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OBSTETRICS: Reasons OB units close in rural areas

The reasons why rural hospitals closed their labor and delivery services were studied based on a telephone survey of hospitals in nine states.  Of the 263 hospitals that responded, 19 (or 7.2 percent) closed their OB units during the study period of 2011 to 2014.  Here are the reasons that were identified as risk factors for closing:

  • Low birth volume
  • Private (as opposed to public) ownership of the hospital
  • Low number of family physicians practicing in the area
  • Low income surrounding area

Source: Hung, P., and others. (2016, August). Why are obstetrics units in rural hospitals closing their doors? HSR. Health Services Research, 51(4), 1546-1560.  Click here for publisher’s website: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1475-6773.12441/full  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

TRANSPARENCY: Posting patient reviews of physicians

Some health systems have begun to post online patient satisfaction scores and patient comments about physicians on the medical staff.  Here are some systems that do this (there are said to be an additional 20 which are not identified by name):

  • University of Utah Health Care
  • Piedmont Healthcare
  • Wake Forest Baptist Health
  • Northwell Health
  • Stanford
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Duke

The advantages of this approach are discussed in this brief Perspective article in the New England Journal.  There is also an audio interview in which the author discusses some of the logistics of doing this at University of Utah Health Care.

Source: Lee, V. (2017, January 19). Transparency and trust: Online patient reviews of physicians. The New England Journal of Medicine, 376, 197-199. Click here: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1610136  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

READMISSIONS: Continuity of care in 12 months before hospital admission reduces 30-day readmission rate

This study of over 14,000 Mayo Clinic patients cared for under a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model looked at the concept of visit entropy, which pertains to the degree of what the authors term “disorganization” of patient care.  What this refers to is whether a patient is seen always by the same primary physician (perfect continuity of care) or whether a patient is seen by different physicians on different visits.

Statistics About These Mayo Clinic PCMH Patients

  • 14,662 patients admitted to hospital (and included in this analysis)
  • 11.6 percent readmitted within 30 days
  • 8 outpatient visits (median patient visits in 12 months before hospital admission) – this excludes any ED visits on the day of admission
  • 5 different clinicians seen (median patient during 12 months before hospital admission)

CONCLUSION

Patients with higher [visit entropy] in the 12 months before hospital admission were more likely to be readmitted or die within 30 days of hospital discharge.

Source: Garrison, G.M., and others. (2017, January-February). Visit entropy associated with hospital readmission rates. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 30(1), 63-70. Click here for free full text: http://www.jabfm.org/content/30/1/63.full.pdf  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050 rc@aha.org

ALZHEIMER’S: Update on the latest research

This is a 40-minute audio interview with two leading Alzheimer’s researchers, Dr. Rudolph Tanzi (Harvard) and Dr. Berislav Zlokovic (University of Southern California).  They are discussing the latest thinking and direction of research into dementia.  This discussion is intended for clinicians.

Alzheimer’s patients tend to have the disease for a long time – as long as 10 to 15 years – before symptoms occur.  One avenue of research is how to identify patients at a younger age, when they are asymptomatic.

There is an important connection between the overall health of the vascular system and staving off the accumulation of amyloid β-proteins into plaque in the brain.  The brain has some 400 miles of blood vessels and is good at quickly creating new blood vessels as needed.  Exercise prompts this.  Researchers are investigating ways to keep amyloid β – which has the function of fighting pathogens – from clumping up and failing to be cleared from the brain when their role is done and then killing neurons.  There is also investigation into what the pathogens are that are triggering the amyloid in the first place – and whether there might be possibility of a vaccine.

Source: Alzheimer outlook far from bleak. (2017, February 15). JAMA.  Click here for free access: http://jamanetwork.com/learning/audio-player/14072698  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

PHYSICIAN BURNOUT: May exceed 50 percent in U.S.

As many as half of practicing physicians may experience at least some degree of burnout – making consideration of underlying factors a key concern for health care managers and the nation as a whole.  This short commentary just posted in JAMA was written by Dr. Tait Shanafelt and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic – who are among the foremost experts in the field of clinician well-being.

The authors make specific suggestions – at the national, state, institutional, and personal  (self-improvement) levels about how to improve conditions for physicians, including among others:

  • Reduction and streamlining of required documentation
  • Integration of maintenance of certification and continuing medical education requirements
  • Implementing participatory management
  • Physician self-care

Source: Shanafelt, T.D., Dyrbye, L.N. (2017, Feb. 9). Addressing physician burnout: The way forward. JAMA. Click here for free full text: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2603408   Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422.2050 rc@aha.org

Average Cost of a Hospital Stay, Emergency Room Visit, Physician or Dental Office Visit, or Home Care Service

In 2014, the mean cost for a hospital stay was $13,450, with an average out-of-pocket expense of $351. That’s according to Medical Expenditures Panel Survey [MEPS] Household Component data available from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

An emergency room visit averaged $1,048 in 2014, with $95 of that in out-of-pocket expenses.

A hospital outpatient visit expense averaged $927 with a $54 out-of-pocket cost, while an office-based physician visit totaled $222 with $29 out-of-pocket. The mean out-of pocket expense for a dental visit was $132 of the total visit cost of $295.

Finally, home health care expenses averaged $1,454 per month for those who had the expense during the year.

MEPS data on household medical expenditures is also available for earlier years.

Source: Expenditures per event by health care service type. Medical Expenditures Panel Survey, Household Component summary tables, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, accessed Feb. 15, 2017 at https://meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/quick_tables_results.jsp?component=1&subcomponent=0&year=-1&tableSeries=9&searchText=&SearchMethod=1&Action=Search

Posted by AHA Resource Center, (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

READMISSIONS: How to reduce bounce back from SNFs

After an inpatient stay in the hospital, some patients are discharged to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) for continued recuperation and therapy.  This article summarizes the findings of a literature search of studies on how to avoid bounce back – readmission of these patients from the SNF to the hospital within 30 days.  Learnings about barriers and strategies from the 10 studies are compared in this article.

Source: Mileski, M., and others. (2017). An investigation of quality improvement initiatives in decreasing the rate of avoidable 30-day, skilled nursing facility-to-hospital readmissions: A systematic review. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 12, 213-222. Click here for free full text: https://www.dovepress.com/getfile.php?fileID=34598.  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org