AHA fellowship helps leaders transform health care
Senior health care leaders can apply through May 1 to participate in the next American Hospital Association Health Care Transformation Fellowship. The nine-month program helps participants implement innovative care delivery and payment models through learning retreats, webinars, coaching and other resources. Fellows design and implement a project to address their organization’s needs. For more information or to apply, please click here.
RWJF Video Shattering the Nurse Stereotype
A video released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation titled "Nurses Shatter the Stereotype", notes that in addition to representing the largest segment of health care professionals and providing the most direct care at the bedside, nurses also work to provide, shape and improve health care as health care researchers, administrators, educators, soldiers, and more. To view the video, please click here.
FTC workshop on health care competition announced
The Federal Trade Commission has announced plans to host a public workshop March 20-21 in Washington, D.C., to examine “competition issues related to certain current developments” in U.S. health care. Planned topics include professional regulation of health care providers; innovations in health care delivery; advancements in health care technology; measuring and assessing quality of health care; and price transparency of health care services. Written comments to be considered for the workshop may be submitted to FTC through March 10, and comments in response to the public notice and workshop discussions through April 30.
Medicare stops enrolling new HH, ambulance providers in some areas
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced a six-month moratorium on new Medicare home health agencies in the Fort Lauderdale, FL; Detroit; Dallas; and Houston areas. In addition, CMS extended for six months an existing moratorium on new Medicare HH agencies in Chicago and Miami; announced a Philadelphia-area moratorium on new ground ambulance suppliers in the Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs; and extended for six months a similar moratorium on Houston-area ambulance suppliers. The agency cited fraud trends and risk factors in the affected areas, including a disproportionate number of providers and suppliers and high utilization. CMS does not expect the moratoria, which took effect Friday, to affect access to care but said it will continue to monitor the situation with affected states. It also said the moratoria may be lifted early or extended.
Group issues self-assessment tool for hospitalist practices
The Society of Hospital Medicine has released a framework for assessing the performance of Hospital Medicine Groups, medical practices composed of hospitalist physicians and other clinicians who specialize in the care of hospital patients. The framework identifies 47 key characteristics of an effective HMG in 10 areas: leadership; clinician engagement; resources; planning and management infrastructure; alignment with the hospital or health system; care coordination; role in addressing key clinical issues in the hospital or health system; approach to its scope of clinical activities; patient- and family-centered, team-based practice model; and clinician recruitment and retention. “The framework is designed to be aspirational, helping to ‘raise the bar’ for the specialty of hospital medicine,” said co-author Patrick Cawley, M.D., CEO at the Medical University of South Carolina Medical Center in Charleston. “In the long-term, SHM envisions that hospitals and HMGs everywhere will use it to conduct self-assessments and develop pathways for improvement, resulting in better health care and patient care.”
FDA working to ease IV solution shortages
The Food and Drug Administration is working with manufacturers to ease a shortage of intravenous solutions, particularly 0.9% sodium chloride injection bags, according to a recent statement by the agency. The bags are used to provide patients with necessary fluids for hydration and other conditions. “The shortage has been triggered by a range of factors including a reported increased demand by hospitals, potentially related to the flu season,” the agency said. “We are working with the three manufacturers…to help preserve the supply of these necessary products.” For updates on specific shortages, see the FDA and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists drug shortage lists.
SAMHSA issues ‘Behavioral Health Barometer’ reports
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has released national and state reports on U.S. behavioral health trends. According to the national report, the rate of prescription pain reliever abuse fell between 2007 and 2011 for children and adults under age 26 (from 9.2% to 8.7% and 12% to 9.8%, respectively). Among other improvements, the number of people getting buprenorphine treatment for heroin addiction jumped 400% between 2006 and 2010, while the number of people getting outpatient behavioral health treatment through Medicare increased by more than 30%. The “Behavioral Health Barometer” report provides analyses by gender, age group and race/ethnicity, where possible, to serve as a basis for tracking and addressing behavioral health disparities. "Unlike many behavioral health reports, its focus is not only on what is going wrong in terms of behavioral health, but what is improving and how communities might build on that progress,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde.
