August 12th, 2009

August 12 – Cost of Health Care

By ldw06

1. New visions for fixing health care – Simplifying a complex process

(CNN profiled six health care entrepreneurs including Renaissance Health.)  As a young internist working his way through rounds nearly a decade ago, Pranav Kothari grappled with what he saw as a broken delivery system. "When someone has a rash or strep throat, we do a pretty good job, the system works," he says. "But we tend to under serve those who need it most - those who are sick with chronic conditions. The frustration of the slow process of evolution and health care continued to nag at me."  After working as a reform-minded health care policy consultant, Kothari in 2004 joined with a colleague, Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle, and opened a new type of primary-care practice outside of Boston. Their first marketable idea: The Ambulatory Intensive Care Unit (AICU), a more affordable approach to serving the 20% of patients who fall into the highest-risk segment of the population.  Today Kothari and Fernandopulle act as consultants - their clinic was absorbed into Massachusetts General Hospital several years ago - and have launched AICU pilot programs in six cities, working with hospitals, clinics, and large employers such as Boeing to deliver a more streamlined version of primary care.

CNN Money June 18, 2009

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Tags: Cost, Health Care


August 12th, 2009

Dot-Com Diagnosis: How to Use the Internet to Get the Best Health Advice (Without Totally Freaking Yourself Out)

By Kelley Luckstein

It starts innocently. The big toe on your right foot doesn’t feel quite right—it’s kind of numb, a little tingly. Maybe I just tied my running shoes too tight at the gym, you think. It’s probably nothing.

But you’re curious. So soon you’re typing “numbness” and “tingly toe” into a search engine. And in no time you’re clicking on links about “Morton’s neuroma,” “transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke)” and “vitamin B deficiency.” Oh, no, you think. It’s a mini-stroke. You’re sure of it.

Make sure any online diagnostic tools you use are speaking directly to you and your situation. “In most cases, good reliable sites will tell you, for a symptom, what are the most frequent producers of that symptom, and what are the most likely in your particular demographic group,” says Roger Harms, M.D., medical editor in chief of MayoClinic.com. “If you’re a 25-year-old woman, it’s a lot different than if you’re a 65-year-old man with the same abdominal pain.”

 

Newsweek by Lisa Jones, 8/11/09

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Tags: internet, Mayoclinic.com, search engine


August 12th, 2009

August 12 Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Walz shares his views on health care

When it comes to health care reform, 1st District Congressman Tim Walz said he feels he has an added responsibility with the world-class Mayo Clinic within his district. So where does the Democrat from Mankato stand when it comes to health care reform? Read more for the quick run down.

 

Post-Bulletin by Heather Carlson, 8/11/2009

 

Additional Mayo Clinic health care reform coverage:

Health Care Blog

Investors Business Daily

 

Additional Health Care Reform News

 

Top stories

 

Obama Faces 'Scare Tactics' Head-On

The Washington Post
Aug. 12, 2009

 

President Obama began a personal effort Tuesday to reclaim momentum for his health-care initiative with a direct rebuttal of what he called "scare tactics," rumors and misrepresentations.

 

Related coverage:

Obama Offers Reassurance on Plan to Overhaul Health Care, The New York Times
Obama Takes the Stand on Health Care, The Los Angeles Times

In New Hampshire, Obama Defends Health Care Plan, NPR

Under Pressure, Obama Defends Health-Care Plan, The Wall Street Journal

President Obama Takes Aim at Health Care Foes, Politico

 

Survey Finds High Fees Common in Medical Care

The New York Times
Aug. 12, 2009

 

A survey shows the sort of irrational pricing of medical care that is an integral part of health care problems in the U.S.  Click here to read the report from America’s Health Insurance Plans.

 

Insurance

 

Will Insurance Exchange Help Cut Health Costs?

NPR
Aug. 12, 2009

 

NPR assesses whether insurance exchanges would help cut health costs.

 

State news

 

Kaiser Permanente to Cut More Than 1,800 Jobs in California

The Los Angeles Times
Aug. 12, 2009

 

One of the state's largest employers, healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente, said it would eliminate more than 1,800 positions as it struggles with drooping membership, uncertain healthcare reform and shriveling Medicare reimbursement rates.

 

Reform efforts

 

Senator Goes Face to Face With Dissent

The New York Times
Aug. 11, 2009

 

More than 1,000 people showed up for a Pennsylvania meeting with Senator Arlen Specter, and like many such events, it was punctuated with rowdy moments.

