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AHA becomes lead sponsor for Baldrige health care criteria   10/21/2014
The AHA has partnered with the Baldrige Foundation to become the lead sponsor of the 2015-2016 Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence, the Foundation announced today. A cornerstone of the Baldrige program, the criteria are a set of questions that focus on improving an organization’s results and building alignment across the organization. “The AHA has begun its Baldrige journey and is implementing strategies that have advanced organizational excellence, innovation and effectiveness,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “Through this partnership with the Baldrige Foundation, the AHA can better help hospitals and other providers with tools and resources as they continue to improve quality and reduce costs.” Foundation President and CEO Al Faber said AHA’s “advocacy for performance excellence through sponsorship of the Health Care Criteria will have a profound impact in creating healthy communities across the nation.” When the new criteria are released in 2015, AHA will provide a digital copy to each of its institutional members. The association also will participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program and Examiner Training as part of the sponsorship.
CDC issues detailed guidance on hospital PPE for Ebola   10/21/2014
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last night issued enhanced guidance on the recommended personal protective equipment for health care workers entering an Ebola patient’s hospital room. The guidance emphasizes the importance of training, practice, competence and observation of health care workers in the correct donning and removal of PPE selected by the facility. AHA sent a special advisory to all hospitals today with further details. AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said the guidance will help hospitals in the battle against Ebola. “The AHA is urging hospitals to use the resources at their disposal to continue to train their nurses and staff and drill again and again on the entire course of care from diagnosis to final waste disposal, using the same equipment on which they will rely in order to safeguard their staff, patients and communities,” he said. “Hospitals will protect patients and staff while achieving the ultimate goal – caring for patients. This includes proper procedures for putting on and taking off personal protective equipment under the watchful eye of a trained observer.”
Emory launches website to share Ebola preparedness protocols   10/21/2014
Emory Healthcare in Atlanta yesterday launched a website to share with other health care organizations its processes and experience on how to provide safe, effective care for patients with Ebola virus disease. The website, which will be updated as more information is available, provides guidance on initial screening of patients at all entry points into hospitals and clinics, as well as detailed protocols including confirmation of diagnosis, treatment, waste management, clinical laboratories, advanced supportive care, potential complications and discharge. The website also includes a detailed description of the components and appropriate use of personal protective equipment, correct methods of donning and doffing, and proper disposal of PPE, the organization said. Emory University Hospital’s Serious Communicable Disease Unit has treated and discharged three patients with Ebola virus disease, and continues to treat a fourth patient who arrived on Oct. 15.
Reminder: Submit data to AHA RACTrac survey by Friday   10/21/2014
The AHA encourages all hospitals to submit data to the quarterly RACTrac survey, available through Oct. 24. The free web-based survey helps AHA gauge the impact of Medicare's Recovery Audit Contractor program on hospitals and advocate for needed changes. For more information on the RACTrac initiative, including a new RACTrac claim-level tool, data definitions and question list, visit www.aha.org/RACTrac. To register for the survey or for technical assistance, contact RACTrac support at (888) 722-8712 or ractracsupport@providercs.com.
Report: Hospitals value GPOs   10/21/2014
The vast majority of hospitals use Group Purchasing Organizations to bend the health care cost curve and meet patient supply needs, according to a new survey by The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted for the AHA and Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management. While hospitals’ purchasing decisions are driven by clinical rather than financial considerations, 90% of hospitals use national GPOs and 88% of hospitals agree that their GPO generates savings from lower prices, the survey found. A companion literature review evaluating the performance of GPOs also found that they help hospitals achieve lower product prices. AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said the report “shows GPOs provide a valuable service for the hospital field.” AHRMM is an AHA personal membership group for more than 4,300 executives in the health care resource and materials management profession. For more information, visit www.ahrmm.org.
Study: Ending ACA subsidies or individual mandate would raise premiums, uninsured   10/21/2014
Eliminating premium subsidies that help low- and moderate-income people purchase coverage through government-run health insurance marketplaces would sharply boost costs for consumers and cause more than 11 million Americans to lose their health insurance, according to a study released today by RAND Corp. Modeling the likely effects of ending subsidies offered to individuals under the federal Affordable Care Act, researchers found that such a move would increase premium costs in the individual marketplaces by as much as 43% and cause enrollment to drop by 68%. Among other findings, the study also found that eliminating the ACA’s individual mandate would cause relatively small increases in premiums, but large declines in the number of uninsured. In July, a federal appeals court in Virginia upheld premium subsidies for coverage purchased through federally facilitated exchanges, while, in a separate case, its counterpart in Washington, D.C., rejected such subsidies. The full circuit court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the D.C. case (Halbig v. Burwell) on Dec. 17. AHA submitted a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the government in the case and will also file a brief for the rehearing.
AHA, nursing groups collaborate to protect patients and hospital workers   10/20/2014
In an AHA Stat blog post yesterday, AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock discussed how hospitals are working to keep staff safe. “The evolution of our knowledge about Ebola, based on the experiences of the brave nurses, doctors and other caregivers who have cared for patients, is leading to better protocols for all hospitals,” he wrote. “Nurses with their expertise are an integral part of putting the best protocols into practice in order to keep our patients and the health care workforce safe. The AHA is urging hospitals to use all the resources at their disposal to ensure that they train their nurses and staff and are drilling again and again on the entire course of care from diagnosis to final waste disposal, using the same equipment on which they will rely in order to safeguard their staff, patients and communities.” Also yesterday, the AHA’s American Organization of Nurse Executives joined with the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and Emergency Nurses Association in urging their members to collaborate in identifying resource and system gaps that have potential to harm patients or caregivers, and work together to put solutions in place to prevent the spread of the disease. The AHA, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association also have pledged to collaborate in the fight against Ebola. For the latest Ebola preparedness resources, visit www.cdc.gov and www.aha.org/ebola.
CMS call next week on Certified EHR Technology Flexibility Rule   10/20/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host an Oct. 30 National Provider Call on the 2014 Certified Electronic Health Record Technology Flexibility Rule. The call will review how eligible professionals and hospitals can use the rule's flexibility to earn EHR meaningful use incentives for 2014 and avoid future penalties. To register for the call, from 2-3 p.m. ET, click here. For more on the rule, see the recent AHA Regulatory Advisory for members.
DEA clarifies regulation on disposal of controlled substances   10/20/2014
Responding to concerns raised by the AHA and others, the Drug Enforcement Administration late Friday clarified requirements of its recent final regulation for disposal of controlled substances. In a letter to practitioners, DEA said that the regulation was intended to cover disposal of unwanted controlled substances from a provider’s inventory, not small amounts of unwanted controlled substances left over after treatment of a patient. “[O]nce a controlled substance has been dispensed to a patient … the substance is no longer in the practitioner’s inventory,” DEA said. The AHA and eight other national hospital organizations Oct. 6 told the DEA that its regulation raised serious health and safety concerns for hospital staff and patients, and would be enormously costly and burdensome to implement. AHA members today received a Special Bulletin with more information on the issue.
DoD to train medical support team for U.S.   10/20/2014
In response to a request by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense will train a 30-person medical support team that could provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States if required, the agency said yesterday. The team will consist of 20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious disease protocols. Beginning in the next week or so, team members will be sent to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for up to seven days of specialized training in infection control and personal protective equipment by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. “They will not be sent to West Africa or elsewhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health professionals,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby. “Identifying, training, and preparing forces in advance of potential requests ensures that we can respond quickly and is analogous to how we prepare DoD personnel in advance of other potential civil support missions, such as hurricane relief and wildland firefighting.”