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    Dr. Marcinko is originally from Loyola University MD, Temple University in Philadelphia and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in PA; as well as Oglethorpe University and Emory University in Georgia, the Atlanta Hospital & Medical Center; Kellogg-Keller Graduate School of Business and Management in Chicago, and the Aachen City University Hospital, Koln-Germany. He became one of the most innovative global thought leaders in medical business entrepreneurship today by leveraging and adding value with strategies to grow revenues and EBITDA while reducing non-essential expenditures and improving dated operational in-efficiencies.

    Professor David Marcinko was a board certified surgical fellow, hospital medical staff President, public and population health advocate, and Chief Executive & Education Officer with more than 425 published papers; 5,150 op-ed pieces and over 135+ domestic / international presentations to his credit; including the top ten [10] biggest drug, DME and pharmaceutical companies and financial services firms in the nation. He is also a best-selling Amazon author with 30 published academic text books in four languages [National Institute of Health, Library of Congress and Library of Medicine].

    Dr. David E. Marcinko is past Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious “Journal of Health Care Finance”, and a former Certified Financial Planner® who was named “Health Economist of the Year” in 2010. He is a Federal and State court approved expert witness featured in hundreds of peer reviewed medical, business, economics trade journals and publications [AMA, ADA, APMA, AAOS, Physicians Practice, Investment Advisor, Physician’s Money Digest and MD News] etc.

    Later, Dr. Marcinko was a vital and recruited BOD  member of several innovative companies like Physicians Nexus, First Global Financial Advisors and the Physician Services Group Inc; as well as mentor and coach for Deloitte-Touche and other start-up firms in Silicon Valley, CA.

    As a state licensed life, P&C and health insurance agent; and dual SEC registered investment advisor and representative, Marcinko was Founding Dean of the fiduciary and niche focused CERTIFIED MEDICAL PLANNER® chartered professional designation education program; as well as Chief Editor of the three print format HEALTH DICTIONARY SERIES® and online Wiki Project.

    Dr. David E. Marcinko’s professional memberships included: ASHE, AHIMA, ACHE, ACME, ACPE, MGMA, FMMA, FPA and HIMSS. He was a MSFT Beta tester, Google Scholar, “H” Index favorite and one of LinkedIn’s “Top Cited Voices”.

    Marcinko is “ex-officio” and R&D Scholar-on-Sabbatical for iMBA, Inc. who was recently appointed to the MedBlob® [military encrypted medical data warehouse and health information exchange] Advisory Board.

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Why 75 Years of American Finance Should Matter to Physician Investors

A Graphic Presentation [1861-1935] with Commentary from the Publisher

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko FACFAS MBA CPHQ CMP™

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

As our private iMBA Inc clients, ME-P subscribers, textbook and dictionary purchasers, seminar attendees and most ME-P readers know, Ken Arrow is my favorite economist. Why?

About Kenneth J. Arrow, PhD

Well, in 1972, Nobel Laureate Kenneth J. Arrow, PhD shocked Academe’ by identifying health economics as a separate and distinct field. Yet, the seemingly disparate insurance, asset allocation, econometric, statistical and portfolio management principles that he studied have been transparent to most financial professionals and wealth management advisors for years; at least until now.

Nevertheless, to informed cognoscenti, they served as predecessors to the modern healthcare advisory era. In 2004, Arrow was selected as one of eight recipients of the National Medal of Science for his innovative views. And, we envisioned the ME-P at that time to present these increasingly integrated topics to our audience.

Healthcare Economics Today

Today – as 2019 nears – savvy medical professionals, management consultants and financial advisors are realizing that the healthcare industrial complex is in flux; and this dynamic may be reflected in the overall economy.

Like many laymen seeking employment, for example, physicians are frantically searching for new ways to improve office revenues and grow personal assets, because of the economic dislocation that is Managed Care, Medi Care and Obama Care [ACA], the depressed business cycle, etc.

Moreover, the largest transfer of wealth in US history is – or was – taking place as our lay elders and mature doctors sell their practices or inherit parents’ estates. Increasingly, the artificial academic boundary between the traditional domestic economy, financial planning and contemporaneous medical practice management is blurring.

I’m Not a Cassandra

Yet, I am no gloom and doom Cassandra like I have been accused, of late. I am not cut from the same cloth as a Jason Zweig, Jeremy Grantham or Nouriel Roubini PhD, for example.

However, I do subscribe to the philosophy of Hope for the Best – Plan for the Worst.

And so dear colleagues, I ask you, “Are the latest swings in the economic, healthcare and financial headlines making you wonder when it will ever stop?”

The short answer is: “It will never stop” because what’s been happening isn’t any “new normal”; it’s just the old normal playing out before a new audience.

What audience?

The next-generation of investors, FAs, management consultants and the medical professionals of Health 2.0.

How do I know all this?

History tells me so! Just read this work, and opine otherwise, or reach a different conclusion.

Evidence from the American Financial Scene, circa 1861-1935

The work was created by L. Merle Hostetler in 1936, while he was at Cleveland College of Western Reserve University (now known as Case Western Reserve University). I learned of him while in B-School, back in the day.

At some point after it was printed, he added the years 1936-1938. Mr. Hostetler became a Financial Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in 1943. In 1953 he was made Director of Research. He resigned from the Bank in 1962 to work for Union Commerce Bank in Cleveland. He died in 1990.

The volume appears to be self published and consists of a chart, approximately 85′ long, fan-folded into 40 pages with additional years attached to the last page. It also includes a “topical index” to the chart and some questions of technical interest which can be answered by the chart.

Link: http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/75years

Assessment

And so, as with Sir John Templeton’s [whose son is an MD] four most dangerous words in investing (It’s different this time), Hostetler effectively illustrates that it wasn’t so different in his era, and maybe—just maybe—it isn’t so different today for all these conjoined fields.

Conclusion      

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. While not exactly a “sacred cow,” there is a current theory that investors will experience higher volatility and lower global returns for the foreseeable future.

In fact, it has gained widespread acceptance, from the above noted Cassandra’s and others, as problems in Europe persist and threats of a double-dip recession loom. But, how true is this notion; really?

Is Hostetler correct, or not; and why?

Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

Our Other Print Books and Related Information Sources:

DOCTORS:

“Insurance & Risk Management Strategies for Doctors” https://tinyurl.com/ydx9kd93

“Fiduciary Financial Planning for Physicians” https://tinyurl.com/y7f5pnox

“Business of Medical Practice 2.0” https://tinyurl.com/yb3x6wr8

HOSPITALS:

“Financial Management Strategies for Hospitals” https://tinyurl.com/yagu567d

“Operational Strategies for Clinics and Hospitals” https://tinyurl.com/y9avbrq5

Subscribe Now: Did you like this Medical Executive-Post, or find it helpful, interesting and informative? Want to get the latest ME-Ps delivered to your email box each morning? Just subscribe using the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time. Security is assured.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Sponsors Welcomed: And, credible sponsors and like-minded advertisers are always welcomed. Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2007/11/11/advertise

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  Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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How We Use the ME-P to Market and Reach Our Target Audience

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A Marathon –  Not a Sprint

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

I am a runner on LSD. I have been running long, slow, distances for more than three decades. And, this is our advertising philosophy at the ME-P. Say What?

Goals and Objectives

The goal is simple enough to state, but reaching it is a challenge. The ever-rising expectations of social media, e-connectivity and Internet users require us to make constant improvements to the ME-P so that our visitor’s experience is relevant, meaningful and worthy of recommending to others.

Going Viral

For example, the humorous “viral videos” that often appear on YouTube, and elsewhere, may get forwarded in emails and generate millions of viewers for a few days, but then drop out of sight quickly. This is not an ME-P goal for our staff, expert contributors, and informed readers and subscribers. Such a “spike and drop” phenomenon is interesting, of course, but it is not our focus.

So, much like my LSD metaphor, we favor LSD … and are on cognitive steroids, of sorts.

The ME-P Way

Instead, at the ME-P, we post short and long topical essays, comments, graphics, videos and other website URLs with a much different goal in mind. What is it? To market to our niche audience, and obtain higher search engine rankings over the long term, in our areas of expertise and on a continuing basis. Sound like a long term stock-market investor, or LSD runner? You bet!

Assessment

We trust all ME-P readers, subscribers, advertisers and visitors agree.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Subscribe Now: Did you like this Medical Executive-Post, or find it helpful, interesting and informative? Want to get the latest ME-Ps delivered to your email box each morning? Just subscribe using the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time. Security is assured.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Sponsors Welcomed: And, credible sponsors and like-minded advertisers are always welcomed.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2007/11/11/advertise

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Healthcare Organizations

Celebrating Our One/Third Millionth ME-P Reader

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Join the ME-P Celebration

By Ann Miller RN MHA

By Hope Hetico RN MHA

[ME-P Management and Staff]

Oh – good morning doctors, financial advisors, nurse-executives, HIT experts, healthcare CXOs and all medical management consultants, readers, subscribers, visitors and devotees of the Medical Executive-Post professional ecosystem.

We are reporting this “breaking-news” ME-P event live from an Institute of Medical Business Advisors, Inc. corporate retreat in seclusion up North.

The Breaking News!

We just wanted you to know that the Medical Executive-Post just served up content to its one / third millionth reader sometime this weekend, according to iMBA Inc statistics: www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

It seems our text books, white papers and hand books are best sellers, too! And, our growing online education and certification program for financial advisors, CPAs, management consultants and medical professionals is gaining in popularity and stature, as well www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Thank you!

Celebrate Appropriately!

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Understanding Healthcare AR and PO Financing

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A Normal or Strategic Business Imperative for Doctors?

If you, or your medical practice, can’t qualify for a traditional business loan, or if you don’t have time to wait for those funds, there are other alternative financing options that might be the answer — especially when those funds will equal a big return.

AR and PO financing (accounts receivable and purchase order financing) are two choices for business owners, and medical practices, when they need immediate capital, or have lower credit scores.

Assessment: This graphic should help decide if AR or PO financing is right for you.

Source: Dan Bischoff

 Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Please review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs
and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

Our Other Print Books and Related Information Sources:

Health Dictionary Series: http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko

Practice Management: http://www.springerpub.com/product/9780826105752

Physician Financial Planning: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745790

Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Subscribe Now: Did you like this Medical Executive-Post, or find it helpful, interesting and informative? Want to get the latest ME-Ps delivered to your email box each morning? Just subscribe using the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time. Security is assured.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Sponsors Welcomed: And, credible sponsors and like-minded advertisers are always welcomed.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2007/11/11/advertise

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Why I’m Joining the Physician Nexus Medical Advisory Board

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On My Non-Linear … and Sometimes Concurrent Career Path

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

As Medical Executive-Post readers know, I am a big believer in career and change management; evolution if you will. As an entrepreneurial doctor, writer, publisher, speaker, financial advisor, economist, management consultant and business owner, with a non-linear career spanning more than 30 years, I’m acutely aware that to thrive, I must evolve.

Evolution not Revolution

Most of our readers know my career story, but you probably don’t know that even now, my career continues to evolve. For example, I recently accepted a position on the Physician Nexus Medical Advisory Board http://physiciannexus.com/page/nexus-board-of-advisors

THINK: Evolution; not revolution.

Am I Un-Happy?

Why did I embark on this project? Am I giving up my day job at this ME-P? Am I moving on from my business? These are questions I’ve been asked, and I’ve given them all some thought. The nature of these questions signifies a fundamental assumption that, to be considered stable and sane, we must remained attached to “one occupation”, and that if anything changes in that equation, we are surely about to make a move because we are unhappy www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Not so!

Last Gen Parents – Next Gen Son

Don’t believe m? Just ask me about the time I told my last-generation dad and mom I was going to business school, after medical school www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org then promptly started an online educational and testing firm for doctors, financial advisors, CPAs and stock brokers. Or; when I sold my ambulatory surgery center – and later still – my private practice, etc! Can you say ballistic?

I added this new patch work to my career quilt because I accepted an opportunity – a chance to do things that I truly love; have engaging clients, speak and write about it. But, don’t worry about me! I’ve got the support of my next-generation wife.

iMBA Inc

And, as we at the www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com continue to consult with medical practices to improve their operational results … or with doctors for their financial planning needs, I’m always keeping my eyes open for the next opportunity that catches my fancy.

A Kindred Spirit

Like my colleague Philippa Kennearly MD MPH, over at the Entrepreneurial MD http://www.entrepreneurialmd.com I’m here to argue that the contemporary career of an entrepreneurial physician can and perhaps should be a non-linear projection; it can contain clinical practice AND an Internet business AND writing books AND taking on clients AND seminar speaking and consulting projects AND being part of a family and community.

Just recall, Bill Gates of Microsoft said that most contemporary knowledge workers will follow a career path that changes every seven [7] years. But, I don’t know if he meant doctors, as well?

Assessment

Doesn’t that sound more exhilarating to you than feeling stuck in one gear? Isn’t it time to shift that gear from either … or  to and … and, as Philippa is prone to say?

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

OUR OTHER PRINT BOOKS AND RELATED INFORMATION SOURCES:

DICTIONARIES: http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko
PHYSICIANS: www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com
PRACTICES: www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com
HOSPITALS: http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781466558731
CLINICS: http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781439879900
BLOG: www.MedicalExecutivePost.com
FINANCE: Financial Planning for Physicians and Advisors
INSURANCE: Risk Management and Insurance Strategies for Physicians and Advisors

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Saying “Thanks” to Patients and Clients

On Doctors and Financial Advisors Saying “Thank You”

By ME-P Staff and Reporters [A family of communication and educational companies]

In 1621, our settlers acknowledged a large autumn harvest feast as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. But, it wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. Ever since, Americans have used this gathering time to be with family and friends and reflect on those things we are most thankful for in our lives.

Note: click  the image

So here we are, ramping up to celebrate the anniversary of that first Thanksgiving some 148 years ago. This year, let’s take the same reflective approach and apply it to our ME-P work worlds.

For example, whether a doctor, nurse, CXO or financial advisor, when was the last time:

  • You expressed gratitude to your key patients, hospitals, employees or clients?
  • You recognized a newer prospect referral for sending a patient or client your way?
  • You were truly grateful for those patients and clients who keep your medical practice, financial advisory or medical management business viable – and you showed it?
  • You said “thank you” to one of your referring physicians, attorneys or accountants?

Assessment

This time of year is a good reminder to show your appreciation to patients, customers, vendors and clients—not from only a monetary perspective, but for all they contribute to your relationships.

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Our Question

As so, what are some of the helpful and creative ways that you say “thank you” this season for all your loyal fans?

Of course, we also extend our gratitude and say “thanks” to all clients, readers, providers, sponsors, advertisers and subscribers to this Medical Executive-Post

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend 2011, and thank you for your continued support!

Conclusion                

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

Our Other Print Books and Related Information Sources:

Health Dictionary Series: http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko

Practice Management: http://www.springerpub.com/product/9780826105752

Physician Financial Planning: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745790

Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Subscribe Now: Did you like this Medical Executive-Post, or find it helpful, interesting and informative? Want to get the latest ME-Ps delivered to your email box each morning? Just subscribe using the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time. Security is assured.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Sponsors Welcomed: And, credible sponsors and like-minded advertisers are always welcomed.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2007/11/11/advertise

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About Healthcare Financials.com

WELCOME ALL HEALTH 2.0 COLLEAGUES

[An Open Invitation]

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All hospitals and healthcare organizations, both emerging and mature, face a daunting financial scenario in today’s volatile healthcare reimbursement environment.  Decreasing revenues, increasing costs, and high consumer expectations present a complex challenge for CEOs, CFOs, physicians and nurse executives, administrators, financial advisors and department managers who must not only lead in today’s climate, but also position their organizations for tomorrow’s financial tumult and potential political changes of the Obama Administration.

