ASCA News Digest (June 3, 2014)

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June 3, 2014


ASCA Highlights

Industry News


ASCA Highlights

Submit Your Continuing Education Hours Online

If you attended ASCA 2014 in Nashville, you have until June 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 MORE
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Ensuring Patient Safety with Capnography
The RespSense™ and LifeSense® capnography monitors are simple-to-use, cost-effective tools that help you ensure your patients are adequately ventilated during sedated dental procedures. The monitors provide continuous and reliable monitoring to help identify potentially life-threatening ventilation status changes such as respiratory depression during dental procedures on sedated patients.

Simplify your business office operations. Surgical Notes is a nationwide provider of transcription, coding, and document management applications. The ASC industry’s largest management companies and roughly 20,000 healthcare providers trust Surgical Notes to provide customer-focused solutions that eliminate manual processes, streamline workflow, and accelerate the revenue cycle. Visit us at or call 800-459-5616 today!

Losing a key person, such as the administrator or the director of nursing, can have a catastrophic effect on an ASC. Or not. Having a successful plan in place can turn this often stressful situation into an advantage for your ASC. Start by identifying the primary duties and roles of the departing party and begin assessing and assigning those roles to other members of the team. MORE
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Eliminate the drudgery often associated with conducting outside chart audits by learning how your ASC’s coding and billing staff can put your audit results to work to improve reimbursement and strengthen your ASC’s compliance plans. Learn more by registering for ASCA's next webinar on Tuesday, June 17, at 1:00 pm ET. ASCA members save $50. MORE
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Order the entire package of all of the ASCA 2014 session recordings on ASCA's Learning Center. If you could not make it to the meeting or if you were unable to sit in on every session that you wanted to attend, order session recordings to review all of the education content that the conference had to offer. MORE
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Planning has begun for ASCA 2015 to be held in Orlando, May 13–16, 2015. Your ideas for session topics and speakers are an invaluable part of determining the exceptional educational content that the meeting provides every year. Submissions for ASCA 2014 will be accepted through July 31, 2014. MORE
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Mark your calendar for ASCA 2015, May 13–16, 2015, at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The newly renovated hotel, located near Disney World, features a full-service boutique spa, an 18-hole championship golf course and two 200-foot water slides. MORE
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US Representative Dan Benishek (R-MI) joined a growing list of cosponsors for the ASC Quality and Access Act of 2013 (H.R. 2500 / S. 1137). The bill now has 54 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and seven in the Senate. MORE
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Industry News

Google Glass Enters the Operating Room
New York Times (06/01/14) O'Connor, Anahad

An increasing number of surgeons are using Google Glass to stream videos of their surgeries online, display medical images, and conduct live video consultations. Software developers have created programs that enable users to use Glass as a medical dashboard to show such things as urgent lab results and surgical checklists. A study of 200 cases by Augmedix found that just two or three patients requested their doctors to remove Google Glass, says Ian K. Shakil, a co-founder of Augmedix. However, concerns over privacy and the potential for distractions are compelling some health care providers to prohibit the use of the device.
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Banning the Handshake From the Health Care Setting
Journal of the American Medical Association (05/15/14) Sklansky, Mark; Nadkarni, Nikhil; Ramirez-Avila, Lynn

Handshakes between health care practitioners and patients have been shown to spread pathogens through cross-contamination, and interactions could contribute to the burden of antimicrobial resistance, write three clinicians from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Although improvements in hand hygiene have been linked to decreased bacterial colonization and hospital-acquired infection rates, the average compliance rate in hand hygiene programs averages 40 percent among health care personnel. Alcohol-based hand rubs have limited activity against Clostridium difficile and certain other pathogens. Efforts to restrict handshaking in the health care setting should feature extensive educational programs, alternative hand gestures, and signage, such as "Handshake-free zone: to protect your health and the health of those around you, please refrain from shaking hands while on these premises."
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Oregon Outpatient Surgery Center Launches Program to Help Vets Receive Timely Surgical Treatment
Oregon Live (05/22/2014)

The Oregon Outpatient Surgery Center (OOSC) in Tigard, Ore., is unveiling a program for veterans requiring surgery. The OOSC will donate one day per quarter to local veterans who have urgent medical needs and meet basic qualifications for outpatient surgical care. The new program is expected to begin around July 4. The OOSC will work with veterans' groups to identify eligible candidates from all areas of the military. Along with free surgical procedures, veterans will receive pre- and post-treatment at no cost, inclusive of medical services and supplies. "The vast majority of health professionals at the Department of Veteran Affairs are hardworking individuals," says board-certified orthopedic surgeon Richard Edelson. "Our surgery center, like many others, has the capacity and expertise to help relieve their burden."
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National Surgical Hospitals Adds Conn. Surgical Center
Modern Healthcare (05/29/14) Herman, Bob

Chicago-based National Surgical Hospitals has acquired a stake in Fairfield Surgery Center, the company's first presence in Connecticut and its eighth ambulatory surgery center around the country. The surgery center has two operating rooms, and it performs about 1,400 orthopedic procedures every year. "Our focus is musculoskeletal, and [Fairfield Surgery Center] fits very much in that focus," said Bryan Fisher, president and COO of National Surgical Hospitals.
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Amsurg's $2.35B Bid for Sheridan Spotlights Growing Interest in Physician Outsourcing
Modern Healthcare (05/29/14) Kutscher, Beth

Nashville, Tenn.-based ambulatory surgery center operator Amsurg has offered $2.35 billion to buy Sheridan Healthcare in a move that highlights growing interest in the physician outsourcing sector, according to analysts. Amsurg says the merger will enable its penetration of an adjacent market and incorporate anesthesia into its surgery center portfolio. Deutsche Bank analyst Darren Lehrich calls Amsurg's proposal a bold move, allowing the firm to enter a new space that has been intersecting with the one in which it is already entrenched. Edgmont Capital Partners' Jeff Swearingen says the acquisition also spotlights sustained interest in hospital-based physician specialties such as anesthesia.
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The Medicare Physician-Data Release--Context and Rationale
New England Journal of Medicine (05/28/14) Brennan, Niall; Conway, Patrick H.; Tavenner, Marilyn

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released in April fee-for-service Medicare claims information from more than 880,000 physicians and other health care providers who care for Medicare beneficiaries. The value of these data could likely be improved with the inclusion of claims data from other sources, suggest the authors of this commentary, including CMS Administrator Marilyn B. Tavenner. The authors call for creating a dialogue on ways that Medicare Advantage plans, state Medicaid programs, and private health insurers can provide utilization information to offer a broader view of care. CMS also has approved as "qualified entities" 12 independent quality-measurement organizations that integrate Medicare data with that from other sources to create comprehensive provider-performance reports. Physicians who feel their volume of services and procedures reported is excessively high should follow CMS procedures for reporting suspected fraud.
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Obese Patients Have More Postop Problems
MedPage Today (05/28/14) Susman, Ed

Individuals who are morbidly obese, or have a body mass index of 40 kg/m2 or more, have a higher rate of postoperative complications and infections than patients in other weight categories when undergoing elective hip replacement surgery, according to new research. The findings prompted Kristina Denenkamp, a graduate of the Wagner College physician assistant program in Staten Island, N.Y., and her colleagues to advise people in this group to delay elective hip replacement surgery and undergo weight-loss counseling. Risks associated with the surgery include longer length of surgery, increased blood loss, poor wound healing, and deep vein thrombosis, the researchers reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
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Report Shows $6.7 Billion in Improper Medicare Payments
USA Today (05/29/14) Kennedy, Kelly

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspector general reported that Medicare paid out $6.7 billion in 2010 for healthcare visits that were improperly coded or lacked documentation, accounting for 21 percent of the program's total budget for diagnostic and assessment visits. About 42 percent of diagnostic and assessment claims were improperly coded and 19 percent were improperly documented. More than half of claims for high-coding physicians were incorrect, and 99 percent of those were up-coded in the physician's favor. The latest data shows Medicare spending was $554.3 billion total in 2011, and the inspector general has recommended better training for physicians about coding, that contractors review billing of doctors known for up-coding claims, and that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services follow-up on services that were paid in error.
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Most ACA Enrollees Have Paid Premiums, According to McKinsey Survey
Medical Economics (05/23/14) Mazzolini, Chris

More than 80 percent of consumers who signed up for insurance through Obamacare exchanges have paid for their coverage, according to a new survey by McKinsey & Company. The proportion of previously uninsured enrollees who paid for their coverage reached 83 percent, the survey reveals, up from 53 percent in February. The proportion of enrollees who had been previously insured prior to Obamacare reached 89 percent. The Affordable Care Act allows patients who fall behind on their monthly premiums to keep their coverage for 90 days, and in the final 60 days, insurers may deny claims and physicians can collect payments directly from patients.
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Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture: 2014 User Comparative Database Report
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (05/16/2014)

Data from the 2014 Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture has been used to form a comparative database incorporating the results from more than 650 hospitals and 405,000 hospital staff respondents. The majority of hospitals in the database are nonteaching and non-government owned. The leading areas of strength cited were teamwork within units, supervisor/manager expectations and actions promoting patient safety, and organizational learning--continuous improvement. Areas that showed potential for improvement were nonpunitive response to error, handoffs and transitions with respect to important patient care information, and staffing. The smallest hospitals (6-24 beds) had the highest percent positive average across all composites as well as the highest percentage of respondents who gave their work area/unit a patient safety grade of "excellent" or "very good."
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