ASCA News Digest (March 25, 2014)

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March 25, 2014


ASCA Highlights

Industry News

  • Surveyors love to see ASCs using an EMR. Scott Luba of Outpatient Surgery Center of Hilton Head highlights the many benefits of having AmkaiCharts in this Q&A.
  • "The personal service from AmkaiSolutions is impeccable" - Cheryl Bloode, Memorial Spine & Neuroscience Center. Can you say that about your EMR partner? Ask about the AmkaiSolutions difference!
  • Schedule a demo of AmkaiCharts, the #1 EMR for the ASC, and AmkaiOffice, the most intuitive business software on the market.
  • Learn 6 ways to use your EMR as a powerful marketing tool in a recent Becker's ASC Review column from Joe Macies of AmkaiSolutions.
  • AmkaiSolutions is now a subsidiary of Surgical Information Systems – ASCs will benefit from SIS' robust capabilities in product development and support. Follow SIS on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

ASCA Highlights

Last Chance to Subscribe Before ASCA Benchmarking Opens on April 1

The data collection period for the first quarter (Q1) of the 2014 ASCA Benchmarking Program will open on Tuesday, April 1. Some new features and enhancements for 2014 include a new Executive Summary section and Quarterly Trends Report, new and revised survey questions and improved help capabilities. Subscribe today. MORE
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We're here for you. It's a simple concept, but how many partners answer your questions and help guide you in your quest to manage your revenue cycle? LaClaro is always here to answer questions, offer guidance, and make sure your team has the data it needs to make better decisions for your facility.

Faster payments. Lower costs.

With ASC Billing Services from SourceMedical, your facility receives payments faster—by an average of over 20 percent—and reduces internal costs. Find out why Modern Healthcare ranked SourceMedical among the largest revenue cycle management companies in 2013. Learn more at .

ASCA is pleased to announce that US Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) created a public service announcement encouraging people to talk to their physicians and family members about scheduling potentially life-saving colorectal cancer screenings. Rep. Dent is an ardent advocate for the tests that can lead to early detection of colorectal cancer screening and the sponsor of the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act (H.R. 1070). MORE
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As of March 31, only ASCA members who have renewed their membership for 2014 will continue to receive member benefits, including ASCA's Medicare Rate Calculator, the weekly Government Affairs Update and discounts on ASCA meetings, webinars and educational resources. If your center’s membership is not renewed as of March 31, you will lose access to these important benefits. MORE
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Register today for ASCA 2014 in Nashville, May 14–17. ASCA members can take advantage of a discounted rate and enjoy additional savings by sending more than one attendee. Special room rates are also available for ASCA 2014 attendees at the world-famous Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. Book now for the best rates and availability. MORE
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ASCA's next webinar, Tuesday, April 8, 1:00 pm ET, will focus on the benefits of accreditation, steps to becoming accredited and ways to make certain that your ASC meets the requirements. The panel discussion will feature representatives from The Joint Commission and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care talking about the advantages of accreditation and the “Top 10 Deficiencies” noted by each organization during the survey process. Register today. MORE
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In a world of declining reimbursements and rising costs, how can centers survive and stay on top of their game? No matter how business-savvy a center is, it cannot and will not be successful without a quality clinical team. Patient satisfaction and happy surgeons are the number one keys to success for any ASC. MORE
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Wednesday, August 13, is National ASC Day and the perfect time of year to host a facility tour for your members of Congress as they are back in their districts visiting constituents. Hosting a facility tour provides the opportunity to educate your legislators about the issues affecting your ASC and to demonstrate the high-quality surgical care your ASC provides. MORE
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CMS recently issued a proposed rule expanding current emergency preparedness requirements in an attempt to align standards across all health care providers. ASCA believes that many aspects of the new proposal that would affect ASCs are inappropriate for our setting and would be burdensome to implement. MORE
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Your ASC, your patients and the future of ambulatory surgery in the US all rely on high-level policy decisions being made in Washington, DC, and your state capital each day. ASCA members receive a weekly Government Affairs Update with all the latest news affecting the ASC community and important information about how you and your ASC can get involved. Join ASCA to read more and to start receiving the Government Affairs Update every week. MORE
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Industry News