Produced by a team of leading doctors, physician executives, nurses, medical professionals, economists, administrators, lawyers, and accountants, skilled business leaders and IT consultants, among many others; Healthcare Organizations [Journal of Financial Management Strategies] on CD-ROM, or SaaS, looks at ways to manage assets, costs, human resources and healthcare claims.  Everything – from inventory management to hybrid and activity based cost analysis in order to accelerate the cash conversion cycle – is scrutinized.  And, modern health economic themes like competitive strategy, workplace violence and financial benchmarks, for both public and private entities, are included.

We also examine contemporaneous topics such as the lessons learned from the corporate healthcare market competition and the PPMC imbroglio of the early 2000’s, and the domestic financial meltdown of 2009. This includes current methods for achieving hospital objectives, negotiating and analyzing cost-volume-profit contracts, and understanding the financial impact of regulatory requirements under HIPAA, STARK I-III, OSHA, the US Patriot Acts, the Deficit Reduction Act [DRA], the often contentious Sarbanes-Oxley Act, ARRA and HITECH Acts, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions [FACT] Act.

In addition, information technology issues like electronic medical records (eMRs), RFID controls, RSS feeds and blogs, Health 2.0 initiatives and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems are examined in detail. Virtually no  operational, strategic business, health economics, or financial management topic is omitted.

“This wide-ranging examination of the fiscal

management scene for hospitals, healthcare

organizations, clinics and outpatient centers 

includes case models, extensive appendices, 

and detailed checklists and templates that

step the reader through a review of main

issues for each chapter.”

Health Care Organizations [Journal of Financial Management Strategies] on CD-ROM, or SaaS, is dedicated to meeting the administrative needs of our nation’s healthcare organizations in order to help them maintain a competitive edge in the markets they serve; and to take advantage of emerging business opportunities. We therefore invite you to be the first health economics cynosure in your hospital, facility, or healthcare system to join us for the journey.

Let Health Care Organizations [Journal of Financial Management Strategies] be your guide. 

Subscribe today … Succeed tomorrow!

Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA, CMP

[Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief]

iMBA Inc – Suite #5901 Wilbanks Drive

Norcross, GA 30092-1141

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Is the Mutual Fund Company “Invesco” Dissing Podiatrists?

Attacking One of Us = Attacking all of Us

By Ann Miller RN MHA

[Executive-Director]

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Dear ME-P Readers, Subscribers and Visitors,

As you know, here at the Medical Executive-Post, we champion all hard working, honest and ethical medical professionals, regardless of specialty or degree designation. From the ME-P corporate executive suite, to the mailroom, we appreciate their laborious ministrations under increasingly difficult cultural, political and financial conditions on behalf of the US citizenry.

And so, it was with much dismay when this new advertisement from the behemoth mutual fund company Invesco, headquartered right here in Atlanta GA, was brought to our attention. Rest assured. We are not amused and request your input!

You Input Requested

Do you agree with the Ad? Is it an attack on one medical specialty – or on all of us? Would your opinion differ if the ad mentioned a proctologist – or a dentist? How about a brain surgeon or a nurse? Is the dated impression of doctors being on the golf-course still accurate?

More importantly, does the ad affect your impression of Invesco as a contemporaneous company aware of the modern Health 2.0 culture, or a backward thinking dinosaur resting on its [glorious or in-glorious] past?

Is it Time to Close the Door on Invesco?

Are they Aware?

Do you think that the huge and costly marketing department at Invesco is is even aware that our iMBA Inc sponsored, and ME-P promoted textbooks and handbooks, dictionaries, white papers and CD-ROMs on investing, financial planning, insurance, and risk and wealth management for physicians, was largely written by medical professionals of all stripes? Many holding dual degrees and designations like MBA, CFP®, CMP™, JD, MHA, CFA, etc.

Link: http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

Or, that they have been used in [non-clinical] continuing education programs for medical professionals, for more than a decade?

Of course, this includes allopaths, osteopaths, podiatrists, nurses, physical therapists and other related members of the healthcare ecosystem? After all, it often takes a team to treat a poly-systemically ill patient.

Link: www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Assessment

Feel free to contact Invesco directly and tell em’ what you think about their new ad campaign [positive or negative]:

Inveso Client Services:

  • Calls within the United States 800.959.4246
  • Calls outside of the United States 713.626.1919 (Call Collect)

Hours of Service – Monday-Friday, 7:00am-6:00pm CST; subject to change due to NYSE holidays or early market closings.

Contact Link: https://www.invesco.com/portal/site/us/menuitem.33e9ce03dea2c250a83af864f14bfba0/

Industry Indignation Index: 65/100 [probably smelly]

Conclusion

Over the next few weeks we will aggregate your thoughts and may report back to you, and Invesco, about the results. Till then, be sure to also tell us what you think. right here? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Understanding Healthcare Leadership Today

More Mentor – Less Administrator

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

[Editor-in-Chief]

The organizational changes necessary for good health care entity operational performance rarely occur without some initiative on the part of management.

IOW: If you want good financial performance, you need to assert the leadership necessary to design and implement needed changes in operations management.

Healthcare Leadership Today

But, healthcare leadership today is not something that is done to people; it is something you do with them.

Today’s successful hospital executive must act more like a leader and mentor, and less like an administrator or manager.  They must create trust and collaboration to empower their professional staff, volunteers, and employees.

The Mentoring Paradigm

For some executives, this requires a fundamental shift in mindset.  This new mentoring paradigm demands a holistic approach for the total healthcare organization so that the enterprise-wide environment assists everyone to realize their full potential.  This maximization of performance is more than just a trendy business concept for leadership.

And, it is more than merely putting on a business suit and expecting results.  It is a commitment to being a transparent informed leader.  One of the elements in this shift in mindset involves information communication.  All relationships involve communication as an element of education, and healthcare leadership is no exception.  In fact, what is really enabling is the dissemination of information to all stakeholders and peers.

Assessment

In essence, the leader takes on a more communicative role and thus empowers employees to their full potential.  To successfully achieve this, the hospital, nurse or physician executive must have a clear understanding of self and consider human values relative to the role of the health organization measurements and mission.  This attention assists the executive to lead with self-confidence and to encourage differing opinions, rather than the opposite.

Remember

Leadership is the driver of all components including Healthcare Information Technology and Analysis, Strategic Planning, Human Resource Development and Management, Motivation Theory and Process Management.

Conclusion

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A Review of HIPAA EHR Security Regulations

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Focus on the Hospital Industry

Carol S. MillerBy Carol S. Miller BSN MBA

With the implementation of EMRs, Internet access, intranet availability throughout the hospital and physician complexes, as well as from home or any virtual site, the potential for security violations and associated vulnerabilities may have already caused serious harm to many hospitals and to the IT community in general.  Implementation of HIPAA security standards across the United States at hospitals, clinics, medical complexes, universities, federal facilities such as the VA, DoD or IHS and others have been inconsistent.  In addition, the HIPAA privacy regulations have given the responsibility for the patient health record to the patient — the impact of which has not been fully addressed nor is it supported by healthcare IT rules and regulations.

In Control?

Throughout the entire healthcare industry, there are concerns over who has access, who is in control, and whether the release of information impacts the privacy and security of the patient medical information or presents a risk to patient well-being, the quality of patient care, compliance issues, and potential fines to the hospital community.

The simple fact is that security is a problem that could have a catastrophic effect on any hospital.  Most Chief Information Officers have increased their “security-related” and “computer specialist” staff to address security issues, but most believe that their security is still vulnerable and needs to be improved.  Understanding a complex group of technologies and processes that have been built and modified many times over the years, especially at a large university or medical center complex, will be not only time-consuming, but also costly.  Security, like complex IT systems, was never designed in any organized manner.  It simply expanded as more and more access was made available, patient rights were defined, technology capabilities expanded, and more Internet-related communications and document-sharing occurred.

Hospital Security Concerns

Further, HIPAA security requirements were thrown into the mix in an era when hospital budgets were shrinking, and hospitals were trying to meet their costs through consolidation or reduction of programs and staff.

The prime concerns for information security are:

  • confidentiality – information is accessible only by authorized people and processes;
  • integrity – information is not altered or destroyed; and
  • availability – information is there when you need it.

Hospitals will continue to review, update and further document their security issues, monitor changes, and develop processes to mitigate the problems.  Gap analyses will continue to determine where vulnerabilities are or potentially could occur.  This process will be time consuming, but will enable the hospitals to determine how each system is integrated into their portfolio of systems and applications, and how it will be integrated with new technology.  Most importantly, it will facilitate identification of the detailed process of requesting, securing, and approving access to confidential patient records, systems, or applications.  It will enable hospitals to move forward with other technology enhancements in a secure manner.

Patchwork Security Quill

As stated previously, security has grown piecemeal as needs have been integrated with system, application, and software program growth.  It is literally a patchwork of various security functions and restrictions that may just be applicable to a certain application or software product or may be applicable to several applications but not all.  Various security software or SaaS packages have been deployed at different facilities across the United States that provide firewalls, access controls, tracking systems, and various other HIPAA security compliant capabilities; however, even with all these controls no one person within a hospital environment is fully aware of all the security requirements, security structures, the integration of the security network or whether any of the security network works efficiently and effectively.  Building a basic understanding of the entire network is the basis for developing and improving the entire HIPAA-related security process.  Besides the security involved within the hospital systems and through the Internet, there is still the issue of physical security, security theft or inappropriate access to patient information.

Typical Security Queries

The following list provides examples of typical questions related to security of information stored either on the laptop or on an accessible Intranet site from the laptop that should be addressed. All of these questions relate to additional time and expense in having an assigned individual monitor all aspects of this tracking process:

  • Is there an accurate record or log of each piece of equipment referenced at the hospital?
  • Do I know how many of the laptops are portable and used at home?
  • Are personal digital assistants (PDAs) and laptops encrypted and is the employee required to change passwords frequently?
  • Do I know how many of these portable systems are used for personal services?
  • Do I know how many of these laptops are used by family members?
  • Do I know how secure the portable systems are?
  • Do I know if they are just password protected or whether other security measures are in place?
  • Is every piece of equipment accounted for when employees leave, including PDA, laptop, CD, DVD, or other storage devices?
  • Do I know who can access confidential patient information from a remote office or home?
  • Is there a defined process for discarding old computers and old media?
  • Do employees know the hospital’s reporting process if their laptop is stolen or hacked?
  • Is virus and spyware software continually updated?
  • Are employees provided with information on how to secure their laptops or blackberries?
  • Do employees know what to do when attachments from unknown sources are sent and/or downloaded?
  • Does the employee use home-burned CDs/DVDs on their laptop?
  • Is system backup maintained by every employee?
  • Do employees know to “log off” when leaving their desktop or is there an automatic “log off” capability built within the system?

Security Administrators and Managers

Hospitals are employing security administrators and security staff to identify potential risks, vulnerabilities, risk scenarios, and develop policy and procedures to address all of these issues.  HIPAA compliance reviews and approval processes from HIPAA officers or legal counsel will be an added process for the hospital as part of any security consideration.  All of these security review processes, requirements, and staffing represent new and most likely unbudgeted costs with higher-than-anticipated associated costs to the hospital.  Costs need to be based on the affiliated risk, and the associated manpower or technical systems/software required to fix the risk; these indirect costs (i.e., not direct labor costs related to patient care) are being met from the hospital profits.

Risk Assessment Queries

Every covered entity should complete a risk assessment and review it periodically.  Focus areas that need to be addressed in the risk plan include the following:

  • workforce clearance (does the job require access to patient information and is it documented in the job description);
  • training (ongoing awareness and reminders); and
  • termination (what are the processes and procedures for assuring that a terminated employee does not have future access to any confidential patient information).

Today it is important for all hospitals to focus on contingency plans and disaster recovery to prevent any arbitrary loss of patient information.  Hospitals need to plan for and demonstrate that disasters such as Katrina or 9/11 or Japan or Alabama will not affect the security of the systems or access to patient information.

Many hospitals provide routine reviews, and system maintenance and updates to combat potential security problems or concerns with regard to confidential patient information.  However, inadvertent or even intentional changes to systems can cause serious data problems as the data integrates throughout the hospital IT environment.  Security breaches at this level can come from inside or outside the hospital.  They can be malicious or accidental and they can be related to system function disruption or data degradation.  They can relate to potential failures to properly share data and coordinate information.  They can also be the cause of major patient clinical errors, physician dissatisfaction, inaccurate record information, duplication of records, and as always, additional cost to the hospital that must identify the potential breach, develop a solution, and correct the issue at hand.

Main Concern

Direct access to information is probably the biggest security issue.  It affects personnel access to the systems they need in their daily jobs and tends to be poorly controlled.  Because hospitals need to provide access to information, they are sometimes lax about who has that access.  As an example, ask any hospital to not only identify each access user on the system, but also identify who uses each specific application.  Few hospitals have that capability. They would require additional resources to develop not only a major computerized index, but also the time and attention to monitor and to change users’ rights to access.  Many hospitals routinely request that the business or IT manager provide access for new employees that is similar to what another comparable staff person has — not really addressing the particular “right to know” or determining whether the new employee really needs a particular level of access.  Experience within the hospital environment also shows that many of the staff still have the same access to systems that they have had for years, even though they may have changed positions several times.

Finally, many staff have access to confidential patient information, yet few of the hospitals have ever linked this “right of access” to a background check.  Access to the hospital system is given to employees to perform a job.  In turn, the hospital is widely opening its doors to access a wide range of financial or confidential information, or even competitive information.  Many of these hospitals have employed designated staff to change and delete access rights, or allow read-only access, or read/write access; however, vulnerability still can exist.  Security is a trade-off between control and flexibility and there will always be weak points.  For those hospitals that have in place a comprehensive security review process, policy and procedures, and a contingency plan, the risks and liability can be limited.

Assessment

Regardless of the cost, HIPAA security and privacy regulations have changed the hospital environment.  The hospital and its IT and security staff need to be proactive.  There is simply too much at stake and potentially too many issues where mistakes could cause the hospital a serious system problem or result in a large fine.  HIPAA and the responsibility to provide reasonable patient care risk reduction mandate secure healthcare IT operations.  To do less simply allows patient care and healthcare delivery outcomes to be exposed to unacceptable levels of unnecessary risk.

About the Author

Carol S. Miller has an extensive healthcare background in operations, business development and capture in both the public and private sector. Over the last 10 years she has provided management support to projects in the Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Department of Defense medical programs. In most recent years, Carol has served as Vice President and Senior Account Executive for NCI Information Systems, Inc., Assistant Vice President at SAIC, and Program Manager at MITRE. She has led the successful capture of large IDIQ/GWAC programs, managed the operations of multiple government contracts, interacted with many government key executives, and increased the new account portfolios for each firm she supported.

She earned her MBA from Marymount University; BS in Business from Saint Joseph’s College, and BS in Nursing from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a Certified PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) (PMI PMP) and a Certified HIPAA Professional (CHP), with Top Secret Security clearance issued by the DoD in 2006. Ms. Miller is also a HIMSS Fellow, Past President and current Board member and an ACT/IAC Fellow.

Conclusion

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Learning from a Hospital Cash Flow Management Case Model

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The Mackenzie Hospital Clinic

[By Staff Reporters]


The Mackenzie Hospital Clinic was offered a private fixed-rate MCO contract that would increase revenues by $50,000 for the next fiscal year. The clinic’s 30% gross margin would not change because of the new business.

However, $10,000 would be added to overhead expenses for another part-time assistant. More importantly, the AR collection time would be lengthened to one year, or paid at the end of the contract period.

The cost of services provided for the contract represents the amount of money needed to service the patients produced by the contract. Since gross margin is 30% of revenues, the cost of services is 70% or $35,000.

The financial manager had to decide whether there would be enough internally generated cash flow to accept the contract.

The Financial Facts

The manager knew that adding the extra overhead would result in $45,000 of new spending money (cash flow) needed to care for the patients. He had to further refine his calculations by dividing the $45,000 total by the number of days the contract extends (i.e., 365 days) to determine that the new contract would cost about $123.29 per day of cash flow. Now, the financial manger had to ask: where would the money come from?

