ASCA News Digest (November 4, 2014)

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November 4, 2014





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ASCA Highlights


Medicare's 2015 Final Rule Released; ASCA Efforts Result in Victories for ASCs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released its final 2015 ASC payment rule on Friday. Among several victories for the ASC community was the addition of ten spine codes to the ASC payable list. These procedures were included as a direct result of a presentation ASCA representatives conducted for CMS staff earlier this year. MORE
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ASCA has been inundated with questions from members regarding enrollment, data collection and reporting on ASC-8: Influenza Vaccination Coverage among Healthcare Personnel. In response, we have published a frequently asked questions page on ASCA's web site. MORE
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Register for ASCA’s 2015 Winter Coding Seminar, January 22-24, 2015, in San Diego, California. This comprehensive program will cover coding tips for commonly performed ASC procedures, assessing coding accuracy and productivity, CPT changes that will take effect in 2015, ICD-10 and more. Attendees will be awarded up to 19.5 CEU(s) from AAPC. MORE
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ASCA would like to thank all of our 2014 Supporter Members for their dedication and commitment to the ASC community. In particular we would like to recognize and thank our top supporter members for their immense support, which benefits the entire ASC community. Please join us in thanking them for their dedication to the industry. MORE
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Doing the right thing in an ASC, like anything else, means you have to put the better good ahead of any individual interests you might have. If you take great care of your patients and they have excellent outcomes, that will drive the rest of the things you worry about as an ASC administrator, such as your bottom line, because there is no better or worse advertising than word of mouth from patients. MORE
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The results are in, and based on the responses that we received to ASCA’s 2014 membership survey, ASCA members are overwhelmingly pleased with the services and support that ASCA is providing. As we hoped, we also received a lot of great ideas for ways we can improve in the future. MORE
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If you attended ASCA's 2014 Fall Seminar in Scottsdale, you have until November 30, 2014, to submit your continuing education credits online. To submit online, you will need your ID number located on the back of your attendee badge. (If you no longer have your badge, you can request your ID number by sending an email to registration@ascassociation.org.) MORE
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ASCA convened a group of ASC leaders, vendors and other stakeholders in Chicago recently to continue discussions regarding electronic health record (EHR) technology in the ASC setting. Over the past year, this group identified EHR standards that would be appropriate for the workflow of ASCs and which should be part of any EHR technology certified for the ASC setting. MORE
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Industry News


Healthcare Prices Are Up, and Patients Are Buying Less
Modern Healthcare (10/28/14) Evans, Melanie

A new report from the Health Care Cost Institute reveals that health care spending by people who obtain their health insurance at work remained modest in 2013. Although prices increased somewhat, consumers enrolled in employer-based plans made fewer trips to physicians, hospitals, and pharmacies. Health spending increased 3.9 percent in 2013 for roughly 40 million people with health benefits from an employer, the report says. Demand for outpatient surgery fell 0.7 percent last year, though there was a 4.6 percent increase in outpatient observation visits. The use of observation stays has increased among Medicare patients under new policies designed to curb short inpatient stays at hospitals. Outpatient prices increased 5.8 percent, while inpatient prices increased 6.7 percent and inpatient use dropped 2.7 percent.
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Steps for Doctors and Patients to Make Anesthesia Safer
Wall Street Journal (10/28/14) P. D1 Landro, Laura

Hospitals and surgery centers are taking steps to minimize dangerous complications from anesthesia and sedation, ranging from cardiac arrest and damaged vocal cords to malignant hyperthermia--a rare, inherited disorder than can prove deadly. The Malignant Hyperthermia Foundation is equipping U.S. operating rooms with guidelines for preparing an emergency cart, for one. Operating rooms also are embracing emergency checklists. One developed by Stanford University researchers, for example, instructs medical residents on how to diagnose and respond to various anesthesia emergency scenarios. And because a brain-related injury can occur in a matter of minutes when something goes wrong, more operating rooms also are employing special monitoring equipment to detect oxygen and breathing problems. Assembling teams to perform and monitor anesthesia is also critical, experts say, and it is equally important for these providers to refresh their life-saving skills in case of emergency.
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Southern Eye Center Holds "Make a Difference Day"
Hattiesburg American (Mississippi) (10/31/14) Burns, Haskel

Southern Eye Center in Hattiesburg, Miss., gave back to the community on Oct. 31 by performing 10 cataract surgeries free of charge. The surgeries are part of the clinic's "Make A Difference Day," launched about 20 years ago by facility founder Dr. Lynn McMahan. Originally called "Gift of Sight," the program--which now provides free surgeries in October and February each year--takes local patients who need eye surgery but cannot afford it. "We really see it as us being a good member of this community, and the partners here at Southern Eye Center look at it like this area around us is our mission field every day of the week," Southern Eye Center cataract specialist Dr. Kiper Nelson said.
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Investing in Outpatient Surgery Centers
Healthcare Finance News (11/01/14) Nerney, Chris

