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

Iowa News

Task force discusses of statewide suicide prevention center
A statewide suicide prevention center being considered by an Iowa task force would help at-risk youth and their advocates, members say. Other recommendations from the group focus on educating school staff to identify and respond to warning signs that a student may hurt himself. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Three ways Obamacare is changing how a hospital cares for patients
The Affordable Care Act is transforming more than health insurance. In hospitals around the country, the legislation could transform the way doctors and nurses actually care for patients. Part of the law is designed to rein in the nation’s exploding health care costs by creating hundreds of little experiments that test new ways for hospitals to save money. (Iowa Public Radio)

Hospitals urged to report quality electronically in 2014
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) won’t require hospitals to report clinical quality measures electronically in 2014, but two Advisory Board Co. consultants wrote in a recent blog post that healthcare organizations with adequate IT resources should take advantage of the CMS option for electronic reporting next year. Not only will this save them considerable time on manual chart abstraction, but it will also prepare them for the electronic reporting mandate expected after 2014. (InformationWeek)

Turn emergency docs into end-of-life experts
Many emergency physicians are not comfortable discussing end-of-life issues with patients and families. First, it was not taught during medical school or residency training. As emergency physicians we are trained to save lives, treat acute emergencies and deal with complications of chronic illnesses. However, as a specialty, we are present at the end-of-life for many patients. This provides emergency physicians a real opportunity to educate and provide advice to patients and family on the dying process. (Hospital Impact)

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

Iowa News

Mental illness: lessons learned
With every major mass shooting come the inevitable questions about mental illness, gun control and how to help people with mental illnesses so they don’t fall through cracks in the system. Mental health professionals agree that the vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent. Justice Krambeer is one of the people suffering from a gap in Iowa’s mental health care system. The 19-year-old now lives with his mom and younger sister in Garnavillo, but he’s had other homes, including mental health facilities and jail. (KWWL)

Health insurer, Sioux City doctors group form partnership
Siouxland Medical Doctors Inc. P.C. and Coventry Health Care have announced a partnership to provide health insurance coverage to residents of Ida, Monona, Plymouth and Woodbury counties. The plans will feature the “Patient Preferred” network that provides access to SMDI physicians and clinics, and local hospitals. Among the facilities in the SMDI network are UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s and Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City, and Siouxland Surgery Center in Dakota Dunes. (Sioux City Journal)

Your family tree holds clues to health issues you may face
As the holidays approach, family get-togethers are a golden opportunity to gather a family medical history. Since 2004, the Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving National Family History Day, a time when family members can document their health history through the generations. The online “My Family Health Portrait” is an easy way to get started. Compiling accurate medical information is important for all families and something that physicians may not have time to gather during appointments, said Cindy Johnson, certified genetic counselor for Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa Cold and flu season arrives a little sooner than normal this year
It’s cold and flu season again — and just like falling temperatures and snow, it’s come a little earlier this year than before. Stacy Wagner, pediatrician at Waverly Health Center, says she’s been busy ever since the start of this winter weather. She says now she has 20 appointments a day with people who are sick. “Cough, cold, standard winter illnesses, but also quite a bit of gastroenteritis or stomach flu,” said Wagner. (KWWL)

National News

The Obamacare success stories you haven’t been hearing about
Ellen Holzman and Meredith Vezina are exactly the type of people Obamacare is designed to help–indeed, rescue from the cold, hard world of individual health insurance of the past. That was a world where even an undiagnosed condition might render you uninsurable. Where your insurance could be canceled after you got sick or had an accident. Where your financial health was at risk as much as your physical well-being. (Los Angeles Times)

States are better at running Obamacare than the federal government
States, it turns out, are better at running Obamacare than the federal government that created the program. At least so far. Under the Affordable Care Act, states were given the option of running their own health insurance marketplaces or having the federal government run them. Our colleagues put together the interactive below that shows that the states that went for it on their own have done better at enrolling their residents than states that are relying on the federal health insurance exchanges. In some cases, the success rates are much, much higher. (Washington Post)

Physicians lead on new payment models
Adoption of new payment models is fundamental to bipartisan congressional proposals to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for determining Medicare physician payment. “If these models were implemented, they would more than pay for the offsets of $150 billion over 10 years needed to pay for the SGR,” said Harold Miller, president and CEO of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform. Without a way to pay for SGR repeal, Medicare cuts of 24 percent to physician reimbursements will take effect in January. (Healthcare Finance News)

