"What the healthcare community hates about the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) is that our patients have very few choices and are not able to have the insurance they expect," says Chad Mathis, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Pelham, Alabama.
"The great thing about being part of Partnership for Patients is you have access to a lot of resources," says Vicki Britt, director of quality management at Pickens County Medical Center.
ARCpoint Health has unveiled a new software tool to enable primary care physicians to garner greater reimbursements and better manage labs.
For three years, Chilton County has been without a hospital, which at times, has been challenging for the community. For instance, last year, when a school bus crashed in Clanton, the children had to be driven 30 miles away to Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster. Fortunately, none of the injuries were life-threatening.
During last year's Alabama legislative session, Senator Trip Pittman introduced a proposal to rein in the costs of malpractice suits. Senate Bill 413 would have replaced the trial-based system with a no-blame, administrative one.
"This will fill an unmet need in mental health," says Tom Dooley, PhD, a Birmingham researcher with 13 patents for pharmaceutical and biotech developments to his name.
"We don't consider those who come here for rehabilitation as residents or patients, they're guests and we call them guests," says Landie Acker-Langley, admissions coordinator at the Aspire Physical Recovery Center at Cahaba River, a new short-term rehabilitation facility in Vestavia Hills.
Insurers have jumped ship on the health insurance marketplace in Alabama. Started in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the exchange has offered options by insurance carriers to all individuals and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees.
The Medical Association of the State of Alabama's (MASA) health insurance for members will rise 15 percent next year. "We didn't like 15 percent," says Mark Jackson, executive director. "But don't get me wrong, we felt fortunate that we were able to keep it at 15 percent."
Starting in 2019, Medicare's push toward value-based reimbursements will be within reach of the finish line. "It can sound terrifying," says Joni Wyatt, MHA, MHIA, CPHIMS, FHIMSS with Kassouf & Co. "But most practices have already done the work."
On September 8th, Medicare announced two more ways to participate in the upcoming shift to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). "There are four different payment programs now, since the release of the pick-you-pace model," says Carrie Gulledge, RHIA, director of EHR with MediSys. "They allow providers to test the waters with their toe or jump all in."
On the drawings for their new medical offices, it said "lab".
"In my mind, if you have experience in building medical labs, you know you need space to sit down and draw blood," says Danielle Brown, practice administrator for Advanced Surgeons.
"The challenge of this is not only building the center, but attracting users across the national community and for them to become aware of what we have to offer," says Marcas Bamman, PhD, director of the new REACT Center and MR3 Network Coordinating Center at UAB.
"There is always a eureka moment," says Hazim Mohammed, a software consultant with eClinicalWorks. He performs onsite trainings at healthcare facilities that use the eClinicalWorks electronic medical record (EMR) software.
"Patient Portals are continuing to evolve, like all medical software," says Jimmy Chapman, president of MedConnect, which makes the EHR distributed by MediSYS in Alabama. "Portals will change communication between physicians and patients."
Synergy Labs has just released new diagnostic software that helps physicians efficiently assess a patient's status in relation to psychological disorders, substance abuse risk, and pain levels. This digital tool, called Clarity, pools results from patient self-assessment tests and lab tests into a single screen to allow physicians an overall view for better evaluating diagnostic and treatment avenues.
"It's so easy to get it," says Curtis Woods with Integrated Solutions in Birmingham about ransomware. One specialist practice in Birmingham has been hit three times. Another local practice lost access to 400,000 files for more than a day from an attack.
"Wearable medical devices are not coming, they're here," says Russ Dorsey with Kassouf & Co.
"The big thing that drew me to this was the decrease in radiation," says Charles H. Clark III, MD, a neurosurgeon with Neurosurgical Associates in Birmingham, about the new robotic technology for surgical lumbar spinal fusions. "In the past, we used four to five minutes of fluoroscopy during the procedure. Now we're down to less than a minute."
“It’s getting old,” says Donald J. Jones, FACHE, administrator for Fayette Medical Center, about the looming Medicaid shortfall recently decided by the Alabama legislature. Every year the cycle repeats, he says, and every year, the state finds a way. “But it feels different this year. I’m concerned.”
“Instead of one option, you get 10 options here,” says Mustafa Ahmed, MD, medical director of the new Structural Heart and Valve Center at Princeton Baptist Medical Center.
“It’s wonderful to see the transformation in the patients’ faces when the dogs arrive,” says Pam Autrey, PhD, RN, and chief nursing officer at Medical West hospital, an affiliate of UAB. The dramatic change occurs in one of the most difficult populations to manage at a hospital, geriatric psych patients.
A 55-year-old man with peripheral neuropathy taking three diabetes medications came to Farah Sultan, MD, a primary care physician in Birmingham, fed up and in pain. Within six weeks, his blood sugar had stabilized enough that he quit all his diabetes prescriptions along with his medications for blood pressure, pain, depression, and cholesterol.
Adult patients needed for UAB clinical trial
UAB researchers have found a way to reverse type 1 diabetes in animal models. Now they need adults aged 19 to 45 years diagnosed with type 1 diabetes to participate in the clinical trial.
On the Health and Human Services website, a section posts every healthcare organization since 2009 whose patient data covering 500 or more individuals has been breached. Each page of this “Wall of Shame” lists 100 organizations. As of June 15, the list runs 1,249 pages long.
Institute of Medicine Announces New Name for CFS
In California, patients wait up to five years for initial appointments at a Stanford clinic that caters to chronic fatigue syndrome. “That’s how little supply there is for the demand,” says Jarred Younger, PhD, head of the new Neuroinflammation, Pain and Fatigue Lab at UAB. “No specialty has taken it on.”
“At this time, $23 per square foot feels like you’re getting a deal in medical office space.
“There’s already a shortage, and it’s going to get worse,” says Jim Stroud, a CPA with the Warren Averett healthcare consulting group. According to local job listings, medical practices and hospitals are finding it hard to fill practice administrator openings.
“You have to wear so many hats,” says Jimmy Norman, practice administrator at University Orthopeadic Clinic (UOC) in Tuscaloosa.
A search for electronic cigarette stores in Birmingham quickly generates 30 listings on the Yellow Pages site.
Flu strains migrate across the world like flocks of birds. But they garner far more attention.
With just two Medicare exam codes, a physician raised her revenue by $45,320. “So many services that patients are eligible for, like preventative care visits, don’t get utilized by providers, and many are already performing the services,” says Julie Thompson, billing supervisor at MediSYS.
Like Walmart expanding into the grocery business, medical practices have begun branching into services that will up their revenue and deem them one-stop medical shops.
Five to ten percent of mild asthmatics will have a reaction to the most common and age-old remedy for inflammation—aspirin. In severe asthma patients, that amount more than doubles, reaching up to 25 percent.
“A thing that is a necessity here is considered a luxury for much of the world,” says Ashish Shah, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at UAB.
“I’ve been administering controlled substances since 1985,” says Dee Dee Gardner, DNP, CRNP, a nurse practitioner at Cullman Regional Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. “Now I can prescribe them.”
To meet Stage 2 of Meaningful Use of their electronic health records (EHR)—and earn another portion of the reimbursements—practices must begin to engage patients through online options.
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