An increasing number of hospitals are entering the surgery center business. A 2013 report by Moody's Investors Service predicted continued strong revenue growth for surgery centers, pointing out that they "provide care without the high-cost infrastructures associated with hospitals." Reasons to acquire include function--if there is a need for more operating space, for example--and financial, serving as an investment. The centers must be conveniently located, notes Carol Lucas at the law firm Buchalter Nemer, and they also need to offer incentives for physicians, such as a partnership to build or buy the surgery center.
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Checklist Improves Handoff of Surgery Patients
Medscape (10/28/14) Harrison, Laird

Using a checklist can enhance communication and reduce errors when physicians hand off a patient to another physician, according to Nicole Tapia of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Presenting her findings at the American College of Surgeons 2014 Clinical Congress, Baylor described implementing a protocol for the shift change called PACT (priority, admissions, changes, task review). Physicians are advised to discuss the most critical patients first, followed by new admissions, changes to current patients, and finally review tasks. An earlier study on PACT by Tapia and her colleagues found that residents using the checklist completed more tasks and knew more about patients on morning rounds. The new research recommends designating a leader, premarking the handoff list, moving to a quiet place, and setting communication devices to vibrate.
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In the Hospital, a Bad Translation Can Destroy a Life
NPR Online (10/27/14) Foden-Vencil, Kristian

In Oregon, a state law passed 13 years ago requires doctors and hospitals to use professional interpreters. Many hospitals and doctors in the state rely on a phone service that provides assistance for several languages, but these translators are typically not familiar with medical terminology. A 2012 study by the American College of Emergency Physicians of interpreter errors having clinical repercussions found that errors were less frequent among professional interpreters than for ad hoc interpreters--12 percent versus 22 percent--and that errors fell to just 2 percent after the professional interpreters completed 100 hours of training. The Oregon Office of Equity and Inclusion says it hopes to increase training and add 150 new interpreters over the next couple of years.
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SGNA Launches New Infection-Prevention Program
EndoNurse (10/16/14)

The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) has launched a new initiative called AIM: Assess, Implement and Maintain. Part of SGNA's Infection Prevention Champions Program, this initiative provides a unit member with resources and guidance to help him or her develop an infection-prevention plan for a facility. Working within a two-year timeframe, participants assess their facility's current practices, implement best practices, and work toward maintaining optimal infection-prevention standards. The program's goal is to enroll one team member from each U.S. facility or setting to serve as a link to the most current infection-prevention news, to help maintain the most current, safe practices.
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Some Doctors Wary of Taking Insurance Exchange Patients
USA Today (10/28/14) O'Donnell, Jayne

As more people obtain health insurance through Obamacare exchanges, some consumers are having difficulty finding a doctor who will accept them as patients. Many exchange plans have lower reimbursement rates, so some doctors are limiting the number of new patients they take with these policies, according to experts. Meanwhile, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners is developing a new standard for what is a sufficient number of doctors and hospitals in insurance networks. Starting in 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will be certifying whether networks for insurance plans sold on HealthCare.gov are large enough.
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Medical Billing Transparency Is This Company's Aim, But Will Local Providers Let It Happen?
Pittsburgh Business Times (10/14/14) Mamula, Kris B.

With increased attention on price transparency, a new website shows the fees that providers such as hospitals and outpatient surgery centers charge, enabling consumers to make comparisons. The Pratter site only uses data from billing codes, which are used by Medicare and medical providers, while insurers generally use average charges, based on claims data. There is wide variation in prices nationwide and even within the same health care network. Pratter founder Dr. Bill Hennessey notes, for example, that the price of an MRI scan in California can range from $500 to $12,000, and charges for a heart catheterization procedure can range between $4,000 and $40,000. Health care providers in other states have voluntarily submitted their charges to Pratter; but some in western Pennsylvania have been more hesitant, and Hennessey hopes to crowdsource billing information for the region's UPMC and Highmark's Allegheny Health Network.
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AMA Releases Meaningful Use Stage 3 Blueprint
Medscape (10/17/14) Terry, Ken

The American Medical Association (AMA) has released a blueprint for the future of the electronic health record (EHR) incentive program, asking for fundamental changes in stages 1 and 2 of meaningful use and making recommendations for stage 3. The AMA wants Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to replace its all-or-nothing approach to the program criteria with one in which physicians must meet 75 percent of criteria to obtain incentive payments and 50 percent to avoid penalties for failing to show meaningful use. The AMA also wants CMS to make the "view-download-transmit," transitions of care, and secure messaging criteria in stage 2 all optional, as some of these criteria are outside a doctor's control or involve a level of interoperability that does not yet exist in most places. For stage 3, the AMA recommends that CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT eliminate the difference between core and menu metrics.
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