Monday, November 30, 2009

Talking Money with Patients

The recession and insurance plan changes are contributing to more concern about costs in physician's office and for health care.

American Medical News has interviewed experts on how to initiate the conversation with patients on billing matters.

Research suggests that while physicians and patients recognize cost is a significant factor for whether a patient will follow a given treatment, and that physicians know they should talk about cost, most visits omit that critical conversation. However with the current condition of the economy, experts say there are some powerful trends at work making it imperative to talk frankly with patients about what treatments will cost, and to be ready for patients to bring it up.

Read the full article at American Medical News, or click here:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

$80 Million in Grants Available for the Health Information Technology Workforce

As seen in Healthcare IT News, The Department of Health and Human Services will release $80 million in grants to help develop and strengthen the health information technology workforce.

Most of the money available will go to college training programs and educational materials for the training programs to help support the immediate need for skilled HIT professionals.

Graduates will fill a variety of roles that both assist healthcare practices during the critical process of deploying IT systems and support these practices on an ongoing basis.

Read the full article at Healthcare IT News, or click here:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Physician Burnout: Exhausted or Depressed Physicians More Likely to Commit Errors

Surgeons who are burned out or depressed are more likely to say they had recently committed a major error on the job, according to the largest study to date on physician burnout, which was recently published in the Annals of Surgery.

The new findings suggest that the mental well-being of the surgeon is associated with a higher rate of self-reported medical errors, something that may undermine patient safety more than the fatigue that is often blamed for many of the medical mistakes.

Although surgeons do not appear more likely to make mistakes than physicians in other disciplines, surgical errors may have more severe consequences for patients due to the interventional nature of the work.

Fatigue and long working hours are generally attributed to physician and surgeon fatigue, although burnout and depression should be more carefully considered.

Read the full article at the Annals of Surgery or click here:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Federal Government Loan Program Targets Smaller Medical Groups

A bill that provides loans of up to $350,000 for physicians and $2 million for medical groups to buy electronic health record systems or other healthcare information technology is likely to benefit solo and small group practices the most.

Other larger groups qualify for the proposed bill, however smaller groups stand the benefit financially more.

Read the full article on Healthcare IT News, or click here:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Physician Shortage Drives Telemedicine Market

A shortage of child and adult psychologists, as well as primary care physicians, is among factors and conditions that are driving growth in the telemedicine market. Also changes in Health Care Reform are driving the market to transition to more of a telemedicine market, particularly in more rural areas.

Read the full article on Healthcare IT News or click here:

Electronic Medical Records Providing Little Benefit Thus Far

The federal government has been encouraging the transition of computerized patient records, mostly by providing $19 billion in government incentive to push physicians to change from paper records to electronic records (EMRs). There is wide agreement that the conversion will bring better care and lower costs, saving the American health care system up to $100 billion a year by some estimates.

But a new study comparing 3,000 hospitals at various stages in the adoption of computerized health records has found little difference in the cost and quality of care.

The research underlines the challenge facing the Obama administration as it seeks to accelerate the adoption of electronic health records through 2015, even though only about 20 percent of physicians now use them. And the research shows that installing the technology does not necessarily mean that the hoped-for gains in quality and cost containment will follow quickly.

Read the full article at The New York Times, or click here:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Physician Starting Salary Chart

The New England Journal of Medicine has compiled a chart comparing physician starting salaries. These numbers are based on averages and compiled from 2007 starting salaries.

Physician and Specialty Physician starting salaries vary based on fellowship training, all numbers are based on candidates either fresh out of training or fresh out of fellowship training.

See the full article and chart at the New England Journal of Medicine, or click here:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Physician Job Hunting in a Recession

According to American Medical News, with the state of the current economy and also the changes in health care, physician positions may be harder to find.

Like jobs in every market during the current state of the economy, health care and physician positions have also been affected. More physicians today, specifically those out of residency, are interested in seeking hospital employed positions.

Physicians are finding that switching jobs or finding one after completing training requires more networking than in prior years. Another challenge has been the real estate market, with physicians waiting longer to sell their current home and possibly taking on 2 mortgages on different pieces of real estate. Also, some hospitals have implemented hiring freezes.

Many experienced physicians have also put off their retirement plans, and many others who have jobs currently are staying put to see how health system reform will turn out.

Read the full article at American Medical News, or click here:

Locums/ Temporary Physician Positions Lower

There has been a decrease in demand for temporary physician opportunities. The decrease has been attributed to fewer elective surgeries and also current permanent physicians delaying their retirement.

Publicly traded staffing companies have released their Q3 results and the figures have indicated the decrease in Locums demand. The companies that have been compared are publicly traded companies that provide physicians, nurses, and other staff for hospitals and other medical facilities.

Read the full article here:

Friday, November 13, 2009

2010 Medicare Paycut for Physicians, Unless Congress Acts

American Medical News reports that the final 2010 Medicare physician fee schedule confirms that physicians face a 21.2% pay cut starting Jan. 1, 2010, unless Congress adopts legislation to avert it. The official figure is only slightly lower than the 21.5% reduction the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services was predicting earlier this year.

The Obama administration supports a permanent repeal of the current physician payment formula and has called on Congress to pass legislation to that effect. But CMS noted in the final rule that, without congressional action, it is required by Medicare statute to implement the across-the-board cut, which will apply to the 2010 conversion factor.

Not every physician would see their rates go down by the same amount in 2010 if Congress were to allow the cut to go through. Over the next four years, CMS will phase in refinements to practice expense relative value units based on updated data from an AMA survey. As a result, physicians in specialties traditionally considered to be primary care will see higher rates before the application of the 21.2% cut required by the pay formula, while some other specialists will see further pay reductions based on the relative value unit revisions and other adjustments.

Read the full article at American Medical News or click here:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Baby Boomers Health Care Spending Increases

The ageing of baby boomers has caused health care costs to increase. In middle-aged Americans, health care costs increases have been attributed to technical advances, more in-office procedures, and expanded screening.

Read the full article from American Medical News here:

Friday, November 6, 2009

House to Vote Tomorrow on Health Reform

The House will vote Saturday on health reform. The proposition is a 10 year, $1.2 trillion legislation that embraces President Obama's goals of extending health coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and putting tough new restrictions on insurance companies.

Read the full article from The Associated Press here:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Provisions, Information Technology

The government has allowed tax incentives and reimbursements for physicians purchasing and utilizing new technology. According to Healthcare IT News, many physicians are reluctant to use new technology, mostly attributed to the physicians concerned about the disruption of work.

Read the full article here:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Health Bills Sunshine Provisions

In the new Health Bills proposed by Congress, lawmakers are addressing the relationships and potential financial ties of physicians and the medical industry, namely pharmaceutical companies. The Health Bills are attempting to require medical device and pharmaceutical companies to file annual reports to the government about their financial ties to doctors.

The new proposals are titled "sunshine provisions" in an attempt to shed light in to financial relationships between the medical industry and physicians.

Read the full article from The New York Times here:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Practice Management System

Practice Management Systems are used by physician's offices to ensure the day to day office duties run smoothly, from scheduling patient visits to billing. Now with Federal incentive to upgrade management systems, many offices are considering locating new systems packaged with EMRs.

The American Medical News has published an article on what to look for in Practice Management Systems and how to ensure it works correctly with your office.

Read the full article here: