March 31, 2010
Should you start a Facebook page for your business?
There is no simple answer. While a Facebook page offers a good place for a business to post photos and video about the company, there are some drawbacks.
In a recent post on MyRagan, a PR website, one executive reports that she started a Facebook page for her company, then got terminated in a big lay-off. The company wanted to switch to having another person be the site administrator, but Facebook wouldn’t allow it. Result: the original company Facebook site, which had 1,200 friends, had to be terminated and an entirely new site started from scratch.
The full story is at www.myragan.com
March 30, 2010
If physicians washed their hands and closely followed a patient-safety checklist, could hospitals pay them more?
In the past, such bonus-type payments would have been problematic under previous CMS payment rules, which prohibited “gainsharing” payments.
An article in the current issue of H&HN magazine reports that the OIG has softened its position on hospital-physician gainsharing payments. Some 14 such arrangements have recently been approved. Most of these were allowed because they shared savings achieved in connection with pay-for-performance or patient safety standards.
For the full article see www.hhnmag.com
March 24, 2010
IBM sees a huge need for healthcare analytics – the data and the people who develop it. IBM has spent $10 billion on healthcare analytics in the past year and has a major hiring push for technicians and executives.
As reported in the latest issue of Information Week, IBM sees hospitals moving toward sharing information across systems and the impact should reduce process workflows.
Dan Pelino, general manager for IBM’s Global Healthcare Business, said “For instance, if you were referred from one system to another they can find the information about you and be able to ensure that they have that information as opposed to re-running tests, x-rays, or asking you to fill out the obligatory clipboard of pop quiz questions again.”
See the full story, www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/
March 23, 2010
No sooner had President Obama signed the healthcare reform law than the AHA was calling for changes.
Speaking at the American College of Healthcare Executives, Richard Pollack, EVP for Advocacy and Public Policy for the AHA, said the new law was good in many respects, but flawed because it contained no tort reform and millions will still remain uninsured.
Hospitals, of course, have to provide basic emergency care to seriously ill people whether they are insured or not.
Last night on CNN, Wolf Blitzer pointed out that pharma and hospital stocks went up after the bill passed.
Full coverage of the ACHE conference is available at the Modern Healthcare web site.
March 22, 2010
Lost in the avalanche of coverage about the healthcare reform vote: 235 members of Congress have signed a letter asking CMS to change the proposed rules on meaningful use.
The lawmakers want the definition of “eligible provider” changed to include “hospital-based” physicians.
The letter also asks for the Medicare bonus payout timetable to stretched out to 2017.
To read the full story, see CMIO magazine, www.cmio.net
March 18, 2010
Before you are admitted to a hospital or seek treatment at an ER, do you check to see what the hospital’s rate of medical errors is?
Probably not. Here in California, the Department of Public Health is supposed to track and make public the rate of certain medical errors at hospitals.
A new report in today’s SF Chronicle says the state has left the public “in the dark” about these statistics. The hospitals have not done a good job in reporting the statistics and the state has not made what data it has accessible to the public.
I’d like to point out that it is hard for many hospitals – especially those without electronic medical records – to keep track of these statistics. In many cases, it means having a technician review stacks of paper charts looking for specific numbers or test results.
The top priority for most hospitals is getting paid. So at many institutions the billing system (which is not necessarily a good tool for tracking medical errors) has the most advanced technology.
The SF Chronicle article is available at
March 17, 2010
If you could save $82, would you wait one day to see a doctor?
According to a recent article, “Physician Office vs Retail Clinic: Patient Preferences in Care Seeking for Minor Illnesses,” published in the current Annals of Family Medicine, most people would opt to wait and save the money.
The survey also found that most respondents would be willing to see a nurse-practitioner at a retail clinic rather than a physician, if they could save at least $31.42.
I am reminded calling plumbers. My regular guy is very thorough and reasonable in price, but he is not always available on short notice. If I’m willing to live with a clogged sink or leaky pipe, I will call him. If water is spreading on the kitchen floor, however, I would call one of the big plumbing companies who will send a truck over within 60 minutes.
The full article is found in the Annals of Family Medicine,
March 16, 2010
The chief of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic has criticized the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology for being too cozy with pharmas and food companies.
Dr. Stephen Nissen said “Our societies have been bought and it is time to draw the line.”
The same criticism could be applied to oncologists, radiologists and orthopedists, among others.
Awareness of conflict of interest (real and potential) is greater than ever. My physician is in the UCLA Medical Group and they recently banned all drug company handouts. Now they buy their own pens and sticky notes.
For the full AP story see
March 12, 2010
Certified nurse anesthetists, or CRNAs, have higher average salaries than primary care physicians, according to a story in CNNMoney.
A new survey found the CRNAs have an average base salary of $189,000 compared with $173,000 for primary care physicians.
CRNAs are advanced practice nurses who administer anesthesia to patients. This is the fourth year in a row they earned more than PCPs.
For the full story see http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/11/news/economy/health_care_doctor_incomes/index.htm
March 11, 2010
If the family of a patient takes photos of him in the ER, is it a HIPAA violation?
The short answer is no, it is not a HIPAA violation. However, if a hospital staff member takes a photo of an ER patient and that photo is “leaked” or placed on the Web, that is a violation.
The HIPAA laws make a distinction between the responsibilities of hospital employees and patients.
This topic, which is important to hospital PR people, is explored in an article on Healthleaders.