Noteworthy: Where's the Wellness; Better Business Cards

July 15, 2012

Notable items from Physicians Practice

Quotable

"Up until now, we haven't had appropriate transparency around performance and quality. In transparency's absence, a lot of hospitals flew under the radar. Now, low-performers are falling by the wayside."
Eric Louie, MD, CMO with Sg2, a healthcare analytics firm

Source: Becker's Hospital Review

Stat

32 The percentage of residents surveyed who said they would prefer hospital employment over any other option in 2011. In 2001 that number was just 3 percent.

Source: Merritt Hawkins 2011 Survey of Final-Year Medical Residents

Where’s the Wellness?

The John A. Hartford Foundation found that only 17 percent of surveyed Medicare recipients had received the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) in the previous year. Yet the AWV yields three times higher reimbursement for physicians than the average outpatient visit and it costs patients nothing, said Christopher Langston, program director at the Hartford Foundation, during a recent webinar.

We asked our online readers why they think the rates are so low. Here's what they told us:
What do you think is the primary reason the rates are so low?

• Physicians are confused about what the visit actually entails - 38%

• Physicians feel it doesn't meet a patient's primary needs - 13%

• Patients don't ask physicians about it - 5%

• Physicians forget to recommend it or are not aware of it - 8%

• Physicians feel that the activities associated with it are too time-consuming - 36%

Spruce Up Your Business Card

Livening your business card up is a simple way to promote your practice and tell your patients more about yourself, Practice Notes blogger and orthopedic surgeon C. Noel Henley wrote in a recent blog. The business card, he says, is "nothing less than a miniature marketing billboard."

Henley says a business card should include these key components, and a few extras that can make it stand out:

The basics. Include your name, degree, practice address, and phone number. Don't bother including your fax number unless outsiders really need to know it. Include your professional or practice e-mail address, website, and/or professional Facebook page information, if you have one.

Define yourself. Add a brief sentence under your name that describes what makes you unique. For instance, "A double board-certified ear, nose, and throat doctor."

Ask for action. Don't just include your website address. Write something like, "Visit my website [write the address] and [write what your website provides]." Also, ask for patients to "Like" your Facebook page.

Use the back of the card. List things like common problems you treat, ask for referrals, and request patients to "rate you" on popular doctor ratings sites, etc.

From Patients to Stalkers

If you've been stalked by a patient, you're not alone. In a survey of physicians at Penn State University Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, 20 percent said one of their patients had demonstrated stalking behaviors on at least three occasions. That's according to a Penn State University researcher who reported the findings during the 2012 American Psychiatric Association's Annual Meeting, reports MedPage Today. The most common stalker-like behaviors were unsolicited phone calls, letters, faxes, and e-mails.

The 'Grandparent Corps' of Health Aides

Cardiologist Arthur Garson, a former dean of the University of Virginia Medical School, conceived an idea four years ago to help supplement the primary-care shortage with grandparent-like health workers. Originally dubbed the "Grandparent Corps," grand-aides are typically elderly, active members of their local communities who become certified nurses' aides, medical assistants, or community health workers. They also receive 180 hours of grand-aide training from a specialized curriculum developed by the Grand-Aides Foundation, which includes protocols, simulation, and in-the-field training. Under close supervision of a nurse or physician, grand-aides advise and visit with patients, and they assist with home-health services through telemedicine. Another branch of grand-aides also assists with caring for patients recently discharged from hospitals. About 100 have been trained worldwide so far, according to Medscape Medical News.

Longer Labors

A new study raises questions about standards for the duration of "normal" labor. The National Institutes of Health looked at data from 140,000 births from the early 1960s and the early 2000s. It found that moms in the early 2000s labored an average of 6.5 hours; 2.5 hours longer than moms in the 1960s. The number of Caesarean sections performed was also four times higher in the 2000s than in the '60s. That's troubling to the study authors, who think the Caesarean increase may be due to outdated expectations for labor duration, study authors told NPR.

Weighty Hiring Requirements

Physicians and other healthcare professionals looking for work at one Texas medical center will face a new type of employment screening. Citizens Medical Center in Victoria instituted a policy which requires new employees to have a body mass index of less than 35, according to the Texas Tribune. The policy appears to be legal; only Michigan and a few other cities in the U.S. ban hiring discrimination based on weight. The American Hospital Association told the Tribune this is the first hospital it knows of that has implemented such a hiring policy.

Social Media Missteps

Inappropriate online activity could land physicians in regulatory hot water. Fifty-six percent of medical and osteopathic boards say they have restricted, suspended, or revoked at least one physician's license for online missteps, according to a survey summarized in the Journal of the American Medical Association. A majority of boards say they have received reports of a physician's bad behavior online, usually from patients or families. The most commonly reported violations include inappropriate communication with patients, such as sexual misconduct; inappropriate medical practice, such as prescribing medication without establishing a clinical relationship with the patient; and misrepresenting medical credentials online.

Must Be Something in the Water

Ever diagnosed a patient with a water allergy? Though it's rare, it may be a seriously under-diagnosed condition, internist Alan Baptist, associate program director for allergy and immunology at the University of Michigan, told MSNBC's The Body Odd. A water allergy can cause migraine-like pain and reddish welts each time a patient's skin comes in contact with water. If a patient showers each day, a physician might just think the patient has chronic hives, Baptist said.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of Physicians Practice.