Noteworthy: Thumbs Down on Health Reform; Wasteful Medical Tests

October 14, 2012

Noteworthy items from Physicians Practice

STAT

200,000 The number of "telemental health" consultations the Department of Veterans Affairs aims to conduct during fiscal 2012 to increase veterans' access to mental healthcare.

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs

Quotable

"What we need to do is fund a war on [healthcare] fraud like we would fund a single day of a real war. If we do that, this country will straighten out real quick."

Patrick Burns, Taxpayers Against Fraud

Source: NPR

"When patients come to see us they are either sick or hurt or dying, and the decisions we make can actually help or harm them. There's a lot at stake and because we are helpers, the natural tendency is for healthcare providers to put our own needs last."

Dike Drummond, MD, TheHappyMD.com, a burnout prevention website for doctors

Physicians Unhappy With ACA Ruling

This summer, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in a 5 to 4 decision. We asked readers to weigh in:

What's your reaction to the Supreme Court's health law ruling?

I am extremely pleased with the ruling -12%

I have mixed emotions but overall see it as a positive thing - 20%

I have mixed emotions but overall see it as a negative thing - 19%

I am extremely disappointed with the ruling - 47%

I could care less either way - 2%

Get More Out of Your Staff

Practice Notes blogger and consultant Carol Stryker recently provided advice for how to get more out of staff members. Her advice:

Keep it professional. Your staff's attitude and activity start with you. It's crucial to be a good example for them, even when you're frustrated and tired. A heated physician can cause fear in the ranks and fear "paralyzes" employees, says Stryker. A calm demeanor, on the other hand, builds trust and lowers resistance.

Assume the best. Expect a lot of your staff members, and you often won't be disappointed. "Employees have a strong tendency to perform up or down to expectations," says Stryker.

See opportunity in errors. Don't avoid discussing errors and failures. Instead, use them as learning opportunities. "Effective accountability is not harsh or contentious," Stryker writes. "It is respectful, fair, and constructive."

Take Two

As EHR adoption continues to rise, many physicians are now working on their second iteration. As reported by Medscape, research firm KLAS found that half of EHR systems sold to physician practices are replacements, up 20 percent from last year. Why are so many practices switching? About 44 percent said product issues, 15 percent said service issues, and 14 percent said group consolidation. Unmet expectations and concerns about ability to meet meaningful use also made the list.

Tweeting Professionally

Here are some tips to begin using Twitter it in a professional manner:

Test. Make your account private. That way no one can see your Tweets unless you approve them to see them. It's a great way to see what others are saying and determine if Twitter is right for you.

Follow. Much of Twitter is about listening (viewing Tweets), not speaking (Tweeting). Follow specialty societies and journals (like @physicianspract). Also, follow colleagues who share your professional interests.

Tweet: Retweet Tweets that interest you, and tweet about your own interests. If you read an interesting article, for instance, Tweet about it and include a link.

Source: Gastroenterologist Ryan Madanick, in a blog appearing on KevinMD.com.

Choosing Wisely?

From the Choosing Wisely campaign, a coalition of medical societies and physician groups trying to reduce waste in healthcare, comes a list of 45 overperformed tests and procedures - the top five from each of nine participating medical specialties. Find the full list at ChoosingWisely.org. Meanwhile, per The Washington Post, here are a few examples:

1. EKGs and exercise stress tests for heart disease

2. Imaging tests for lower-back pain

3. CT scans and MRIs for headaches

4. Bone-density scansfor low-risk women

5. Antibiotics for sinusitis

Grandpa turned Army Doc

58-year-old orthopedic surgeon T. Scott Woll never wanted to join the army. That is, until his son's best friend returned from his second tour in Iraq and told him of the need for army doctors. That got Woll, a father of five and grandfather of three, thinking about making a change, he told The Register-Guard newspaper of Vancouver, Wash. Woll learned to handle firearms, lost 55 pounds, and eventually met all of the army's physical requirements. In June, he became a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, a rank determined by his profession and career span. He requested to go overseas for medical diplomacy missions.

Pricey Organ Donation

Given the growing shortage of transplant organs, NPR recently asked its readers whether compensation for organ donation is appropriate. Sixty percent of the 3,000 respondents to the NPR-Thomson Reuters health poll said they would support compensation in the form of credits for healthcare needs, 46 percent would support it in the form of tax credits, 42 percent would support it in the form of tuition reimbursement, and 41 percent would support cash payment.

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