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

Iowa News

Grinnell hospital using robot to clean patient rooms
An Iowa hospital is using a robot to clean and decontaminate patient rooms. Grinnell Regional Medical Center is one of the first in Iowa to use the robot. It’s designed as a preventive measure to fight hospital-acquired infections and superbugs that are antibiotic resistant. The robots are becoming more sought after due to the recent Ebola scare. The hospital first started using the Bioquell robot in early 2014 in all patient rooms throughout the hospital. (KCCI)

Oskaloosa hospital recognized by Iowa Donor Network with tissue donation
Mahaska Health Partnership was recognized by the Iowa Donor Network for achieving a greater than 60 percent conversion rate for tissue donation over the last two years. “Once a deceased person is deemed eligible for donation, a House Supervisor talks with the family about end-of-life decisions and sets the stage for a discussion regarding donation,” explained Nursing Support Director Joy Patch. “The IDN then calls the family for additional information and finalizes any arrangements. Of those families called, we have had over 60 percent decide to donate their loved one’s tissue to the IDN.” (Oskaloosa News)

National News

10 ways to boost patient satisfaction
Joan Hablutzel, senior industry analyst with the Medical Group Management Association, told attendees at their annual conference Monday that increasing patient satisfaction was challenging, but necessary to the success of a medical practice in an increasingly competitive healthcare marketplace. “Identify low patient satisfaction scores and work as a team to design, implement and maintain solutions,” she said. “But focus on the patients, not the scores.” (Healthcare Finance News)

Gawande: why the health system should stop trying to help everyone live longer
Atul Gawande’s current best-seller, Being Mortal, has touched a nerve regarding our medical system’s very poor handling of aging, life-altering illnesses, hospice, and palliative care. The book raises the question of why the U.S. health system prizes the length of a patient’s life over the quality of that life in a person’s final years. (Washington Post)

Lack of understanding about insurance could lead to poor choices
They know less than they think they know. That’s the finding of a recent study that evaluated people’s confidence about choosing and using health insurance compared with their actual knowledge and skills. As people shop for health coverage this fall, the gap between perception and reality could lead them to choose plans that don’t meet their needs, the researchers suggest. (Kaiser Health News)

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

Iowa News

Iowa doctor discusses Ebola quarantine
Quarantines aren’t used very often, but it’s a practice that all health care professional must learn about. Dr. Allen Zagoren of Drake University and UnityPoint Health discusses Ebola fears and the use of quarantines to control the spread of illness. (WHO-TV)

Getting large employers ready for the Affordable Care Act
Starting January 1, 2015 large employers will be required to provide health insurance to their full-time employees, or pay a penalty. This Wednesday and Thursday the Iowa Insurance Division is hosting a free training conference for employers and stakeholders on the changes coming up in the 2015 Affordable Care Act. (WHO-TV)

New Genesis HealthPlex offers patients a ‘medical home’
Genesis Medical Center is opening its second healthplex, a $15 million, 43,140-square-foot complex in Bettendorf, with a full-service lab, space for 17 family medical providers, an imaging center and Convenient Care for drop-in urgent care. Imaging services to be offered include MRI, CT, ultrasound, bone density testing, digital mammography and general X-ray. During a tour of the building Wednesday, Dr. Kurt Andersen, a partner in the physician practice, described the healthplex as a “medical home.” (Quad Cities Online)

New ER planned at Methodist, Blank Children’s
UnityPoint Health – Des Moines is planning to start construction next week on new emergency departments at Iowa Methodist Medical Center and Blank Children’s Hospital. UnityPoint said the new ERs are part of $54.7 million in renovations at the hospital that also includes critical care and cardiac units. Work on the new critical care unit started in May and in September the cardiac are renovations began. (KCCI)

National News

New health care payment model lowering costs
A first-of-its kind health plan that rewards doctors for keeping patients healthy, rather than just doing expensive procedures, lowered health care spending and improved the quality of patient care for the fourth straight year, according to a new study. The analysis by researchers at Harvard Medical School and published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows spending for patients in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ Alternative Quality Contract grew 10 percent slower than for patients in traditional plans. (Boston Globe)

Ebola and the need for personal protective equipment
Preventing transmission of pathogens in the health care setting with the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been an area of longstanding debate in the infection prevention community. Recently, reports of nosocomial transmission of Ebola virus to two nurses from the same patient in Texas (despite their use of PPE) has generated great concern and presents new challenges. (Journal of the American Medical Association)

Bellevue employees face Ebola at work, and stigma of it everywhere
“Again, the medical personnel fighting this fight, particularly our nurses, deserve our respect,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We heard reports in the last few days of nurses being mistreated in our city — when it became clear that they worked at Bellevue — being treated differently. We heard reports of people being unwilling to serve them food or treating their children differently. That is absolutely unacceptable.”

