The opinion pages of Sunday's New York Times sang the praises of a small Alaskan health care system that has combined a common-sense approach with technology and proactivity to produce remarkable results. Among its success factors is the aggressive use of data for both the medical and financial sides of the business.
Southcentral’s “data mall” coughs up easily understood graphics showing how well doctors and the teams they lead are doing to improve health outcomes and cut costs compared with their colleagues, their past performance and national benchmarks, and it provides them with action lists of what they can do to improve and mentors to guide them. That almost always spurs the laggards. One doctor whose team ranked well behind 10 others in scheduling annual eye exams for diabetics jumped to first place within two months once she became aware of how poorly her team was performing.
A number of Miami-area doctors are complaining about the way HCA Holdings officials have ended their employment with the hospital giant. In addition to facing a big pay cut and/or a short time window in which to close down their practices, they say HCA's big physician recruiting push in recent years isn't working as well operationally as had been promised. The company said the doctors' exits are a normal business decision, but a former exec says the doctors' gripes could be a sign of bigger problems.
Curtis, who left HCA in 2010, said that HCA’s physician practices “just grew too fast,” hiring hundreds of doctors a year, and didn’t have the infrastructure to support them at its headquarters in Tennessee. “There were huge delays in getting claims, credentialing, and it just went on and on. It was not a well orchestrated process. Now they’re at a stage where they’re cutting doctors to reduce their losses.”
A year after taking over the reins at urgent-care clinic operator Solantic, Mike Klein is changing the name of the company launched by ex-Columbia HCA boss Rick Scott and launching a rebranding push that will create CareSpot Express Healthcare. The move comes as Klein's Maryland Farms-based team is ramping up its expansion plans, especially outside of its Florida base. CareSpot plans to open more than a dozen new locations before the end of this year, which will lift its total above 40.
The accountable care organization concept is one of the biggest sources of buzz these days in hospital management and health care in general. But Federal Trade Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch says the model integrating hospital care and physician practices seems more likely to backfire both in terms of quality and cost.
“The commercial sector already effectively subsidizes providers accepting Medicare and Medicaid payments for certain services,” notes Rosch. “The ACO program may exacerbate this trend by causing providers to shift more of their costs to commercially insured patients in order to qualify for the Medicare cost-reduction bonuses.” Indeed, a 2010 study by the Center for Studying Health System Change found that this is what happened when California took up the ACO cause.
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