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Why hospitals must educate nurses about healthcare costs

May 14th, 2015

by Susan J. Penner

Every day hospitals waste money, and the non-personnel expenses for a medical-surgical nursing unit at a typical hospital in America are thousands of dollars over budget. The nurse manager might investigate and find that one reason for the rise in costs is poor handling and labeling of lab tests, leading to repeat testing that is usually not reimbursed. Another potential reason is that nurses are taking far more supplies than are needed to patient rooms, often forgetting to charge for these items. The supplies cannot be used for other patients once they are removed from the storage room, and the hospital loses reimbursement, as charges are not reported.

This story is not unusual. Nurses are often completely unaware of the costs of care in their inpatient or outpatient settings. Few staff nurses have any background or education in healthcare finance, and often resist the idea that they need to think about the cost of nursing care. However, in these times of rapid change and ever more scarce resources, it's time for nurses to realize that their performance affects not only their patients' health but the financial health of their institution.

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Healthcare leaders: 'Stay in your lane' with approach to population health management

May 7th, 2015

by Jamahal C. Boyd Sr.

Healthcare and health service delivery has become more complex recently. Much of the increased complexity is due to healthcare providers and systems' efforts to expand their services into the realm of population health management. In an attempt to innovate, some providers and systems are trying to respond to the diverse needs of their patient population that extend far beyond what takes place in the exam room.

Not that this isn't a good idea or approach, but when what providers are planning to do falls outside of the scope of what they do best, or outside of their experience and/or expertise, it becomes challenging. Oftentimes, this can cause providers to over-promise and under-deliver, which can lead to patient dissatisfaction, loss of credibility or consumer confusion.

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When it comes to safety, hospitals must also consider the physician

May 7th, 2015

by Anne Beekman

When hospitals look to make safety-related expenditures, the focus is usually on patient safety, and it should be, but physician and staff safety also must not be overlooked. As administrators, we often make decisions about what equipment to purchase based on such factors as quality and safety for the patient as well as return on investment. However, an equal emphasis should be placed on the safety benefits offered to the provider.

In a way, it is only natural that we tend to overlook physicians and staff health needs because the focus is on their critical roles of healing and saving lives. There is a perception, which everyone in healthcare is guilty of to some degree, that providers are somehow invincible--until they become patients themselves. Occupational hazards are simply seen as "the cost of doing business," and many physicians get de-sensitized to risks.

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Are urgent care centers brands or commodities?

May 7th, 2015

by Andrea J. Simon

As I observe the extraordinary growth of urgent care centers (UCCs), I am seeing some important changes taking place, both in the customer experience and in the range of services offered. These changes are raising important questions for leaders of UCCs, namely, "Are we just 'another outlet' offering fast, convenient care like the ones down the street or at the CVS? Or are we establishing a proprietary brand in the way we deliver care and the range of services we offer?"

Whether you are involved with the launch and growth of a UCC or lead another type of healthcare organization, you should be asking yourself the branding question: "Why you?" Because you better believe your customers are asking it. And with the growing abundance of healthcare options, they're going to be asking it a lot. So what might you do to answer the question: "Why you?"

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Dear Congress: Don't greenlight an ICD-10 ban

May 7th, 2015

by Dan Bowman

In Hollywood, studio executives have a tendency to milk every drop out of a movie franchise until its appeal dries up and withers away. Nowhere is this more evident than in the horror genre, where shark attacks have been reduced to a punchline, and masked serial killers continue to breathe oxygen after a countless number of deaths.

Cue up the John Williams score: Measures to halt or vanquish ICD-10 implementation have officially entered this domain.

In the latest chapter of this saga, Rep. Ted Poe of Texas last week introduced a bill to Congress that wouldn't simply delay the new codeset; it would ban its use outright.

The bill, known as the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2015, prohibits the federal government from requiring medical professionals to comply with ICD-10 in lieu of ICD-9. If this were a film, it likely would be called "ICD-10 Delay: The Final Chapter."

According to Poe, ICD-10 will not make one single patient healthier. Rather, he says, it will "put an unnecessary strain on the medical community" by forcing them to learn and use "a whole new bureaucratic language."

>> Read the full commentary at FierceHealthIT

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