Telemedicine consults may reduce errors at rural ERs
Emergency rooms in rural areas don’t see many very sick or badly injured children each year. When they do, bringing in a pediatric critical care specialist by videoconference to help with treatment could prevent errors, a new study suggests. Researchers found rural ER doctors made errors in administering medication – such as giving the wrong dose or the wrong drug altogether – just 3 percent of the time when they used so-called telemedicine to connect with a specialist. That compared to an 11 percent error rate when local doctors talked with a specialist by phone and a 13 percent error rate when they didn’t consult with a specialist at all. (Reuters)

FDA approves H5N1 bird flu vaccine for national stockpile
The Food and Drug Administration Friday approved the first adjuvanted vaccine to prevent H5N1 bird flu. The Department of Health and Human Services has purchased the vaccine, which is not intended for commercial availability, for inclusion in the national stockpile for distribution by public health officials if needed. An adjuvant enhances the immune response and reduces the amount of influenza protein per dose, which would increase the number of doses available during a pandemic. The vaccine is administered via intramuscular injection in two doses, 21 days apart. (Food and Drug Administration)

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sumner On Thanksgiving Day, thousands of Iowa hospital employees will be at work, ready to provide the care Iowans have come to expect, no matter the day or the hour.  Their commitment means patients receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

It also means patients are grateful for the difference their hospitals have made in their lives.  Some of those patients share their stories of compassion, healing and gratitude below:

  • A Sumner woman is winning a long, difficult battle against lymphedema.
  • A Spencer woman is back to giving after successful eye surgery.
  • A Knoxville woman is recovering from life-saving surgery.
  • A Parkersburg man is managing Type 2 diabetes with determination.
  • A home health aid is this Cedar Rapids patient’s “guardian angel.”
  • An Illinois soldier fights back from a serious spinal injury.
  • An Osage man gives thanks for the two hospitals that worked together to fix his heart.
  • A Decorah EMT is back to saving lives after surviving a heart attack.
  • A Fairfield woman is grateful for the care her mother received.
  • A Pella great-grandmother is getting great care at home.

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

Iowa News

Here’s how Obama is cutting Medicare
UnityPoint Health – which includes multiple hospitals and doctor practices in Iowa — decided to do something to stop the expensive cycle of illness and readmission for patients like Phil Bretthauer. The hospital signed on to become an accountable care organization, a Medicare program created by the Affordable Care Act that economists say could be a pathway to the holy grail of health care—providing better care at a lower cost. (Washington Post)

95 cases of contagious bacterial infection reported in northwest Iowa
Cases of shigellosis continue to grow in Woodbury County nearly a month after health officials reported an outbreak of the contagious bacterial infection that causes diarrhea. Ninety-five cases had been reported to Siouxland District Health Department as of Friday afternoon. About 20 had been diagnosed in early November. District Health Deputy Director Tyler Brock said the majority of the sick are children, but a number of adults have contracted shigellosis too. (Sioux City Journal)

Groups give back at Blank’s Festival of Trees and Lights
The Christmas trees on display at this week’s Festival of Trees and Lights serve as more than a cheerful symbol of the holiday season. Many are decorated by folks with personal connections to the very programs the festival benefits. Proceeds from the event, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, support the Child Life Advocacy and Outreach programs at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa ranks third best for state management
An online financial news and opinion operation has ranked Iowa third in a list of the best run states for the state’s perfect credit rating from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service, among other qualifications. 24/7 Wall St. compiled the rankings by analyzing each state’s financial and economic information, including data from the U.S. Census Bureau and credit agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service. Most of the figures are from 2012, the group said in its report, meaning some of the information may be out of date. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Analysis of huge data sets will reshape health care
Insurers will soon reassess how they predict costs; patients will let doctors know what medications won’t work with their particular genomes; and researchers will look at hospital records in real time to determine the cheapest, most effective ways to treat patients, all because of developments in what is known as big data. Driven by industry trends and the Affordable Care Act, the analysis of large sets of data, such as medication usage or hospital readmissions, has enabled health care providers and policymakers to make smarter decisions and predict future trends. (USA Today)

