The Leapfrog Group released the most recent iteration of its Hospital Safety Scores, grading over 2,600 hospitals from A to F. Transparency is a good thing, but I was surprised to see how some of my local hospitals (including a world renowned tertiary care center) fared. In going through the detail, it looks like there were several areas where they declined to report, but another is confusing. They scored low on “specially trained doctors care for ICU patients,” which is funny because they have one of the leading critical care fellowship programs and all patients are cared for by intensivists. The average patient isn’t going to be knowledgeable enough to dissect the rankings. Several smaller hospitals in town received A rankings but I still wouldn’t go there for a cardiac procedure or other specialized surgeries.
CMS announces upcoming webinars regarding the Achievable Benchmark of Care (ABC) and five-star rating programs. The data will appear on the Physician Compare website, so clinicians should become familiar with what their patients are seeing. I have need of a new specialist, looked up the physician I am considering, and didn’t find any information that helped support (or contradict) my choice. The webinars will be hosted:
I’ve been receiving encrypted summary-of-care records from one of my local hospitals, for patients who used to be mine when I was in traditional family medicine practice. The most recent one was over 145 pages long and contained every single laboratory test performed on the patient, including bedside blood glucose testing performed four times daily. Somehow I’m still listed as the primary care physician of record for this patient, which is surprising because he lives in a group home and has to have orders reauthorized every six months, so he must be seeing someone in the community who should have received this document instead of me. A call to the hospital wasn’t helpful, and I’m planning to call the group home to try to straighten it out myself. I assume that if this data was directly imported to my EHR it would make sense, but as a 145-page PDF it’s pretty overwhelming. The best part of it was the discharge diagnosis: “Recent Acute Hospitalization.”
I recently had lunch with some of my physician colleagues and the recent approval of direct-to-consumer genetic testing was a hot topic. Since I just went through genetic counseling and testing, I decided to investigate the 23andMe process. It’s easy to order the testing package – no more challenging than ordering something on Amazon. However, I got to the “enter your payment information” screen without any mention of some of the critical things that patients should consider before they have genetic testing: Do they have adequate disability and life insurance in place, should something be found? Is there a concern regarding long-term-care insurance? Are there concerns about a specific disease process or does the patient want a “shotgun” approach? I’m not sure the average person is going to think about these things and I would have liked to have seen them at least mentioned before consumers plunk down $199 for a testing kit. I opted to proceed conservatively with my recent testing and only test for a single mutation, which ended up being present. I was able to use the results to justify why I need early screening. I wonder if insurance carriers will accept data from 23and Me to justify early intervention. The panel that they offer to consumers looks a little scattered. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has had testing with them.
I’ve been working through some continuing education and maintenance of certification (MOC) activities over the last week and have come to the conclusion that sitting for my family medicine board exam next year is going to be more of a challenge than I thought. The MOC activities are making me crazy with their “which is the most appropriate intervention” questions when all of the choices present are appropriate interventions. The definition of appropriate can be nebulous. Which is the most appropriate from a cost/utilization perspective? From a patient satisfaction perspective? From a patient acceptance and compliance perspective? Does the patient have insurance? Are they working three jobs? Determining the appropriate intervention for a given patient takes many more factors into account than statistical minutiae. Is the difference between 28 percent and 33 percent statistically significant enough to merit spending time on analyzing what the right answer is supposed to be?
It’s also particularly challenging for those of us that no longer practice what our board certifying organization considers to be full spectrum family medicine. Although I delivered over 150 babies, the last one was more than 15 years ago, but I’ll still have to field OB questions. Even if I wanted to give up my clinical certification and keep my informatics certification, I can’t do that since informatics requires primary certification from another board. Losing board certification is the kiss of death for insurance credentialing, so if I want to play the game and keep seeing patients, or keep being a board certified clinical informaticist, I’ll need to comply.
Wisconsin has designated this week as Healthcare Decisions Week and encourages people to complete an advance directive to document their wishes for end-of-life decision making. It’s unfortunately not enough just to have the document, but people need to talk to their loved ones about their wishes and why they have made particular decisions. We had one of these conversations at a recent family gathering and it was instructive, with revelations about what people did or did not want as far as medical treatment and funeral arrangements. As a physician, I’ve seen many arguments about care, and having both the conversation and the documentation is the best way to make sure your wishes are honored. It’s also not just for older people – there are plenty of things that go wrong with routine happenings like childbirth or small elective surgeries, so everyone should be prepared.
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