Noteworthy

May 27, 2012

Notable items from Physicians Practice

Quotable

"Part-timers more and more can call their own shots and are able to command higher salaries, more benefits, and perks."
Keith C. Borglum, consultant

No-Shows? No Problem

Healthcare consultant Karen Zupko and research associate Arielle Nelson wrote in a recent column on PhysiciansPractice.com that practices should think of no-show patients as "time-pickpockets." Here's what they suggest to help reduce no-shows:

1. Send a reminder using a self-addressed envelope. Have patients address the envelope at check-out. It will be hard for them to ignore a piece of mail in their own handwriting.

2. Implement new technology. New tech tools can help you automate patient e-mails and/or text messages. It makes sending reminders easy, and it cuts down on phone calls.

3. Allow patients to preregister for appointments online. Pre-registration serves as a signal that the patient intends to show.

4. Ask for a deposit. This acts as "a sort of insurance" if the patient fails to show.

Facebook Findings

Some companies and government agencies are asking job applicants if they can log in to their Facebook pages and have a look, according to a recent article published by the New York Times. To gauge whether this is happening in healthcare, we asked our online readers to tell us how they use Facebook to screen job candidates. Here's what they said:

To what extent should a practice use Facebook to screen its job applicants?

• A practice should never use Facebook - 33%

• It should use Facebook only to conduct a search of the applicant by name to see what, if any, red flags appear - 53%

• It should ask for an applicant's login information and it should check his page to ensure that there are no red flags -13%

Source: PhysiciansPractice.com readers' poll

Stat

90 The percentage of U.S. adults who are less than proficient in reading, understanding, and acting on medical information.
Source: American Medical News

Advocacy to Action …

A Portland, Ore.-based family physician who some called the "father" of Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law recently used the law in taking his own life. Peter Goodwin, 83, had been diagnosed with a fatal brain disease in 2006. In January, he received a prognosis of less than six months to live, and in March, surrounded by family, he ingested a lethal dose of barbiturates and died within 30 minutes, according to ABC News.

Implemented in 1997, Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, for which Goodwin was an early advocate, was the first to allow physicians to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients with a prognosis of less than six months to live. Goodwin joins a list of nearly 600 other terminally ill Oregonians who have purposefully ended their lives since the act's implementation.

… to Widespread Adoption?

In a timely coincidence, shortly after Goodwin's death, two New Mexico-based physicians filed a lawsuit against that state's law prohibiting physicians from helping terminally ill patients die. The New Mexico physicians seek the ability to lawfully prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who want it, according to Las Cruces Sun-News.

Controversial Licensure Expansion

California may become the fifth state to allow nonphysicians to perform routine aspiration abortions. A state senator is proposing that nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician assistants should be allowed to carry out the procedure during the first trimester of a patient's pregnancy, according to the Los Angeles Times. The senator says the role expansion will increase patient access to abortions, especially in rural areas. Oregon, Montana, Vermont, and New Hampshire all currently allow nonphysicians to handle the procedure.

More in the Family…

As the primary-care physician shortage looms, results from this year's medical student "match" suggest cautious progress. The number of medical students matched to family medicine residencies rose 11 percent from 2010, according to the National Resident Matching Program. In addition, the number of students matched to primary-care specialties increased for the second year in a row.

… But Fewer in the Waiting Room

Seeing fewer patient visits at your practice? Chalk it up to the economy. Doctor visits fell by 4.2 percent between 2010 and 2011, according to a report issued by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The findings suggest that more and more Americans are still struggling to pay for healthcare, according to the New York Times.

Dr. Seuss Medical School

Dartmouth College has renamed its medical school after one of the college's most famous alumni and leading philanthropists, Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. The children's book author and illustrator graduated from Dartmouth College in 1925. Though he did not have a medical degree, Dartmouth president Jim Yong Kim told NPR, "Naming our school of medicine in honor of Audrey and Ted Geisel is a tribute to two individuals whose work continues to change the world for the better." The medical school is now dubbed the Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine.

This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Physicians Practice.