Despite Affordable Care Act Delay, Employers Must Remain Vigilant

Despite recent delays in the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act, companies, businesses, and governments should still begin preparing for its consequences, benefit experts told industry insiders last week. Depending on who you talk to, healthcare experts either “heard a giant sigh of relief or a loud clamoring of words I’m not allowed to say,” Carlton Pilger, vice president for Digital Benefit Advisors, told a Dallas audience last week. He compared the employer mandate delay to schools’ winter break. “You build these kids up, educate, educate, educate, then you take a three-week break,” he said. “And then we have… Full Story

Accolades (7/16/13)

Recognized this week is Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth, plus healthcare professionals from Baylor Institute for Immunology Research, UTSW’s Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases, and THR’s Ben Hogan Sports Medicine program. Institutions Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth has received the Energy Star certification from the EPA, becoming the first hospital in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to do so. The Energy Star program is a rating system for commercial and institutional buildings that measures energy efficiency and performance on a scale of 1 to 100. Baylor All Saints surpassed the Energy Star requirement of 75,… Full Story

Pass Rate for Internal Medicine Board Exam Falls to 84 Percent

Some experts are wondering why young internists are having more difficulty passing the American Board of Internal Medicine Certification Exam, the test that is equivalent to a bar exam for a lawyer, according to the Health Care Blog. ABIM statistics show the pass rate for first-time takers has fallen from 90 percent to a low of 84 percent over the past few years. Of the possible explanations that have been given for the drop, the ABIM strikes down one—the test has not increased in difficulty. Another explanation that has garnered more support from commentators is that young doctors lack the… Full Story

Urgent Care Centers Filling Void, Study Says

Though questions remain about whether they reduce healthcare spending by preventing emergency visits, or whether they add to costs when used as primary care destinations, urgent-care centers improve healthcare access without significantly interfering with care coordination, a recent study by the Center for Studying Health System Change found. Six communities were studied—Detroit; Jacksonville, Fla.; Minneapolis; Phoenix; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and San Francisco—and respondents indicated that growth of urgent care centers is driven heavily by consumer demand. Although some providers believe urgent care centers disrupt coordination and continuity of care, others surveyed believe these concerns to be overstated, given urgent-care’s focus on simple… Full Story

AMA Study Shows Overall Health Improvements, But Says Chronic Disease Burden Must Be Addressed

From 1990 to 2010, the United States made substantial progress in improving health: Life expectancy at birth increased, all-cause death rates at all ages decreased, and age-specific rates of years lived with disability remained stable, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported recently. Morbidity and chronic disability, however, now account for nearly half of the U.S. health burden, and improvements in population health in the United States have not kept pace with advances in population health in other wealthy nations. “[The study] shows a measurable improvement in the health of Americans, and doctors throughout the country are proud to… Full Story

Baylor to Open Clinical Trials Center This Month

Baylor Health System is expected to open its innovative clinical trials center this month, doubling its capacity to conduct experiments. The center will be at Baylor T. Boone Pickens Cancer Hospital and Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, and will include Phase I, Phase II and Phase III clinical trials. Among the Baylor-initiated trials underway or planned at the center: Center Medical Director Carlos Becerra, MD, is designing a study to “manicure DNA” with a medication, making it easier for chemotherapy to reach the cancer cells. He is working with world-renowned cancer expert Daniel Von Hoff, MD. A trial will… Full Story

Methodist Named as “Most Wired” Health System for Fourth Straight Year

Methodist Health System has been recognized for the fourth consecutive year as one of the nation’s “Most Wired” hospital systems, Hospitals & Health Networks magazine recently announced. The award honors achievement in the use of health care information technology. Methodist is one of only 12 hospitals or health care systems in Texas recognized. Texas Health Resources was also named to the list. “Methodist continues to work diligently to create a solid foundation of IT systems that will serve us and our patients well in the future,” said Methodist senior vice president and chief information officer Pamela McNutt. “The Most Wired survey… Full Story

UNT Health Science Center Names Michael Williams President

The University of North Texas System Board of Regents today named anesthesiologist Michael Williams, MD, the president of the UNT Health Science Center, effective immediately. Last month, Williams was named the sole finalist for the presidency by the Board of Regents. He has served as interim president since December 2012, and is the first alumnus to lead the 40-year old institution. “Under the leadership of Dr. Williams, we now have the opportunity to focus on our highest priorities and enhance our visibility and reputation specifically around work being done in agng and Alzheimer’s, public health and prevention, and applied genetics,” said… Full Story

Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth Reports Data Breach, Did Not Properly Destroy Patient Records

Nearly 300,000 microfilm patient records from Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth were not destroyed as planned and were subsequently found in three public places, including a Dallas park, hospital officials announced Thursday. The potential exposure of information—it is unknown if anyone actually obtained personal patient information—occurred when Shred-it, a vendor contracted by the hospital to destroy confidential information, did not destroy the microfiche. On May 13, the hospital learned that some of the microfiche provided to Shred-it had been discovered in a park two days earlier by a resident who reported the incident to Dallas police. In addition, three sheets of… Full Story

Healthcare Scammers Duping Texas Benefit Holders

The Texas Office of Inspector General has become aware of a potential scam involving phone callers impersonating Texas Health and Human Services employees and asking for personal information, the office announced Thursday. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be an HHSC employee, do not provide any information such as Medicaid or Social Security numbers. HHSC does not ask for client information over the phone, and only calls clients for a scheduled interview after the submission of an application for benefits. To verify an HHSC appointment, call 2-1-1, pick a language, then select option two. Staff can help… Full Story