He was reluctant to turn away any business for the clinic, so decided he must develop other methods to generate the additional cash. He made the following suggestions:

  • extend AP timelines and reduce AR times; and/or
  • borrow with short-term bridge loans or a line of credit; and/or
  • discuss the situation with vendors for longer or more favorable terms; and
  • do not stop paying corporate taxes.

Key Issues:

1) Consider what changes the Mackenzie Hospital Clinic might implement to ensure that it regularly makes good cash management, budgeting, and risk projection decisions?

2) If the Mackenzie Hospital Clinic is successful and attracts more long-term managed care fixed contracts, the serious nature of the cash flow problem becomes apparent. For instance, adding another nine contracts would multiply the above example tenfold. In other words, the clinic would increase revenues to $1 million with the same 70% cost of services and $100,000 increases in operating overhead expenses.

3) How much free cash flow would be required?

[Using identical mathematical calculations, we determine that $450,000/365 days equals $1,232.88 per day of needed new cash flow.]

4) What happens if the contract only pays off at the end of the year?

Assessment

Any other thoughts?

Conclusion

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“Journal of Financial Management Strategies” for Healthcare Organizations

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Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations

[A Textbook of Financial Management Strategies]

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Understanding CPT® Code Payment Components

Determinations More Complex than Most Believe

By Staff Reporters

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Currently, there are more than 10,000 physician services designated by the current procedural terminology (CPT®) or healthcare common procedure coding system (HCPCS) codes.  Each reflects the three major cost drivers of a particular procedure:

  • Physician work effort or the relative value unit (RVUw) of medical providers’ work efforts, pre-service, intra-service and post-service time.

Patients may exhibit anxiety when examined orduring procedures resulting in the need for additional timeand effort by the physician to respond to and prepare for the examination or procedure. This uniformly adds moretime and stress to the pre-service and intra-service period as doctors respond to constantly changing behavior, questionsand level of cooperation in varying specialties.  Follow-up communicationwith employers, family, friends and concerned others requires increased post-service times.

  • Practice expenses (RVUpe), including non-physician costs but excluding medical malpractice coverage premiums.

The practice expense component of the resource-based relative value scale (RBRVS) includes clinicalstaff time, medical supplies, and medical equipment.  Often, the costsof supplies and equipment are not proportional to practicesize.  Major factorsaffecting practice expense are the volume of telephone, cell, or Internet management services, and the case management and administrative work required. For example, high patient turnover requires more examination rooms to maintain physician efficiency. High volume requires moreclerical staff to deal with larger patient-flow volume and resulting phone calls, difficultiesdressing and undressing patients, and is marked by increasedcomplexity and time in collecting laboratory specimens.  Thesefactors must be accounted for in any resource-based practiceexpense study and in the resulting practice expense calculationsfor medical services; and

  • Malpractice (RVUm) representing the cost of liability insurance.

The RBRVS system assigns RVUs to cover the malpractice expensesincurred by physicians. These malpractice RVUs, originally calculatedfor office-based physicians, may systematically undervaluethe practice liability costs for some specialties. The prolonged statutes of limitation on some legalactions may result in increased malpracticerisk exposure for physicians providing such services [i.e., pediatricians]. The differences in exposure may not be calculated in theRBRVS system, and were not included in initial studies.  Specialty specific survey data for malpractice expenseshould be used for this component when assigning final RVU valuations.  Without specialty-specific CPT® codes, however, there was no wayto do this objectively.

Conclusion

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Recognizing the Differences between Healthcare and Other Industries

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Why Hospitals, Clinics and Medical Offices are Not Hotels, or Manufacturing Plants or Production Assembly Lines, etc.

By Dr. David E. Marcinko FACFAS, MBA, CMP™

[Editor-in-Chief]

The rising cost of health insurance remains a major concern for business; despite the Affordable Care Act [ACA] of March 2010. Local and national news publications have trumpeted that healthcare costs are not just rising but are growing in proportion to the cost of other goods and services.

Many of these publications have expressed the widely held view that because of the “inflation gap,” the cost of medical expenses needs curbing.  Proponents of this viewpoint attribute the growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) devoted to personal medical services (from 5% in 1965 to approximately 14% in 2005 and 17% in 2012) to increases in both total national medical expenditures as well as prices for specific services, and then conclude that there is a need to rein in the growing costs of healthcare services for the average American, even if it be through a legislative mandate.

Healthcare Is the Economy

According to colleague Robert James Cimasi MHA, AVA, CMP™ of Health Capital Consultants LLC in St. Louis, MO, healthcare cannot be separated from the economy at large. Although economists have cited the aging population as the reason for the increase in healthcare’s share of the GDP, other voices assert that financial greed among HMOs, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and medical providers like doctors and nurses is responsible.  In reality, the rise in healthcare expenditures is, at least in large part, the result of a much deeper economic force.

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

As economist William J. Baumol of New York University explained in a November 1993 New Republic article: “the relative increase in healthcare costs compared with the rest of the economy is inevitable and an ineradicable part of a developed economy. The attempt [to control relative costs] may be as foolhardy as it is impossible”.

Baumol’s observation is based on documented and significant differences in productivity growth between the healthcare sector of the economy and the economy as a whole.

Low Productivity Growth

Healthcare services have experienced significantly lower productivity growth rates than other industry sectors for three reasons, according to Cimasi:

1) Healthcare services are inherently resistant to automation. Innovation in the form of technological advancement has not made the same impact on healthcare productivity as it has in other industry sectors of the economy.  The manufacturing process can be carried out on an assembly line where thousands of identical (or very similar) items can be produced under the supervision of a few humans utilizing robots and statistical sampling techniques (e.g., defects per 1,000 units). The robot increases assembly line productivity by accelerating the process and reducing labor input. In medicine, most technology is still applied in a patient-by-patient manner — a labor-intensive process. Patients are cared for one at a time. Hospitals and physician offices cannot (and, most would agree, should not) try to operate as factories because patients are each unique and disease is widely variable.

2) Healthcare is local. Unlike other labor-intensive industries (e.g., shoe making), healthcare services are essentially local in nature. They cannot regularly be delivered from Mexico, India or Malaysia.  They must be provided locally by local labor.  Healthcare organizations must compete within a local community with low or no unemployment among skilled workers for high quality and higher cost labor.

3) Healthcare quality is — or is believed to be — correlated with the amount of labor expended. For example, a 30-minute office visit with a physician is perceived to be of higher quality than a 10-minute office visit. In mass production, the number of work-hours per unit is not as important a predictor of product quality as the skills and talents of a small engineering team, which may quickly produce a single design element for thousands of products (e.g., a common car chassis).

Assessment

Healthcare suffers a number of serious consequences when its productivity grows at a slower rate than other industries, the most serious being higher relative costs for healthcare services. The situation is an inevitable and ineradicable part of a developed economy.

For example, as technological advancements increase productivity in the computer, and eHR, manufacturing industry, wages for computer industry labor likewise increase. However, the total cost per computer produced actually declines.  But in healthcare (where technological advancements do not currently have the same impact on productivity), wage increases that would be consistent with other sectors of the economy yield a problem: the cost per unit of healthcare produced increases.

Conclusion

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Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations [2 New Print Books]

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Healthcare Organization and Hospital Financial Management Strategies

All hospitals and healthcare organizations, both emerging and mature, face a daunting financial scenario in today’s volatile healthcare re-imbursement environment.

Decreasing revenues, increasing costs, and high consumer expectations present a complex challenge for CEOs, CFOs, physicians and nurse executives, administrators, financial advisors and department managers who must not only lead in today’s climate, but also position their organizations for tomorrow’s financial tumult and potential political changes of the Obama Administration and ACA, etc.

A National Team of Contributors

Produced by  economists, administrators – accountants, business leaders, MDs and IT consultants, among others; Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strategies] looks at ways to manage assets, costs, human resources and healthcare claims.  Everything – from inventory management to hybrid and activity based cost analysis in order to accelerate the cash conversion cycle – is scrutinized.  And, modern health economic themes like competitive strategy, workplace violence and financial benchmarks, for both public and private entities, are included.

Contemporaneous Health 2.0 Topics

We also examine contemporaneous topics such as the lessons learned from the corporate healthcare market competition and the PPMC imbroglio of the early 2000’s, and the domestic financial meltdown of 2009. This includes current methods for achieving hospital objectives, negotiating and analyzing cost-volume-profit contracts, and understanding the financial impact of regulatory requirements under HIPAA, STARK I-III, OSHA, the US Patriot Acts, the Deficit Reduction Act [DRA], the often contentious Sarbanes-Oxley Act, ARRA and HITECH Acts, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions [FACT] Act. In addition, information technology issues like electronic medical records (eMRs), RFID controls, RSS feeds and blogs, Health 2.0 initiatives and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems are examined in detail. Virtually no operational, strategic business, health economics, or financial management topic is omitted.

Assessment

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Hospitals and Health Care Organizations [Financial Management Strategies] is dedicated to meeting the administrative needs of our nation’s healthcare organizations in order to help them maintain a competitive edge in the markets they serve; and to take advantage of emerging business opportunities. We therefore invite you to be the first health economics cynosure in your hospital, facility, or healthcare system to join us for the journey.

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How to Monitor Hedge Funds

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Four Ways to Monitor after Purchase

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA, CMP™

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[Publisher-in-Chief]

Hedge funds (broadly defined as private investment vehicles that trade a variety of long and short equities, derivatives, futures contracts, and options in a variety of capital markets) have grown in size and importance in client portfolios because of superior performance, until of late [2008-09], and readily available investor capital.

Risk Factors

Physicians and clients often ask us to assess certain risk factors and a variety of investment entity structural characteristics associated with hedge funds. Accordingly, we must often be involved in discussing clients’ specific risk/return desires and expectations as they consider such investments.

Four Key Post-Investment Issues:

  1. A change in core investment strategies or risk postures from those which are documented in the investment policy statement—Among these are the specific markets to be traded, the degree of financial leverage to be employed or allowable, the underlying instruments or contracts to be used, and the investment strategies to be pursued under various conditions. Hence, there is no substitute for careful and regular assessment by the planner of changes in how and what an investment manager is trading and communication of such to the client.
  2. Use of financial leverage can dramatically increase returns just as poor performance can be accentuated—The key issue for the planner is whether a given investment manager’s use of leverage changes over the life of the hedge-fund investment, thereby possibly affecting the client’s initial desired risk/return profile.
  3. The composition of the performance return, particularly with respect to the long-term capital gain component.
  4. Asset growth—Regularly monitor and evaluate whether it is detrimental to performance and capable of causing an erosion of performance over a long-term horizon.

Assessment

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

Often, after a hedge-fund investment has been made, if performance over time is good (or even adequate), both the doctor client and the financial advisors or planner may assume that there has been no material changes in investment strategy or structural characteristics that warrant attention or concern. Such changes often occur subtly over time and, if performance erodes, and the client may feel that the planner did not adequately monitor the investment. Hence the necessity for the above warning post

Note: “Post investment Issues Regarding Hedge Funds,” by Richard L. Fisher, Personal Financial Planning, November/December 1996, pp. 14–19, Warren, Gorham & Lamont, 1-800-950-1205.)

Conclusion

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How Equity-Based Securities Affect a Physician’s Total Financial Plan

Equity Securities Provide a Portfolio Growth Engine

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA, CMP™

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

[Editor-in-Chief]

Equity securities provide growth. Theoretically, the amount of growth potential in an equity security is infinite. A stock’s price appreciation possibilities have no limit. However, a stock’s price can also go to zero and an investor can lose the entire amount invested. Therefore, while stocks contribute long-term growth to a portfolio, they also add risk.

Stock Diversification is Key

Diversification is the best defense against risk, so only a portion of every portfolio should be in stocks. Other investments—fixed income securities; cash equivalents that can be used to take advantage of opportunities or for emergencies; real estate; and even commodities (precious metals, for instance, or securities of companies whose businesses are commodity-based)—should all be considered by the responsible physician-investor or financial advisor as components of a well-rounded, balanced portfolio.

And So is Portfolio Diversification

The stock portfolio itself should also be diversified. Diversify among all types of equity securities such as some large capitalization stocks, some small capitalization stocks, some utilities, some cyclical stocks, some value stocks, some growth stocks, and some defensive stocks. Because it is difficult to adequately diversify an equity portfolio with a small amount of money, consider mutual funds or ETFs for some doctors or financial advisory clients. At least this is the philosophy of our Certified Medical Planner™ [CMP] online educational program.  

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Assessment

Always remember that, because the equity component of the portfolio can be expected to provide more than its proportionate share of the risk of a portfolio, it must be constantly monitored. Also remember that every physician-investor as a different level of risk tolerance, and some may be able to handle ownership of only the most solid and stable equity investments.

Conclusion

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What is the Role of a Physician-Focused Financial Advisor?

Changing Times – Demand Changing Roles

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA, CMP™

Editor-in-Chief

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

As a financial advisor for more than 15 years, it has been my experience that many doctors who require assistance in developing a comprehensive personal financial plan also need help with implementing any investment planning recommendations. While perhaps not so true before the “flash-crash” of 2008-09, the issue seems especially true today as retirement portfolios have been decimated, and the specter of healthcare reform is no longer just a threat but a political reality. The mindset of hubris has been replaced by a tone of fear in many medical colleagues.

The Financial Advisors

Physician investors who develop an investment plan may use a competent financial advisor [FA] or other specialist in the investment area. A financial advisor can help clients understand their current financial situations and develop strategies for achieving their goals. Other FAs are specialists that help clients design and implement plans for investing. Still others use a more comprehensive approach to the entire financial planning process with extreme degrees of healthcare specificity

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These Certified Medical Planners™ are fiduciaries at all times and put client needs first as registered investment advisors [RIAs], not commissioned sales agents or mere stock-brokers despite often confusing monikers.

Implementation

Implementation may be accomplished using professionally managed portfolios and mutual funds. The following shows how a plan may be implemented with an advisor assisting the physician-investor. The process may include:

• Developing investment policy and strategies

• Selecting and implementing managed portfolios and mutual funds

• Evaluating performance on a periodic basis

• Periodically reviewing and adjusting the investment plan as required

Note: The advisor may provide all of the investment services, or the physician investor may use other advisors in the process.

Example: 

A financial planner has developed a number of financial planning recommendations for a client. One recommendation is to develop a written investment plan, review current investments, and implement changes. The planner has recommended an investment advisor experienced in selecting and monitoring managed portfolios and mutual funds. The financial planner will meet with the client and advisor initially and once each year to monitor the plan.

Example: 

A financial planner has developed a financial plan for a client. The financial planner specializes in developing investment policy but not in implementing investments. The financial planner will use asset allocation software and develop a written long-term plan for the client. The doctor-client will work with a major brokerage firm to implement the plan using managed portfolios and mutual funds. The financial planner will monitor the brokerage firm and help the client evaluate performance.

Example:

A financial planner has developed a financial plan for a physician-client and will assist the client in developing asset allocation strategies. The planner has extensive knowledge in implementing the asset allocation strategies using managed portfolios and mutual funds. The planner will select and monitor the choices. The planner will provide the client with a quarterly performance report and meet with the client every six months to review the plan and strategies.

Assessment

Understanding the above is more critical than ever as physician-income continues to shrink going forward in the era of healthcare reform.

Conclusion

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An Emerging Values-Based Healthcare Payment Model

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Understanding Non-Traditional Physician Reimbursement Paradigms

[By Staff Reporters]

www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

According to Brian Knabe MD, Mark Fendrick, MD and Michael E. Chernew, PhD, instead of the one size fits all approach of traditional health insurance reimbursement, a “clinically-sensitive” cost-sharing system that supports co-payments related to evidence-based value for targeted patients seems plausible.

The New Model

In this model, out-of-pocket costs are based on price and a cost/quality tradeoff in clinical circumstances: low co-payments for interventions of highest value, and higher co-payments for interventions with little proven health benefit. Smarter benefit packages are designed to combine disease management with cost sharing to address spending growth.

Assessment

Today, whether independent or employed, physicians can pursue creative compensation models not like the one briefly described above and unknown just a decade ago.

Conclusion

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Understanding Hospital Denial Management

An Essay on Rejected Medical Claims and Invoices

By Ross Fidler

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Typically, denied and rejected hospital claims quickly surface as a source of multi-millions  of dollars in revenue leakage and unnecessary expense.

Struggling Payers

Payers have been struggling for decades with increased hospital costs; and the Affordable Care Act of 2010 [ACA] will only increase the stress. Hospitals now thoroughly inspect claims for errors and have become adept at using their rules to deny and delay claims.

For example, Zimmerman reported the denied percentage of gross charges climbed from 4% in 1990 to 11% in 2001; even more by unaudited 2010. In contrast, providers typically lack the tools to aggressively manage current denied claims and prevent future ones.

Denial Tracking

Without denial tracking, an organization may not recognize the heavy financial impact of denied claims. One report www.HARA.com indicates that bad debt and gross days are declining. However, a majority of medical providers write off denials as contractual allowance, distorting the numbers but not the resulting lower margins and reduced cash. H*Works reports that the typical 350-bed hospital loses between $4 million and $9 million each year in earned revenue from denials and underpayments (assume $103 million annual gross revenue and 40% contractual allowance), thru 2009. Recouping lost revenue from denials and underpayments will, according to H*Works, increase an organization’s operating margin by 2.6% www.advisoryboardcompany.com

Industry Benchmarks

Industry estimates report that at least 50% of denials are recoverable and 90% are preventable with the appropriate workflow processes, management commitment, strong change leadership, and the correct technology. H*Works estimates that for a revenue capture of $3 million from denials and underpayments, the recovery infrastructure costs are only about 3%.

Assessment

With all this in mind, better management of rejections and denials, as well as the information necessary to resolve and prevent them, surfaces as probably the best strategy to improving hospital financials. By streamlining the revenue cycle, managing rejections and denials proves to be less expensive and to provide faster returns than initiating new services.

Conclusion

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Integration as a Competitive Strategy in Healthcare Reform

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Understanding Horizontal and Vertical Integration

[By Robert James Cimasi MHA, AVA, CMP™]

Health Capital Consultants, LLC

St. Louis MO

Several potential benefits are associated with the integration of companies in the same or related industries. These synergistic benefits depend upon the type of companies and their integration strategies, as well as whether the anticipated transaction is a manifestation of horizontal consolidation or vertical integration.

Horizontal consolidation is “the acquisition and consolidation of like organizations or business ventures under a single corporate management, in order to produce synergy, reduce redundancies and duplication of efforts or products, and achieve economies of scale while increasing market share.”

Vertical integration involves the joining of organizations that are fundamentally different in their product and/or services offerings, i.e., “the aggregation of dissimilar but related business units, companies, or organizations under a single ownership or management in order to provide a full range of related products and services.”

Healthcare Locality

As healthcare is essentially a local business, horizontal integration within the local market has been limited by antitrust laws. Therefore, in order to control greater market share, a hospital’s strategy has required vertical integration. Healthcare providers and organizations have placed much emphasis on the benefits of vertical system integration in the last 10 or more years, whereby a single healthcare organization owns all of the elements needed to provide a continuum of care for all the needs of a given patient population. Much of this effect has stemmed from the desire to be able provide a “continuum of care,” i.e., to be able to single source contract for the healthcare needs of a patient population and to profit from implementing preventative healthcare and utilization management measures. The relative economic benefits of this type of vertical integration versus horizontal integration strategies remain the subject of great debate in academia and among the strategic managers of other industries. One lesson that may be drawn from other industries is that neither of these forms of integration is universally applicable or beneficial to every organization and market. There are also great costs to integration, which must be outweighed by the benefits. Each specific benefit should be identified and researched when examining the probable effects of integration, consolidation, mergers or divestitures as a competitive strategy.

Rapid Consolidation Periods

During the rapid consolidation and integration of healthcare providers, insurers, and purchasers, in recent years, there was much discussion of a concept termed “managed competition.” This term appears to have been an outgrowth of the term “managed care” and was viewed by many as the logical result of the integration of healthcare markets nationally. The concept of “managed competition” apparently related to an idealized vision of competition between very large, integrated providers (organized into integrated delivery systems), large, national managed care payors, and purchasing group coalitions that could achieve a balance of power between these interacting groups. However, many believe that the result of such an arrangement would more likely be a reduction in competition between members of each of these three groups and the creation of powerful bureaucratic and intractable organizations. Further, this scenario does not appear to effectively remove any of the existing barriers to competition and therefore doesn’t introduce any additional incentives for innovation to produce value for consumers which, of course, is the “sine qua non” of competition.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages of integration are becoming apparent, including:

  • the loss of autonomy;
  • increased bureaucracy;
  • difficulty in aligning incentives; and
  • other failed expectations.

Many organizations that sought strategic advantage through integration are ending those arrangements and now divesting acquired organizations.

Other Industries

In other industries, specialized providers of goods and services are increasingly able to offer customers a full range of services through affiliation and affinity with other independent specialists, made more seamless through the use of increasingly sophisticated communications and computing technologies. However, this move to “dis-integration” must also be carefully considered if organizations are not to make further costly organizational changes inspired by a rushed judgment of general market trends.

Porter Speaks

Michael Porter (et al.) wrote in the Harvard Business Review that,

In industry after industry, the underlying dynamic is the same: competition compels companies to deliver increasing value to customers. The fundamental driver of this continuous quality improvement and cost reduction is innovation. Without incentives to sustain innovation in health care, short-term cost savings will soon be overwhelmed by the desire to widen access, the growing health needs of an aging population, and the unwillingness of Americans to settle for anything less than the best treatments available. Inevitably, the failure to promote innovation will lead to lower quality or more rationing of care — two equally undesirable results.

Assessment

Therefore, if the emerging healthcare industry is to respond successfully to the Affordable Care Act [ACA] and related market pressures to reduce costs, then the healthcare market must first create incentives for innovation. The barriers to competition cannot include barriers to innovation as many do now. Physicians, nurses, healthcare purchasers, managers, and legislators must ensure innovation takes the forefront of any reform, if it is to be effective.

Conclusion

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On Medical Practice [Business] Succession Planning

A Process of Financial Steps

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko, MBA CMP™

[Editor-in-Chief]

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

Succession planning is a dynamic process requiring current ownership and management to plan the medical practice or company’s future, and then implement the resulting plan. As a financial planner and advisor myself, I see many doctors and clients approach business [practice] succession planning initially through retirement planning. Once they understand the issues and realities of the tax laws, they are much more amenable to working out a viable succession plan. Many doctors and other clients have not clearly articulated their goals, but have many pieces of the plan that need to be organized and analyzed by the financial planner to meet their objectives, including both personal and financial issues.

A Step-Wise Process

The steps necessary for successful succession planning are as follows:

• Gathering and analyzing data and personal information

• Contacting the doctor [client’s] other advisors

• Valuing the medical practice or business

• Projecting estate and transfer taxes

• Presenting liquidity needs

• Gathering additional corporate information

• Identifying dispositive and financial goals

• Analyzing the needs and desires of nonfamily key employees

• Identifying potential ownership, physician-executive and/or management successors

• Making recommendations, modifying goals, and providing methodologies

• Assisting the doctor-client in implementation

Gathering and Analyzing Data and Personal Information

The first step in data collection is talking to the doctor or client, and explaining the process of gathering data. Most successful financial planners use a questionnaire to be sure to address all important information. The planner should gain an understanding of the interrelationships between the practice, family and the business and address each of these areas as separate parts of the same equation. Finding out how the practice or business operates and why it operates that way can help the planner determine whether change is necessary and how to go about implementing it. Other important elements to address include the environment in which the practice [business] operates, potential flaws in the current structure and operations, appropriate levels of key-person life insurance coverage, investment asset diversification, prior estate planning efforts, and existing legal contracts that may need modification.

A Timely Process

It may take some time, from weeks to months, for the client to gather the required information. The planner should be encouraging and should periodically check on the doctor-client’s progress. If it appears that the client may not be motivated to complete the questionnaires independently, the planner should schedule an appointment to help the doctor-client finish. The client may create obstacles because he or she does not want to talk about death or relinquish control of the practice or business. These are delicate topics, and the financial planner cannot force the client to face them. Still, the consequences of not carrying out personal financial and estate planning can be explained.

Understanding the Practice or Business

To be most helpful to the doctor-client, the financial planner must understand the client’s medical practice or business. Reviewing the history of the company, getting acquainted with its current operations, and becoming familiar with the industry is important. By reviewing financial statements, income tax returns, business plans, and all pertinent legal documents, the planner will be able to identify key areas to focus on during the engagement. Understanding the patient or customer base of the business is also important. For example, exploring the impact of the principal’s death on the patient [customer] base helps the financial planner understand what changes could occur in the business after the physician-owner’s death.

Fair Market Valuation

Next, the planner must translate the balance sheet to current fair market values and analyze the debt, capital structure, and cash flows. A review of accounts receivable, inventory, and any fixed assets should be included to determine whether there is sufficient collateral for a leveraged buy-out or other estate planning technique for succession planning. Also, the cash flow should be reviewed to see if new fixed payments such as debt repayments or dividend distributions could be made.

Contacting the Doctor-Client’s Other Advisors

After gathering the documents, it’s a good idea for the planner to contact the client’s attorney, accountant or tax advisor, bank or trust officer, insurance advisor, investment advisor, stockbroker, and other business advisors. As many key advisers as possible should be contacted early in the engagement to create a spirit of cooperation. A planner will benefit by creating team harmony and establishing himself or herself as the team leader. Additionally, a planner could be engaged by these professionals in the future, and a planner is a valuable source of referrals.

Valuing the Medical practice of Business

The next step in the succession planning process is computing the value of the practice or business. It may surprise the planner to hear what the doctor or client perceives as the value of the [practice] business at the beginning of the engagement. Likewise, the client may be surprised to hear what value could be placed on the business for estate tax purposes. The goal in valuation is determining the price at which the business would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, assuming:

• The buyer is not under any compulsion to buy.

• The seller is not under any compulsion to sell.

• Both parties have reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.

Revenue Ruling 59-60 (1959-1, CB 237

The IRS issued Revenue Ruling 59-60 (1959-1, CB 237), which lists several factors to be used in valuing a business:

• Nature and history of the practice or business

• Economic outlook and condition of the healthcare industry

• Book value and financial condition of the practice or business

• Earning capacity of the practice or business

• Dividend-paying capacity of the practice or business

• Value of any goodwill or other intangibles

• Value of similar stocks traded on open markets

• Degree of control represented by the size of the block of stock interest

Highest and Best Use

The IRS computes a value based on the “highest and best use” of the practice or business. This means that the business will be valued by the IRS at the highest possible value that can be reasonably justified. Valuation methods include the asset approach, income approaches, and market approach.

• Asset approach:  This is primarily used for a business that is worth more if it is sold in pieces rather than as a whole. The tangible asset value is added to the intangible goodwill value.

• Income approaches:  A business as a going concern has value in its ability to produce profits in the future. These profits represent a return on the investment. The value of the business is a function of expected profits and desired rate of return.

— Discounted future earnings method:  Projected future earnings are discounted to present value.

— Discounted cash flow method:  Cash that the owner can withdraw from the business is discounted to present value.

— Capitalization of earnings method: Expected earnings are divided by the capitalization rate.

— Capitalization of excess earnings method.  Expected earnings that are not needed in the business are divided by the capitalization rate.

• Market approach: A business is worth what similar businesses sell for. Referred to as the comparable method of business valuation, this method should be used only when the comparable business is truly comparable.

Each of these primary methods has numerous variations that may provide a more desirable or justifiable value.

Assessment

When reviewing potentially taxable estates, the planner should analyze the opportunity to use favorable valuation discounts for loss of a key employee, lack of marketability, or possibly a minority discount for lack of control. Alternatively, planning recommendations can be made to avoid exposure to valuation premiums for control. The physician-owner may avail himself or herself of many of these discounts by reducing holdings to less than 50% prior to death.

Conclusion

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Understanding HIT Security Risks – The Ugly Truth!

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On the Privacy and Security of Healthcare Records

Dr. Mata

[By Richard J. Mata, MD, CIS]

There is no privacy …  get over it.

Scott McNealy, Former Sun Microsystems CEO

Storing and transmitting health information in electronic form exposes it to risks that do not exist, or exist to a lesser extent, when the information is maintained in paper.  For example, although both paper-based and electronic systems need protection from fire, water, and wear and tear because of aging, electronic data is also vulnerable to hardware or software malfunctions that can make data inaccessible or become corrupt, and to non-secure policies that can make data vulnerable to illegal access.  In addition, cyber-crimes, and unauthorized intrusions originating both internally and externally, are increasing dramatically every year, costing companies millions of dollars.  Nonetheless, electronic medical records (EMRs) are usually considered more secure than paper patient charts because paper records lack an audit trail, papers are easily lost, and their contents can be illegible.

Take Care the Risks

Healthcare organizations must take the new risks seriously, however, because health information is a vital business asset, and protecting it preserves the value of this asset.  In addition, securing patients’ information protects their privacy and enhances the organization’s reputation for professionalism, patient well-being, and trustworthiness.  Hospitals, emerging healthcare organizations (EHOs), physicians, and healthcare entities long ago recognized the value of health information, and implemented security policies and procedures, but as they move more into the electronic arena, it is vital to revise and update policies and procedures to acknowledge the different risks inherent in the digital age.

Three Components of Security

The three classic components of information security are confidentiality, integrity, and availability.  Donn B. Parker, a pioneer in the field of computer information protection,[1] added possession, authenticity, and utility to the original three.  These six attributes of information that need to be protected by information security measures can be defined as follows:  

  • Confidentiality: The protection and ethics of guarding personal information — for example, being cognizant of verbal communication leaks beyond conversation with associated healthcare colleagues.
  • Possession: The ownership or control of information, as distinct from confidentiality — a database of protected health information (PHI) belongs to the patients.
  • Data integrity: The process of retaining the original intention of the definition of the data by an authorized user — this is achieved by preventing accidental or deliberate but unauthorized insertion, modification or destruction of data in a database.  Make frequent backups of data to compare with other versions for changes made.
  • Authenticity: The correct attribution of origin — such as the authorship of an e-mail message or the correct description of information such as a data field that is properly named.  Authenticity may require encryption.
  • Availability: The accessibility of a system resource in a timely manner — for example, the measurement of a system’s uptime.  Is the intranet available?
  • Utility: Usefulness; fitness for a particular use — for example, if data are encrypted and the decryption key is unavailable, the breach of security is in the lack of utility of the data (they are still confidential, possessed, integral, authentic and available).

Ethics

When these attributes are considered in the healthcare context, another factor comes into play: ethics.  According to Dr. J. A. Magnuson, professor of public health informatics at Oregon Health Science University’s Medical Informatics Program, privacy,[2] security, and ethics are inextricably intertwined, and all are critical to public health’s role as a trustee of the public’s data.  As public health becomes increasingly involved in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI;[3]), the information aspects of privacy, security, and ethics become ever more critical.  All doctors take an ethical oath to protect the patient, and the obligation to uphold this oath extends to health data management, even for employees who do not take an oath.

The fields of medicine and information technology (IT) each have separate and related ethical considerations.  Ethics may prohibit technology, for example, when using a specific application that would make a security breach likely.  However, ethics may also demand technology.  Suppose that a new surveillance application would improve public health — is it not ethically imperative to utilize it to save countless lives?  But suppose it also almost guarantees a security breach — what does the ethical position on use of the application become then?  That is an extreme example, though not completely unrealistic.

