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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

We need to put our heads together — but how many?
With regionalization of publically provided mental health services being mandated by the Iowa Legislature, officials from Louisa, Henry, and Washington counties met in Louisa County on Tuesday to discuss what a three-county region might look like. (Muscatine Journal)

Iowans say Romney showed ‘compassion and energy’ in speech
Mitt Romney drove home the message that “hope and change” has come and gone, and that Americans deserve better than what they’ve gotten from the Obama administration, said Iowans who witnessed his speech accepting the GOP presidential nomination. (Des Moines Register)

Kid captains program recognizes patients at children’s hospitals
When the Hawkeyes kick off the season Saturday, one little fan will be paying special attention. Watching from home in his special No. 1 Hawkeye football jersey will be 4-year-old Shawn-Brooklyn Young, the honorary kid captain for the game. (Des Moines Register)

Tapping engineers, families for hospital safety
Head of the hospital bed raised? Check. Patient’s teeth brushed? Check.  Those simple but often overlooked steps can help protect some of the most critically ill patients — those on ventilators — from developing deadly pneumonia. And if they knew about them, family members could ensure the steps weren’t forgotten. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Medicare arguments key for both parties
Elections are usually about change. But one of Mitt Romney’s most important messages at the Republican convention this week might be this: “Nothing changes for current seniors or those nearing retirement.” (Boston Globe)

Study: US tops France, Germany, UK in ‘potentially preventable’ deaths
Americans younger than 65 are more likely to die from a lack of timely healthcare than their peers in France, Germany or the United Kingdom, according to a new study. (The Hill)

Online Map By Census Bureau Shows Rates Of Health Insurance By County
The U.S. Census Bureau has a new interactive online program that shows health insurance coverage as of 2010 for the nation’s 3,140 counties (Hartford Courant)

MU Stage 2 Final Rule Elicits Few Cheers
The final rule forMeaningful Use Stage 2 released last week by the Department of Health and Human Services “looks a lot better than some people feared,” says Jeffrey Smith, assistant director of advocacy for College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), which represents 1,400 healthcare CIOs at hospitals and clinics.  (HealthLeaders Media)

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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

Boone hospital continues electronic medical records project
The Boone County Hospital Board found out that the proposed transition to electronic medical records for the hospital is expected to take place in 14 weeks.  Hospital Chief Financial Officer Dave Mellett and Assistant Administrator Howard Eikenberry updated the Trustees Thursday.  About $3.6 million has been expended so far, with nearly $3.3 million going toward hardware and software.  Staff members, working on developing the customized pages that the Boone County Hospital staff will use, were commended for their efforts by consultants helping with the installation. (KWBG)

St. Luke’s new mobile site for smart phones could help save a life
A patient’s experience is top priority for hospitals as they compete for your business. To enhance your experience, one Sioux City hospital is now offering something that could save your life. It’s not a treatment you have to ask for and you probably carry around the only thing you need to use it: a smart phone. St. Luke’s new mobile website gives you the information you need when you need it. It has a lot of useful information right at your fingertips. (KTIV)

CEO talks about construction, improvements at Knoxville hospital
Knoxville Hospital and Clinics CEO Kevin Kincaid talks about some of the construction going on at the hospital and the future facilities plans. (KNIA)

National News

New Orleans hospitals better prepared for Isaac
Hospitals in New Orleans started preparations several days ahead of Isaac’s arrival. In fact, some of the preparations have technically been going on for months. Ochsner Health System, a non-profit health care provider located in and around New Orleans, is keeping all of its hospitals and emergency rooms open during and after the storm to help treat potential patients. According to Thomas, one of the biggest downfalls of hospitals and medical centers during Hurricane Katrina was their inability to sustain themselves after loss of power. (Fox News)

Health system patients see increased services, less friendly atmosphere
When the local, independent hospital becomes part of a larger health system, whether Sanford Health, Essentia Health, Mayo Clinic or another, patients often gain services and even doctors. But the hospitals also can become more impersonal, bureaucratic and frustrating. That’s what we heard from members of our Public Insight Network in communities where local medical centers had recently sold to or become managed by systems. (Minnesota Public Radio)

How one hospital works to win over patients
The Stony Brook (N.Y.) University Medical Center’s staff role-plays scenarios about what can go wrong with patients at the 597-staffed-bed hospital and how to make it right. In these make-believe scenarios, “patients” may fuss. Demand. Need above-and-beyond assistance. They are … well … being impatient patients, and the idea is for hospital staff, especially nurses, to keep their cool, while showing that they are concerned. Do the right thing. Care. The medical center on Long Island’s North Shore finds that playacting improves its staff’s performance in real life, and it uses this approach to learn more about keeping patients satisfied during their hospital experience. (HealthLeaders Media)

