Morning Rounds (04.22.13)

• The Texas Senate has passed a bill that, among other things, provides $10 million to create new residency positions.

Private insurance paid for fewer hospitalizations between 1997 and 2010; but Medicare and Medicaid payments jumped by 36 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

• Come next January, nearly 26 million Americans will be eligible for tax credits under the Affordable Care Act. Full Story

Accolades (04.22.13)

Recognized in this week’s edition: Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest and Baylor Health Care System, UNT Health Science Center’s Dr. Michael Williams, and Linda Boysen of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Celburne. Full Story

House Bill Targets Pre-authorization Forms

Plano rheumatologist Fehmida Zahabi, MD, is exasperated. She said one afternoon she found herself surrounded by 21 prior-authorization requests for various patients and various medications. Insurance companies, she said, have made a seemingly simple process complicated. Zahabi, co-director of the Rheumatology Society of North Texas, said nearly 70 percent of physicians have difficulty figuring out which medicines a patient’s insurance company covers and which medications require prior authorization. An insurance company has no time limit on deciding whether to pay for the medication. In Texas, health insurance companies have 258 different pre-authorization forms for prescribed medications.  According to a 2010… Full Story

Morning Rounds (04.19.13)

UT Southwestern researchers have identified a specific gene that regulates the heart’s ability to regenerate after injuries.

Huguley Memorial Medical Center in south Fort Worth has been renamed Texas Health Huguley Hospital Fort Worth South.

The Bipartisan Policy Center proposed reforms to the nation’s healthcare system that could reduce the federal deficit by about $560 billion over 10 years. Full Story

Health Technology Incubator Launched

Three local healthcare entrepreneurs have formed a technology start-up accelerator called Health Wildcatters. Hubert Zajicek will lead the organization. He previously was medical technology director at Frisco-based technology incubator NTEC. Co-founder Gabriella Draney also was a co-founder of Tech Wildcatters, a Dallas accelerator that specialized in business-to-business startups. Two other Health Wildcatter founders—Carl Soderstrom and Clay Heighten, MD—built MedicalEdge Healthcare Group, which was sold to Texas Health Resources in 2010. Health Wildcatters is modeled after Tech Wildcatters, which has nurtured nearly three-dozen start-ups. It  will operate out of the Tech Wildcatters headquarters in the “Tech Church” on Fairmount Street in… Full Story

Low Healthcare Cost Increases Continue

Healthcare costs and price pressures continued at near-record low rates. National health care spending was at a record-low rate of growth in February 2013, according to Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending. Spending grew 3.9 percent, compared  with that of February 2012. The rate, which returns to a record low seen from 2009 to 2011, was below the organization’s estimate of 4.3 percent for 2012. However, the health sector now accounts for nearly 1 in 9 total U.S. jobs, or a record 10.74 percent. Healthcare’s spending  share of the gross domestic product (GDP) was 18 percent in January, according… Full Story

13 DFW Organizations Join Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas ‘Be Covered Texas’ Campaign

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) has formed partnerships with 13 North Texas organizations to inform Texans eligible about health coverage options in the 2014 health insurance exchanges. The Be Covered Texas campaign will work with the organizations to distribute information and raise awareness at their existing events, and will host education and enrollment events after October 1. Educational materials and guidance in will be in both English and Spanish. The North Texas groups include: Dallas Bethlehem Center, Dallas NAACP, Family Compass Group, Ferguson Road Initiative, Jubilee Park and Community Center, Las Comadres Para Las Americas, Martin Luther King,… Full Story

Morning Rounds (04.17.13)

Moody’s has downgraded Baylor Health Care System’s credit from Aa2 to Aa3 on its 2013 series bonds.

Victory Healthcare plans to build a surgical hospital in the master-planned community Craig Ranch in McKinney.

More than 740 nominations were submitted to the DFW 100 Great Nurses committee, and 100 North Texas nurses were honored by the 2013 award. Full Story

JAMA Study Uses THR Data to Gauge Financial Effect of Surgical Complications

An analysis of Texas Health Resources (THR) 2010 data shows that privately insured patients who had one or more surgical complications had more than triple the contribution margin, compared without a complication. THR was the focus of a Harvard School of Public Health study in the April 17 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The contribution margin—defined as revenue minus variable costs—was 330 percent for privately insured patients and 190 percent for Medicare patients. THR had a surgical complication rate of 5.3 percent in 2010. The surgical complication rate varies widely, from 3 percent to more than… Full Story