Pickens Continues Run of Medical Philanthropy, Breaks Ground on Hospice Center

Back in 1949, T. Boone Pickens married his first wife and, at her request, began attending a Presbyterian church. Despite the fact that his grandfather was a Methodist minister, Pickens began attending services at First Presbyterian Church in Amarillo, and has stayed with the denomination ever since. “This might be my last gift to Presbyterian,” Pickens said Tuesday. “Because at some point I’ll move back to Methodism, because I don’t want to see him [in heaven]…” Whether or not he’ll have to answer to his grandfather for his 64 years of Presbyterianism, Pickens made sure his supposed last donation to… Full Story

Physician Assistant Growth, Need Spikes Nationwide, and in North Texas

The physician assistant profession has grown 34 percent since 2006 and is expected to continue growing, according to data from this year’s American Academy of Physician Assistants annual survey. This growth comes during a time when the nation is facing a growing physician shortage, a gap PAs can help fill, the AAPA reports. For instance, 37 percent of PAs work in medically underserved counties, while 16 percent of PA patients are uninsured, compared to 8 percent of patients treated by physicians, according to the survey. Locally, that demand has brought incoming UNTHSC physician assistant class sizes up to 75 students from around… Full Story

Technology Helps Bridge the Transitions of Care Gap

As John readied himself for discharge from Boston University Medical Center, a pretty, brunette nurse named Elizabeth approached. Dressed in a pink shirt and blue scrub pants, she showed John his discharge plan, reminded him of the medicines he was prescribed for after his hospital stay, and gave him the name and phone number of his post-hospital doc. She added one more thing: “So, are you a Red Sox fan?” John said yes, so Elizabeth responded. “I would really like to see a game someday,” she said. “But they don’t allow computers at Fenway Park.” Elizabeth is an avatar, placed… Full Story

Home Care Aides Now Covered by Wage and Overtime Laws

Minimum wage and overtime protections have been extended to the nation’s nearly two million home care workers, Obama administration officials announced this week. The Fair Labor Standards Act will be extended to home care workers, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said. Those affected by the rule will receive the same protections as people providing similar services in hospitals and nursing homes, effective Jan. 1, 2015. “Many American families rely on the vital services provided by direct care workers,” Perez said. “Because of their hard work, countless Americans are able to live independently, go to work and participate more fully in their communities. Today we… Full Story

As Readmissions Become Costly, Transitions of Care Become More Important

As Joan Staley stood on the stage at the Intercontinental Hotel in Addison Thursday, a photo popped up on the screen behind her. The caption read “The Healthcare Environment, Late 20th and Early 21st Century.” Instead of the usual waiting room photos of flowers and fields, the backdrop was a massive lightning storm: dark, purple clouds, green streaks of light, a funnel cloud off to the right. The Healthcare Environment, it seemed, had changed. Staley—the senior director of education policy for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing—had gathered with hundreds of other healthcare professionals to tackle the subject of just what to… Full Story

Texas Health Resources To Open New Center Focused on Population Health

Texas Health Resources unveiled plans this week for the Texas Health Population Health, Education & Innovation Center, appointing Tricia Nguyen, M.D., as the center’s president. The center will serve as a hub for sharing best practices, disseminating information about innovative approaches, leading physician-directed population health initiatives, and coordinating community-based well-being collaboration. “Texas Health is the vanguard of improving well-being and implementing physician-directed population health initiatives,” said THR CEO Douglas Hawthorne. “We are leading the way in advancing from the old world of episodic, fee-for-service health care to the new world of accountable care and a value-based model of health care.… Full Story

Study: Texas Is America’s Worst State for Nursing Home Care

Texas was the only state to score failing grades in six of eight statistical categories studied by Families for Better Care, a Florida-based nursing home resident advocacy group, for its first annual Nursing Home Report Cards study. The report, released earlier this month, found that fewer than 15 percent of Texas nursing homes staffed at above-average professional nursing levels, while almost 70 percent hired at or below the minimum number of caregivers required to meet residents’ needs. When compared to every other state, Texas has the lowest percentage of nursing homes with above average direct care staff ratings. “Texas epitomizes what’s dreadfully wrong… Full Story

Hospice Care Providers Will Get Raise, Mandate to Report Quality Measures

As hospitals and physicians are being pushed away from fee-for-service models and the industry faces an aging baby boomer population, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said last week that hospice care providers will receive a 1 percent raise and a mandate to report quality measures. Those who fail to meet reporting requirements by Oct. 1 will receive a 2 percent reduction to their market basket update in FY 2014. Hospices will also be required to begin using the Hospice Experience of Care Survey in 2015. “The survey will include questions on hospice provider communications with patients and families, hospice… Full Story

Telehealth Drives Efficiency, Lower Readmissions for Dallas Home Health Company

Since 2006, Dallas-based CareCycle Solutions has been quietly working on the daunting problem of hospital readmissions. And the home healthcare company may well have cracked the code. Although the 30-day readmission rate for Medicare patients nationwide is about 19 percent, CCS’s clocks in at 7.3 percent. The difference? Telehealth. And the company traditionally has not been paid a dime to provide it. “Telehealth creates its own efficiencies,” said CEO Wayne Bazzle. “That makes it fully affordable.” When the company began providing telehealth in 2006, less than 30 percent of its patients were chronically ill. Now 85 percent of its clients fit that… Full Story