Small But Growing Number of Corporations Joining Domestic Medical Tourism Trend

Wal-Mart is the latest U.S. corporation that has announced plans to join other companies, such as Dallas-based PepsiCo, in offering insured employees the option of traveling elsewhere to undergo certain surgeries, according to American Medica News. The procedures will be done at highly ranked health systems across the country and will have almost no out-of-pocket cost to patients—travel included. Corporations that have also announced similar plans include The Boeing Co., PepsiCo, Lowe’s, and HCR ManorCare. According to AMA: The companies believe sending heart and spine patients elsewhere would result in improved care for patients and lower costs for employers. Although companies… Full Story

Tenet Extends Cash Offer for Senior Notes Due in 2013

Tenet Healthcare Corp. has extended its cash tender offer for 7.375 percent senior notes due in 2013. The deadline for purchase of any and all of the $216.4 million outstanding aggregate principal amount is now Oct. 31. The tender offer was previously scheduled to expire on October 29, 2012. Final settlement is expected to occur immediately after expiration of the tender offer. Here’s more from Tenet: As previously announced, Tenet received tenders from the holders of approximately $160.791 million aggregate principal amount of the outstanding notes prior to the early tender time of 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on… Full Story

Physician Service Prices Rise Faster than Inflation

Prices paid for physician services has grown faster than inflation in the economy for the fourth month in a row, according to American Medical News. The report, released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, revealed the growth pattern after a 14-month streak in which physician services inflation was below the overall rate. Physician service prices went up 2.9 percent for the one-year period ending in September, while general inflation was 2 percent. In August, the annual increase in physician services was 2.5 percent, and the overall economy saw inflation of 1.7 percent.

Most Emergency Department “Frequent Flyers” Have Chronic Conditions, Not Abusing Care

Recent studies in four states concluded that frequent emergency department users are being seen for urgent conditions, according to the American Medical Association. The studies report that these “frequent flyers” are not abusing their access to emergency care, but are presenting themselves for chronic conditions and mental disorders. Many of these patients have complicated medical problems and often live near a hospital. These studies challenge the misconception that those that regularly end up in emergency departments are abusing the system, and found that these repeat users are using emergency departments because of their lack of other quick, accessible care. Under… Full Story

Four Keys to Top-Tier Medical Practices

Top-tier medical practices excel in four categories: profitability and cost management; productivity, capacity, and staffing; account receivables and collections; and patient satisfaction, according to a report in Modern Medicine. A study by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), “Performance and Practices of Successful Medical Groups: 2012 Report Based on 2011 Data,” finds that the best performers had almost $150,000 more in total medical revenue per full-time equivalent physician than their peers. The successful practices said their key to success was optimizing back-end business processes and collections. These high-scoring practices also said they regularly poll patients regarding their satisfaction with physicians and staff, and evaluate… Full Story

Study: Physicians Healthier than General Population

An Oct. 3 Gallup report shows that U.S. physicians are healthier than nurses and the general population, according to American Medical News. The data, from Gallup Healthways Physical Health Index and Healthy Behaviors Index, reveals that physicians are about half as likely to be obese compared to nurses and other workers, and are far less likely to have health issues such as hypertension and diabetes. Additionally, physicians are five times less likely than the general working population to smoke. The report includes surveys conducted between Jan. 2, 2011, and Aug. 31, 2012, and participants included 1,984 physicians and 7,166 nurses.… Full Story

Physicians Likely to Cut Medicare Patients Due to Reimbursement Reductions

Forty-five percent of physicians would stop seeing Medicare patients if Congress does not prevent upcoming Medicare physician pay cuts, according to Modern Healthcare. If Congress does not take action, physicians that participate in the Medicare program will face a 27 percent reimbursement reduction in February. Despite current challenges, 82 percent of respondents said they would be willing to explore new payment and delivery models if a level of stability was restored to the Medicare physician payment system, according to the study by MGMA-ACMPE. Additionally, out of those surveyed, 76 percent said they would reduce staff salaries and benefits, and 60 percent… Full Story

CHRISTUS Health Sells its Share of Baptist St. Anthony

CHRISTUS Health has signed an agreement selling its share of Baptist St. Anthony’s (BSA) in Amarillo. The agreement, set to close by the end of the year, will transfer ownership and operation of BSA to a joint venture between Baptist Community Services of Amarillo and Ardent Health Services. The new joint venture will include the 445-bed Baptist St. Anthony’s hospital, the Don & Sybil Harrington Cancer Center, a network of primary care, urgent care, surgical and bariatric clinics; a preferred provider network; and BSA’s partnership interests in Physicians Surgical Hospitals, ADC endoscopy, and Advanced Imaging Center As part of the… Full Story

Tenet Completes Private Offerings

Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. has completed its private offering of $500 million of its 4.75 percent senior secured notes, as well as $300 million of its 6.75 percent senior notes, both due in 2020. The hospital operator plans to use the proceeds to purchase its 7.375 percent senior notes, due through a tender offer in 2013, and use remaining proceeds to buy other outstanding senior notes. Additionally, remaining proceeds will be put toward general corporate purposes, including the repayment of debt and acquisitions. As of this past Monday, Tenet said $160.8 million of the outstanding notes had been validly tendered,… Full Story

UTSW Researchers: Hormone Mimics Health Benefits of Dieting

Starvation hormones have been found to extend the lifespan in mice without having to restrict calorie intake, according to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Prolonged overproduction of the hormone FGF21 causes mice to live extraordinary long lives without requiring a decrease in food intake. It mimics the health benefits of dieting without having to diet,” said co-author Dr. David Mangelsdorf, chairman of pharmacology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at UT Southwestern. The study, published online at open-access journal eLife, found that the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) gives mice the benefits of dieting. The hormone, usually… Full Story