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Helpful information on the world of beauty and aesthetics supplies.
Surgical quality program cuts complications, patient deaths
Nearly 120 hospitals participating in a surgical quality program cut their complication rates by an average of 11% and slashed mortality rates by 18%, according to a study in the September Annals of Surgery. Two-thirds of the hospitals that took part in the American College of Surgeons' National Surgical Quality Improvement Program from 2006 to 2007 saw reductions in their mortality rates, and 82% lowered their number of surgical complications, the study found. If each hospital in the U.S. could achieve similar results, millions of complications could be avoided each year, researchers estimated. Postoperative complications are not only deadly, accounting for one in five preventable deaths according to previous research, but also very costly. Caring for one surgical site infection can cost nearly $30,000, for example. The college's initiative is modeled after a successful program developed in the 1990s in the Veterans Health Administration that cut surgical mortality and morbid [Read more]
Insurers say system reform won't put them out of business
Insurance executives during a September meeting assured investors that, no matter what happens in health system reform, their companies would continue to exist. A few days later, before members of Congress, a panel of executives for some of the same companies laid out reasons why the companies should continue to exist. The timing was coincidental. But as the debate over health system reform began to narrow in focus, health plans appeared confident that their business model would stay essentially the same, and could even get a boost from reform. With the potential for a public plan that would compete with private plans in flux, and a requirement for people to have health insurance gaining traction, executives told investors that reform could represent a large pool of new customers, rather than a threat to profits. "We think the ability to reform the insurance markets has the potential to bring a substantial number of new customers to the market," Aetna Chief Executive Office [Read more]
Patients choosing less-expensive options in plastic surgery
The economic downturn means that patients are less apt to have major plastic surgery but more likely to take advantage of increasingly available, minimally invasive cosmetic procedures. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons surmises that because of rising unemployment, fewer people are willing or able to pay for major procedures. But people are willing to pay for BOTOX® injections or other procedures they think would make them look more attractive to employers. "If a patient is interested in getting a more youthful appearance, there are so many more options," said Malcolm Z. Roth, MD, director of plastic surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and vice president of health policy and advocacy for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "They don't have to worry about taking time off of work or a job hunt. If they're in the market for a job or hoping to maintain [a] job, having a more youthful appearance and feeling better about [their] appearance is an advant [Read more]
Sen. Kennedy hailed as health care champion
The Aug. 25 death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D, Mass.) from brain cancer prompted an outpouring of sympathy from health care organizations, which noted how he devoted much of his storied career to fighting tirelessly for their causes. "During his many years in public service, Sen. Kennedy was a champion for America's patients -- working until the end to make improvements on their behalf," American Medical Association President J. James Rohack, MD, said in a statement. "For example, Sen. Kennedy was a leading voice in efforts to expand access to health care for children and to secure fair health coverage for the mentally ill." In March, the AMA awarded the nine-term senator the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service. Dr. Rohack noted that Kennedy, after undergoing brain surgery last year, made an unexpected return to the Senate chamber on July 9, 2008, to cast the deciding vote that led to the passage of legislation preventing a Medicare physician pay cut. The A [Read more]
Half of large practices net bonuses from Medicare P4P demo
The Obama White House has indicated it will continue the move toward more pay-for-performance in Medicare, despite mixed results for physicians in the P4P demonstrations it inherited from the previous administration. On Aug. 17, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services disclosed findings from three ongoing programs -- including first-year results from a small-practice demonstration -- and announced the start of three new value-based purchasing demonstrations. Third-year results were revealed for the Physician Group Practice Demonstration, which is in its fifth year of operation and is slated to end March 31, 2010. Although CMS has extended the demonstration twice beyond its initial three-year limit, the agency said it does not anticipate extending the program again. All 10 of the large physician groups participating in the program achieved benchmark performances on at least 28 of 32 quality-of-care measures, which cover diabetes, congestive heart failure, coronary artery d [Read more]
Warnings issued about bogus board certifications
The American Geriatrics Society is warning that an entity calling itself the American College of Geriatrics is selling a fraudulent board certification through the mail. The geriatric certification being offered is not recognized by the AGS or the American Board of Medical Specialties and its member specialty boards, the AGS said in a notice posted on its Web site (www.americangeriatrics.org/news/american_board_of_geriatric_medicine.shtml). The ABMS has approved a geriatric medicine certification offered jointly by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Family Medicine, as well as certification in geriatric psychiatry offered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal began an investigation in his state last April after receiving a complaint from the internal medicine board about the sale of bogus certifications. Blumenthal warned physicians and others that Keith Alan Lasko, who lived in Las [Read more]
Federal government eyes EHR certification change
The Health IT Policy Committee on Aug. 14 approved recommendations to the federal government on establishing a new process for certifying electronic health records. To be eligible for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments under the federal stimulus bill, physicians and hospitals must be able to demonstrate "meaningful use" of certified EHR technology. Federal certification means that a system is able to achieve the minimum government requirements for security, privacy and interoperability, and that the system is able to qualify the user for bonuses under meaningful use standards. Currently, the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology is the only certifying body recognized by the federal government. But a policy committee work group noted that "considerable confusion" exists about the certification process used by CCHIT, so the panel recommends expanding the number of approved certifying bodies. CCHIT also has been criticized because it both sets criteria and [Read more]
Companies say health system reform is driving layoffs
Kaiser Permanente and Health Care Service Corp. say declining membership and potential changes that will come with health system reform have pushed them to cut jobs. Kaiser, which operates medical centers in several states, also runs the country's largest nonprofit health plan by membership, with 8.6 million members. HCSC is the parent company of BlueCross BlueShield-affiliated plans in Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois and New Mexico. Both announced layoffs in August. Kaiser gave notice to 1,850 employees in California, about 1.3% of its total work force, that their positions were being eliminated. Positions eliminated included jobs at most, but not all, medical centers in California, according to a company statement. The statement did not specify whether the eliminated positions were mostly clinical or included jobs working for the health plan. The statement said the company was working to place many of those employees in other jobs at Kaiser. HCSC plans to cut 650 positions in I [Read more]
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