Morning Rounds (12.24.12)

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified a molecular mechanism needed to unleash the heart’s ability to regenerate itself.

Debbie Branson, chair of the Parkland Board of Managers, calls the hospital’s tardiness in paying a $750,000 fine to the state “inexcusable.”

Dallas-based Epic Health Services Inc., a provider of pediatric and adult home health care, has acquired Boston-based AmeriCare, a Medicare-certified home health agency. Full Story

International Heart Valve Conference Bolsters Dallas’ Profile

Dallas has quietly become the U.S. showcase for innovative heart valve techniques. Earlier this month, about 1,200 cardiologists and cardiac surgeons converged on the city to hear 70 international experts in the treatment of heart valve disease. The weeklong meeting included “wet lab” sessions, during which surgeons learned about and practiced new valve replacement techniques on pig cadaver hearts. The conference name—Dallas- Leipzig Valve 2012—reflects that the meeting rotates annually between Dallas and Leipzig, Germany. This year’s conference was the third held in Dallas. David Brown, MD, and Michael Mack, MD, were co-directors of the conference. Brown is a cofounder… Full Story

Violent Crime Rate By County

Violent crimes are offenses that involve face-to-face confrontation between the victim and the perpetrator, including homicide, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, according to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. High levels of violent crime compromise physical safety and psychological well-being. Crime rates can also deter residents from pursuing healthy behaviors such as exercising out-of-doors. Increased stress levels also may contribute to the obesity rate, even after controlling for diet and physical activity levels. The Dallas County rate of 618 per 100,000 residents far exceeds that of Texas. The Tarrant County rate of 501 is slightly below the state rate of 503.… Full Story

Young Parkland Physician Makes a Splash With Predictive Modeling Software

What started as a young Parkland physician trying to solve a problem could blow up into an enormous enterprise that could save hundreds of hospitals money and have a huge impact on patient care. When he was assistant medical director for medical services at Parkland in 2007, Ruben Amarasingham noticed demographic similarities in patients who were readmitted to the hospital. He believed patients’ medical records could be mined ahead of time for those demographic clues to alert providers to take extra caution with certain patients to prevent unnecessary admissions. With colleagues, Amarasingham developed a software model that would scan patient… Full Story

Dallas Medical Society to Discontinue Project Access Dallas in 2013

The Dallas County Medical Society has decided to shut down Project Access Dallas, its successful 10-year-old program that provides charity care to the uninsured, in 2013. The DCMS board voted Wednesday to discontinue the program after falling short of getting the funding it requested under the new 1115 Medicaid Waiver. The DCMS board withdrew its support for the waiver’s regional health plan in a Nov. 15 letter to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. Jim Walton, DO, the program’s medical director, and Richard Snyder, MD, DCMS president, issued a joint statement on the decision: “Dallas area hospitals will… Full Story

Anderson, Parkland to Break Ties at End of the Month

Ron Anderson, MD, will no longer be affiliated with Parkland Memorial Hospital at the end of December, the hospital’s board of directors was told this week. Anderson had a one-year consulting contract, which will not be renewed when it expires at the end of 2012. He had led the hospital for nearly three decades until November 2011. That’s when Parkland signed a rare agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to allow it to remain open to correct deficiencies after it failed several inspections. At Tuesday’s meeting, the board was told that more than 90 percent of the items… Full Story

UTD’s Specialized Master’s Program Grooms UTSW, THR Physicians and Managers for Senior Leadership Roles

This weekend, two dozen UT Southwestern managers and physicians will become the inaugural graduates of a custom-made healthcare management master’s degree program. The Healthcare Organization Leadership Program was designed and administered by the University of Texas at Dallas. The goal of the degree, called Master of Science in Management and Administrative Services, with a concentration in healthcare organization leadership, is to educate budding healthcare leaders on the fundamentals of finance and management. The program has blossomed into a partnership between the academic medical center and Texas Health Resources (THR). “We recognized that if we are going to deal with health… Full Story

Parkland: More Than 90 Percent of Corrective Actions Complete

Parkland Health & Hospital System says it has completed 91 percent of the items on its corrective action plan, and 95 percent are on schedule. The system plans to detail its progress to its board of managers tomorrow. Aided by Alvarez & Marsal, Parkland developed its corrective action plan earlier this year, as required following a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services review. Among the developments officials plan to tout at its board presentation reduced volumes in the emergency department, with the staffing of EmCare physicians in the urgent care clinic, and an education plan for employees on changes to… Full Story

AIDS Healthcare Foundation to Open Dallas Clinic

AIDS Healthcare Foundation will open a new center at Medical City Hospital Dallas on Dec. 1, or World AIDS day. The clinic will host a grand opening event on Dec. 3 from 5-8 p.m., where specialists from AHF’s Public Health Division will be on site to demonstrate the new “INSTI,” a one-minute HIV test. AHF has been using “INSTI” in Africa, India, and Mexico for about four years. It introduced it to the United States at a West Hollywood event in September. A mobile testing van will make “INSTI” available in North Texas beginning in January. The Medical City site will… Full Story

Compass Points Toward a Consumer-Directed Healthcare Future

High-deductible plans are expected to rule the health-insurance landscape by the end of the decade. According to a recent National Business Group on Health survey, large employers already consider consumer-directed health plans and wellness initiatives to be more effective at containing costs than shifting costs to employees. A Rand Corp. study predicted that half of all U.S. workers with employer-sponsored insurance would have high-deductible plans within a decade, which could reduce annual healthcare spending by about $57 billion. In theory, high-deductible plans encourage those with employer-sponsored insurance to become more prudent healthcare shoppers. In reality, consumers continue to wander aimlessly through… Full Story