Rural hospitals’ success under ACA marred by delays, Supreme Court ruling
In the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act’s passage, some stakeholders expressed concern that rural hospitals would struggle to meet the law’s requirements and would be forced to shut down or merge with larger health systems. However, nearly four years later, the jury is still out on how rural hospitals have been affected by the law. (California Healthline)

Blue Zones comes back to Albert Lea
This community played a critical role in demonstrating that these concepts can be translated into tangible well-being improvement, and the work from the pilot here was also instrumental in developing a program and tools that have been implemented across the country including in California’s Beach Cities, 15 Iowa communities, Fort Worth, Texas and Hawaii. (Albert Lea Tribune)

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

Iowa News

UIHC: fine-tuning Ebola protocols since September
Infectious disease experts at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics said Tuesday that they’ve been honing procedures, training and retraining staff, and feel “very well prepared” should an Ebola patient require treatment at the facility. Over the summer, the hospital began actively preparing for the possibility that a deadly Ebola virus crippling West Africa could travel to the United States. But once the first U.S. case was diagnosed in Dallas in September, UIHC has fine-tuned its plans, officials said Tuesday. (KCRG)

Iowa health officials say flu activity low so far this season
Surveillance by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network shows while flu activity in the state is slowly increasing and remains low, there already are two strains of the virus circulating. “This is the perfect time to get your flu vaccination,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “Identification of two circulating strains by the State Hygienic Lab means that without a flu vaccination, an individual could become ill with the flu two different times.” (KWWL)

New emergency departments for Des Moines hospitals
UnityPoint Health – Des Moines announced it will begin construction next week on new emergency departments for Iowa Methodist Medical Center and Blank Children’s Hospital. The latest piece of a $54.7 million project that includes renovations to the hospitals’ critical care unit and cardiac care spaces, the new emergency departments will “address the key challenges faced by the current facility,” said Jennifer Perry, regional marketing director of UnityPoint. (Des Moines Business Record)

Iowa boy’s strange illness sparks debate
The plight of one sick boy in Iowa has inspired an outpouring of sympathy and advice from around the globe. My column in the Sunday Register chronicled how 12-year-old Landon Jones of Cedar Falls woke up one day last October having lost all urge to eat and drink. In the past two days, the boy’s story has triggered reaction nationwide as well as from Canada, Brazil, Italy and beyond. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Major medical groups endorse Ebola guidelines
Three of the largest U.S. medical organizations threw their weight behind new federal guidelines that reject mass quarantines for healthcare workers returning from Ebola-ravaged countries. In a joint statement, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association said the guidance strikes the right balance between protecting public health and ensuring healthcare workers are not “unduly” burdened. (The Hill)

How the poorest, sickest state got left behind by Obamacare
The state’s low standard of living means many people earn less than the federal poverty limit but too much for Medicaid; under the health law, they can’t buy insurance on the exchange, leaving 138,000 Mississippians who fall into what has come to be known as the Medicaid gap. (Politico)

On Superstorm Sandy anniversary, Red Cross under scrutiny
In the months after the disaster, the Red Cross touted its success in delivering food, clothes and shelter to tens of thousands of people left homeless by the storm. Gail McGovern, the Red Cross president and CEO, told NBC News two weeks after the storm: “I think that we are near flawless so far in this operation.” The truth, however, is different. The venerable charity’s track record in dealing with the megastorm is now being challenged by an unusual cadre of critics — its own employees and records. (National Public Radio)

Medicare agency is focus of insider trading investigations
Employees of the federal agency that oversees Medicare and the federal health exchange website are the focus of three Securities and Exchange Commission investigations to determine whether they leaked news about pending health policy decisions that would up in the hands of Wall Street traders. The investigation is also focusing on at least three policy and research firms that may have acted as middlemen for the inside information. (Fox News)

Dental board case before SCOTUS has far-reaching implications
The outcome of a case before the Supreme Court has the potential to extend far beyond teeth whitening and mall kiosks to state regulatory boards governing the actions of physicians, says a health care antitrust lawyer observing the case. (HealthLeaders Media)

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

Iowa News

Terry Branstad won’t order Ebola quarantine in Iowa
Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday he won’t order a mandatory quarantine for people arriving in Iowa who have had contact with Ebola-infected patients in West Africa. Unlike New York, New Jersey and Illinois — where the governors have ordered quarantines for travelers considered high-risk — Iowa has no airports with direct flights from West Africa, Branstad noted. He said he doesn’t believe a mandatory quarantine is necessary here. (Des Moines Register)

Pella Regional staff prepared for potential Ebola Patient
Pella Regional Health Center has been preparing for the potential spread of the Ebola Virus. Quality, Safety, and Risk Management Advisor Shawna Forst says they are using similar practices to the recent outbreak of H1N1, and that they have been working with Marion County Public Health and the CDC to determine the best practices in treating patients and keep hospital staff safe. (KNIA/KRLS)

Value in leveraging EHR use across the care continuum
Much of the focus on adopting EHR technology is on primary care, but with the expansion of the care continuum to include an array of clinical and healthcare professionals EHR use must be able to be leveraged in dramatically different care environments. With the extension of UnityPoint Health beyond inpatient and ambulatory care settings, the Iowan health system has looked to its EHR technology as a means of addressing patient needs at any and all points along the continuum of care. One area of concern was the coordination of its home health providers whose roles in the era of the Affordable Care Act are growing. (EHR Intelligence)

