Consulting team is helping to address.

Substance, Style Sets SCP Consulting Services Apart

What sets SCP Consulting Services apart from our competitors can be aptly described in two words: substance and approach. We have all the resources of a large company and the personalized service of a...

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Hospital Medicine: Past, Present, and Future

Hospital Medicine Clinical Leadership

Schumacher Clinical Partners recently announced the formation of its new Hospital Medicine Division, to complement the work we’re doing on the EM side. With that in mind, we decided to take a look at hospital medicine from a past, present, and future perspective, with a view toward understanding its growing presence and vital importance to the health care industry.

Hospital Medicine: The Past

Hospital medicine is the fastest-growing specialty in American medical history and now boasts more than 50,000 “hospitalists” — a term coined by Drs. Robert Watcher and Lee Goldman, in 1996, to refer to physicians who focused primarily on general inpatient care.

At 20 years of age, hospital medicine is still quite young in comparison to other specialties, such as internal medicine, which is more than 100 years old.

Over the past two decades, hospital medicine, a discipline...

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Zika: Innocuous Virus, Baby-killer, or Harbinger of Viruses to Come

Medical Executive Council

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared last week that the Zika virus is an international health emergency, calling it an "extraordinary event" due to its apparent association with congenital malformations and neurological complications reported in the Americas region.

The disease, a single-stranded RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family, genus Flavivirus, is transmitted through the bite of infected daytime-active Aedes species mosquitoes (the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses).

According to CDC, the mosquito vectors typically breed in domestic water-holding containers; they are aggressive daytime biters and feed both indoors and outdoors near dwellings. Non-human and human primates are likely the main reservoirs of the virus, and anthroponotic (human-to-vector-to-human) transmission occurs during outbreaks.

Zika Virus History

Zika virus is not a new strain...

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ICD-10: Issues, Challenges for 2016

Medical Executive Council

Now that ICD-10 is in full force, we put our ear to the ground to discover what pressing issues and challenges remain for 2016. Here's a roundup of what we found:

Providers Most at Risk for Loss, According to RCS Summit Panel

A panel of health care experts at the RCS Summit, held December 2015, said that hospitals have the most to lose when it comes time for payer-provider contract negotiations. Price changes were the real worry, as the specificity of the data could lead insurers to lower the prices they pay based on the severity of the diagnosis code. Read more…

Survey Reveals ICD-10 Readiness Post-implementation

Navicure, a provider of cloud-based healthcare claims management and patient payment solutions, announced in January key findings from its post-ICD-10 implementation survey (PDF). Among the many findings, the results revealed that the majority (99 percent) of health...

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The Role of Customer Satisfaction in Patient Care

Medical Executive Council

An adage that holds true in health care as much as anywhere else says, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." It's a self-evident proposition that should serve as a mantra in modern health care practice, particularly in emergency medicine.

Often, the first encounter a patient has with a hospital is the ED. If that experience is constructive, the patient and his family will likely have a positive impression of the hospital.

But what makes an experience positive? Three words come to mind: competence, courtesy, and compassion.

Patients expect competence and will give you a neutral satisfaction rating if you are competent. Add courtesy and you will get a satisfactory rating. Add compassion and patients will be very satisfied.

Good patient satisfaction comes with benefits for the staff as well, including the potential to improve staff satisfaction and...

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Virtual Scribe Program Innovates EMR Documentation, Improves Patient Care

Medical Executive Council

Virtual Scribe Logo

The push to develop and deploy EMRs, combined with the need for more detailed documentation, has forced EM and HM providers to spend extra time during patient visits capturing and entering data rather than focusing on the patient — a problem that can have an adverse impact on the quality of patient care.

One solution: the use of medical scribes.

According to the American Health Information Management Association, a medical scribe captures "accurate and detailed documentation … of the encounter in a timely manner." Typically, scribes follow the physician during rounds gathering, documenting, and entering information into the EMR at the doctor’s direction.

In keeping with its focus on innovation, SCP is piloting a timely alternative to the traditional model: the Virtual Scribe or "V-scribe" program.

This post explains the concept, how it works, and the benefits it...

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Nursing Shortage Effect on the Health Care Industry: Current Trends, Future Growth

Medical Executive Council

Registered nurses are the single largest group of health care professionals in the United States. Yet, the vacancy rate for RNs continues to rise and currently stands at 7.2 percent, according to a report from NSI Nursing Solutions (PDF).

Despite that fact, there is still a growing demand for nurses both in hospitals and the community. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by as much as 16 percent by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, said the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Growth will occur for a number of reasons.

Demand for health care services will increase because of the aging population, given that older individuals typically have more medical problems than younger ones. As such, nurses will be needed to educate and care for patients with various chronic conditions, such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and obesity. Also, the Patient Protection...

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Top 6 Medical Issues and Trends Impacted SG in 2015

Communications Department

As 2015 draws to a close, we wanted to take a look back at the top issues and trends during the year that had an impact with regard to providing quality patient care. Six come to mind: ICD-10, telehealth, EMRs, mobile technology, CMS regulations, and CPR/ECC guidelines.

In this post, we briefly summarize each issue and share links to SG blog posts that addressed it, starting with the one that many would agree had the greatest impact: ICD-10.

ICD-10

We now live in the era of ICD-10, a period that will affect every part of medical practice.

With more detailed codes — almost 70,000 in total — many physicians were concerned about their readiness. For example, a poll by physician social network SERMO revealed that most doctors — 71 percent — said they are not ready for ICD-10.

"The change from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is one of the largest technically challenging transitions...

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