FISA

Varied Uses

Complicating the picture is the fact that IT in the healthcare arena has so many and varied uses.  For instance, office-, clinic-, and hospital-based medical enterprise resource planning (ERP) is based on the same back-end functions that a company requires, including manufacturing, logistics, distribution, inventory, shipping, invoicing, and accounting.  ERP software can also aid in the control of many business activities, like sales, delivery, billing, production, inventory management, quality management, and human resources management.  However, other applications particular to the medical setting include the following:

  • The EMR, which has the potential to replace medical charts in the future, is feasible.[4]
  • Healthcare application service providers (ASPs)[5] are available via Internet portals.
  • Custom software production may produce more solution-specific applications.
  • Medical speech recognition systems and implementation are replacing dictation systems.
  • Healthcare local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), voice-over Internet protocol (IP) networks, Web and ATM file servers are ubiquitous.
  • The use of barcodes to monitor pharmaceuticals is decreasing the chance of medication errors and warns providers of potential adverse reactions.
  • Telemedicine and real-time video conferencing are already a reality.
  • Biometrics will be used more often for data access.
  • Personal digital assistant (PDA) wireless connectivity, which relies on digital or broadband technology including satellites, and radio-wave communications are increasingly common.
  • The use of wireless technology in medical devices will be increasing.

No Healthcare Standardization

All of these applications offer advantages, but the security of these IT methods and devices is not yet fully standardized or familiar to health professionals; despite the CCHIT, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, etc.  They all involve inherent security and privacy risks, and the prudent healthcare organization will want to ensure that these risks are identified and contained.  For instance, a single firewall or intrusion detection system (IDS) may not be enough.

The process must begin by conducting a security risk assessment — that is, doing a thorough assessment of current systems and data, and performing checks such as real-time intrusion testing, validation of data audit trails, firewall testing, and remediation when gaps or failed systems are exposed.  These activities are part of developing a healthcare security plan, including disaster recovery.

Privacy Officers

To ensure that the risk assessment is thorough, hospital network administrators and Privacy Officers should have a working knowledge of federal regulations and of the following security mechanisms:

  • vulnerability assessment;
  • security policy development;
  • risk management;
  • firewall assessment;
  • security application assessment;
  • network security assessment;
  • incident response and recovery assessment;
  • authentication and authorization systems;
  • security products;
  • firewall implementation;
  • public key infrastructure (PKI) design;
  • virtual private network (VPN) design and implementation
  • intrusion detection systems;
  • penetration testing;
  • security program implementation;
  • security policy assessment; and
  • security awareness training.

The federal government has recognized the importance of health information security by establishing regulatory guidance with its Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

The International Standards Organization

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IT system managers in healthcare settings are also familiar with the comprehensive security model offered by the International Standards Organization (ISO).  For instance, using ISO’s 17799 Code of Practice for Information Security Management, versions 2000, 2005, or 2010 information security is achieved by implementing a suitable set of controls to govern policies, processes, procedures, organizational structures and software and hardware functions.  The Code requires the IT manager to establish, implement, monitor, review, and where necessary, improve these controls to ensure that the specific security and business objectives of a healthcare organization are met.

Assessment

The work of the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) in developing innovative technology for the healthcare sector is also of interest to IT system managers.  For instance, research on a computer note-writing system that captures clinical data automatically and a data repository system that captures patient data and integrates it with clinical decision support and knowledge bases are two of the initiatives that have originated with NIST.  In addition, the organization publishes numerous Special Publications that provide guidance on how to establish and maintain IT security.

CASE MODEL: HIT Security

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References:


[1]   Donn B. Parker developed the so-called Parkerian Hexad Principles, which discuss the attributes of information security.

[2]   Privacy generally refers to a ‘people’ context, a state of being free from unauthorized intrusion or invasion.  This concept is as applicable to medical records as it is to your own house.  Confidentiality is viewed more in the context of information, usually dealing with accessing and sharing information or data.

[3]   EDI involves electronic transmission methods, often utilizing networks or the Internet.[3]  The benefits of EDI include speed, data entry savings, and reduction of manual errors; the risks are legion.

[4]   Terms used in the field include electronic medical record (EMR), electronic patient record (EPR), electronic health record (EHR), computer-based patient record (CPR), etc.  These terms can be used interchangeably or generically, but some specific differences have been identified.  For example, an EPR has been defined as encapsulating a record of care provided by a single site, in contrast to an EHR, which provides a longitudinal record of a patient’s care carried out across different institutions and sectors.  However, such differentiations are not consistently observed.

[5]   An application service provider (ASP) is a business that provides computer-based services to customers over a network.

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What is the Cost of eHRs?

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A Retrospective Look-Back

By Richard J. Mata; MD CIS CMP™

Studies by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that healthcare spending in the U.S. accounts for 16-17% of GDP, which is more than six-seven percentage points higher than the average of 8.9% in other OECD countries.  This translates into per capita health spending of $5,635 in the U.S. compared with median costs of $2,280 in other OECD countries.[1]  Suggestions as to the economic drivers of U.S. health spending include excessive service use, administrative complexity, population aging, threats of malpractice litigation, defensive medicine practices, and the lack of patient waiting lists.  In further comparisons with the OECD countries, it appears the U.S. overpays for physician visits, hospital stays, and pharmaceuticals.

In the Year 2004

A 2004 OECD paper suggested that one way of improving performance would be to move towards EHR:

Health systems should invest in automated health-data systems, including electronic medical records and systems to automate medication orders in hospitals. Better systems for recording and tracking data on patients, health and health care are needed to make major improvements in the quality of care.[2]

In the U.S., possible savings from the adoption of EHR have been projected to reach $142 billion in physician office visits, and $371 billion in hospital costs over a 15-year period.  These projections have not been validated by the experience in other OECD countries where the adoption movement is ahead of U.S. efforts by anything from four to thirteen years.

Nevertheless, the U.S. began its quest to move towards EHR in 2004 as medical software companies began actively marketing their systems, although funding for this endeavor did not come through until 2006.  In spite of this effort, the U.S. has the lowest percentage of physician providers using any EHR compared to Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia.  The U. S. physicians’ low adoption rate involves fear of the loss of productivity, lack of financial incentives, and high startup costs of as high as $40,000 per physician EHR adoption.

When spending on IT implementation in the healthcare system is compared on an international level, the U.S. lags dramatically behind the major OECD countries.  The U.S. spends $0.43 per capita compared to a high of $193 in the U.K.  This difference is even more dramatic when compared with the German experience, where IT adoption in the healthcare system is almost universal.  In thirteen years, Germany has spent $1.88 billion.  Their annual per capita cost has been $1.63.  The U.S. has reached only 25% of that expenditure so far.

Barriers to Adoption

The greatest barrier to adoption of EHR in most OECD countries has been the need to simplify the health insurance contracts payment structures with standard nomenclatures that can be adapted to EHR.  The major OECD countries also report that there must be a national adoption of IT standards in the healthcare system as well as a national effort to focus on privacy and confidentiality standards.  This assures better coordination of implementation and provides better strategies for adoptions through public incentives and grants.

 

Domestic 5 Year Costs

In the U.S., the five-year costs for a national IT healthcare network have been estimated to be as high as $103 billion in capital and $53 billion in interoperability.  Hospital costs for functionality were estimated to be $51 billion, skilled nursing facilities would bear $31 billion of costs, and physician offices would bear $18 billion of the costs. (Anderson, 2006)  EHR systems that have been implemented have been used mainly for administrative rather than clinical purposes.

In the Year 2005

A 2005 study by Richard Hillestad and colleagues at RAND[3] estimates that implementation of a nationwide EHR network would take about 15 years and cost hospitals about $98 billion and physicians about $17 billion.  Over the 15-year period, the average annual cost to hospitals would be $6.5 billion and the average annual cost to physicians would be $1.1 billion (CQ HealthBeat [1], 9/14). However, if 90% of providers adopted such a network, annual savings would total $81 billion, including $77 billion from improved efficiency and $4 billion from reduced medical errors, the RAND study found.  The study estimates that an EHR network would reduce adverse drug events in inpatient hospital settings by 200,000 annually and reduce such events in ambulatory settings by two million annually, saving $1 billion annually in hospitals and $3.5 billion in ambulatory settings.  For hospitals, about 60% of these savings would be from reduced adverse drug events in patients ages 65 and older, while 40% of savings to ambulatory practices from reduced medication errors would be in patients 65 and older (CQ HealthBeat [1], 9/14).

Assessment

In addition, the study estimates that a national EHR network would save Medicare about $23 billion annually and save private insurers about $31 billion annually.  The study projects that the estimated total annual savings of $81 billion would double if providers followed all checkup reminders and other prompts from the system (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 9/14).  Currently, about 20% to 25% of hospitals and 15% to 20% of physician offices have EHR systems, according to the study (CQ HealthBeat [1], 9/14).

But, what is the estimated cost in 2010?

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Conclusion

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References:


[1]    For details of the report, see http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/29/52/36960035.pdf.

[2]   OECD, Towards High-Performing Health Systems, see http://www.oecd.org/document/26/0,2340,en_2649_37407_31734042_1_1_1_37407,00.htm.

[3]   See http://www.rand.org/health/feature/2006/060414_shekelle.html.  The report is also discussed in some detail in Neergaard, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 9/14/05.  See http://www.ihealthbeat.org/index.cfm?Action=dspItem&itemID=114707.

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Understanding the Premise of Appraisal Value and Investment Time Horizon

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Key Issues in Healthcare Entity Valuation and Appraisal

By Robert James Cimasi; MHA, ASA, AVA, CBA, CMP™

cimasiwww.HealthCapital.com

The Premise of Value under which any healthcare entity fair market valuation is conducted is an assumption further defining the Standard of Value to be used.

The Premise of Value defines the hypothetical terms of the sale and answers the question, “Value under what further defining circumstances?”  Two general concepts relate to the consideration and selection of the Premise of Value, i.e., “value in use” and “value in exchange.”

Value in Use

Value in use is that premise of value that assumes that the assets will continue to be used as part of an ongoing business enterprise, producing profits as a benefit of ownership.

For example, in valuing the assets of a surgical hospital, the valuator must determine whether it is appropriate to value simply the tangible assets, or if it is appropriate to consider the enterprise as a going concern and incorporate the potential value of intangible assets. Orderly liquidation value involves assuming that the equipment is sold, perhaps separately, over a reasonable period of time. Forced liquidation assumes that the equipment is sold as quickly as possible to the first bidder.

Value in Exchange

Value in exchange is often referred to as “liquidation value.”  Liquidation value describes a sale of the assets of a business enterprise under conditions other than its continued operation as a going concern.

The liquidation can be on the basis of an orderly disposition of the assets where more extensive marketing efforts are made and sufficient time is permitted to achieve the best price for all assets, or on the basis of forced liquidation where assets are sold immediately and without concern for obtaining the best price.

hospital

Liquidation

Of course, costs of liquidation should be considered in the value estimate when using this premise of value.  Shortening the investment time horizon may have a deleterious effect on the valuation of the subject entity as it presents a restriction on the available pool of buyers and investors and the level of physician ownership, as required under the standard of Fair Market Value.

Assessment

Do the dual issues of value premise and time horizon still seem logical in modernity; why or why not? How comfortable are you that a reasonable FMV can be determined for any healthcare entity after passage of  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March of 2010? Please comment and opine. 

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The Pros and Cons of eMRs

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Delving Deeper into the Historic Origins of Debate

Dr. Mata

[By Richard J. Mata MD, CIS, CMP™]

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According to Wager, Ornstein, and Jenkins, in 2005, the perceived advantages of an EHR system include the following:

  •  Quality of the patient records (legible, complete, organized) — 86%
  •  Better access to patient records (available, convenient, fast) — 86%
  •  Improved documentation for patient care purposes — 93%
  •  Improved documentation of preventive services — 82%
  •  Improved documentation for quality improvement activities — 82%

Items viewed as an advantage by fewer respondents include the following:

  •  Administrative cost savings — 38%
  •  Improved efficiency — 61%
  •  Security of patient records — 64%

Nothing directly was said about cost savings or increased medical care quality. These topics have become more contentious issues during the past few years.

The Gurley Opinion

According to HIT expert Lori Gurley, in 2006, of the American Academy of Medical Administrators:

“The EHR provides the essential infrastructure required to enable the adoption and effective use of new healthcare modalities and information management tools such as integrated care,  evidenced-based medicine, computer-based decision support, care planning and pathways, and outcomes analysis” (Schloefell et al).  Although the benefits that support implementation of an EHR are clear, there are still barriers too, therefore the concept is still not accepted. “However, this could also be said of almost every other area of positive change and improvement within healthcare systems […]” (Schloefell et al).  There must be more involvement by the government and the private sector “to make changes where possible to instigate, motivate, and provide incentives to accelerate the development of solutions to overcome the barriers” (Young).

THINK: ARRA and HITECH, today. Of course, there are obviously advantages and disadvantages to both the paper medical record and the EHR.

Multi-Factorial Issues

Many factors must be considered before any healthcare organization or medical practice should implement an EHR.  The organization must first obtain as much information as possible about this new concept, and then the information must be carefully reviewed and the pros and cons discussed. Only then should the organization make their decision about this very important issue.

“The [EHR] as a part of a Clinical Information System (CIS) is a powerful tool which ties together documentation of the patient visit (clinical information), coding (diagnosis, and treatment procedures), which then translates into more accurate billing processes, reduces reprocessing of medical claims, and that translates into increased customer satisfaction with a provider” (Koeller). Although the technology is available, progress towards an EHR has been slower than expected. “Widespread use of [EHRs] would serve both private-and public-sector objectives to transform healthcare delivery in the United States” […] EHRs would also “enhance the health of citizens and reduce the costs of care” (Dick, Steen, and Detmer).

The MRI Study

According to a 2005-07 survey by the Medical Records Institute, the following factors are driving the push towards EHR systems within medical organizations:

Motivating Factors 2005 Ambulatory
The need to improve clinical processes or workflow efficiency. 89.3% 91.2%
The need to improve quality of care. 85.0% 85.3%
The need to share patient record information among healthcare practitioners and professionals. 81.1% 66.9%
The need to reduce medical errors (improve patient safety). 76.1% 69.1%
The need to provide access to patient records at remote locations. 67.9% 65.4%
The need to improve clinical documentation to support appropriate billing service levels. 67.1% 76.5%
The need to improve clinical data capture. 64.6% 61.0%
The need to facilitate clinical decision support. 60.7% 50.7%
The requirement to contain or reduce healthcare delivery costs. 54.6% 61.8%
The need to establish a more efficient and effective information infrastructure as a competitive advantage. 53.6% 53.7%
The need to meet the requirements of legal, regulatory, or accreditation standards. 50.0% 44.1%
Other 5.7% 5.1%
Totals 280 136
Margin of Error +/- 5.8% +/- 8.4%

Now, compare this with the results of the 2007 survey that focused on the factors driving hospitals to expand their use of EHR.

Driving Factors in a Hospital 2007
Efficiency and convenience, e.g., better networking to the medical community and patients and remote access 57.8%
Satisfaction of physicians and clinician employees 42.2%
The need to survive and thrive in a much more competitive, interconnected world. 41.0%
Regulatory requirements of JCAHO or NCQA. 35.6%
Savings in the Medical Record Department and elsewhere, including transcription. 24.0%
Value-based purchasing/pay for performance 17.7%
Pressure from payer groups, such as Leapfrog Group 15.2%
Possibility of subsidized purchase of HER, e-prescribing systems, etc. by purchasers/payers/large health systems. 8.8%
Totals 329
Margin of Error +/- 5.4%

Assessment

How have these motivating and driving factors changed today; have they really changed in 2010?

Does this deeper dive reveal any other truths; political, social, business or economic? Is this historical review helpful in understanding the reluctance or eagerness for EMR acceptance, or not?

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Defining Electronic Medical Record Systems

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Does Linguistic Obfuscation Exacerbate our Use Ambivalence?

[By Dr. Richard J. Mata; CIS, CMP™]

[By Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA, CMP™]

The 2003 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Patient Safety Report [1] described an EHR [2] as encompassing:

  • a longitudinal collection of electronic health information for and about persons;
  • [immediate] electronic access to person- and population-level information by authorized users;
  • provision of knowledge and decision-support systems [that enhance the quality, safety, and;
  • efficiency of patient care] with support for efficient processes for health care delivery.