National News

CDC says people at high risk for Ebola should stay home
New guidelines from the Obama administration would restrict the movement of people at high risk of Ebola but would not require mandatory quarantines. The guidelines, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, individualize recommendations for travelers based on a person’s level of risk. (USA Today)

Paying thousands before health insurance even kicks in
Got health insurance at work? You may still have to shell out thousands of dollars before it kicks in. That’s because more employers are offering consumer-directed health plans, which usually come with high deductibles. In 2015, 81 percent of large employers will offer at least one of these plans, up from 63 percent five years earlier. (CNN)

The team approach to longer living
In researching spots around the world where people live long and live well, National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner found that very-long-term health has little to do with dieting or trips to the gym. Rather than running marathons, the world’s most long-lived people “moved naturally,” living in environments that “nudged” them into physical activity. They had daily rituals that reversed the effects of stress. They could articulate their sense of purpose. (Spokane Spokesman-Review)

Some doctors wary of taking insurance exchange patients
Now that many people finally have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, some are running into a new problem: They can’t find a doctor who will take them as patients. Because these exchange plans often have lower reimbursement rates, some doctors are limiting how many new patients they take with these policies, physician groups and other experts say. (USA Today)

Study: Emails between patients, physicians tripled over 10 years
Email communications between physicians and patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston nearly tripled over a 10-year period, according to a study published in Health Affairs, Health Data Management reports. For the study, researchers examined email communications at Beth Israel. In 2000, the hospital created a Web portal through which patients could view parts of their medical records and communicate via email with their physicians. (iHealthBeat)

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

Iowa News

Iowa hospitals are prepared to deal with Ebola
The health and safety of every patient and visitor to Iowa’s hospitals are of utmost importance. Indeed, the very reason hospitals exist is to heal patients and make sure they stay healthy. Iowa hospitals are deeply committed to maintaining the highest standards and most current protocols and training, to minimize the risk of anyone contracting an infectious disease like Ebola. (Sioux City Journal)

Obamacare hasn’t emerged as big election issue
When the Affordable Care Act was hobbled by technical problems and mocked by late-night comics last winter, some political activists predicted it would be the dominant issue in this November’s elections. But recent polls show that the law, also known as Obamacare, has become just one dish on a smorgasbord of issues voters are considering. Charlie Cook, a national analyst who edits the Cook Political Report, said most Americans decided long ago how they feel about the Affordable Care Act. (Des Moines Register)

Ebola preparedness at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Our goal at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is to provide extraordinary patient care while protecting the health and safety of our patients, staff, and communities across the state. We have that priority firmly in mind as we continue to prepare our staff to care for patients who may have a suspected or confirmed Ebola infection. (University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics)

Fire destroys ambulances, vans in Rock Island
Three ambulances and three wheelchair vans that serve patients in the Illinois Quad-Cities were lost in a fire that broke out late Saturday in a Rock Island garage. The fire started about 10:38 p.m. at Advanced Medical Transport, 4469 48th Ave. Court, Rock Island, where ambulances that serve UnityPoint Health-Trinity are housed. Flames were showing when firefighters arrived. (Quad-City Times)

National News

Is the Affordable Care Act working?
After a year fully in place, the Affordable Care Act has largely succeeded in delivering on President Obama’s main promises, an analysis by a team of reporters and data researchers shows. But it has also fallen short in some ways and given rise to a powerful conservative backlash. (New York Times)

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital eager to share Ebola lessons
After weeks of drawing criticism for misdiagnosing an Ebola patient, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas made public Friday the “critical lessons” it has learned from that failure. These “learnings,” as the hospital’s leaders called them, came on the heels of a new Ebola case being confirmed in New York City. The Dallas hospital said it was hoping to assist medical specialists in New York and elsewhere trying to identify future Ebola cases. (Dallas Morning News)

Lawmakers, health care leaders clash over Ebola quarantines
Orders in three states to quarantine health care workers returning from treating Ebola patients in western Africa “are unnecessarily harsh and are not aligned with scientific evidence,” says the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. (HealthLeaders Media)

A ‘poster child for rural health care’ struggle
The Granite County Medical Center is in need of a huge cash influx, facing a changing world where fewer people visit the hospital and many who do simply can’t afford to pay for the care they receive. The hospital is asking for a one-year $360,000 mill levy on the November ballot after a permanent $400,000 annual levy was soundly defeated in the June primary. That amount is roughly 10 percent of the hospital’s annual operating budget. (Montana Standard)

Reality check: No easy way to put a lid on health care costs
The Congressional Budget Office projects that major federal health programs could cost 85 percent more in 10 years than they do today. That’s because multiple forces are driving up health care expenditures, including new technologies and medications, the prevalence of chronic disease, and payment systems that give doctors and hospitals incentives to perform ever-more procedures. (Los Angeles Times)