PCORI announces $206 million in funding opportunities
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute is accepting applications for up to $90 million in funding for clinical studies to address practical questions faced by patients, clinicians and other decision-makers. Priority research topics include treatment strategies or options for back pain, migraines, opioid substance abuse and migraines; proton beam therapy for certain cancers; and integration of mental and behavioral health services into primary care. In addition, the institute will fund up to $81 million in new research to assess prevention, diagnosis and treatment options; improve health care systems; address knowledge gaps related to communicating and disseminating research results; reduce disparities in health and health care; and improve methods for conducting patient-centered outcomes research. Other new funding opportunities include $20 million to compare the effectiveness of obesity treatment options for underserved adults in primary care settings; and $15 million for a comprehensive study of transitional care services to prevent hospital readmissions and improve outcomes for at-risk patients. Letters of intent are due March 7. For more information, please click here.
New Governance Tools for Health Care Transformation
The American Hospital Association’s Center for Healthcare Governance has announced three new tools to help hospital and health system boards guide their organizations through the significant changes underway in health care payment and delivery. Based on the Center’s 2012 Blue Ribbon Panel report “Governance Practices for an Era of Health Care Transformation,” the tools include a free Readiness Assessment, which can be downloaded or completed online to help boards compare their current practices with the key practices for transformation identified in the report. The Center also offers members a new half-day interactive educational program in the board room to help trustees enhance their knowledge and skills for governing in transformative times, and an advanced Governance Assessment Process survey to help boards evaluate the extent to which they have implemented transformational governance practices. For more on the education program and GAP evaluation tool, please contact the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 540-6111.
CMS: Hospitals can use service vendors to assist with PE determinations
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has clarified that hospitals can continue to use service vendors to assist them in making Medicaid presumptive eligibility determinations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. CMS’ clarification says “hospitals can rely on third-party contractors to help staff their in-hospital PE operations, by staffing welcome desks, meeting with consumers, and helping them fill out PE applications as long as the hospital takes responsibility for the PE determinations that result.” In addition, CMS says that states “should not unduly limit a hospital’s ability to rely on third-party contractors as long as the hospital is not delegating its authority to determine presumptive eligibility to a third party and is meeting appropriate state-established performance standards.”
SHEA issues guidance on health care personnel attire
The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America recently issued voluntary guidelines for health care personnel attire in non-operating room settings. "Studies have demonstrated [that] the clothing of health care personnel may have a role in transmission of pathogens, [but] the role of clothing in passing infectious pathogens to patients has not yet been well established," said Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., a lead author of the study and member of SHEA's Guidelines Committee. "This document is an effort to analyze the available data, issue reasonable recommendations, define expert consensus, and describe the need for future studies to close the gaps in knowledge on infection prevention as it relates to HCP attire." The guidance was published online in the February issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. “Institutions considering these optional measures should introduce them with a well-organized communication and education effort directed at both HCP and patients,” the authors said.
HHS announces global commitment to reduce infectious disease threats
The Department of Health and Human Services has announced a Global Health Security Agenda to reduce infectious disease threats to the U.S. and other countries. In addition to the U.S., 26 countries have committed to the agenda’s goals to build surveillance, detection and response capacities; establish national biosecurity systems; reduce zoonotic disease transmission; increase routine immunization; and develop public health electronic reporting systems and emergency operations centers. In addition to U.S. agencies, international supporters include the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, and World Organization for Animal Health. The White House plans to host a meeting of nations on the agenda later this year, and to propose $45 million in fiscal year 2015 funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to partner with up to 10 countries on related efforts. For more information, please click here.
CMS extends 2013 EHR attestation deadline for EPs, certain hospitals
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today extended through March the deadline for physicians and other eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use of electronic health records for 2013 under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. The previous deadline was Feb. 28. In addition, eligible hospitals that experienced difficulty attesting by Nov. 30, 2013 may submit their attestation retroactively, but must contact CMS by March 15 at EH2013Extension@Provider-Resources.com to participate for the 2013 program year, CMS said. “This extension will allow more time for providers to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2013 program year, as well as avoid the 2015 payment adjustment,” the agency said. The extension does not impact the deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program or electronic submission for the Physician Quality Reporting System EHR Incentive Program Pilot, CMS said. Eligible Professionals must begin attesting to meaningful use by CY 2013 to benefit fully from Medicare EHR incentives.