Archive for the ‘Hospital Infections’ Category

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Hospital Surgery Ratings, Long-Term Care Costs, Medicare Drug Plans

August 9th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

Location, location, location.

While it definitely impacts the price of real estate, it doesn’t necessarily influence a hospital’s surgery rating, according to Consumer Reports’ first ratings survey on how patients fare during and after surgery.

In fact, some hospitals do a much better job than others, despite their location. The report reflects wide variation, sometimes between hospitals only a few miles apart. For example, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center earned high marks on the overall surgery rating, as well as for several individual procedures, but the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, also in Baltimore, got a low overall surgery rating.

The report, detailed inside, includes overall surgery ratings, which combines results for 27 categories of scheduled surgeries, as well as individual ratings for five specific procedure types: back surgery, hip replacement, knee replacement, angioplasty and carotid artery surgery. They are important because up to 30 percent of hospital patients suffer infections, heart attacks, strokes, or other complications after surgery, but these records are largely hidden from consumers, Consumer Reports says.

Another area of concern that has largely been hidden from consumers is the high cost of medical errors, according to the Leapfrog Group.

A new tool is available to counter this costly trend — the Hidden Surcharge Calculator tool — which allows purchasers to calculate how much they spend annually on unnecessary costs due to hospital errors that occur within general acute care hospitals.

Reports estimate that purchasers can pay nearly $8,000 per patient in hidden surcharges due to medical errors; for employers with 1,000 hospital admissions per year that cost can near a whopping $8 million in avoidable fees, not to mention harm to patients. Every year, more than 180,000 Medicare beneficiaries die from hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), errors, accidents and injuries.

Purchasers can use the calculator to enter their own claims data and local hospital safety ratings from Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score Web site to learn the estimated hidden surcharge they pay annually for hospital errors.

More news on not-so hidden costs of long-term care: they continued to increase across all provider options, according to a study from the John Hancock Life Insurance Company (John Hancock).

Already high, within the last five years, costs for senior living facilities rose anywhere from 2 percent for an assisted living facility ($41,124 annually) to nearly 4 percent for a private nursing home room ($94,170.) Considered to be one of the most significant uninsured financial risks an individual can face, according to John Hancock officials, the company updated its interactive cost of care map and calculator to reflect the latest findings, and make long-term care costs planning easier.

And lastly, some good financial news: Medicare drug premiums remained stable for four straight years in a row, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The average premium for a basic prescription drug plan in 2014 was expected to remain stable at an estimated $31 per month. More than 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs since the ACA was implemented, an average of $1,061 per beneficiary, the HHS said.

Infographic: Communication Breakdown — Are U.S. Hospitals Stuck in a Rut?

July 10th, 2013 by Jackie Lyons

Loss of patient life, in addition to a significant loss of revenue, can be attributed to communication breakdown at hospitals.

Fifty-three percent of each nurse’s shift is spent on tasks other than patient care, including charting, communicating or waiting for information, according to a new infographic by Voalte ( In addition to patient care, this infographic also looks at the impact of communication inefficiencies on yearly productivity and patient safety.

Communication Breakdown --- Are U.S. Hospitals Stuck in a Rut?

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You may also be interested in this related resource: Avoiding the Readmissions Penalty Zone: Population Health Management for High-Risk Populations.

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Stroke Costs Up, MRSA Prevention Tactics, Employee Wellness

June 4th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

Stroke costs are predicted to more than double by 2030, and the number of people having strokes by then may increase by 20 percent, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The aging U.S. population is the main reason for the increases, with almost four percent, or one in 25 American adults, predicted to have stroke in 2030, or an additional 3.4 million people. Annual costs due to lost productivity could rise from $33.65 billion to $56.54 billion, and costs to treat stroke may increase from $71.55 billion in 2010 to $183.13 billion. What steps need to be taken? See our story for details.

Using germ-killing soap and ointment on all intensive-care unit (ICU) patients can reduce bloodstream infections by nearly half and significantly reduce the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in ICUs, according to a multi-disciplinary team study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, REDUCE MRSA trial evaluated the effectiveness of three MRSA prevention practices: routine care, providing germ-killing soap and ointment only to patients with MRSA, and providing germ-killing soap and ointment to all ICU patients.

In addition to being effective at stopping the spread of MRSA in ICUs, the study found the use of germ-killing soap and ointment on all ICU patients was also effective for preventing infections caused by germs other than MRSA.

Young children who missed more than half of recommended well-child visits had up to twice the risk of hospitalization compared to children who attended most of their visits according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

Children with chronic conditions like asthma and heart disease were even more likely to be hospitalized when they missed visits, according to the study, which included more than 20,000 children enrolled at Group Health Cooperative. And children with chronic conditions who missed more than half of the recommended well-child visits had more than three times the risk of being hospitalized compared to children with chronic conditions who attended most of their visits.

In other prevention-related news, HHS issued final rules on employment-based wellness programs, supporting workplace health promotion and prevention as a means to reduce the burden of chronic illness, improve health, and limit growth of healthcare costs, according to the HHS.

And lastly, more than 10 million Americans directly benefited from a telemedicine service during the past year, likely double the number from just three years ago, according to American Telemedicine Association estimates. Telehealth’s broad reach encompasses telemedicine — the use of telecommunications technology to deliver clinical diagnosis, services and patient consultations — as well as the exploding field of mobile health. Tell us how you’re utilizing telehealth in HIN’s third comprehensive e-survey on Telehealth. Respond by June 30, 2013 and receive a free executive summary of the compiled results. Your responses will be kept strictly confidential.

Infographic: How Budget Cuts and New Taxes Affect Med Tech

May 8th, 2013 by Patricia Donovan

Repeated budget cuts and new taxes are affecting the field of MedTech, according to this infographic from the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed).

This graphic highlights the benefits that MedTech delivers as well as the costly burdens this sector faces, such as a $30 billion medical device excise tax and proposed further cuts to Medicare that would harm patient access to life-changing, life-enhancing medical technology.

Advancements in medical technology are driving more efficient and cost-effective care, says AdvaMed. For example, hospital stays dropped by more than 50 percent between 1980 and 2000. Meanwhile, spending on medical technology accounts for only 6 percent of national health expenditures, a figure that has remained constant over the past two decades.

How Repeated Cuts and New Taxes are Affecting Med Tech

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You may also be interested in this related resource: Reusing Single-Use Devices.

Infographic: 2013 Top Healthcare Quality Issues

February 8th, 2013 by Melanie Matthews

Hospital-aquired infections, readmission penalties and health insurance exchange accreditation are the top of mind quality issues for healthcare executives in 2013, according to a new infographic by BerylHealth.

2013 Top Healthcare Quality Issues

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today.

You may also be interested in this related resource: Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2013: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry.

Infographic: Reducing Catheter Infections

February 1st, 2013 by Melanie Matthews

Central line catheters are commonplace for intensive care unit patients. Approximately 48 percent of all intensive care unit patients have catheters at some point during their hospital stay in the United States.

Central lines, like any venous catheter, disrupt the integrity of the skin, which can lead to bloodstream infections: studies show that 90 percent of catheter-related bloodstream infections occur with central lines, making proper catheter insertion and maintenance an important patient safety area to address.

In this infographic by Curos, see what your organization can do to reduce the chances of catheter-related bloodstream infections.

Catheter Infections

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You may also be interested in this related resource: Infection Control in Ambulatory Care

Infographic: Hospital-Acquired Infections

January 15th, 2013 by Patricia Donovan

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) can have a substantial effect on patients, staff or anyone else that enters through the doors of a hospital or medical center, and significantly impacts healthcare costs. For example, the annual cost of an HAI is $25,000 per person.

The number of deaths resulting from HAIs can be reduced by implementing a few simple suggestions from this infographic published by CHG Hospital Beds.

hospital-acquired infections

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today.

Majority of Americans Still Paying High Medical Costs Despite Recession

October 29th, 2012 by Cheryl Miller

The recession hasn’t impacted high medical cost burdens for a majority of Americans, according to a recent study from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). Nearly one in five families spent at least 10 percent of their pre-tax family income on out-of-pocket health insurance premiums and medical care in 2009, roughly the same as 2006 despite widespread job losses, more uninsured, and declining incomes during the recession. Researchers attributed decreasing family income among the reasons for the lack of change.

CMS financial penalties haven’t impacted the rate of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), according to a report from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. The study included data on 398 hospitals from 41 states and found no evidence that 2008 CMS policies reducing Medicare payments to hospitals for HAIs had a positive impact. Instead, the study found that infection rates declined steadily throughout this period independent of penalties. Among the reasons cited in the report was the size of the financial incentives – they were very small and failed to spark reform.

Population health management strategies could have an impact on patient care, and healthcare costs, but physician practices need to put readiness plans together. Chief among the challenges to implementation are increased administrative burdens, cost, and time, but researchers stress that the short-term disruptions to patient care are worth the longer term benefits.

What might have an impact on our offices here on the Jersey coast is Hurricane Sandy, set to land right around the time this newsletter goes to press. So we’re in readiness mode, hoping that a boardwalk clogged with sand will be the only short-term disruption from the storm, but well worth the ocean viewing afterward.

Read all of these stories in their entirety in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.