Top 10 Healthcare Quality Issues for 2011

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , January 3, 2011

9. SGR Cuts

This "kick-the-can-down-the-road" is provoking angst among Congress and the House of Medicine, in a debate with consequences continuing into 2011.

Doctor groups have said that their members will leave the Medicare program entirely, limit the number of beneficiaries they would see, and/or refuse to accept new Medicare patients or retire early and go fishing if the 25% pay cut takes effect.

But as Congress has consistently done, the issue has merely been postponed another 12 months. So look for the Doc Pay Fix, the repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula that would cut physician pay even more, to rear its head again in 2011.

10.  Data Breaches

Along with meaningful use and the move to the electronic health record, there's increasing concern about how healthcare providers can keep patient information privacy sacrosanct.

Even officials state of California, which has fined hospitals more than $2 million so far for accidental as well as purposeful violations of patient confidentiality, realizes how difficult it is. 

In an embarrassing news release last week, the Department of Public Health acknowledged that even it violated its own rules. Material dealing with facility investigations, which include on patients, residents of skilled nursing facilities, and facility employees and even state workers may have gotten into the wrong hands.

Apparently an encrypted magnetic tape bound from the West Covina office to Sacramento was removed or fell out of its envelope.  Names, social security numbers, medical diagnoses, mailing addresses, e-mail addresses and other sensitive and confidential information was on those tapes.

Electronic health records and health information technology is evolving with the requirements for meaningful use, but protecting patient confidentiality when so much information can be immediately and widely disseminated  is sure to remain an issue.

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3 comments on "Top 10 Healthcare Quality Issues for 2011"

Anne Jarrett MS, RPh (2/7/2012 at 4:55 PM)
I would like to add a comment on the subject of dialysis and the expense related to it. I am a pharmacist who established a pharmacy at a transplant center to help patients obtain their medications, and I have a unique perspective. The meds transplant patients take are very expensive, even after Medicare pays 80%. After transplant,Medicare covers these patients for 3 years only. I saw patients who could not afford their meds, did not take them, and often had to be readmitted numerous times to receive I.V. drugs. Drug manufacturers have ever changing pt. assist. programs,rendering a sig. amt. of pts. ineligible. Result:Patients were re-transplanted only to start the cycle again. All of which was paid for by Medicare,including being,back on dialysis while waiting for another kidney. What's wrong with this picture?

Helen Erickson (1/7/2011 at 9:34 PM)
This approach has been around for many years, has been demonstrated to be effective, but requires a mind set about the worth of the person's self-care knowledge. The attached video provides information about the use of this approach at The Univer of TX Health Science Center, San Antonio

Bogey (1/4/2011 at 9:00 AM)
Interesting that none of the concerns from the provider perspective is about lowering the cost of care, the single largest driver of high insurance prices and medicine today. And one wonders when providers will "get it," that it is the rising cost of care and the lack of MARKET forces (not government regulation) to drive down cost that propels us toward the iceberg, as providers rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.




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