HealthLeaders Media Community and Rural Hospital Weekly - December 31, 2008
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Is new 'Provider Conscience' rule needed?
John Commins, Editor, Community Hospitals
Effective January 19, the new federal "Provider Conscience Regulation" will reaffirm that healthcare professionals can refuse to provide medical services—such as performing abortions and providing contraceptives—if they believe the services conflict with their religious and moral beliefs. The new rule is said to protect the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience. [Read More]
December 31, 2008
Editor's Picks

Say goodbye to Viagra pens and Zoloft soap
Doctors and the pharmaceutical industry have long maintained that the pizza lunches and branded coffee cups don't steer physicians toward a particular drug or procedure. Then, why do it. Starting Jan. 1, the pharmaceutical industry has agreed to a voluntary moratorium on the kind of branded goodies—Viagra pens, Zoloft soap dispensers, Lipitor mugs—that were meant to foster good will and, some would say, encourage doctors to prescribe more of the drugs. Some skeptics deride the voluntary ban as a superficial measure that does nothing to curb the far larger amounts drug companies spend each year on various other efforts to influence physicians. But proponents welcome it as a step toward ending the barrage of drug brands and logos that surround, and may subliminally influence, doctors and patients. [Read More]

Obama opens new round of public healthcare meetings
President-elect Barack Obama's transition team has set up a new round of public healthcare meetings. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Obama's pick for secretary of health and human services, says the nation's healthcare access and affordability woes have only worsened since the last round of meetings in 2005-06. Those meetings were sponsored by the Citizens Health Care Working Committee, which was created by Congress and held dozens of meetings across the country. Then, Congress took no action. It's not clear if they'll do anything now, either. [Read More]

Geriatric medicine in 'crisis mode'
Here's an issue that is only going to get worse in rural areas. American medicine is already in a crisis mode when it comes to geriatric care, and the problem will only become worse unless new approaches are found. For starters, there has been a huge decrease in the number of practicing geriatricians, and only 300 new ones are trained each year. That, despite the fact that the number of people over the age of 65 will double in the next 20 years. [Read More]

Tennessee hospitals feel economic pinch, layoff staff
Tennessee hospitals are feeling the effects of a slumping economy, forced into cutting staff, increasing charity care and dipping into hospital reserves to pay bad debt. In a membership survey completed this month, the Tennessee Hospital Association found that a majority of the state's hospitals that responded have reduced staff or are considering cuts. Nearly as many have also cut services or are thinking about reducing them. Craig Becker, president of the THA, said the survey revealed dramatic changes in three categories: a spike in charity care, namely because of an increase in uninsured patient visits to emergency rooms; at least a 20% to 25% decrease in hospital reserves because of losses in the stock market. [Read More]
Leaders Forum

Are You Ready for Healthcare Reform?
Healthcare reform will likely be one of the top priorities President-elect Barack Obama and his administration tackles in the next couple of years. HealthLeaders Media contributor David Osborn discusses how U.S. hospitals can prepare for the next administration's healthcare reform policies. [Read More]
This Week's Headlines

Health plan deductibles prompt year-end boom
Minneapolis Star-Tribune ? December 30, 2008
Star student's suicide prompts precedent-setting suit
San Francisco Chronicle ? December 30, 2008
Idaho feels the pinch of family physician shortage
Atlanta Journal-Constitution ? December 31, 2008
Recession is crippling hospitals
Washington Post ? December 27, 2008
Texas physician named 'Country Doctor of the Year'
AP/Yahoo News ? December 29, 2008
From HealthLeaders Magazine
20 People Who Make Healthcare Better
Healthcare faces a long list of daunting challenges. In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we offer profiles of individuals who are making a difference in today's complex healthcare world. [Read More]
Community Call
Discussion Board
What do you think of President George W. Bush's new provider conscience rule? Do you think additional safeguards need to be in place to protect healthcare workers from being forced to provide medical services they find morally or religiously objectionable? Will this new rule prompt any policy changes at your healthcare facility?
Audio Feature
What Can Your Hospital Learn from Other Industries? Diane Stover of Memorial Hospital and Health System in South Bend, IN, talks about how healthcare organizations can benefit from conducting "innovisits" with companies in other industries. [Listen Now]
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