Welcome to Practice Rounds, our new weekly column exploring what's being covered in the larger world of healthcare.
Creative Ways to Generate Practice Savings
With the costs of healthcare rising exponentially, physicians and their practices are looking closely at different ways to save money. As with any savings program, it is the small, yet steady contributions that eventually add up to big savings, even for medical practices, reports Medical Economics. Savings may come from unexpected quarters: Physician John Horton saved $500 a month by switching long-distance carriers — significantly reducing the telephone fees for patients who lived out of state. Large group practices can often negotiate better prices for medical and office supplies by buying in bulk. Even small groups can find savings by joining large purchasing associations, which often do not charge a membership fee or set a minimum purchase amount, to buy supplies at reduced cost.
Study Finds Meaningful Use Falls Short
Researchers at Mathematica Policy Research concluded that the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, known more commonly as Meaningful Use, have fallen far short of projected goals, reports Fierce Healthcare. While EHRs have been implemented in most medical practices and hospital systems, few have moved beyond the metrics outlined in Stage 1 of Meaningful Use. Key factors in this failure include provider dissatisfaction with EHRs that do not facilitate practice work flows; lack of interoperability between disparate health IT systems; and variability across EHR products that do not give universal access to communication platforms such as patient portals and population health management programs.
Most Doctors Don't Discuss Gun Safety
Gun violence is increasing across the country, yet pediatricians are not comfortable discussing gun safety with the parents of their young patients, reports Kaiser Health News. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics surveyed 1,200 parents in the greater St. Louis area, asking about gun ownership and how they would react if their pediatrician mentioned gun safety in the home. More than a third of children lived in homes that had firearms; another 14 percent were exposed to weapons in other homes; and while 77 percent of respondents said their pediatricians had not discussed gun safety, 75 percent said they would welcome such advice, according to the survey.
National Health Check-Up
The Mayo clinic has released its second edition of "Pulse check: Health Opinions and Behaviors in America," a survey that examines American opinions on topics ranging from cancer to brain health to what constitutes a good night's sleep. When it comes to the "Big C" 38 percent of respondents said brain cancer was the scariest, followed by pancreatic cancer (20 percent), lung cancer (10 percent), and breast cancer (8 percent). To improve brain health, 75 percent of respondents said they participated in physical exercise and 71 percent played games and puzzles to keep their faculties sharp. To see the whole infographic click here.
Quote of the Week:
"Start looking at the things you can look at when it comes to the quality measures…everyone wants doctors to succeed with MACRA, there are resources for that."
Andrew Gurman, MD, President AMA