 

Going to the Mat On Health-Care Bill

The Washington Post

Aug. 12, 2009

 

Congressional town hall meetings on health-care reform have transcended their original purpose and become a kind of professional wrestling for the civically engaged.

 

The Democrats' Senior Problem

Politico

Aug. 12, 2009

 

Polls show senior citizens largely disapprove of health care reform ideas so far.

Expanding Access to Care: More than Just an Insurance Card?

Alliance for Health Reform

Aug. 10, 2009

 

The Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored an Aug. 10 briefing on expanding access to care. Panelists were Susan Dentzer, editor-in-chief, Health Affairs; Nancy Dickey, president, Texas A&M Health Science Center; Deborah Devaux, of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, which is implementing a value-based payment system; and Sharon Long, researcher, The Urban Institute, to discuss the Massachusetts experience.  Link includes webcast, podcast, individual speaker videos and resource materials, including speakers' PowerPoint presentations.

 

Checking In With Chip Kahn: 'Potential for Hospitals and Our Patients To Be Big Winners'

Kaiser Health News

Aug. 12, 2009

 

Excerpts from an interview with Charles "Chip" Kahn III, president of the Federation of American Hospitals.

 

Miscellaneous

 

Physicians Most Challenged by Money Problems in 2009

HealthPopuli
Aug. 12, 2009

 

Money and modernization are the roots of the main challenges facing physicians in 2009. Among the top ten most challenging issues facing American doctors, 7 in 10 directly involve economics, two involve data and reporting, and one--recruiting physicians--fell two places since last year's survey by the Medical Group Management Association.

 

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Tags: Health Policy


August 11th, 2009

August 11-Transparency

By ldw06

1. $788,000 paid to doctor accused of faking study

Medtronic said on Wednesday that it had paid nearly $800,000 over an eight-year period to a former military surgeon who has been accused by the Army of falsifying a medical journal study involving one of the company’s products. The surgeon, Dr. Timothy R. Kuklo, claimed in the study that the use of a Medtronic bone growth product called Infuse had proved highly beneficial in treating leg injuries suffered by American soldiers in Iraq. The British medical journal that published the article retracted it this year after an internal Army investigation found that Dr. Kuklo had forged the names of four other doctors on the study and had cited data that did not match military records. Other doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where Dr. Kuklo worked until August 2006, said that he had also overstated the benefits of the Medtronic product.  Dr. Kuklo, who now works as an assistant medical professor at Washington University in St. Louis, has repeatedly declined to comment on the situation.  Medtronic has said it was not involved in any way with the challenged report. The company is under investigation by the Justice Department and Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, in connection with possibly illegally marketing of Infuse through outside physicians like Dr. Kuklo who work for it as consultants. The company has denied doing so. Last month, it suspended Dr. Kuklo’s consulting contract.

The New York Times by Barry Meier, June 18, 2009

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Tags: Transparency


August 10th, 2009

‘Medical reserve corps’ sought for H1N1 response

By Kelley Luckstein

Local and national planners will soon roll out an effort to ask medical professionals of all stripes to join the "medical reserve corps" for potential response against H1N1 pandemic influenza…The concept was broached with few details at Thursday's Post-Bulletin Dialogues at the Rochester library. A panel of health experts, including representatives of Olmsted County Public Health, Olmsted Medical Center, Mayo Clinic and the Minnesota Department of Health, answered questions from an audience of about 40 people.

 

Post-Bulletin by Jeff Hansel, 8/7/09

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Tags: H1N1, swine flu


August 10th, 2009

Transplant surgeon notable in her profession in part because she’s female

By Kelley Luckstein

Dana Perry won't soon forget her first day as a staff transplant surgeon. At 8 a.m., an hour into her inaugural shift at Mayo Clinic Florida, her cell phone rang. Her first liver transplant was going to be that night, she learned. As the hours passed, news reached her that there would be another. And another. By the time Perry's day was over, it was the following afternoon and three patients had new lifesaving organs.

 

Florida Times-Union by Jeremy Cox, 8/10/2009

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Tags: florida, surgeon, Transplant


August 10th, 2009

Number of primary care physicians isn’t keeping pace with a growing need for them

By Kelley Luckstein

Most students enrolled in medical school today have never even heard of Marcus Welby, the beloved, ever-caring, attentive television doctor…"Most medical students enter medical school today believing in that Marcus Welby, M.D., persona," said Tim Davlantes, a family physician with Mayo Clinic Jacksonville and president of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians. "They may not be familiar with the TV series, but they care deeply for people and truly want to help ease their pain. That's the reason why most of them go to medical school in the first place."