Doctor shortage may swell to 130,000 with cap
With a shortage of doctors in the U.S. already and millions of new patients set to gain coverage under President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, American medical schools are struggling to close the gap. One major reason: The residency programs to train new doctors are largely paid for by the federal government, and the number of students accepted into such programs has been capped at the same level for 15 years. Medical schools are holding back on further expansion because the number of applicants for residencies already exceeds the available positions, according to the National Resident Matching Program, a 60-year-old Washington-based nonprofit that oversees the program. (Bloomberg)

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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

Hospitals urge state to expand Medicaid
Iowa hospital executives want the state to accept hundreds of millions of dollars in extra federal Medicaid money under the national health reform program. Gov. Terry Branstad plans to decline the money, which would expand Medicaid to cover about 150,000 poor Iowa adults. Branstad is skeptical that the federal government can afford to keep its promise to pay at least 90 percent of the cost. The Iowa Hospital Association board recently voted unanimously to support expansion of Medicaid, which it termed a “historic opportunity to significantly address the plight of uninsured Iowans.” Association members plan to aggressively lobby legislators on the subject. (Des Moines Register)

University of Iowa Hospitals’ lung machine attracts patients from afar
The machine basically does the job of the lungs — draining blood through a closed circuit, removing carbon dioxide and then putting oxygen into the bloodstream — when a patient’s lungs are too sick to do the job. It’s technology that for decades has been used to treat babies and children, but it’s becoming more popular for hospitals to use the treatment on adults as well, said Dr. William Lynch, a cardiothoracic surgeon who directs the UI hospital’s ECMO program. The UI program started in 1996 for babies and children, and Lynch was recruited in 2005 to launch the adult ECMO program, to support the hospital’s lung transplant program. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

IDPH reports whooping cough outbreak statewide
So far this year, there have been 1,009 confirmed cases of whooping cough in Iowa — six of which are in Plymouth County. Last year 232 cases were confirmed but health officials don’t consider the increase in numbers a threat, noting that the disease occurs in cycles. “They see it increase every three to five years so this isn’t totally unexpected,” said Deb Steffen, Floyd Valley Hospital community health nurse manager. (Le Mars Daily Sentinel)

Kid captains program recognizes patients at children’s hospitals
When the Hawkeyes kick off the season Saturday, one little fan will be paying special attention. Watching from home in his special No. 1 Hawkeye football jersey will be 4-year-old Shawn-Brooklyn Young, the honorary kid captain for the game. Having gone through dialysis and a kidney transplant, he was selected as one of 13 captains from the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. The kid captain program recognizes the resiliency and inspiration of current and former patients. Blank Children’s Hospital selects kid captains for Iowa State University football as well. (Des Moines Register)

Oskaloosa hospital goes live on Facebook
There are currently more than 400 million people using Facebook across the globe and Mahaska Health Partnership officials said they plan to use their new social media presence to provide a sense of community to patients and visitors, encourage and facilitate significant conversation and share valuable health information that is easy to access. “We want our social media presence to be more than just repeated information you can find on our website,” Cathy Stahl, MHP marketing and development director said. “People who ‘like’ us on Facebook will enjoy specialized content and a voice in our conversations.” (Mahaska Health Partnership)

National News

Hospitals, universities brace for nursing shortage
The nursing shortage isn’t only getting worse in Massachusetts. Thanks to retiring baby boomers, hospitals in West Virginia are struggling to fill RN spots. Comparatively low pay also is creating a lack of nursing faculty for universities and colleges, the article noted. Few nurses with advanced degrees want to replace retired faculty members because they can earn much higher salaries with hospital employment. “There’s definitely going to be a shortage of nursing faculty,” West Virginia Center for Nursing Executive Director Duane Napier said. (Fierce Healthcare)

Hospital safety effort to link ICU machines
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation on Tuesday announced it has awarded $8.9 million to the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, which Peter Pronovost heads. Pronovost aims to develop ways that ICUs can avoid the most common harms that befall patients, things like pneumonia, delirium and medication errors. A big part of the project, he says, will be to develop computer software that will allow the key pieces of technology in the intensive care unit—infusion pumps, ventilators, blood pressure and pulse monitors—to “talk to each other” and to the electronic health record containing details of the patient and the treatments. (Kaiser Health News)