The IOM Report

A 1997 IOM report, The Computer-Based Patient Record: An Essential Technology for Health Care, provides a more extensive definition:

A patient record system is a type of clinical information system, which is dedicated to collecting, storing, manipulating, and making available clinical information important to the delivery of patient care. The central focus of such systems is clinical data and not financial or billing information. Such systems may be limited in their scope to a single area of clinical information (e.g., dedicated to laboratory data), or they may be comprehensive and cover virtually every facet of clinical information pertinent to patient care (e.g., computer-based patient record systems).

The HIMSS Model

The EHR definitional model document developed by the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS, 2003) includes:

“a working definition of an EHR, attributes, key requirements to meet attributes, and measures or ‘evidence’ to assess the degree to which essential requirements have been met once EHR is implemented.”

 

The IOM Model

Another IOM report, Key Capabilities of an Electronic Health Record System [Tang, 2003], identifies a set of eight core care delivery functions that EHR systems should be capable of performing in order to promote greater safety, quality and efficiency in health care delivery:

8 Core Principles

Today, we realize that the eight core capabilities that Electronic Health [Medical] Records should possess are:

  1. — Health information and data. Having immediate access to key information – such as patients’ diagnoses, allergies, lab test results, and medications – would improve caregivers’ ability to make sound clinical decisions in a timely manner.
  2. — Result management. The ability for all providers participating in the care of a patient in multiple settings to quickly access new and past test results would increase patient safety and the effectiveness of care.
  3. — Order management. The ability to enter and store orders for prescriptions, tests, and other services in a computer-based system should enhance legibility, reduce duplication, and improve the speed with which orders are executed.
  4. — Decision support. Using reminders, prompts, and alerts, computerized decision-support systems would help improve compliance with best clinical practices, ensure regular screenings and other preventive practices, identify possible drug interactions, and facilitate diagnoses and treatments.
  5. — Electronic communication and connectivity. Efficient, secure, and readily accessible communication among providers and patients would improve the continuity of care, increase the timeliness of diagnoses and treatments, and reduce the frequency of adverse events.
  6. — Patient support. Tools that give patients access to their health records, provide interactive patient education, and help them carry out home monitoring and self-testing can improve control of chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
  7. — Administrative processes. Computerized administrative tools, such as scheduling systems, would greatly improve hospitals’ and clinics’ efficiency and provide more timely service to patients.
  8. — Reporting. Electronic data storage that employs uniform data standards will enable health care organizations to respond more quickly to federal, state, and private reporting requirements, including those that support patient safety and disease surveillance.” [3]

Assessment

With all the confusion surrounding terms like quality improvement and “meaningful use” which can mean major Federal dollars to the coffers of a medical practice, clinic or hospital; are we still confused about basic definitional terms?

And, does eMR linguistic obfuscation exacerbate our use ambivalence and encourage physician/dentist eMR avoidance?

Conclusion

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References:

[1]   See http://www.himss.org/content/files/PatientSafetyFinalReport8252003.pdf.

[2]   EHR (electronic health record) is often used interchangeably with EMR (electronic medical record).  In this discussion, EHR will be used consistently.

[3]   See http://www.iom.edu/.

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Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. What benchmarks do you use for consulting engagements? Are doctors and FAs more or less likely to retain a consulting firm in today’s competitive environment? Are these two consulting sectors more or less integrated today than yesterday?

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Are Hospitals Auctioning Debt?

Understanding Modern Cash Flow Strategies

By Ross Filder

By Karen White PhD

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

As a sign of the contracting economic times, some struggling hospitals are using a new method to collect revenue: the Internet. It has become a channel to cut write-offs and bad debt ratios, which lower stock prices if publicly held.

Rather than simply hiring agencies to collect patient bills, hospitals have begun to put their accounts receivable (ARs) up for auction online. Bidders on the debt include the same agencies that serve the hospitals, some of which provide guaranteed payments to hospitals in exchange for access to the debt. 

Strategy Attractive to Buyer and Sellers

The auctions are also attracting other companies that buy the debt outright. For example, one method that a facility based medical practice used to auction debt was for the hospital to determine the criteria it would use for selecting the debt to be auctioned. The criteria generally focus on ARs that are a certain age, but demographic regions, legal accounts, and monthly payment accounts were also be considered.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=accounting&iid=289186″ src=”http://view4.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/289186/corporate-details/corporate-details.jpg?size=500&imageId=289186″ width=”335″ height=”480″ /]

Request for Proposal

Once the criteria are determined, a listing of accounts is generated and supplied to potential buyers along with a Request for Proposal that asks each potential buyer to provide information on their experience in servicing hospital-type ARs, as well as details of their expertise, collection techniques, references, and price. 

Usually the winning bidder will pay a flat price for the entire AR.  It is important for the hospital to understand that when auctioning ARs the winning bidder owns the accounts and their collection tactics will not necessarily comply with the hospital’s standards for collections.

Automation

Automation can lead to decreased paperwork, process standardization, increased productivity, and cleaner claims. In 2004, Hospital & Health Network’s “Most Wired Survey” [1] found that the 100 most wired hospitals — including three out of the four AA+ hospitals in the country — had better control of expenses, higher productivity, and efficient utilization management. These numerics are much higher today. Additionally, these top hospitals tend to be larger and have better access to capital.

Assessment

The positive return on investment in technology increases allocation of funding to technology. This correlation is important because it begins to link the investment in information technology with positive financial returns in all areas of a hospital’s business, including the revenue cycle.

Conclusion

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[1]   See http://www.hhnmostwiredsurvey.com. The Most Wired Survey is conducted annually between January and March to “promote the effective use of information technology in achieving clinical and operating excellence.”

On HIT Continuity Planning

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Setting Up Your HIT Security System

Dr. MataBy Richard J. Mata, MD, CIS, CMP™ [Hon]

In order for a healthcare organization to thrive, it must be able to continue to function no matter what the circumstances are.

When disaster strikes, the organization must mobilize all the talent and resources needed to continue their operations and return to a normal state as soon as possible.

Time is money, and in today’s economy, an hour could be worth thousands of dollars.  Every department in an organization has responsibilities during a disaster.  Planning for a disaster and then dealing with it is a team effort by all parts of an organization.

Phases of Healthcare Business Continuity Planning

A system is required to realize this objective, and part of this system is healthcare entity business continuity planning (BCP).

Phase One: Set up a BCP Project

The first step is to set up a BCP project, which includes feedback from key members from all departments.  Appoint a project manager who has a solid background in the clinical and financial systems and functions that the organization deploys or services it provides.  The project manager can work with business and system analysts to document business flow and interactions with computerized systems that may go down, and how the organization will function on a manual system until service returns.

Phase Two: Review Emergencies and Assess Business Risk

The second phase involves reviewing the different types of emergencies that can arise and assessing the risks to the various business processes already documented.  This is accomplished following a system or service function.

Phase Three: Prepare for Emergencies

The third phase includes identifying of back-ups and recovery strategies to mitigate the effects of an emergency.  A storage area network (SAN) or redundant server could be used as back-ups.

Phase Four: Plan for Disaster Recovery

The fourth phase involves the development of procedures to be followed by a Disaster Recovery Team where human life may be at risk.  A disaster might be caused by weather, sabotage, or electrical power and be specific to the particular organization and its business and IT infrastructure.

Phase Five: Plan for Business Recovery

The fifth phase is critical, and involves developing detailed procedures for the recovery of the business.  Again, the BCP project manager could use each business or service procedure that was documented in phase two and detail which financial or clinical systems are involved, what would be done if the systems were down, and what the plan for recovering the system might be.

Phase Six: Test Business Recovery Procedures

The sixth phase involves simulating authentic emergencies and testing of the business recovery phase.  For example, how would business processes or services be affected by an electrical outage?  How fast can a power generator pick up the outage – and what might happen after a timely pause?  How would patients who were receiving mechanical support be affected?  What would happen to the clinical laboratory?

Phase Seven: Train the Staff

Phase seven covers the training of all employees in the procedures necessary to manage the business recovery process.  These are the procedures tested in phase six, which may require modification.

Phase Eight: Maintain the Currency of the Plan

Phase eight includes treating BCP as a dynamic project to be kept up to date to reflect all changes to business processes and employee structure.

Conclusion

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Current Outlook for the Hospital Industry

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Adaptation is Key in 2010 and Going Forward

By Robert James Cimasi; MHA, ASA, AVA, CBA, CMP™

cimasi

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Hospitals today must continually adjust to deal with pressures to contain reimbursement and utilization levels.  The continuing cost containment pressures manifest themselves in many patients being shifted not only to lower acuity treatments but also to other providers.

Reimbursement mechanisms are increasingly designed to control costs and access. Managed care insurance plans continue to be a strong influence as payers for acute care hospital services. Medicare’s HOPPS [hospital outpatient prospective payment system] has reduced many of the financial benefits of shifting more care to outpatient settings.

Personnel Shortages

Personnel shortages have plagued the industry, and with the pending retirement of baby-boomers, relief from these shortages seems remote. This population also heavily influences the consumer side of the industry, since healthcare plans are based heavily upon demographics.  Aging baby-boomers are the fastest-growing segment of the population; the portion of the population over 65 years old is expected to increase from 20 million in 1970 to 69.4 million in 2030. Following closely behind is the increase in other minority populations.  Both groups will influence how healthcare services are dispensed.

Additionally, despite pressure to limit ALOS [average length of stay] and the shift to outpatient and freestanding, off-campus care, there will continue to be demand for acute care hospitals and the demographic trends will support this demand for many years.

Technology

Technological advances always play a central role in changing the medical industry.  The issue will be how healthcare providers will adopt new technologies under their current capital constraints.

Currently, health care insurance coverage is a major unfolding issue in the US, and there remains uncertainty about the future level of both public and private insurance coverage.  Now, facing the recent economic instability, employers are looking at restraining healthcare benefits for their employees even more as a way to stay profitable.

Assessment

The decline in the healthcare workforce coinciding with the increase in labor costs and resource consumption poses an ongoing challenge.  And yet, in the midst of the economic turmoil, hospitals must continue to provide services while remaining aware of the economic threats that may still lie ahead.

More:

Conclusion

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Implementation of the Healthcare Deficit Reduction Act

Signed by President Bush in 2006

By Gregory O. Ginn; PhD, MBA, CPA, MEd

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™

The Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), S. 1932, was signed by President Bush on February 8, 2006, and became Public Law No. 109-171.  Implementation of the act includes these provisions:

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Subtitle A – Provisions Relating to Medicare Part A

  • hospital quality improvement (section 5001);
  • improvements to Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) programs (section 5003);
  • reduction in payments to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs; section 5004);
  • phase-in of inpatient rehabilitation facility classification criteria (section 5005);
  • development of a strategic plan regarding investment in specialty hospitals (section 5006);
  • demonstration projects to permit gain-sharing arrangements (section 5007); and
  • post-acute care payment reform demonstration programs (section 5008).

Subtitle B  Provisions Relating to Medicare Part B

  • title transfer of certain durable medical equipment (DME) to patients after 13-month rental (section 5101);
  • adjustments in payment for imaging services (section 5102);
  • limitations on payments for procedures in ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs; section 5103);
  • minimum updates for physician services (section 5104);
  • three-year extension of hold-harmless provisions for small rural hospitals and sole community hospitals (section 5105);
  • updates on composite rate components of basic care-mix adjusted prospective payment systems (PPS) for dialysis services (section 5106);
  • accelerated implementation of income-related reductions in Part B premium subsidy (section 5111);
  • Medicare coverage of ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms; National Educational And Information Campaign (section 5112);
  • improvements to patient access and utilization of colorectal cancer screening under Medicare (section 5113);
  • delivery of services at federally qualified health centers (FQHC) (section 5114); and
  • waiver of Part B Late Enrollment Penalty for certain international volunteers (section 5115).

Subtitle C – Provisions Relating To Parts A and B

  • home health payments (section 5201);
  • revision of period for providing payment for claims that are not submitted electronically (section 5202);
  • timeframe for Part A and B payments (section 5203); and
  • Medicare Integrity Program (MIP) funding (section 5204).

Subtitle D – Provisions Relating To Part C

  • phase-out of risk adjustment budget neutrality in determining payments to Medicare Advantage organizations (section 5301); and
  • Rural PACE Provider Grant Programs (section 5302).[1]

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The goal of the act is to save nearly $40 billion over five years from mandatory spending programs through slowing the growth in spending for Medicare and Medicaid. Has it been successful to-date?

Assessment

We know from personal experience that the DRA can be implemented by all healthcare stakeholders to the benefits of the industry sector in the aggregate. But, has it been?

Conclusion

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Editors Note: Gregory Ginn has been a professor in the Department of Health Care Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, since 2000. He received his doctorate, MBA, M.Ed., and undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and is an inactive Certified Public Accountant registrant in the States of Nebraska and Texas. Before his current position at UNLV, he spent time teaching at Clarkson College, College of Saint Mary, University of Findlay, University of Central Texas, Stephen F. Austin State University, State University of New York at Buffalo, University of Houston at Victoria, University of Texas at Austin, and the Southwest Texas State University. Prior to his academic roles, he was an accountant for Touche Ross & Co., and an Internal Revenue Service Tax Auditor. Dr. Ginn has also been a reviewer for organizations such as: Health Care Management Review and the Health Care Administration Division of the Academy of Management. He is Treasurer for the Nevada Executive Health Care Forum and was a member of the Southern Nevada Wellness Council. His graduate teaching experience in healthcare administration is abundant, having taught courses in: Management of Health Services Organizations, Quantitative Methods, The U.S. Health Care System, Health Care Systems and Policy, Health Care Finance, Group Practice Management, Long-term Care, and Health Care Law.  He has been published in numerous journals, including Journal of Healthcare Management, Hospital Topics, Nursing Homes, Journal of Nursing Administration, International Electronic Journal of Health Education, and Hospital and Health Services Administration. His current and former professional memberships include: American College of Healthcare Executives, Nevada Executive Healthcare Forum, Academy of Management, Association of University Programs in Health Administration, Certified Medial Planner (Hon.) and Heartland Health Care Executives.

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On Hospital Revenue Cycles Management

Operational Considerations for Improvement

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko, FACFAS, MBA, CMP™

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CPHQ, CMP™

One of us has been an acute general care hospital administrator while the other vice-president of a clinical and medical staff.

Throughout our respective tenures, providing high quality care with improved health outcomes was our primary concern – and actually is that of most hospitals of any size, geography, or demographic. Conflicts of interest were inevitable of course, and occasionally the interest of stakeholders collided, or was ignored. And, continually we realized – and were reminded – that money matters and the maxim “no margin, no mission” applies.

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Strong Management Required for Success

Nevertheless, the foundation of strong financial health ultimately lies in effective management of the hospital revenue cycle. And, strong internal management and leadership is the basis of an enhanced revenue cycle. In practical terms, effective management means understanding the process and targeting the core of the revenue cycle in order to fine-tune and support fiscal health and business growth.

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A Triad of Processes Groupers

For us, the processes of hospital revenue cycles were grouped in three areas corresponding to the journey of a patient through the system: the front door, the middle, and the back door; to the extent possible.

1. Front-door processes are termed patient access functions and revolve around scheduling, registration, pre-admission, and admissions. When these processes are streamlined and swift; the value is most evident to a hospitals’ customers, the patients, but it is also vital to the revenue maintenance (and enhancement) of the facility. The most effective and efficient time to accomplish patient access activities is when patients and their caregivers are together. Patient access needs to be handled by highly skilled and motivated employees who can accomplish a hospital’s goals for information capture while carrying out customer service objectives. This is also the optimal stage for achieving denial management.

2. Middle processes include case management (CM) and health information management (HIM).  Those involved in the CM function act as gatekeepers to review the appropriateness of clinic referrals and ensure financial clearance is established.  CM also involves developing a plan for discharge and monitoring to ensure it is timely and appropriate to the level of care.  Another important focus of CM is the freeing up of acute care beds.

The HIM functions revolve around document management, coding, transcription, and charge capture. Financial performance can be significantly improved when case management and HIM activities are optimized by using information technologies that are integrated with process and workflow. The end result can be an increase in revenue and reduction in regulatory risk.

