Nursing homes create special hospice units | Smith: PT may help some hospice patients improve function | Studies show how spouse's death affects cognitive health
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July 25, 2014
Hospice and Palliative Medicine SmartBrief
News for physicians caring for the seriously ill

Top Story
Nursing homes create special hospice units
Nursing homes are creating special hospice units, collaborating with local hospices to provide physicians, nurses and social workers to care for patients. Hospices find it is a way to work more closely with nursing homes and provide expertise in palliative care that a traditional nursing home staff may lack. The Buffalo News (N.Y.) (7/23)
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Palliative & Hospice Care Update
Smith: PT may help some hospice patients improve function
Some hospice patients can benefit from physical therapy to improve their functional abilities, Dr. Alex Smith writes in GeriPal. He says some hospice units, however, may work with patients to maintain their functional status but not to improve it. GeriPal blog (7/22)
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Studies show how spouse's death affects cognitive health
The death of a spouse was linked to a slowing of dementia onset for patients with mild cognitive impairment, Mayo Clinic researchers reported at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Copenhagen. A second study found the death of a spouse was not linked to earlier dementia in people who were not cognitively impaired. Medscape (free registration) (7/23)
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Patient & Family Perspective
What makes a good physician, according to patients
According to patients, the ability to listen attentively is a key attribute of high-quality physicians, followed by diagnostic accuracy. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey respondents said markers of poor-quality physicians include not listening to patients and not spending enough time with patients. Physician experience, initial impressions after meeting and appointment scheduling all contribute to whether patients will select a given physician, according to the findings. (7/21)
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Medical Research
Alzheimer's drug shows limited efficacy, study says
Study data showed the drug crenezumab did not meet its primary endpoint in reducing cognitive decline in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease patients when compared with a placebo, but Cleveland Clinic researchers said it may be effective for a subset of patients with the mildest symptoms. The data mirror earlier research on a similar drug, solanezumab, which now is being tested in preclinical Alzheimer's patients. MedPage Today (free registration) (7/21)
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Health Policy & Practice
Patients, advocates lobby for palliative care legislation
Dozens of patients, caregivers and advocates lobbied lawmakers in Congress this week to pass bills that would help increase the number of palliative care professionals, create best practices and bolster research in the field. The Hill (7/23)
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CMS experiments with observation care alternatives
Dozens of hospitals are participating in a CMS pilot program that exempts some patients from a requirement limiting nursing home coverage only to seniors admitted to a hospital for three days or longer. The pilot project aims to determine whether dropping the requirement can improve quality of care without raising costs. If successful, the program will be expanded to more hospitals. Kaiser Health News (7/22)
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Bill would expand Medicare coverage of telehealth services
A bill will be introduced next week by Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., to enhance telemedicine use nationwide. The Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014 would increase the number of services eligible for Medicare reimbursement, such as in-home technology-based professional consultations, remote patient monitoring and remote patient management services for illnesses including diabetes and congestive heart failure. The bill also proposes phasing out size of urban area as a determining factor as to whether telemedicine services can be eligible for reimbursement. (7/24), FierceHealthIT (7/23), (7/23)
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Sunshine Act disclosure website marred by glitches, reports say
Early reports show some glitches with the Open Payments website, the federal database designed to show doctor payments from drugmakers and medtech firms under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. Some doctors are taking an hour or more to log in and verify their identities. "I am still uncertain, despite arriving at the exit screen, whether error means no pharma reports or HHS [has] a bug to repair," said Dr. Bradley Flansbaum, a hospitalist at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital. ProPublica (7/21)
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Trends & Technology
New monitoring system uses cloud-based tech, wireless sensors
Pontimax Technologies' yrConnected system uses cloud technology and wireless home sensors to identify when people are immobile so families can check on their loved ones. It also can send an alert when someone wanders away from home and lets family members use a Google Docs page to electronically keep track of their relatives. News Times (Danbury, Conn.) (7/21)
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Submit a scientific proposal for the 2015 AAHPM & HPNA Annual Assembly
Are you interested in presenting at the 2015 Annual Assembly in Philadelphia? AAHPM and HPNA's call for scientific papers and posters is open now until Aug. 1. Submit today.
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AAHPM Intensive Board Review course
Designed to help you prepare for the board examination in hospice and palliative medicine and to advance the clinical competence of all practitioners in the field, including physician assistants and nurse practitioners. This course features face-paced didactic sessions with panel discussions. Topics include: pain assessment and management, pediatric pain management and care, nonpain symptoms, urgent medical conditions, and much more. Register now.
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Featured Press Releases
Who's Hiring?
Position TitleCompany NameLocation
Ideal Palliative Care Physician Opportunity - Beautiful Greenville, SCGreenville Health SystemGreenville, SC
Hospice and Palliative Physician, Associate Medical DirectorHospice of YumaYuma, AZ
Click here to view more job listings.
If you play to win, as I do, the game never ends."
-- Stan Mikita,
Slovak-born Canadian hockey player
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