Connecticut Hospital Mergers Raise Concerns Over Patient Costs
New Haven Register (03/24/14) Kaylin, Jennifer; Chedekel, Lisa

Increasing consolidation among hospitals in Connecticut has some experts concerned that the trend will reduce competition and provide hospitals with more leverage to boost prices. The state saw seven hospital consolidations and partnerships between 2009 and 2013, compared to four in the previous decade, and more than half of the 29 acute-care hospitals in the state now operate in networks with other hospitals or out-of-state partners. While Connecticut has yet to study the impact of mergers on patient pricing, State House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) is seeking to improve the review process for hospital mergers and conversions, in an effort to protect the quality of care, the rights of workers, and patient services. A proposed bill would expand the state's review of for-profit conversions, although not specifically for pricing.
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Hospital Corporation of America Named One of Ethisphere Institute's World's Most Ethical Companies for Fifth Consecutive Year
Business Wire (03/20/2014)

Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) is being recognized as one of the Ethisphere Institute's 2014 World's Most Ethical Companies. HCA, which has 115 ambulatory surgery centers and 164 hospitals in the United States and England, has achieved this recognition for five years in a row. Ethisphere has included 144 organizations on its list, but HCA is one of only eight health care services organizations recognized in 2014. "Being named one of Ethisphere's World's Most Ethical Companies is recognition for our more than 200,000 employees because the rigorous selection process looks at organizations' day-to-day operations," said Alan Yuspeh, HCA's Senior Vice President and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer. "This achievement is a source of pride for all of us at HCA because it is a reflection of our values of compassion, respect and integrity."
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ICD-10 Checkpoint: Will Six Months Be Enough Time?
EHR Intelligence (03/19/2014) Bresnick, Jennifer

The ICD-10 deadline is Oct. 1, 2014, but six months may not be enough time for some in the industry. Internal and external testing are key concerns, especially as most organizations will not be able to submit claims and receive feedback before the transition. In addition, training coders and physicians about the changes is essential, but finding the time to do so may be difficult. Many providers have cited clinical documentation integrity as a key concern, along with productivity and costs, and more than a third do not plan to update their software until April 1. Meanwhile, major health plans seem to be more prepared, and Medicare has said it has been ready since the Version 5010 conversion. While two of the biggest anticipated issues are loss of productivity and financial bottlenecks, planning ahead can help reduce the severity of these problems, as can staying in touch with business partners and vendors to monitor their preparations and taking advantage of the resources provided by CMS, professional societies, and coding experts.
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When Medical Errors Kill
Los Angeles Times (03/15/14) Levitt, Philip

In this opinion piece, retired neurosurgeon Philip Levitt writes that the systems approach to addressing the issue of unnecessary deaths from medical errors is not resolving the problem. This approach follows a 1999 Institute of Medicine report which said that making medicine more systematic in hospitals would reduce deaths by half in five years. However, Levitt notes, a 1991 Harvard Medical Practice Study found that of more than 30,000 randomly selected records from 51 hospitals, 61 percent of harm to patients was due to either errors or technique or to a failure to order the right diagnostic tests, while only 6 percent of adverse events were the result of systems problems. Levitt also points out that "the major studies of what causes preventable errors have mostly failed to examine whether some doctors had a disproportionate number of bad outcomes." He concludes that issues such as removing dangerous doctors and reporting erring doctors need to be resolved "if we are to prevent even some of the 1 million patient deaths likely to occur in the next decade."
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Are the Democrats Doomed?
Los Angeles Times (03/16/14) McManus, Doyle