 

Florida Times-Union by Joy Batteh-Freiha, 8/9/2009

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Tags: medical school, primary care


August 10th, 2009

Marfan Foundation conference continues in Rochester

By Kelley Luckstein

 

The 25th annual National Marfan Foundation conference continues this weekend in Rochester. It has drawn 500 participants from across the country the first time it has been held at Mayo Clinic. Marfan syndrome is a connective-tissue disorder "that can affect the skeleton, eyes, heart and blood vessels," according to http://www.marfan.org.

 

Post-Bulletin by Jeff Hansel, 8/8/2009

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Tags: cardiovascular, marfan


August 10th, 2009

August 10: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Democrats Weigh the Calculus of Public Insurance

As Congress breaks for its August recess, the debate back home will center on Democratic proposals to create a government-run insurance option, which insurers and Republicans are casting as a step toward socialized medicine…Joining the resistance against the public option have been providers held up as models by Obama, such as the Mayo Clinic, which argues that rates linked to Medicare would be too low and fail to reward cost-effective care…But Mayo chief executive Denis Cortese said the government should try such payment reforms with Medicare first…"I don't see why they have to create a new public plan to start paying for value," he said.  

 

Washington Post by Alec MacGillis, 8/7/09

 

Additional Mayo Clinic health care reform coverage:

Health Beat Blog

Inside NoVA

North County Times

Morning Call

Culpeper Star Exponent

 

Additional Health Care Reform News

 

Top stories

 

Poll: Americans Divided on Health Care Overhaul

USA Today
Aug. 10, 2009

 

As supporters and opponents of overhauling the healthcare system try to shape public opinion, public opinion on the issue is complex. Analysis of a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll finds views on what priority to emphasize, how fast to act and what's important to protect vary and sometimes conflict depending on a person's age and region of the country, whether he or she has insurance, and is healthy or ailing.

 

Tumultuous Environment Makes a Health Care Compromise More Unlikely

The New York Times
Aug. 9, 2009

 

Spontaneous or contrived, the shouting, shoving and other shenanigans at lawmakers’ town-hall-style meetings point to one probable outcome: the demise of bipartisan health care negotiations.

 

Related coverage:
Emerging Health-Care Bill Facing Partisan Backlash, The Washington Post

In Health Fight, Government and Insurers Are Cast as Villains, The Wall Street Journal

 

Durbin: Health Bill 'Doesn't Have to Be Perfect'

The Hill
Aug. 9, 2009

 

Two highly influential senators suggested on Sunday that key provisions in their chamber’s health insurance reform legislation may be in jeopardy after they return from recess.

 

Transparency/Safety

 

Dead by Mistake: Within Health Care Hides Massive, Avoidable Death Toll

Hearst/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Aug. 9, 2009

 

Experts estimate that a staggering 98,000 people die from preventable medical errors each year. In addition, a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study concluded that 99,000 patients a year succumb to hospital-acquired infections. Almost all of those deaths, experts say, also are preventable.

 

Quality Focus Reduces Deaths in US Hospitals

Reuters
Aug. 10, 2009

 

Hospital systems that focus on quality care lower death rates and have healthier patients, according to an analysis released on Monday.

 

Safety Net Hospitals Improved Quality with Pay-for-Performance Incentives

HealthLeaders Media

Aug. 10, 2009

On quality measures, hospitals treating larger numbers of the poor did not perform as well as hospitals serving more affluent populations back in 2003. But by 2006 that changed.

Wellness/Chronic Care

 

Expanding Preventive Care May Add to Costs, CBO Says

The Washington Post

Aug. 8, 2009

 

Expanding preventive medical services may well improve public health, but it is highly unlikely to save the government money, the Congressional Budget Office representatives said in a letter to leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

 

Reform efforts

 

A Primer on the Details of Health Care Reform

The New York Times
Aug. 9, 2009

 

A guide to the main fight points in the health care debate.

 

Seniors Remain Wary of Health-Care Reform

The Washington Post
Aug. 9, 2009

 

Senior citizens are emerging as a formidable obstacle to President Obama's ambitious health-care reform plans.

 

Tax on High-End Health Plans Threatens Wider Group
The Wall Street Journal

Aug. 10, 2009

A proposal to tax generous health plans could ensnare a broader swath of employers and workers whose benefits aren't necessarily gold-plated.

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

The White House
Aug. 10, 2009

 

New site from the White House features videos of administration officials and a list of FAQ.