3. Finally, back-door processes are termed patient financial services (PFS) functions and revolve around billing, collections, follow-up, and resolution. These are the business office billing and administrative functions that support the front-line caregivers and that interface with external payers and patients to resolve outstanding accounts receivable. Back-door processes bring significant value to hospitals by reducing administrative costs, increasing collections levels, and dramatically lowering the percentage of aged accounts receivables [ARs].

Assessment

Modern hospitals today that are seeking to improve their bottom lines through better-managed and enhanced revenue cycle operations in these three areas front, middle, and back usually encounter challenges with people, processes, and technology. These challenges may be addressed by incorporating following:

  • optimizing organizational structure;
  • raising the bar through benchmarking; and
  • adopting appropriate technology.

Editors: We appreciate the ME-P input of Karen White PhD and Ross Fidler. 

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Conclusion

Now, please tell us your hospital revenue cycles story and how these challenges were executed; successfully or not!  What benchmarks did you use for them, and were any others required. Do these operational activities conflict or compliment each other; how and why or why not?

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Understanding Patient-Focused Healthcare

Emerging Trend Focuses on the Patient

By Gregory O. Ginn; PhD, MBA, CPA, MEd

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™

One swelling competitive medical administration and clinical trend is patient-focused and holistic healthcare, which centers on patient needs and attempts to humanize patient care.

Definition

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Patient-focused healthcare therefore incorporates the following concepts, among others:

  • patient education;
  • active participation of the patient;
  • involvement of the family;
  • nutrition;
  • art; and
  • music.

These are thought to improve patient outcomes. Further, some think that patients will benefit from learning how to cope with healthcare processes before they enter into those processes and that this knowledge will result in better outcomes.

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An example of this would be classes to prepare couples for childbirth. These classes teach prospective parents the different stages of labor and strategies for dealing with the challenges associated with each stage. They cover options for pain management such as breathing and relaxation techniques and/or analgesics. The classes also provide education about clinical options such as induced labor and caesarian sections, and they cover practical issues such as what to wear and what kind of car seat to buy to transport the newborn home.

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Assessment

We know from personal experience that this type of education is enormously beneficial in reducing stress and improving the decision-making ability of patients who are involved in healthcare processes.

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Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Editors Note: Gregory Ginn has been a professor in the Department of Health Care Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, since 2000. He received his doctorate, MBA, M.Ed., and undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and is an inactive Certified Public Accountant registrant in the States of Nebraska and Texas. Before his current position at UNLV, he spent time teaching at Clarkson College, College of Saint Mary, University of Findlay, University of Central Texas, Stephen F. Austin State University, State University of New York at Buffalo, University of Houston at Victoria, University of Texas at Austin, and the Southwest Texas State University. Prior to his academic roles, he was an accountant for Touche Ross & Co., and an Internal Revenue Service Tax Auditor. Dr. Ginn has also been a reviewer for organizations such as: Health Care Management Review and the Health Care Administration Division of the Academy of Management. He is Treasurer for the Nevada Executive Health Care Forum and was a member of the Southern Nevada Wellness Council. His graduate teaching experience in healthcare administration is abundant, having taught courses in: Management of Health Services Organizations, Quantitative Methods, The U.S. Health Care System, Health Care Systems and Policy, Health Care Finance, Group Practice Management, Long-term Care, and Health Care Law.  He has been published in numerous journals, including Journal of Healthcare Management, Hospital Topics, Nursing Homes, Journal of Nursing Administration, International Electronic Journal of Health Education, and Hospital and Health Services Administration. His current and former professional memberships include: American College of Healthcare Executives, Nevada Executive Healthcare Forum, Academy of Management, Association of University Programs in Health Administration, Certified Medial Planner (Hon.) and Heartland Health Care Executives.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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On Hospital CPOE Systems [Part Two]

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Computerized Physician Order Entry Systems

By Brent Metfessel; MD, MIS

A significant initial cost outlay for an organization-wide CPOE system is necessary, which for a large hospital may run into the tens of millions of dollars.  Understandably, the majority of the hospitals that have installed a CPOE system are large urban hospitals.  The up-front cost outlay may be prohibitive for smaller or rural hospitals unless there is an increase in outside revenue or third-party subsidies.

However, although it may take a few years before a positive ROI becomes manifest, there can be a significant financial return from such systems.

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Potential Benefits

The potential benefits of a CPOE system go beyond quality. Significant decreases in resource utilization can occur. In one study, inpatient costs were 12% lower and average Length of Stay (LOS) was 0.89 day shorter for patients residing on general medicine wards that used a CPOE system with decision support. Rather simple decision support tools can reap cost benefits as well. When a computerized antibiotic advisor was integrated with the ordering process, one institution realized a reduction in costs per patient ($26,325 vs. $35,283) and average LOS (10.0 days vs. 12.9 days), with all differences statistically significant.

Studies have shown that CPOE systems can significantly reduce medication error rates, including rates of serious errors.

For example, one large east coast hospital saw a 55% reduction in serious adverse medication errors after the system was installed. However, on occasion errors can actually be introduced due to the computing process; in particular, errors can be introduced if the provider accidentally selects the wrong medication from the list or drop-down menu.

Accordingly, a CPOE system should not be viewed as a replacement for the pharmacist in terms of checking for medication errors. In addition, proper user interface design such as highlighting every other line on the medication screen for better visibility and having the provider give a final check to the orders before sending are some ways of reducing this kind of error. Overall, error rates from incorrect order entry on the computer are much smaller than other medication errors prior to introduction of the system.

Appropriate use of a CPOE system helps prevent errors and quality of care deficiencies due to problems with the initiation of orders.  However, errors can also occur in the execution of orders, particularly with the administration of medications to patients.  Bar coding of medications, discussed previously, is a simple way to close the loop in medication error prevention as well as further increase the efficiency of workflow.

Despite its advantages, a CPOE system has been implemented on an organization-wide basis in only about 45% of all US hospitals and growth in implementations has been relatively slow, although about 67% plan to add a CPOE system in the next few years.  Implementing a CPOE system is not an easy task, and there is a significant risk of failure.  Most hospitals utilize vendors for implementation rather than attempting to develop the system in-house given the difficulty of hiring full-time IT talent that specializes in CPOE systems.

One critical feature of any CPOE system is to obtain physician buy-in to the technology, since they will be doing most of the ordering.  Actually, unless the system is of the highest sophistication, physicians may claim it takes more time to write orders using a CPOE system than using the paper chart, as there may be a number of drop-down menus to negotiate prior to arriving at the appropriate drug.  Real-time retrieval of information and electronic documentation, provision of on-line alerts, and the ability to use standard order sets (prepackaged sets of orders pertaining to a particular clinical condition or time period in an episode of care), when relevant, can make the net time spent on writing orders similar to using paper charts.

Doctor Acceptance

It is also important, for physician acceptance, to not overwhelm them with on-line alerts.  Clearly, the system needs to point out the more serious errors, but if the physician’s process is frequently interrupted by alerts, they may increasingly resist the system.

For example, medication allergy alerts may warn physicians not only of potential problems with medications that have an exact match to the allergen, but also, as a defensive maneuver (“better safe than sorry”), to other medications that have a related molecular structure,, even though the patient may already be taking such medication and tolerating it well.  Furthermore, allergies to medications that may result in life-threatening anaphylactic shock may not be distinguished from “sensitivities” that consist of side effects that are not true allergies and are usually much less serious.

Thus, the potential exists for frequent alert generation that would interrupt the work flow and require time spent to override the alerts, making the system difficult to use and leading to user resistance.  One suggested solution is to have a hierarchy of importance, with alerts for potentially life-threatening situations being allowed to interrupt the work flow and requiring specific override or acknowledgment, and alerts for less serious problems being “noninterruptive,” allowing easy visibility of the alert without requiring stoppage of the work flow.

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CPOE Pitfalls

Other pitfalls with respect to CPOE systems include the following:

  • crowded menus making it easy to select the wrong patient or wrong drug with the mouse;
  • fragmented information necessitating navigation through numerous screens to find the relevant information;
  • computer downtime (scheduled or unscheduled); and
  • location of terminals in busy places, which can lead to distractions and resulting incomplete or incorrect entries.

Intelligent, well-thought-out system designs can serve to mitigate many of these problems.  It is important that such difficulties appear on the systems designers’ “radar screen” and are explicitly considered in the implementation.

Pharmacists

As for pharmacists, a CPOE system will not take them out of the process. Although a CPOE system has the capability to capture many drug errors and remove the need for manual order entry, there will always be a need for pharmacists to not only give a second look at possible errors, but to take a more active role in patient care, including going on ward rounds for complex cases, defining optimal treatment, and giving consultative advice.

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Assessment

A CPOE system has the potential to give physicians ready access to patient data anywhere in the hospital as well as at home or on the road, especially with Internet-based connections. This is significant given the difficulty in obtaining patient charts for mobile providers.

In today’s environment of high expectations for care quality and pay-for-performance initiatives, enhanced quality of care can translate into financial gain. Although there is a significant up-front allocation of funds for CPOE systems, given present trends the time may arrive where there is no longer a choice but to implement such a system.

Conclusion

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On Hospital CPOE Systems [Part One]

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Computerized Physician Order Entry Systems

[By Brent Metfessel MD, MIS]

Since the late 1990s, there has been increasing pressure for hospitals to develop processes to ensure quality of care. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has estimated the number of annual deaths from medical error to be 44,000 to 98,000.  Manual entry of orders, use of non-standard abbreviations, and poor legibility of orders and chart notes contribute to medical errors.  They also concluded that most errors are the result of system failures, not people failures.

www.CPOE.org

Other studies suggest that between 6.5% and 20% of hospitalized patients will experience an adverse drug event (ADE) during their stay. Both quality and cost of care suffer.  The cost for each ADE is estimated to be about $2,000 to $2,500, mainly resulting from longer lengths of stay. The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics reported that about 23,000 hospital patients die annually from injuries linked specifically to the use of medications.

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The Joint Commission and the Leapfrog Group

In addition, the Joint Commission and the Leapfrog Group, a consortium of large employers, have pushed patient safety as a high priority and hospitals are following suit. The Leapfrog Group in particular highlighted CPOE systems as one of the changes that would most improve patient safety.  These patient safety initiatives have further advanced CPOE systems, since these systems have the reduction of medical errors as a prime function.  State and federal legislatures have also stepped up activity in this regard.

For example, back in July 2004, the federal government strongly advocated for electronic medical records, including the creation of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to develop a National Health Information Network. Consequently, regional health information organizations have been established in many states, and these are used for the purpose of expediting the sharing and exchange of healthcare data and information, although there still remain issues in terms of providing adequate funding to these programs.

In addition, consideration was given to the allocation of grants and low-interest loans to aid hospitals in implementing healthcare technology solutions.  In 2000, California first enacted legislation (Senate Bill 1875) stating that as a condition of licensure, acute care hospitals, with the exception of small and rural hospitals, submit plans to implement technological solutions (such as CPOE systems) to substantially reduce medication-related errors by January 1, 2002. Hospitals in California had until January 1, 2005, to actually implement their medication error-reduction plans and make them operational. Unfortunately, many are still not in compliance today.

Health plans also entered the patient safety stage. In 2002, one large health plan in the northeast provided a 4% bonus to hospitals implementing a CPOE system and staffing intensive care units (ICUs) with “intensivists.” Today, this goal is almost the norm, but not yet reality for all.

More than Data Retrieval 

Many hospitals have “data retrieval” systems where a provider on the wards can obtain lab results and other information. A CPOE system, however, allows entry of data from the wards and is usually coupled with a “decision support” module that does just that — supports the provider in making decisions that maximize care quality and/or cost effectiveness.

In this application of HIT, physicians and possibly other providers enter hospital orders directly into the computer. Many vendors of such systems make special efforts to create an intuitive and user-friendly interface, with a variable range of customization possibilities. The physicians can enter orders either on a workstation on the ward or in some cases at the bedside.

Features of a True CPOE System

Basic features of CPOE should include the following:

  • Medication analysis system — A medication analysis program usually accompanies the order entry system. In such cases, either after order entry or interactively, the system checks for potential problems such as drug-drug interactions, duplicate orders, drug allergies and hypersensitivities, and dosage miscalculations. More sophisticated systems may also check for drug interactions with co-morbidities (e.g., psychiatric drugs that may increase blood pressure in a depressed patient with hypertension), drug-lab interactions (e.g., labs pointing to renal impairment that may adversely affect drug levels), and suggestions to use drugs with the same therapeutic effect but lower cost. Naturally, physicians have the option to decline the alerts and continue with the order. In fact, if there are alerts that providers are frequently overriding, providers will often provide feedback that can lead to modification of the alert paradigms. Encouraging feedback increases the robustness of the CPOE system and facilitates continuous quality improvement.
  • Order clarity — Reading the handwriting of providers is a legendary problem. Although many providers do perfectly well with legibility, other providers have difficulty due to being rushed, stressed, or due to trait factors. Since the orders are accessible directly on the workstation screen or from the printer, time is saved on callbacks to decipher illegible orders as well as preventing possible errors in order translation. A study in 1986 by Georgetown University Hospital (Washington, D.C.) noted that 16% of all manual medical records are illegible. Clarifying these orders takes professional time, and resources are spent duplicating the data; thus, real cost savings can be realized through the elimination of these processes.
  • Increased work efficiency — Instantaneous electronic transmittal of orders to radiology, laboratory, pharmacy, consulting services, or other departments replaces corresponding manual tasks. This increase in efficiency from a CPOE system has significant returns. In one hospital in the southeast, the time taken between drug order submission and receipt by the pharmacy was shortened from 96 minutes (using paper) to 3 minutes. Such an increase in efficiency can save labor costs and lead to earlier discharge of patients. The same hospital noted a 72% reduction in medication error rates during a three-month period after the system was implemented. Alerting providers to duplicate lab orders further saves costs from more efficient work processes. And, in another instance, the time from writing admission orders to execution of the orders decreased from about six hours to 30 minutes, underscoring CPOE system utility in making work processes more efficient; thus positively affecting the bottom line.

Assessment

In today’s environment of high expectations for care quality and pay-for-performance initiatives, enhanced quality of care can translate into financial gain. Although there is a significant up-front allocation of funds for CPOE systems, given present trends the time may arrive where there is no longer a choice but to implement such a system.

Conclusion

Although a Computerized Physician Order Entry system alone will reap significant benefits if intelligently implemented, in order to realize the greatest benefit a CPOE system should be rolled up into a fully functioning EMR system where feasible.

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Why Hospital IT is Almost like a Retail Mall

Hospital Bar-Coding Systems

By Brent A. Metfessel; MD, MIS

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Given anticipated benefits in patient safety, the FDA required in April 2006, that bar codes be installed on all medications used in hospitals and dispensed based on a physician’s order.  The bar code must contain at least the National Drug Code (NDC) number, which specifically identifies the drug. 

Unfortunately, by 2008 only about 18% of hospitals used bedside bar coding systems. Nevertheless, this ruling heightened the priority of implementing hospital-wide systems for patient/drug matching using bar codes and implementation that is still growing rapidly today.

Procedures

Conceptually, the procedure for bar coding is as follows:

  • The drug is given to the nurse or other provider for administration to the patient.
  • Once in the patient’s room, the provider scans the bar code on the patient’s identification badge, which positively identifies the patient.
  • The medication container is then passed through the scanner, which then identifies the drug.
  • The computer matches the patient to the drug order.  If there is not a match, including drug, dosage, and time of administration, an alert is displayed in real-time, enabling correction of the error prior to drug administration.

Enter the FDA

The FDA estimates that over 500,000 fewer adverse events will occur over the next 20 years, a result of an expected 50% decrease in drug dispensing and administration errors. The decrease in pain, suffering, and lengths of stay from drug errors is estimated to result in $93 billion in savings over the next 20 years. 

Avoidance of litigation, decreased malpractice premiums, reduction in inventory carrying costs, and increase in revenue from more accurate billing result from the improvement in quality and efficiency of care.

