Monday, March 30, 2009

ABMS Develops New Assessment Requirements

The ABMS Maintenance of Certification program will require boards to implement processes described as promoting “continuous professional development and assessment," replacing the traditional re-certification exams currently taken by physicians.

Board processes for documenting continuing education and self-assessment requirements must be implemented by 2011. Processes for documenting practice-based assessment and quality-improvement requirements must be implemented by 2011.

Member boards must also require physicians to undergo a patient safety self-assessment program by 2012. The assessment will focus on the communication skills of physicians who have direct contact with patients and with peers. Communication skills will be measured using the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey (CAHPS) and other tools.

Source: American Board of Medical Specialties

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Changes in TJC Standards to Meet CoP Requirements

The following update was released by The Joint Commission PTAC:

In January 2009, The Joint Commission posted 165 new and revised requirements as part of its hospital deeming application to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Following successful discussions with CMS, a number of those requirements were considered equivalent to existing elements of performance or were already addressed in The Joint Commission survey process. As a result, the number of new and revised requirements has been reduced to 87. These updated Conditions of Participation (COP)-related requirements are posted online, along with a side-by-side comparison between the standards posted on January 5, and the March 26 release.

Hospitals will be surveyed on these requirements from April 6 through June 30, 2009; however, non-compliance will not impact the accreditation decision. Hospitals will receive feedback separate from the Official Accreditation Decision Report on their efforts to meet these requirements. Beginning July 1, 2009, non-compliance will impact the accreditation decision.

Organizations should note that CMS’ final decision regarding the deeming application will be made later this year, and there may be further changes to the standards based on that decision. The Joint Commission remains confident that it will receive deeming authority.

To view the requirements visit The Joint Commission website, or

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

DEA Updates

Change in Renewal Policy

Starting April 1, 2009, registrants will no longer have up to 7 months following the expiration of their DEA number to renew with the ability to retain their original number.

Registrants will now have to renew their DEA number within 30 days following its expiration in order to keep their original number. Registrants are still barred from handling controlled substances if their number is expired.

Locum Tenens Policy

The DEA website provides the following policies in regard to DEA registration for locum tenens practitioners:
  • A practitioner can apply for a separate DEA registration in each state where they plan to administer, dispense, or prescribe controlled substances;
  • As an alternative, if the practitioner will be working solely in a hospital/clinic setting, they may use the hospital’s DEA registration instead of registering independently with DEA if the hospital agrees and the situation warrants;
  • The practitioner may transfer their existing DEA registration from one state to another as needed by contacting ODR, or requesting the change on-line at DEA will investigate these modifications of registration as if they were new applications. DEA will issue a new DEA certificate with the appropriate changes if DEA approves the modification.
  • The CSA requires a separate registration for each principal place of business or professional practice where controlled substances are manufactured, distributed, or dispensed, as set forth in 21 U.S. C. § 822(e). DEA has provided a limited exception to this requirement in that practitioners who register at one location in a state, but practice at other locations within the same state, are not required to register with DEA at any other location in that state at which they only prescribe controlled substances, as specified in 21 C.F.R. §1301.12(b)(3).

For more information, visit the DEA website at:

Source: Drug Enforcement Division, Office of Diversion Control

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blumenthal Named Health IT Coordinator for HHS

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has selected David Blumenthal, MD, MPP to serve as the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Dr. Blumenthal will lead efforts to create a secure, interoperable health IT network. This effort, which is a priority for the Obama Administration, will be funded by $19.5 billion from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Dr. Blumenthal has extensive experience in health policy. He was recently a physician and director at the Institute of Health Policy at The Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners HealthCare System in Boston, Massachusetts. He was also the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Medicine and Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and served as director of the Harvard University Interfaculty Program for Health Systems Improvement. Prior to that, he was senior vice president at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and served as executive director of the Center for Health Policy and Management and as a lecturer on Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Dr. Blumenthal worked on Senator Edward Kennedy's Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research in the 1970s and as a senior health adviser to the Obama for America campaign. He has focused on issues such as the dissemination of health information technology, quality management in health care, the determinants of physician behavior, access to health services, and the extent and consequences of academic-industrial relationships in the health sciences.

Modernizing health care through the implementation of a health IT system by 2014 is expected to increase the safety and efficiency of care, minimize errors, and reduce the federal government's health care costs by $12 billion over 10 years.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Investment in Electronic Health Records Shows Improvements in Care

President Obama has pledged $19 billion to implement electronic health records (EHRs), aiming to reduce errors in care, while lowering costs.

The Los Angeles Times reports improvements at several hospitals where physicians are using EHRs to keep better track of their patients' medical histories. One hospital reported that an electronic prescribing system has virtually eliminated prescription errors.

Despite the advantages offered by EHRs, there are many facilities still weary of the transition. Implementing an EHR system will come at a cost of about $30,000 per physician. Furthermore, it is not guaranteed that one facility's system will be compatible with another facility's. There is also concern from patient groups about the security of their data and who should be granted access to it.

President Obama's health IT initiative in the stimulus package will offer funding to those facilities implementing EHRs. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services is set to work on standards regarding the use of EHRs.

Source: The Los Angeles Times,0,3918496.story?page=2

Monday, March 2, 2009

Obama Nominates Sebelius to HHS, Appoints DeParle Head of White House Health Office

President Obama has nominated Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) to become Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sebelius replaces former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), who withdrew his name from consideration when questions arose over unpaid taxes.

Prior to serving as governor, Sebelius was the state’s insurance commissioner for eight years. As governor, she was praised for her ability to work with the heavily Republican legislature to address Medicare fraud and expand access to health care. She also gained national attention with her ability to win a second term as a Democratic governor in a Republican state.

Sebelius was an early supporter of Obama’s presidential campaign and was widely speculated as his possible running mate. She was originally considered for a Cabinet post in December, but withdrew her name in order to focus on the budget shortfall in Kansas.

Opposition to her nomination has come mainly from anti-abortion groups that believe Sebelius, who vetoed reproductive clinic restrictions as governor, may expand abortion rights in her role as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Obama will not appoint Sebelius to head the new White House Office of Health Reform. Obama had originally intended to appoint Daschle to both the HHS and White House posts. Nancy-Ann DeParle has been selected to serve in the White House office. DeParle was commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health and Human Services and was administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration, what is now known as CMS, under President Clinton. As the White House “health czar,” DeParle will be in charge of the President’s $634 billion initiative to expand and reform the current health care system.