HealthLeaders Media Community and Rural Hospital Weekly - February 6, 2008
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Going Remote
Ben Cole, for HealthLeaders Media
Five years ago, Uniontown (PA) Hospital was looking to upgrade its information technology systems. Because of a lack of technical resources, the complexity of maintaining and managing a health information system internally would have been challenging for Uniontown, which is located 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The solution: going remote. [Read More]
February 6, 2008
Editor's Picks

AHA urges Congress to reject 'misguided' budget
In a statement, American Hospital Association President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock has urged Congress to reject President Bush's latest budget proposal, which includes cutting $560 billion from Medicare over the next decade. Umbdenstock decried the budget, saying it would create cuts to teaching hospitals, reduce technology funds, and reduce funding to hospitals that serve some of the country's poorest patients. The budget also cuts programs that help rural communities maintain healthcare, he said. "America's hospitals strongly oppose this budget's outrageous cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. In the real world, these enormous budget numbers come with enormous consequences, making hospitals' job of caring for patients even more difficult," Umdenstock said in the statement. [Read more]

Top-rated hospitals continue to deliver better care
Patients admitted to the top-rated hospitals in the United States have an average 27 percent lower risk of dying than patients admitted to other U.S. hospitals, according to a study by HealthGrades, an independent healthcare ratings organization. The analysis also found that patients who have surgery at the top-rated hospitals have an average 5 percent lower risk of complications during their hospital stay. Samantha Collier, MD, HealthGrades chief medical officer, told the Washington Post "the data in this year's study clearly indicates that the gap between top-performing hospitals and others persists. This disparity in the quality of care at U.S. hospitals is disappointing." [Read more]

Review hints at scope of hospital-error plan in Pennsylvania
Under a new policy, Pennsylvania will stop paying hospitals for the added costs of care for Medicaid patients that result from serious, avoidable medical mistakes. The initiative is part of Gov. Ed Rendell's broad plan to improve the quality of care and reduce health costs in Pennsylvania. It is also part of a growing movement across the country in trying to reduce medical errors by not paying the bills. Minnesota and Massachusetts have already implemented similar policies, and some private insurance companies have followed suit. The federal Medicare program has also announced its intention to stop reimbursing for care associated with specific types of errors. [Read more]

HHS Secretary seeks expanded use of electronic health records
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt has proposed a $150 million incentives plan to expand physicians' use of electronic medical records. The five-year project would reward doctors in smaller practices who begin filing patients' health history electronically. Up-front costs for implementing such computer systems can range from $20,000 to $40,000, but Leavitt said creating incentives for doctors to implement the technology would help offset costs. A dozen communities nationwide can apply to be in the pilot program. [Read more]

Plan to solve Florida ER crisis reaches impasse
An effort to bring more specialists into Florida hospital emergency rooms has hit a major snag now that hospital officials have rejected a possible solution to the crisis. Doctors and hospital executives crafted a plan for Palm Beach County's 13 hospitals to voluntarily join a regional system to provide specialists to the facilities. Hospitals would pay into the system because they would not have their own full complement of surgeons, and an online call schedule was envisioned for the regional system. The shortage of specialists in Florida has increasingly become a problem, which some experts attribute to high-priced malpractice insurance. Doctors are also hesitant about treating uninsured patients, who account for almost a quarter of the population in Palm Beach County alone. [Read more]
Leaders Forum

Beyond the Financial Rewards of Pay-for-Performance:
Pay-for-performance is a fundamental change in payment methodology that could transform how healthcare is delivered more than the current prospective payment system and managed care plans. Pay-for-performance programs, which are designed to align healthcare payments with clinical best practices and quality thresholds, are becoming commonplace across the country. Levels of adoption suggest that pay-for-performance is likely to stay and may eventually be rolled out across most payers. [Read more]
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From HealthLeaders Magazine
Why Is The ED Such A Pain?
The emergency department has a culture all its own with a unique set of challenges to match. It's also your hospital's window to the community. So you'd better make it work. [Read more]
Community Call
Discussion Board
Each week, Community Call will pose a question to encourage community and rural hospital leaders to share success stories and best practices. This week's question is "Is not reimbursing hospitals for serious errors a good way to stop or reduce such occurrences?"
Audio Feature
Why Physicians Leave: Brian McCartie, regional VP with Cejka Search, discusses physician turnover trends based on Cejka's annual physician retention survey.
Sponsor Community and Rural Hospital
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