This makes implementation of bar coding technology relatively low-risk, although there needs to be sufficient informatics capability to capture and store drug orders.

Estimated Cost Savings

For a bar coding system, a 300-bed hospital may expect up-front costs of $700,000 to $1.5 million with about $150,000 in maintenance fees annually.  The returns, however, in terms of improved patient safety and cost of care make an investment in bar coding technology one of the more cost-effective information systems investments.

Assessment

Also, given the increasing consumerism in healthcare, prospective patients will be more assured of care quality from a hospital investing in state-of-the-art technology in this area, giving the medical center a competitive advantage.

Conclusion

Thus, hospitals are becoming more like retail businesses every day … finally!

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The DDS / Doctor [Salesman] will See [Up-Sell] you Now

Blurring the Line between Medical Professionalism … and Mercantilism

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

Concerns and complaints about pushy dentists are apparently becoming more numerous among consumers, as elective cosmetic treatments and marginally effective tests and modalities are increasingly available from the same providers that patients formerly turned to for unbiased dental advice and oral healthcare. All for a price!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37198272/ns/health-oral_health

So, enter the cosmetic [rank-and-file] dentists and the elective renaissance of the profession – at least economically. An entire industry has even sprung up teaching dentists how to sell various products, and up-sell related services and procedures.

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Root-Cause [pun intended]  

Why is this happening? Economics of course! Dental profession success in eradicating cavities, caries and other common mouth disorders – which used to comprise 80% of dental procedures and income – is now a two-edge sword working against their financial self interests … damn!

In fact, I recall about three decades ago when the situation first became acute, as more than a few of our nation’s dental schools closed for lack of interest in matriculation. Right here in Atlanta, the prestigious Emory University School of Dentistry closed its doors while I myself was a patient there; and employed as a surgical resident at a nearby acute care hospital. Contemporaneous cocktail party talk and medical gossip centered on the “death of dentistry” as I exhaled a sigh of relief at my career choice.

Going forward, years later, far too many managed care contracts reimbursed so poorly that they became a loss-leader [access portal to a patient population] for dental practitioners. In other worlds, lose money or break-even on the covered services contract, but profit handsomely by offering [pushing] non-covered services to cohort contract members … and their sphere of influence.

One Word from Mrs. Robinson – Plastics

Plastic surgeons, of course, are still the doctors most commonly associated with non-covered and purely cosmetic and elective treatments such as Botox injections, facelifts and tummy tucks. But, similar elective procedures — which generally aren’t covered by insurance — are being offered by a wide variety of medical specialists.

For example, many dermatologists, who treat patients for skin cancer and other diseases, also promote treatments to smooth wrinkles, lighten age spots and remove hair. Otolarnygologists, who care for patients with conditions of the ear, nose and throat, commonly perform nose jobs, brow lifts and eyelid surgery. And, podiatrists, who are often experts at foot reconstructive, diabetic and ankle surgery, sell shoes, shoe-inserts, laser beam treatments for fungus toenails and various cosmetic and prosthetic devices for deformed toenails and crooked digits.

Medicare Limits – Privates Don’t

At least Medicare requires an ABN [advanced beneficiary notice] for non-covered medical services, and limits non-participating doctors to 115% of the Medicare fee schedule for all providers. Increasingly, some private health plans are doing and proposing, same.  

Practice Management Guru

Now, I have no issue with efficient medical practice management operations, for any specialty. In this era of managed care and health 2.0, governmental intervention is onerous, competition is fierce and patient empowerment is reversing the aging command-control medical establishment. Nor, do I have a problem with offering the entire range of therapeutic and/or elective options to any patient. This is a “good – better – best” elective marketing concept.

In fact, the third edition of our best-selling book, the Business of Medical Practice [Transformational Health 2.0 Skills for Doctors] will soon be released this autumn www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com. In it, we seek to educate doctors about modern business, management and economics practices; as well as the emerging participatory health 2.0 philosophy and information technology skills. Our goal is enhancing the survival potential of the independent practicing medical professional.

But, the ever expanding menu of treatment options – promoted by a trusted medical professional – should include procedural risks and complications, period of recovery and alternatives, including benign neglect [watchful waiting], marginal benefit and marginal utility, as well as price transparency.

Call this new-wave litany, a type of “informed patient business consent”.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=doctor+money&iid=182012″ src=”0178/66353b45-9776-48b9-9bdd-2993a48f32bf.jpg?adImageId=12959922&imageId=182012″ width=”372″ height=”459″ /]

Aphorisms of the Past

Over the years, we have heard phrases like the following from all sorts of independent specialists. I know I have, and so have you. Many are the butt of “insider” jokes:

MD: I’m sure that appendix is hot – I have a car payment to make

DPM: Even the normal foot can be surgically improved

DO: Now, I can bill like a real MD

DDS: We can straighten out – the straightest teeth

DC: I’ll crack your back in only forty sessions … and I finance

But, these are aphorisms of the last-generation. Today we are responsible adults. Let’s grow up and become medical professionals and “DOCTORS” again … not healthcare merchants, sales sharks or equipment shills that offer strategic competitive advantages; but not real patient benefits.  

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Assessment

The old practice management business adage of yesteryear – to work longer hours, see more patients quicker, up-sell marginally effective procedures, or do more treatments in order to realize more income – will not necessarily hold true in the modern era.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/17/AR2010051703034.html

According to colleague, financial advisor and ME-P thought leader Brian J. Knabe MD – a primary care physician and current www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com matriculant – and textbook chapter 27 co-author on physician compensation and salary:

In the environment of Healthcare 2.0, those doctors who embrace efficiency, innovation and appropriate business models will be better positioned to optimize their incomes. 

http://businessofmedicalpractice.com/chapter-27-salary-compensation-2/

Conclusion

Comments from our dental – and other – physician readers are requested. And, so are your general or specific thoughts on this ME-P. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe. It is fast, free and secure.

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Are Primary Care Doctors Becoming More Like Financial Advisors?

Hospitals [BDs] “versus” Family Practitioners [FAs]

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Editor-in-Chief]

The Big Mistake

Those who believe that hospitals need medical specialists like radiologists, pathologists and oncologists, more than primary care doctors, are mistaken. And, those doctors who believe that the majority of “financial advisors” work for their clients are also mistaken. Here’s why in analogy format.

Why Hospitals Need PCPs

Hospitals generally need primary care physicians, more than specialists, because insurance contracts can be negotiated from a position of strength. A solid [large] primary care panel is a must-have for most insurance contracts. Just recall more than a decade ago – when PCPs were told of an emerging new renaissance where they would reign in place of the medical specialists? It never happened then, but it may happen now following healthcare reform.

Also, recall that the growth of fiduciary Registered Investment Advisors [RIAs] was slow until the stock market collapse of 2008. The pace is accelerating today with the political dawn of financial reform.

Patient’s Love their PCPs – Not their Hospitals

Moreover, please realize that few patients shop around for specialists, or hospitals, as they do for PCPs. OK, the OB-GYNs are unique in that they can play a dual role – as specialist and primary care doctor – just ask my wife who would rather eat nails than change her [female] female doctor.

Hospitals also need PCPs as referring physicians to generate business through their ERs, admissions department, outpatient centers, and/or by ordering invasive and non-invasive radiology tests, images, scans or laboratory tests, and/or sending patients to specialists who will do expensive procedures or surgery in their ORs, hospital and/or related facilities.

Doesn’t this sound like a stock broker working for his wire-house or broker-dealer?  

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

The PCP Loss Leader

Primary care is a loss-leader to hospitals as they make little money directly off medical practices, but can generate a great deal from the referrals and procedures the grass-roots docs generate; especially if they “play the game” like commissioned stockbrokers. And, consider brilliant medical diagnosticians, like TV’s Gregory House MD, and all those tests and procedures they can do – just to be sure!

No wonder that physician-executives and hospital administrators like Dr. Lisa Cuddy of the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, in New Jersey, love them.

Ditto for wire-house office managers and stock-brokerage OSJs [Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction] who love their “top producers”, brokers and FAs.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=operating+room&iid=288202″ src=”0284/9dbd59b4-ffc4-49c4-8b2e-3b568f74dc9d.jpg?adImageId=12660700&imageId=288202″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]

Conflicted Missions

Unfortunately, this shifts the mission of PCPs from keeping patients out of the hospital – as physical and fiscal advocate – to sending them to the hospital as a “heavy admitter-referrer” with resulting perks and swagger.

Thus, “success” of the PCP from a hospital perspective is not to avoid referrals or costly procedures, but to gather them.  However, success is a matter of perspective that may be very unfortunate for the patient, state or federal payer, private employer and/or insurance company.

Financial Advisor Analog

Does this PCP conundrum sound like the conflicted situation found with many “independent” financial advisors today? Are PCPs becoming mere patient gatherers, or profit generating shills, for their hospitals, employers or healthcare systems? Where does one’s duty rest? Are we doctor’s or medical product/procedure merchants?

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Is this analogy correct, or not. Is it too harsh or too gentle – and for whom?

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Understanding the Medical Career Choice!

Regrets and Recriminations – or Joy and Bliss?

By Eugene Schmuckler PhD, MBA

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

By Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA

www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

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Jimmy’s mother called out to him at seven in the morning, “Jimmy, get up. It’s time for school.” There was no answer. She called again, this time more loudly, “Jimmy, get up! It’s time for school!” Once more there was no more answer. Exasperated, she went to his room and shook him saying, “Jimmy, it’s time to get ready for school.”

He answered, “Mother, I’m not going to school. There are fifteen hundred kids at that school and every one of them hates me. I’m not going to school.”

“Get to school!” she replied sharply.

“But, Mother, all the teachers hate me, too. I saw three of them talking the other day and one of them was pointing his finger at me. I know they all hate me so I’m not going to school,” Jimmy answered.

“Get to school!” his mother demanded again.

“But mother, I don’t understand it. Why would you want to put me through all of that torture and suffering?” he protested.

“Jimmy, for two good reasons,” she fired back. “First, you’re forty-two years old. Secondly, you’re the principal.”

Similar Physician Sentiments

Many of us have had conversations with medical colleagues at which time sentiments of those expressed by Jimmy have been voiced. The career choice that was made many years ago is now, for some reason, no longer as exciting, interesting and enjoyable, as it was when we first began in the field. The career that was undertaken with great anticipation is now something to dread.

The reason for this is occurrence is not that difficult to understand. Two of the most important decisions individuals are asked to make are ones for which the least amount of training is offered: choice of spouse and choice of career. How many college students receive a degree in the field they identified when they first enrolled at the college or university? In fact, how many entering freshmen list their choice of major as undecided? It is only during the sophomore year when a major must be declared is the choice actually made. So, career choices made at the age of 19 might be due to having taken a course that was interesting or easy, appeared to have many entry level jobs, did not require additional educational or professional training requirements, or was a form of the “family business.” Now as an adult, the individual is functioning in a career field that was selected for him or her by an eighteen-year-old.

Judging Career Success

How do we judge career success? A career represents more than just the job or sequence of jobs we hold in a lifetime. The typical standard for a successful career is by judging how high the individual goes in the organization, how much money is earned, or one’s standing attained in the medical profession.

Yet, career success actually needs to be judged on several dimensions. Career adaptability refers to the willingness and capacity to change occupations and/or the work setting to maintain a standard of career progress.  Many of you did not anticipate the managed care, Health 2.0, or political changes in your chosen medical profession, or specialty, when you began your training.

A second factor is career attitudes. These are your own attitudes about the work itself, our place of work, your level of achievement, and the relationship between work and other parts of your life.

Medical Career Identity

Career identity is that part of your life related to occupational and organizational activities. This is the unique way in which we believe that we fit into the world. Our career is only one part of our being. We play many roles in life each of which combine to make up or totality. At any point in time one role may be more important than another [life saving physicians versus retail sales clerk]. The importance of the roles will generally change over time. Thus at some point you may choose to identify more with your career, and at other times, with your family.

inheritance

Career Performance

A final factor is career performance, a function of both the level of objective career success and the level of psychological success.  How much you earn and your reputation factor into, and reflect, objective career success. To be recognized as a “leader” in a medical field and asked to submit chapters for inclusion in text-books, medical journals or new-wave blogs such as this may be a more important indicator of career success than money.

Psychological success is the second measure of career performance. It is achieved when your self-esteem, the value you place on yourself, increases. As you can see, there is a direct relationship between psychological success and objective success. It may increase as you advance in pay and status at work or decrease with job disappointment and failure. Self-esteem may also increase as one begins to sense personal worth in other ways such as family involvement or developing confidence and competence in a particular field, such as consistently shooting par on the golf course. At that point, objective career success may be secondary in your life. This is why many people choose to become active in their church or in politics. Even though one may have slowed down on the job, or in their professional career they can be extremely content with their life.

Case Model Scenario

Consider the following situation.

You are traveling on business. Although you are on a direct flight, you have a one-hour layover before the second leg of the flight and your final destination. Leaving the plane, after having placed the “occupied” card on your seat you walk down the concourse. On the way, you encounter a friend that you knew in high school. The two of you sit to have a cup of coffee and then you realize that your departure time is rapidly approaching. In fact, you will be cutting it quite close. Running down the concourse you return to the gate only to find that the door has been closed, the jetway is being retracted and the plane is being backed away from the gate. You stare out the window watching the plane go to the end of the runway and then begin its takeoff. Something goes horrible wrong and the plane crashes on takeoff, bursting into flames. It is apparent that there will be no survivors.

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Assessment

To the world you are on that plane (remember the occupied card). Traveling on business your generous insurance policy will be activated. In anticipation of being in a location where they may not have ATM machines you have a good deal of cash, sufficient for at least a month.

Conclusion

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McNally, D. Even Eagles Need A Push, New York, NY: Delacorte Press, 1991.

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By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

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The 2010 Chronic Care and Prevention Congress

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The Future of Population Health and Disease Management in 2010, and Beyond

[By Ann Miller; RN, MHA]

According to our two new books, Forward contributor David B. Nash MD MBA FACP Dean, Jefferson School of Population Heath at Thomas Jefferson University, states that chronic diseases are the nation’s most overwhelming healthcare cost drivers.

The Statistics

In fact, we’ve all heard the statistics which suggest that 75% of health care costs are spent on chronic care treatments.

Chronic Care and Prevention

And so, the upcoming Chronic Care and Prevention Congress will seek to lead the nation in developing best practices for the treatment and prevention of chronic disease. David will give the Opening Keynote Address on Thursday, May 13th 2010 entitled The Future of Population Health and Disease Management in 2010 and Beyond.

Other Topics and Issues to be Addressed

  • Aligning Reimbursement Models and Financial Incentives
  • Physician Engagement and the Patient-Centered Medical Homes
  • Consumer Engagement and Behavioral Modification
  • Innovative Health Information Technology Applications
  • Best Management Practices in Diabetes, Obesity, Cardiology and Renal Disease

The Themes

We believe you will walk away from the Congress with the ability to connect the dots, drawing together the key themes of population health, disease management, chronic care coordination, and much more.

Registration Information

For more information regarding the Congress or to register with the $895 rate, please contact World Congress directly at 800-767-9499 or visit http://www.worldcongress.com/Events/

Assessment

We hope to see you there and report back to us on your thoughts and impressions.

Foreword.Nash

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ME-P Security Status Update

On Posts, Comments, e-Mails and Viruses – Oh My!

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™

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D-oh!  If you’re having trouble posting to the ME-P, or receiving annoying and non-sense spam, you’re not alone.

Over the last 96 hours, we’ve received numerous emails from members letting us know that they’re having problems leaving comments, or receiving blast emails from the site [Several even darkly accused us of censorship and other crimes against democracy]. No; not us, for we believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Based on the reports we’re getting from around the web, the problem appears to be an issue with marketing messages not intentionally sent by us and caused by a pervasive, but not malicious, nasty little computer virus. Fortunately, we believe the situation has been completely rectified, and are working on even stronger preventative firewalls. So, please accept our apologies.

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