Patients negotiate for care with cash
Palo Alto resident Ed Lee routinely negotiates for his own health care services, everything from the cost of a scan to an urgent-care visit—often securing discounts of 30 to 50 percent off the original charges. Lee, 61, a self-employed public relations expert in the semiconductor industry, started bypassing his health insurance and paying out of pocket last year when he realized that premiums and deductibles were costing him more than $12,000 before his insurer paid a dime. With that decision, Lee became part of a new breed of health care consumer—people who pay such a large portion of their health costs that they’re questioning the value of insurance. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Patient monitoring firm’s ‘aging in place’ technology sees institutional interest
A company is working to replace the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” image of aging in place technology with a more modern “e-mail alert: you’re mom’s been out of bed for more than 30 minutes and a dispatch has been sent” message for caretaker mobile devices. The technology for BeClose is designed to address the trend of people staying in their homes longer before moving to an assisted living community or nursing home, facilitated by wireless remote monitoring technology. It also is intended to put potential changes in health in the context of a loved one’s routine to flesh out potential problems earlier. (MedCity News)

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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

Medicare a hot issue in national, 1st District races
Having Paul Ryan on the Republican presidential ticket has inserted Medicare front and center as a campaign issue. Ryan introduced a budget proposal titled “Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal.” The part that has drawn the most attention is Ryan’s plan to reform Medicare by giving recipients vouchers to use to purchase private insurance or toward a government-run program. Supporters say the plan would save Medicare, cutting costs and making health care for seniors more efficient. Opponents, including President Barack Obama, say it would “end Medicare as we know it,” and out-of-pocket costs for many seniors would skyrocket. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

National News

The Republican plan to overhaul health care
The 2008 Republican party platform on Medicare and Medicaid was pretty vanilla. It called for minor tweaks to the program that just about any health wonk could get behind, things like better coordination between doctors and more vigilance against fraud. The whole section came in at about 200 words. Politico has obtained a draft of the 2012 proposal and, for health care, four years has meant a sea change. The Republican party now throws its weight behind a complete restructuring of both entitlement programs. (Washington Post)

eBay for hospitals to sell surplus medical equipment and launch in October
Innovation isn’t always about creating something entirely new. Sometimes, it’s about taking lessons learned and applying them in a way that could benefit others, which is what Patrick Kelly and Joanne Frogge are hoping to do with BidMed LLC, a company that helps health systems manage their surplus assets by facilitating the selling, buying and trading of refurbished medical equipment. (MedCity News)

Five trends that will reshape health IT in 2013
Ultimately the goal of all health care—IT included—is to put itself out of business. That may sound a bit strange but medicine’s primary objective is to cure disease, or prevent it from occurring in the first place. And as the profession gets better at these two tasks, the public should become increasingly self-sufficient and have less and less need for its services. How far down this path will we be in 12 months? Probably not too far. But we are making progress on five fronts. (Healthcare IT News)

Texas counties consider going it alone on Medicaid expansion
Local officials in Texas are discussing whether to band together to expand Medicaid coverage in some of the state’s biggest counties, making an end run around Gov. Rick Perry’s opposition to the expanded program included in President Obama’s health-care law. For years, Texas’s six most populous counties, as well as some smaller localities, have offered free or low-cost health care for uninsured residents with incomes as much as three times the federal poverty level, or about $57,000 for a family of three. The cost of the programs: about $2 billion a year. (Washington Post)

Maryland considers complete overhaul of payment system to doctors, hospitals
If quiet negotiations between policymakers and industry bear fruit, Maryland could join the short list of states attempting to go far beyond the Affordable Care Act in improving health and limiting spending. Federal officials are urging Maryland and its powerful health industry to build on the state’s unique hospital rate-setting system to develop sweeping cost controls – including those on doctors – that could be used as a model for other states. (MedCity News)

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Hospitals across the nation supported passage of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 as a means of providing health insurance to millions of Americans with little or no ability to afford coverage.  In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld almost all of the provisions of the ACA, including the legality of mandating all citizens to purchase health insurance coverage.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court rejected only one provision of the law: the federal government’s ability to withhold existing Medicaid support to states that do not expand Medicaid coverage to adults ages 19-64 who are at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.  In Iowa, this population is estimated to be around 150,000 people.

Under ACA, Medicaid expansion is by far the primary means for providing coverage to uninsured citizens.  Rather than creating a national mandate, the Supreme Court ruling now leaves individual states with the opportunity to expand Medicaid, much like the program’s original adoption in 1965.  This means that the Iowa General Assembly will face a decision regarding Medicaid expansion when it reconvenes in January 2013.

At its August meeting, the IHA Board considered a broad set of implications regarding this topic and concluded that expanding Medicaid is the appropriate public health policy for Iowa.  IHA’s position is that Medicaid expansion is not only good for the state and its 118 community hospitals, but also for individual Iowans and Iowa businesses.  Details of IHA’s perspective are laid out in a policy brief endorsed by the IHA Board.

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