 

Health Information Technology

 

Five Lessons From Seattle On Adopting Electronic Medical Records

Kaiser Health News
Aug. 10, 2009

 

In its most recent installment in an occasional series on health information technology, Kaiser Health News reports from Seattle about lessons learned.

 

Doctor Is In – Online

The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 9, 2009

More doctors are using the Web to treat patients for minor ailments as a growing number of health insurers cover online medical consultations.

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Tags: Health Policy


August 7th, 2009

Dental chain has grown in region

By Kelley Luckstein

In January 2005, Neibauer Dental Care had a single office in Waldorf. Less than five years later, the company has 20 locations…Despite having so many offices, founder and CEO Chris Neibauer said he personally supervises all of them…Dentistry can be performed better by companies than by single practitioners because a large company can be more flexible and also hold dentists accountable for the quality of their work, an approach Neibauer calls the "Mayo Clinic model" of dentistry…"Everyone loves the Mayo Clinic. When general practitioners can't figure things out, they go to the Mayo Clinic. That's what we want to be," he said.

 

 

Gazette by Erica Mitrano, 8/7/2009

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Tags: Health Policy


August 7th, 2009

New Medical Mystery: Celiac Disease Soars, Deaths Quadruple

By Kelley Luckstein

People who have celiac disease can't tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. If they do eat gluten, damage to the small intestine results and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food.

 

In fact, a long-term Mayo Clinic study just published in the journal Gastroenterology has found that celiac disease is inexplicably more than four times more common today than it was 50 years ago. Another disturbing finding: the researchers discovered that people who didn't know they had celiac disease were about four times more likely than celiac-free subjects to have died during the 45 years of the study follow-up. Unfortunately, the scientists have no explanation.

 

NaturalNews by S.L.Baker, 8/7/2009

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Tags: celiac, gastroenterology


August 7th, 2009

Download the audio: How Mayo Clinic uses social media

By Kelley Luckstein

Mayo Clinic has the most powerful brand in health care, built over more than a century ago, primarily through word of mouth recommendations from satisfied patients and news coverage. In this GasPedal training call on how Mayo Clinic uses social media, Director of Communications Lee Aase explains how they are continuing to grow buzz  – and how you can, too.

 

GasPedal (blog), 8/6/2009

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Tags: Social Media


August 7th, 2009

New Initiative: Defibrillator Delays

By Kelley Luckstein

A new report that hints stress factors like case volume and academic status of a hospital do not explain the wide disparities in defibrillation response times in hospitals has at least one hospitalist convinced HM leaders can help solve the problem…“This is a very simple thing,” says hospitalist Jason Persoff, MD, FHM, assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. "What are the barriers to shocking the patient? This doesn’t require huge committees. The question is, 'Why isn’t this happening?' … This paper is a call to arms."

 

The Hospitalist by Richard Quinn, 8/5/2009

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August 7th, 2009

Mayo receives millions in grants from stimulus

By Kelley Luckstein

Mayo receives millions in grants from stimulus

While the infusion is far from complete, U.S. economic stimulus money is starting to drip into Rochester through Mayo Clinic's research grants. As of this week, 32 grants funded by the American Recovery and Revitalization Act, totaling about $6.7 million, have been awarded to Mayo by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, according to the NIH's Web site.

 

Post-Bulletin by Jeff Kiger, 8/6/2009

 

Additional coverage:

MinnPost

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Tags: grants, NIH, stimulus


August 7th, 2009

Aug. 7 Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Truth Squad: The Insurance Industry Spreads Misinformation about What a Public Sector Plan Would Mean For Your Family

Claim:  "A new government-run health plan will raise costs for Americans with private insurance. By systematically underpaying doctors and hospitals, our country's existing public plans--Medicare and Medicaid--raise the average family's premiums by $1,800 a year. A public option will only exacerbate this problem -- and make insurance more expensive."…

 

Truth: They know that some hospitals stay in the black when treating Medicare patients  simply because they are more efficient. In private conversation, hospital CEOs have confirmed this. Medical Centers such as Mayo Clinic, and the accountable care organizations that Atul Gawande wrote about in the June 1 New Yorker provide better care at a lower cost.  Meanwhile, other hospitals make a profit on the majority of their Medicare patients. They should analyze where they lose money and why. Maybe Medicare does need to increase payments for certain patients—while slicing overpayments in other areas. Or, maybe the hospital needs better system management to improve the way it delivers care.

 

Health Beat Blog by Maggie Mahar 8/6/2009

 

Additional Mayo Clinic health care reform news:

Echo Press

San Francisco Sentinel

Crosscut

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Tags: Health Policy