An op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times suggests that Democratic lawmakers will struggle to retain their five-seat majority in the U.S. Senate. Doyle McManus notes that Democrats currently have more seats at-risk compared with Republicans. Of 36 Senate seats up for election this year, 21 are held by Democrats, and seven of these seats are in Republican-leaning states. If Republicans succeed in taking control of both the Senate and House, they would be able to pass measures that have been blocked to date. President Obama would retain veto power, but he would have to operate in a largely defensive mode. McManus writes that Democrats will try to expand the debate beyond the Affordable Care Act and economic growth to fairness issues like higher minimum wage, stronger overtime pay regulations, and pay equity for women.
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Proposed Rules Would Offer More Protection for Seniors Enrolled in Medicare Advantage
Kaiser Health News (03/24/14) Jaffe, Susan

Changes to Medicare Advantage rules proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would give beneficiaries more than 30 days' advance notice of reductions in their provider networks and give providers at least 60 days' advance notice of a contract termination. The proposals also would give Medicare officials at least 90 days' advance notice of contract terminations to ensure the remaining providers will meet required network standards. Critics of the rules worry that they would hinder insurers' contract negotiations with providers and contend that notifying beneficiaries of potential terminations before contracts may be successfully completed would be disruptive. Final rules could be issued as early as April 7.
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Medicare to Reveal Payments to Doctors
Modern Healthcare (03/18/14) Carlson, Joe

On March 18, Medicare began to officially accept requests from the general public for doctors' personally identifiable payment information under the Freedom of Information Act. The move comes as device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies prepare to reveal payments to doctors as part of a transparency initiative at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS') Physician Compare site. In September, CMS will begin to publicly post data of such things as amounts of money that health care suppliers paid to doctors, inclusive of steak dinners and speaking engagements. The Physician Compare Web site also is phasing in publicly searchable information on physicians' quality of care.
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Doctors Say Obamacare Rule Will Stick Them With Unpaid Bills
Kaiser Health News (03/19/14) Rabin, Roni Caryn

The American Medical Association (AMA) and other doctors' groups are concerned their members will not get paid due to a 90-day grace period for government-subsidized health plans. Physicians are being urged to check patients' insurance status prior to every every visit. Under the Affordable Care Act, if enrollees in a subsidized plan fall behind on their premium payments, insurers must cover their medical bills for 30 days. For the following 60 days, however, insurers may suspend paying the claims, eventually denying them if patients fail to catch up on their premiums. Doctors, in turn, would not get paid for their services, and would need to bill patients directly. The AMA says physicians should discuss financial matters with their patients, and the doctors' groups have unveiled a sample "Dear Patient" letter explaining his or her obligations.
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New Health Exchanges Reach 5 Million Enrollees
Wall Street Journal (03/18/14) P. A4 Dooren, Jennifer Corbett

On March 17, the Obama Administration reported that 5 million people had enrolled in private health insurance on the exchanges as of this past weekend, with around 800,000 signing up between March 1 and March 16. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that 6 million people will use the exchanges this year, down from an initial estimate of 7 million. Officials say at least 9 million people have obtained Medicaid coverage under the federal health law. However, of those enrolling in private insurance, it remains uncertain how many were previously uninsured, as the application does not ask people whether they are currently uninsured.
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Patient Navigators a 'No-Brainer' for Improving Colonoscopy Screening Rates
Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News (03/14) Vol. 65, No. 3 Helwick, Caroline

Rates of colonoscopy screenings tend to be lower among underserved and minority populations compared with other groups, but screening rates become comparable when patient navigators are used, studies show. In one study, researchers focused on colonoscopy screening rates in a large urban hospital health care system in New York City. When trained patient navigators provided education and information to patients--such as discussing colonoscopy hurdles and bowel preparation protocols--researchers found that 31,215 individuals attended their colonoscopies, reflecting an adherence rate of 84.2 percent. In a second study, researchers created a model to show the cost-effectiveness of patient navigators in boosting screening colonoscopy rates. Dr. Steven Itzkowitz, a co-author of that study, said: "Our patient navigator program actually turns a profit for the institution, mainly because we are increasing the volume of colonoscopies; our poor-prep rates are lower; and our completion rates are higher."
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