Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hospitals Recognizing Need for Emergency Planning Thanks to HHS Efforts

The University of Pittsburgh reports that since 2002, states have taken significant steps to raise awareness of the need for medical emergency managements planning, thanks in part to the Department of Health and Human Services' Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). The report highlights the fact that many states have already created emergency hospital staffing and medical supply plans.

The HPP was established by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2002 to help hospitals prepare response plans to terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other widespread incidents that may cripple a community's ability to provide emergency health care. Areas studied by the HPP include: interoperable communication systems, hospital evacuation, decontamination plans, and bed and personnel management.

Although improvements have been made, the report recognizes that additional efforts are still needed, including better coordination among regional Healthcare Coalitions.

The full report can be found here:

Source: Department of Health and Human Services

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Update to NCQA Article in March/April 2009 Synergy

In the Mar/Apr 2009 issue of Synergy, there is an update to the CE article titled, “NCQA Delegation Requirements,” by Melinda Orlando. On page 14 of her article, she says, “For a detailed explanation of NCQA’s 8/30 methodology, see”

Please note that this information has moved on the NCQA Web site to here: Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link under 5.1.01, Explanation of "8 and 30" File Sampling Procedure.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2009 TJC Revised Hospital Accreditation Requirements and Scoring Categories Available Online

The Joint Commission (TJC) has updated its Revised 2009 Hospital Accreditation Requirements. The Requirements, originally released on March 26, now include scoring categories.

TJC revised its hospital accreditation standards following discussions with CMS regarding its deeming application. TJC originally released 165 new and revised requirements. The new version includes 87.

The Revised 2009 Hospital Accreditation Requirements and further information can be found at:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

CONNECT Helps Make Health IT Interoperable

The Federal Health Architecture, an initiative of the Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology (ONC) has released CONNECT, free software which will allow existing health IT systems to connect to the the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).

The NHIN will serve as the "network of networks," allowing previously non-interoperable health IT systems to connect and share data with each other. Standards for the NHIN were developed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services based on public and private interoperability specifications. The ONC is currently working on the legal framework of information sharing over the NHIN.

"This software will strengthen our health systems' ability to share data electronically and provide a wide range of benefits to citizens," said Robert Kolodner, M.D., National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "Benefits include up-to-date records available at the point of care; enhanced population health screening; and being able to collect case research faster to facilitate disability claims, as demonstrated by transfers of information already underway between the Social Security Administration and MedVirginia, a regional health information organization."

More than 20 federal agencies will use CONNECT to access the NHIN, including the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Organizations can download CONNECT for free at: Although the download is free, organizations will be responsible for the implementation and maintenance costs of using the program.

Source: Department of Health and Human Services

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Physician Leaders Call for Limits on Industry Contributions to Professional Associations

Medical leaders called on physicians to reject funding from pharmaceutical and medical device industries to preserve patient safety and physician integrity. This view is published in the April 1 Journal of the American Medical Association.

The article is authored by 11 present and former medical society leaders who believe that professional medical associations (PMAs) need to distance themselves from industry groups. While the group feels that the ideal relationship would involve no corporate contributions; they recognize that many PMAs rely on these contributions to fund continuing medical education (CME) courses that help the professional development of physicians. Therefore, the group suggests that no more than 25 percent of a PMA's budget be derived from industry contributions.

The group says that PMAs are responsible for educating physicians on the latest advancements in their field and must not appear financially biased in its presentation of new treatment options. According to the group, accepting industry funds for education creates a potential situation where programs are slanted to support the sponsoring company's drug, device, or procedure. The group urges PMAs to form CME committees which would accept non-restricted industry funds and distribute them among educational programs to ensure fairness. Many PMAs have already rewritten their codes of conduct to prevent potential conflicts of interest.

The group says that strict restrictions are only needed for educational funds. Industry presence through advertisements and exhibit hall appearances are clear marketing activities and are less likely to influence a physician's medical judgment.

Congress has also voiced its support for industry-physician transparency. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) have introduced the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (S. 301), which would require companies to report all gifts and payments to physicians totalling more than $100 a year to the Department of Health and Human Services. Those who fail to report would face fines of up to $1 million.

Source: BNA