Local Hospital Readmissions Lower than U.S. Rate

The Dallas and Fort Worth Medicare referral regions have lower hospital readmission rates than the national average, according to a new Medicare Chronic Conditions Dashboard. The Fort Worth region rate of 30-day readmissions was 93 percent of the national rate while the Dallas region was at 98 percent of the U.S. rate. The Dallas region was at exactly the national rate on emergency-department visits while the Fort Worth region was 11 percent higher. In terms of cost of care for Medicare recipients, both local regions were about 20 percent above the national average. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS)… Full Story

Morning Rounds (03.29.13)

Nearly 9 out of 10 of U.S. healthcare workers used their personal smartphones for work purposes in the past year.

New legislation may require hospitals to disclose price information for inpatient and outpatient procedures.

Hospitals and clinics are increasingly relying on an already short supply of nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Full Story

Healthcare and Education Jobs Growing Twice as Fast in DFW than U.S.

Dallas-Fort Worth healthcare and education jobs grew at more than twice the U.S. annual rate ending January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Healthcare and education jobs grew 4.8 percent, compared with the U.S. rate of 2 percent. In raw numbers, that growth represented 17,800 jobs. Because education employment has stagnated due to tight state funding, most of the job growth likely was in healthcare. DFW annual job growth was 3.7 percent during the 12-month period, the second-highest rate among the 12 largest metropolitan areas. Only Houston’s 4.5 percent growth was larger. The U.S. annual job growth rate… Full Story

Morning Rounds (03.28.13)

Insurance companies will have to pay out an average of about one-third more for medical claims on individual health policies under the ACA.

Plano-based Argon Medical Devices plans to acquire Interventional Products Business of Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Despite the cut in on-call hours, residents are not getting more sleep and are reporting more errors and symptoms of depression. Full Story

UNTHSC Master’s Program ‘a Hoop of Fire’ to Med School

Kristen Taylor McCormick, who is graduating from the Texas College of Medicine (TCOM), landed her top choice of graduate medical residency this month at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She has the Master of Science in medical sciences (Med Sci) program at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) in Fort Worth to thank for that. Since 1999, UNTHSC has built an academic bridge between undergraduate education and medical school. Med Sci has graduated more than 600. The rigorous 12-month program is designed to bolster credentials to win acceptance to medical schools. Students take classes in biochemistry, cell… Full Story

Morning Rounds (03.27.13)

Only 11 percent of commercial healthcare payments to doctors and hospitals is tied to performance or designed to cut waste.

HCA and First Choice Emergency Room announced an agreement to expedite hospital transfers of First Choice ER patients to HCA’s facilities.

A UTD professor received a federal grant for research that may elucidate aspects of Huntington’s disease.

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Collin, Denton Among State’s Healthiest Counties

Collin County and Denton County are ranked second and third healthiest counties in Texas, according to the 2013 County Health Rankings. The annual analysis is done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The state’s healthiest county was Williamson, which is in Austin’s northern suburbs. Polk County in East Texas was deemed the state’s least healthy county. Nationally, the healthiest counties tend to be suburban areas populated by residents with college degrees and high incomes. The median household income in Williamson County is about twice that of Polk County. Collin County was No.… Full Story

10 Tips for Protecting Health Data

At a recent SouthWest Benefits Association meeting, Ed Oleksiak, vice president of the law firm Holmes Murphy and Associates, and Randy Fickel, assistant general counsel for J.C. Penney offer these 10 tips for dealing with recently tightened rules for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The law is a case of “legislating common sense,” Fickel said. If you come across confidential healthcare information, do not share it with others and do not use it against workers. Both lawyers said they represented clients who used personal healthcare information to fire employees. “The law is there to stop people like… Full Story