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Industry News
Hospitals with the highest rates of readmission were more likely to show better mortality scores in patients treated for heart failure, COPD and stroke. Patients treated at these hospitals had a fractionally better chance at survival than patients who were cared for at hospitals with lower readmissions, according to the research published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. One of the authors, Daniel J. Brotman, MD, spoke with HealthLeaders Media about the findings. (HealthLeaders Media; Journal of Hospital Medicine)

Community health centers save money, according to research published in the American Journal of Public HealthAuthors analyzed Medicaid claims data for both health center and non-health center patients in 13 states, and found that health centers save, on average, $2,371 (or 24 percent) in total spending per Medicaid patient when compared to other providers. The savings came primarily from lower utilization and spending across key drivers of health care costs, including 22 percent fewer hospital visits, 33 percent lower spending on specialty care and 25 percent fewer hospital admissions. (announcement; AJPH)
The federal government has announced a new rule that guarantees the rights of patients and families to sue long-term care facilities. The rule, released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, bans "pre-dispute binding arbitration" clauses in nursing home contracts which require patients and families to settle any dispute over care in arbitration, rather than through the court system. (NPR)
Lawmakers appear ready to pass a package of mental health reforms during November's lame duck session. This comes on the heels of July's legislation addressing opioid addiction. Despite bipartisan support, differences remain, including issues related to sharing patient data and Medicaid coverage, Modern Healthcare reports. Paul Gionfriddo, CEO, Mental Health America, a coalition of mental health advocacy groups, is optimistic. "It would lay a nice foundation for building a better system of care... I'd love it if things moved quicker; but we didn't get here overnight and we're not going to get out of here overnight." (Modern Healthcare)
Innovation & Transformation  
Curavi, a telemedicine startup, is developing a tool to reduce the unnecessary transfers of nursing home residents to hospitals. UPMC Enterprises, a for-profit arm of UPMC, a nonprofit, helped fund Curavi. Curavi's mobile carts with sensitive cameras allow geriatricians to guide nurses, potentially reducing the number of hospital transfers. (Trib Live)
Consumers & Providers
Many acute medical conditions can be treated without admitting patients to the hospital, according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine. "For low-risk patients with a range of acute medical conditions, evidence suggests that alternative management strategies to inpatient care can achieve comparable clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction at lower costs." It may also improve patient satisfaction, because patients often prefer care at home. (Reuters; JAMA Internal Medicine)
How physicians advise patients on hot-button health topics may depend on the doctors'  party affiliation, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The differences arose with abortion, marijuana and guns. For example, Democratic doctors were far more likely to discourage parents of small children from storing guns in the home, but were less likely than their GOP peers to discuss safe gun storage. "Just as a patient may seek out a physician of a certain gender to feel more comfortable, the evidence suggests that a patient may need to make the same calculation regarding political ideology," they conclude. (Washington PostProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
Medical schools increasingly are asking students to recite alternatives to the once-ubiquitous Hippocratic Oath. At some, oaths are customized to the graduating class. "I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, or a cancerous growth, but a sick human being," according to a popular one developed in 1964 by Dr. Louis Lasagna, a former dean at Tufts University School of Medicine. The newer oaths notably don't "swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses." (Stat News)
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New & Noted   
No more cleansing after 75? A colonoscopy may not provide much cancer prevention benefit after the age of 75, a new study suggests. But Robert Smith, of the American Cancer Society, said it would be misguided to stop all colonoscopies at 75. "But you're not going to benefit if you are likely to die from something else." (Consumer Health DayAnnals of Internal Medicine)

MACRA tools: The American Medical Association has released several online tools to help physicians understand new value-based payment models under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). (Advisory Board Daily Briefing; AMA tools)

A comprehensive bill: Late last month, the Department of Health and Human services announced the results of its "A Bill You Can Understand" design contest. The two winning designs will be implemented or tested at six health care organizations. (HHS announcementwinning designs)
A new infographic from The Commonwealth Fund compares employer-based insurance to plans purchased on the health insurance marketplace. (Commonwealth Fund)
MarketVoices...quotes worth reading
"One of the ways to prevent a readmission is to keep someone out of the hospital at all costs. That is not necessarily good for patient care. With increasing financial pressures to reduce readmissions, there are going to be unintended consequences."--Daniel J. Brotman, MD, in an interview with HealthLeaders Media

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Roxanna Guilford-Blake
Sandy Mau




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Wednesday, October 12, 2016