In rural Kentucky, health care debate takes back seat as the long-uninsured line up
On the campaign trail, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was still blasting the new health-care law as unsalvageable. At the White House, President Obama was still apologizing for the botched federal Web site. But in a state where the rollout has gone smoothly, and in a county that is one of the poorest and unhealthiest in the country, Courtney Lively has been busy signing people up: cashiers from the IGA grocery, clerks from the dollar store, workers from the lock factory, call-center agents, laid-off coal miners, KFC cooks, Chinese green-card holders in town to teach Appalachian students. (Washington Post)

Some good news on health care
Given the political frenzy in Washington about the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, it may be folly to try and make any serious points about the legislation’s long-term prospects, or about any other subject having to do with health care. Until and unless healthcare.gov is fixed, the reform will remain an open sore for the Obama Administration, and the Republicans will continue to pour salt on it. That’s only to be expected. Still, beyond the troubles of the federal online exchange, there’s other stuff happening, and some of it is encouraging. (The New Yorker)

Rise of the chief strategy officer
As healthcare undergoes seismic shifts in its business model, many healthcare CEOs have realized they need help on the executive team. Increasingly, that help is coming in the form of leaders who can focus exclusively on something that in many organizations has been the CEO’s exclusive responsibility: long-term strategy. While the CEO is still ultimately responsible for strategic direction and follow-through, increasingly, health systems are creating the position of chief strategy officer, a person who guides strategic planning and is responsible for executing, communicating, and sustaining that strategy. (HealthLeaders Media)

Colorado ads use sex and alcohol to sell health insurance
Try this on for size: The Affordable Care Act is good for young adults because it’ll save them money on health care, leaving them more to spend on liquor and birth control. That’s one way to interpret the message from a provocative new ad campaign in Colorado. Not everyone is thrilled with it. During a federal hearing in October, Colorado Republican Rep Cory Garden. showed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius one of the ads. (National Public Radio)

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

Iowa News

Hospitals honored on Rural Health Day
Coming in for a routine checkup Paula Happel feels more like a family member instead of a patient at Virginia Gay hospital in Vinton. “People know you,” said Happel. “You get that hometown feel.” She’s lives on a farm just five miles outside of Vinton—a small town where access to health care can be hard to come by. “We’re lucky to have a full service hospital here that’s for sure.” (KGAN)

Healthy changes at state’s first certified Blue Zones community
Spencer has become Iowa’s first certified Blue Zones community, and with that announcement came some eye-opening, measurable improvements in residents’ overall health and wellness in the past year and a half. The city’s hospital, for instance, reported significant decreases in health insurance claims as many residents reduced their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, officials said. (Des Moines Business Record)

Mercy-Sioux City chaplain has special connection to hospital
Father Jude came to the United States from Nigeria in 2008.  His duties as Mercy’s chaplain include, but are not limited to, the celebration of daily Mass and attending to the pastoral, spiritual and emotional needs of the patients, family members, loved ones and employees, staff and administration of the hospital. (Catholic Globe)

National News

Son’s death reveals chasms in emergency mental health care
Parents who have a child struggling with serious mental illness live in fear that the worst will happen. The apparent suicide of a young man in Virginia after he allegedly attacked his father, a state senator, shows how difficult it can be for families to get help in the midst of a mental health crisis. (Iowa Public Radio)

White House moves forward with Obamacare fix
The White House is moving forward with part of its ObamaCare fix designed to promote the law’s benefits to consumers. The administration unveiled a letter that will be sent to people who have the option of continuing health policies that would otherwise be canceled under ObamaCare for one year. Most of the policies will not meet the law’s new coverage standards, a fact the White House wants to highlight to the public. (The Hill)

Health care industry vested in success of Obamacare
Many health care industry leaders are increasingly frustrated with the Obama administration’s clumsy implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Nearly all harbor reservations about parts of the sweeping law. Some played key roles in killing previous Democratic efforts to widen healthcare coverage. But since 2010, they have invested billions of dollars to overhaul their businesses, design new insurance plans and physician practices and develop better ways to monitor quality and control costs. (Los Angeles Times)

Spending more and getting less for health care
In the most recent studies comparing the United States to 17 other wealthy industrialized nations including France, Japan, Canada and Britain, Americans had a shorter life expectancy, higher rates of disease, the highest rates of infant mortality and the lowest chance over all of surviving to middle age. These dismal findings have so befuddled health care experts, policymakers and politicians that they have come to be known simply as “the American health care paradox,” or among the more candid, “the U.S. health care disadvantage.” (New York Times)

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