Thursday, December 24, 2009

Health Care Bill: What Doctors and Patients Have to Lose

What does the Senate health bill, which is poised to become law, mean for the docs?
According to the Wall Street Journal, the biggest changes will affect specialists and surgeons, mainly regulating medical device and pharmaceuticals and regulating and controlling medical costs. Based on the government's premise that specialists often make wasteful treatment decisions, the health-care legislation in Congress will subject doctors to a mix of financial penalties and regulations to constrain their use of the most costly clinical options. The penalties and regulations are aimed first and foremost at surgeons and the medical devices that they use, largely because that's where the bulk of spending is.

Also, primary care physicians will be affected referring patients to specialists or surgeons. Primary care doctors who refer patients to specialists will face financial penalties under the plan. Doctors will feel financial pressure to limit referrals to costly specialists like surgeons, since these penalties will put the referring physician on the hook for the cost of the referral and perhaps any resulting procedures.

With the new bill, it's clear that doctors will be forced to change how they make their medical decisions.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal, or click here:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Job Growth Amongst Physicians in Hospitals

As physicians and other healthcare workers are aware, the economic downturn has had a significant effect on physician practices, both private and hospital based. However there are signs times may be changing for the better. Health care facilities added more people to their payrolls in November, according to several recently released reports.

The change in numbers can vary tremendously from hospital to hospital. Health care added 21,000 jobs in November, with 6,800 of them at hospitals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 12,600 were added in the ambulatory care setting, including 3,800 in physician offices.

Other recent surveys painted a mixed economic picture for the health care sector. One, released Dec. 2 by the nonprofit public interest research group Conference Board on the number of online advertised job vacancies, found that total listings increased by 106,500 in November. But the number of listings for health care practitioners and technicians dropped 36,000.

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Top 10 Medical Advances of the Decade

ABC News, in collaboration with MedPage Today, reached out to more than 800 specialists as well as a distinguished panel of medical historians to put together a top 10 list of medical advances one decade into this century.

Top 10 Medical Advances of 2000-2009:
1. Human Genome Discoveries Reach the Bedside

2. Doctors and Patients Harness Information Technology

3. Anti-Smoking laws and Campaigns Reduce Public Smoking

4. Heart Disease Deaths Drop by 40 Percent

5. Stem Cell Research: Laboratory Breakthroughs and Some Clinical Advances

6.Targeted Therapies for Cancer Expand With New Drugs

7. Combination Drug Therapy Extends HIV Survival

8. Minimally Invasive and Robotic Techniques Revolutionize Surgery

9. Study Finds Heart, Cancer Risk with Hormone Replacement Therapy

10. Scientists Peer Into Mind With Functional MRI

Read the full article on MedPage Today, or click here:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Leasing Market for Medical Offices Hits Downturn

American Medical News reports that the real estate slump, combined with tighter credit, means that fewer medical office buildings are being built. But after a previous construction boom, there is still more supply than demand. According to the conclusions of a Medical Office Research Report performed by Marcus & Millichap reviewing the second half of 2009, rents are creeping downward, and vacancy rates are going up.
For physicians who rent space, this means it's a good time to look for a better deal. But those who lease to others might need to take extra steps to keep tenants happy. Many experts say it's a good time for renters to ask the landlord to renegotiate your lease, even if there is still time left on it. Landlords may be amenable to locking in a lower rate if the lease is extended. If the landlord won't lower the rent, physicians may be able to get lower property-related expenses or other perks.

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

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stimulus Funds for Physician Practices: Download the Incentives Provided by the Government

Healthcare IT News has provided a download of information on how to utilize stimulus funds.

This supplement provides CIOs, CFOs, practice managers and other healthcare IT decision-makers with practical news on the stimulus package and the incentives it offers to healthcare providers. The PDF includes the full EHR buyer's guide and list of CCHIT-certified EHRs.

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Women Becoming Surgeons

Surgery has typically been a male-dominated specialty, however now more women are becoming surgeons.

Women make up only 19 percent of the nation's 160,000 surgeons, but that's up from 7 percent in 1970, according to the American College of Surgeons.

The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics last year projected employment of physicians and surgeons to grow 14 percent from 2006 to 2016. Continued expansion of health care-related industries and the widening demand from the nation's aging population are expected to fuel the trend.

Nationally, women represented almost half of the 42,200 applicants to U.S. medical schools, according to the American College of Surgeons.

Read the full article in the Pittsburgh Tribune- Review, or click here:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Leapfrog names 45 best hospitals in country for 2009

Thirty-four urban, eight children's hospitals, and three rural hospitals have been named 2009 Leapfrog Top Hospitals, based on results from The Leapfrog Hospital Survey.
The survey is the only national, public comparison of hospitals on key issues including mortality rates for certain common procedures, infection rates, safety practices, and measures of efficiency.

The award winners in the 2009 rural hospital category scored in the top decile nationally for efficiency and are located in Georgia and Maine.

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

Friday, December 4, 2009

Physicians/ Surgeons Divided on Proposed Bill

The American Medical Association has offered qualified support for the Senate health care bill this week, however many other medical groups are unqualified in their opposition. A coalition representing 240,000 physician specialists, like the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, said it "must oppose the bill as currently written" for several reasons including: the establishment of a Medicare advisory board with the authority to set reimbursement policy; increased reporting on physician errors and outcomes; an excise tax on elective cosmetic surgery; and measures that might increase payments to primary-care doctors at the expense of specialists.

The California Medical Association, which represents 35,000 physicians, also declared this week that it opposed the current Senate legislation, joining counterparts in Texas and Florida that took stands in late November.

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rehospitalizations among Patients in the Medicare Fee-for-Service Program

Reducing rates of re-hospitalization has attracted attention from policymakers as a way to improve quality of care and reduce costs.

A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that one in five Medicare patients discharged from the hospital was readmitted within a month. One in three was readmitted within three months. Readmission is costly. In 2004, the cost to Medicare for unplanned readmissions was $17.4 billion.

To curb the costs, Congress and the Obama administration are considering bonus payments to hospitals with low readmission rates and penalties on those with high rates.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is considering giving bonuses to hospitals for lowering readmission rates. Current law prohibits hospitals from paying doctors for reducing hospital services, even if the goal is to provide more efficient care.

Read the full article in The New England Journal of Medicine, or click here: