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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 7/30/15

July 30, 2015 Dr. Jayne No Comments

I received a fat envelope in the mail today. Unfortunately it was from my former employer’s credential verification service, reminding me of the need to renew my medical staff privileges. I thought it was odd since I resigned my appointment when I quit, but a call to the medical staff office confirmed they never received my letter. In keeping with the digital age (even if it doesn’t comply with the medical staff bylaws) they let me resign via email and confirmed receipt. This is the first time I’ve been without hospital privileges since finishing residency and it feels a little odd.

Speaking of receipts, my new pet peeve: Outlook users who have their accounts set up to request a “read receipt” for every email they send, regardless of its importance. One of my consulting clients gave me a corporate email account and my inbox is plagued by two analysts with this behavior who also engage in extreme carbon copying. You can bet our next discussion of their communication policy will include these elements.

Another pet peeve: sales teams who use physician directories to try to drum up business from people they think might have money. “I called your office earlier and spoke with Katherine, but wanted to follow up with you via email about our event.” Interestingly, I’ve never worked with anyone named Katherine and haven’t had an office for months. I’m not sure I’d trust someone to manage complex affairs like asset protection and financial advice if they can’t manage the truth.

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From Cardinal Fan: “Re: BJC HealthCare experienced a system-wide computer outage lasting over 20 hours across more than a dozen facilities. It wasn’t just the clinical systems – everything was down including email. Corporate mouthpieces celebrated our contingency planning, but things were far from smooth. Emergency departments went on diversion and transfers from other hospitals were impacted. Although there is no official root cause, lots of employees are speculating hackers might be involved.” Local media agree with the lack of smoothness, noting problems with moving patients from the emergency department to patient care floors without a functional bed tracking system. An internal email forwarded to me described “system-wide information systems non-functionality.” I admire their fine use of synonyms to avoid saying “outage” or “downtime.” Definitely a bad week to practice medicine in St. Louis – about four hours into the incident, a 20-inch water main broke outside flagship Barnes-Jewish Hospital, sending water into lower levels of the facility and shorting out electrical equipment. At least one backup generator failed and over 130 patients were evacuated.

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Some physicians I was having lunch with earlier in the week were discussing the recent Forbes article about curing “Doctor Dropout.” Young physicians see the stress levels of their teachers and mentors and are selecting careers outside of traditional practice. The piece cites Stanford as having just 65 percent of their students going on to residency training in 2011. That doesn’t surprise me – although it was a few years before 2011, nearly 10 percent of my medical school graduating class elected not to pursue residency training or even physician licensure. Of those who did complete their training, quite a few of us have left the careers we trained for.

The author comments that “trying to combine revenue maximization into a clinical process results in a system best described as a Gordian Knot designed by Rube Goldberg. Common sense would suggest that adding yet more complexity (e.g. new payer reporting requirements) on top of an already-flawed model is a recipe for disaster.” That about sums it up.

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In case you were getting bored waiting for the Meaningful Use final rule, CMS released proposed rules addressing long term care facilities. The nation’s 15,000 nursing facilities would be required to send care summaries when patients are transferred. I’m disappointed that they’re not requiring electronic transactions in the same formats required of the rest of us. Instead, they’re just proposing a set of information to be communicated. Problems with transcription errors and inaccuracies were cited as why the rest of us need to exchange data electronically with prescribed formats, but I guess CMS thinks nursing homes don’t need to be held to the same standard. The actual language states:

Transfers or Discharge: We propose to require not only that a transfer or discharge be documented in the clinical record, but also that specific information, such as history of present illness, reason for transfer and past medical/surgical history, be exchanged with the receiving provider or facility when a resident is transferred. We are not proposing to require a specific form, format, or methodology for this communication.

I can’t believe that not even a problem list, a medication list, or an allergy list made the cut. At least when they’re done torturing eligible providers and hospitals, CMS will have plenty to work on with other facilities.

What do you think about the proposed rule for nursing facilities? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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