CEO Looks For Cost Answers At Her Own Hospital
Elsewhere, a federal watchdog questions if parents of premature babies in a clinical trial were properly warned of some risks; a new medical coding system also pushes quality of care; more business develops around certifying doctors, and social workers are better integrated into primary care in Connecticut.
The New York Times:
What Are A Hospital’s Costs? Utah System Is Trying To Learn
Only in the world of medicine would Dr. Vivian Lee’s question have seemed radical. She wanted to know: What do the goods and services provided by the hospital system where she is chief executive actually cost? ... No one on Dr. Lee’s staff at the University of Utah Health Care could say what a minute in an M.R.I. machine or an hour in the operating room actually costs. They chuckled when she asked. But now, thanks to a project Dr. Lee set in motion after that initial query several years ago, the hospital is getting answers, information that is not only saving money but also improving care. (Kolata, 9/7)
Earlier KHN coverage: Retooling Hospitals, One Data Point At A Time (Appleby, 6/30/14)
The New York Times:
Premature Babies Study And Judge’s Ruling Raise Debate Over Consent
Two years ago, researchers in a clinical trial involving oxygen levels for the tiniest premature babies were accused by a federal watchdog agency of not properly disclosing the risks to families who participated. What followed was extensive public scrutiny of the trial, called Support, and soul-searching in the research community about how best to obtain informed consent from participants. Some families sued, arguing that their babies suffered serious injuries as a result of their treatment. But last month, a federal judge threw out the suit .... Last week, the editors of a prestigious medical journal wrote that the decision showed that the trial was solid to begin with. ... But some bioethicists disagreed. (Tavernise, 9/7)
The Associated Press:
New Medical Coding System Aims To Help Track Quality Of Care
If things are a bit tense in your doctor's office come Oct. 1, some behind-the-scenes red tape could be to blame. That's the day when the nation's physicians and hospitals must start using a massive new coding system to describe your visit on insurance claims so they get paid. Today, U.S. health providers use a system of roughly 14,000 codes to designate a diagnosis, for reimbursement purposes and in medical databases. To get more precise, the updated system has about 68,000 codes, essentially an expanded dictionary to capture more of the details from a patient's chart. (Neergaard, 9/7)
An Upstart In The Certification Of Doctors
Board certification of physicians has grown into a big business. What was once a one-time exam has slowly expanded to an ongoing and time-consuming process that includes recertification exams every decade and a near continuous stream of online learning modules. It’s also gradually become a multi-million dollar industry that includes fees, study materials and prep courses. Many doctors claim it’s an expensive waste of time, and now some of them are challenging the business of board certification. (Cuda Kroen, 9/7)
The Connecticut Mirror:
In Some Primary Care Offices: The Social Worker Will See You Now
The idea of better integrating primary care and behavioral health has been talked about for years by health care experts as a way to both improve health outcomes and save money. Actually bringing the two fields together has lagged, stymied by a host of barriers that include differences in the way the two fields operate, differing payment systems, a lack of funding for the initiatives, and concerns about sharing information between behavioral health and medical providers. But some experts say there appears to be momentum toward integration. (Levin Becker, 9/8)
Also, drug ads' costs to the system are examined, and a look at the actors that help train medical students --
The Chicago Tribune:
Do Drug Ads Help Patients Or Lead to Expensive Treatments?
They bombard your TV day after day: ads for drugs to treat arthritis, diabetes, depression and countless other maladies, hour after hour, around the clock. There's the elephant sitting on a man's chest, touting Spiriva for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. If you think you're seeing more of them every year, you're right. Last year, drugmakers spent $4.5 billion on such advertising, a 30 percent jump from 2012, according to Kantar Media, a market research firm that specializes in media consumption. (Russell, 9/4)
The Washington Post:
Your Gynecologist Had To Start Somewhere. You Can Thank These Actors Later.
For her next lesson, the teacher, a petite, dark-haired woman named Anna C. Sosa, shrugs off her red robe, kicks her striped socks into the footrests and steels herself for yet another potentially disastrous pelvic exam. ... Sosa is a gynecological teaching associate, and she holds one of modern medicine’s most awkward jobs, using her body to guide med students through some of its most delicate, dreaded exams. Every week, she lies back for dozens of the next medical generation’s first pelvic and breast screenings, steering gloved fingers through the mysteries of her own anatomy and relaying the in-depth feedback they’ll need out in the wild. (Harwell, 9/3)