Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hospital Researcher Found to Have Neither a Medical Degree Nor a PhD

A recent story in The Detroit News discusses the case of William Hamman, a researcher at Western Michigan University who claimed that he had a medical degree as well as a PhD. Hamman had allegedly been working on journal articles on patient safety and care before his credentials were found to be false.

Hamman had impressive credentials in the aviation industry and had worked with WMU on a project to study how aviation industry standards could be applied to improve safety in healthcare. In 2009, Hamman joined William Beaumont Hospital to help train the members of the medical staff on communication and teamwork skills. Hamman was never a member of the medical staff, nor did he provide patient care.

To read the full story, click here:


Thursday, December 9, 2010

House Passes Physician Pay Cut Delay

Today, the House passed H.R. 4994, a bill that delays a scheduled 25% Medicare physician pay cut for another year. President Obama is expected to sign the bill. The cut would have been effective January 1, 2011. The bill keeps reimbursement rates for 2011 at the 2010 levels.

The Senate passed the bill on December 8.

Source: BNA

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Report Analyzes Tracking of Medical License Expiration in VHA Facilities

A November 29, 2010 report from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General reports that the processes used to monitor medical license expiration dates among Veterans Health Administration (VHA) were "inconsistent and fragmented." The report attributes this to the fact that the facilities were not provided with specific guidance on how to monitor license expiration dates and communicate with professionals whose licenses were approaching expiration.

The report recommends that the VHA provide facilities with detailed guidance outlining the actions that should be taken to monitor license expiration dates. It also recommends that facilities re-evaluate their practices based on this guidance when it is provided and that they alter their practices to conform with the VHA guidance.

The full report can be found here:


Monday, December 6, 2010

Are You HIPAA Compliant?

Has your organization conducted a risk analysis to ensure effective and appropriate administrative, physical and technical safeguards to secure electronic protected health information (e-PHI)? If not, every year, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) develops guidance to help organizations comply with HIPAA privacy rules.

One recommendation from OCR's May 2010 guidance asks organizations if they have performed an analysis of possible risks and threats to health information. As technology has developed, so has the risk of committing a HIPAA violation, whether intentional or accidental. For example, social networking has made it easier for healthcare professionals to "vent" about a problem patient, and physicians are even starting to request that patient information be sent to them via text message. While not all of these may be HIPAA violations, the flow of patient information can certainly make employers and healthcare entities nervous.

For tips and guidelines on how to perform a risk analysis, see the following guidance and make sure that your employees and colleagues know the ins and outs of HIPAA:

Source: HHS

AHRQ Report Provides High Performance Work Practices to Maximize Quality

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released a report describing how healthcare entities can attract, hire, develop, and retain staff members who can contribute to higher healthcare quality. The report, titled Using Workforce Practices to Drive Quality Improvement, provides four high-performance work practice (HPWP) models that can be implemented in a facility.

The HPWPs focus on practices such as rewarding performance, providing career development opportunities, aligned decision-making, and ensuring that leaders are developed to carry out an organization's goals and mission.

The report can be found here:

Source: AHRQ

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

CMS Will Postpone Denying Claims from Doctors Not in PECOS

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will no longer enforce the January 3, 2011 deadline for denying claims for services performed by providers not listed in the Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS). PECOS was developed to move the Medicare enrollment process to an electronic format.

This is the second time PECOS enforcement has been postponed. CMS has not announced a new enforcement date; however, they encourage providers who have not enrolled in PECOS to do so sooner rather than later.

Source: BNA