MRSA Pervasive in Nursing Homes, Study Finds

A study of southern California nursing homes found a drug-resistant and potentially deadly skin infection in 20 out of 22 facilities tested. The findings point to the need for more attention to the spread of drug-resistant infections, such as community-associated strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Community-associated strains begin in settings other than hospitals or other health care facilities. The strain of MRSA can lead to bloodstream infections, abscesses and pneumonia, and those in nursing homes are especially vulnerable, researchers said.

Dallas-based Encompass Home Health Picked for CMS Bundled Payment Pilot

Dallas-based Encompass Home Health is among the more than 400 U.S. healthcare organizations participating in the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) announced last week. Encompass plans to test the initiative in Dallas-Fort Worth, where it has 12 locations and about 2500 patients. The company provides home health care, hospice and continuous pediatric care. It has 118 locations in 12 states and had about $300 million in revenue in 2012. The initiative, originated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), seeks to test whether bundling payments for episodes of care can improve coordination of… Full Story

CMS Eyes Patient Satisfaction Surveys for Hospice, Outpatient Surgery Centers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) is requesting information for patient-satisfaction surveys for outpatient surgery centers and hospice care, according to written requests in the Federal Register. The surveys are part of an effort by the federal government to pursue a national quality strategy to promote patient satisfaction, coordination of care and communication across all sites of health care. CMS plans to submit the surveys to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for official recognition as approved patient assessment instruments.

Dallas-based Epic Health Buys Boston Home Health Agency, Expands Services

Dallas-based Epic Health Services Inc., a provider of pediatric and adult home health care, has acquired AmeriCare, a Medicare-certified home health agency with three locations in Boston. The AmeriCare acquisition provides Epic with three new service lines: home nursing for clients with psychiatric and other behavioral issues, private-pay personal care for older adults, as well as nursing and aide services for other elderly and disabled clients. Epic plans to launch pediatric therapy and private duty nursing services in Massachusetts. Epic has 17 branch offices in Texas—including one each in Dallas and Fort Worth—as well as three in New Jersey and… Full Story

Morning Rounds (11.18.12)

Former American Board of Internal Medicine executive Christine Cassel, M.D., has been named president and CEO of the National Quality Forum, effective mid-summer 2013.

More than $2.3 trillion was spent on healthcare in 2010, the latest year for which detailed information is available. Here’s a breakdown of where that money went.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released its final sets of approved test procedures providers will need to follow for the EHR Incentive program. Full Story

Dallas-based US Memory Care to Add Two Texas Centers; 20 More Expected in Three Years

Dallas-based US Memory Care is opening two new Texas centers, one in North Dallas and one in the Houston. The North Dallas and Houston locations are slated break ground in January 2013 and to open later in the year in addition to a Colleyville location that is set to open next month. This is just part of the growth plan for US Memory Care, which aims to build up to 20 new communities over the next three years throughout the Southwest. The North Dallas location will be built on 4.4 acres at Silverglen and Mapleshade. That center and the one… Full Story

Fiscal Cliff Revives Medicare Eligibility Age Argument

Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 may help to stave off the severity of the fiscal cliff, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. This two-year difference could save $148 billion in Medicare spending if phased in between 2012 and 2021, a CBO study found. The concept of raising the eligibility age has been pitched before, but at that point in time, there wasn’t a path for those affected to obtain insurance. Seniors will have an easier time of it due to the Affordable Care Act, the WSJ reports. Proponents of the age increase point… Full Story

Nursing Homes Overbilling Medicare Program

Hundreds of nursing homes overcharge Medicare annually for skilled services, which adds $1.5 billion in yearly costs to the program, according to an Office of the Inspector General  report released Tuesday. Of the facilities examined, about a quarter of Medicare bills were incorrect. Many claims involve upcoding, in which the nursing home or provider inflates the bill cost to Medicare by claiming more intensive services were done than in reality. Other cases included providing inappropriate treatments. Bills included high-intensity work like speech therapy or occupational therapy for patients who would not actually receive benefit from the treatment. On Hospice patient… Full Story

Dallas-Based Startup Wants to Be “Facebook of Advance Directives”

MyDirectives co-founder Scott Brown has a goal: for his website to become “the Facebook of advance directives. MyDirectives is a web-based system that allows enrollees to create and update their advance directives free of charge, and can be accessed by enrollees or their providers anytime. The HIPAA-compliant database is the first advanced care platform to receive “meaningful-use” certification from the Department of Health and Human Services. The system can be used as a plug-in for electronic health records or as a stand-alone website. Advance directives attempt to take the guesswork out of figuring out a patient’s wishes and values about… Full Story