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March 26, 2013
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Transforming Health Care from the Inside Out

  First Focus 
  • HOSPITAL score is fairly accurate readmission tool, study says
    The HOSPITAL score is a fairly accurate tool that uses patient factors such as hospital admission type, length of stay, and hemoglobin and sodium levels at discharge to identify people at high risk for avoidable readmission, according to Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers who published their report in JAMA Internal Medicine. A separate report in the journal found that matching the intensity of intervention to a patient's risk of readmission was one of five best practices for cost-effective interventions. MedPage Today (free registration) (3/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Insurers spent less than 1% of premiums on QI, report says
    Health plans spent $2.3 billion, or less than 1% of premiums, on quality improvement initiatives in 2011, with 51% going toward improving health outcomes and 9% spent on preventing readmissions, a Commonwealth Fund study found. The Affordable Care Act requires plans to spend money on quality improvements. Co-author Michael McCue of Virginia Commonwealth University said the majority of premiums are spent on care expenses, which help promote quality. HealthLeaders Media (3/22) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Broader outpatient quality framework advocated
    An opinion piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested a broader framework to improve measures for outpatient quality. The suggested framework advocates a greater focus on safety and high-level quality metrics such as diagnostic accuracy and appropriate use, in addition to the typical focus on preventive and chronic disease care. (3/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Practice Management 
  • Shorter shifts for medical interns may have unintended effects
    Limiting shifts for medical interns to 16 hours did not improve the quality of their sleep or well-being, and the change was associated with increased reports of errors, according to research published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine that raised concerns about unintended side effects of the limits. Shorter on-duty shifts led to fewer daytime work hours and reduced educational opportunities, researchers said. Reuters (3/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  E-Health Watch 
  • VA partners with U.K. agency to boost health IT
    The Department of Veterans Affairs' health care wing is working with the U.K.'s National Health Service in a collaboration that involves sharing staff, leadership and ideas about health IT adoption. The program is expected to help the organizations address five core challenges: the use of HIT to boost patient outcomes; chronic care management through remote patient monitoring; telehealth; the implementation of mobile health; and effective use of secure messaging for patient-doctor communication. Modern Healthcare (subscription required) (3/22) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Products & Innovation 
  • Interoperability shows promise in improving patient care
    Hospitals could enhance patient safety and care as well as save more than $30 billion a year through medical device interoperability programs, according to a study by the West Health Institute. "We see an enormous opportunity to use information technology and device innovation to bring about the much needed transformation in health care delivery," said Dr. Joseph M. Smith, chief medical and science officer of WHI. In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Smith explained what policies and regulations would be needed to develop HIE systems that are integrated and interoperable. Healthcare Informatics online (3/21) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • J&J unit gets FDA OK for cordless surgical tissue sealer
    The FDA has cleared Ethicon Endo-Surgery, a Johnson & Johnson unit, to market its Enseal G2 system designed to close tissue during surgical procedures. The device comes with a cordless design to make surgical access easier and avoid entanglement with other tools in the operating room. (3/21) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Policy & Reform Spotlight 
  • IOM report: Medicare geographic payment system has flaws
    An Institute of Medicine report listed reasons why it is not a good idea to adjust Medicare payments to physicians, other health care professionals and hospitals based on geographic region. The report, requested by lawmakers from geographic areas where Medicare spending is lower, said such a policy would "likely mischaracterize the actual value of services" and lead to an unfair payment system for physicians and hospitals that made good medical decisions but were located in areas of heavy spending. Medscape (free registration)/Kaiser Health News (3/22) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • CMS to conduct survey on patient care
    CMS announced plans to develop a survey that will contribute quality and patient satisfaction data to its Physician Compare website. "This survey will provide patient experience of care data that is an essential component of assessing the quality of services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries," a CMS notice said. Health Data Management (3/21) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  ACC News 
  • Sequester cuts slated for April 1
    CMS announced that the effects of the sequester will begin to impact physician and hospital payments for Medicare services on April 1. As a result of the requirements, the Medicare portion of the payments will be reduced by 2%. The patient portion should not be reduced as a result of this requirement; therefore, copays will not be impacted. As a matter of rule, Medicare pays 80% of an allowed charge and the patient portion is 20%, although that portion is often covered by Medigap or secondary insurance. CMS also confirmed that contractors will not be issuing new fee schedules. The American College of Cardiology is requesting further clarification on how this policy will effect payments in the long term and will continue to communicate with CMS. For the latest information and updates, visit LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • A Lesson in Collaboration: Congenital Heart Advocacy Day
    More than 100 patients, family members and health care stakeholders joined forces last week during the 7th Annual Congenital Heart Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. Advocates spoke with Congress about the need for increased research and programmatic funding in order to better understand congenital heart disease. In a recent ACC in Touch Blog post, Gerard R. Martin, MD, FACC, immediate past chair of the ACC's Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology Council, discussed the goals of this year's lobby day and the important role patients and their families played in making the advocacy day a success. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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It is often laziness and timidity that keep us within our duty while virtue gets all the credit."
--François de la Rochefoucauld,
French writer

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This news roundup is provided as a timely update to ACC members and partners interested in quality health care topics in the news media. Links to articles are provided for the convenience of the health care professionals who may find them of use in discussions with patients or colleagues. Opinions expressed in ACC Quality First SmartBrief are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the American College of Cardiology. On occasion, media articles may include or imply incorrect information about the ACC and its policies, positions, or relationships. For clarification on ACC positions and policies, we refer you to
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