Health Care Tab Ready To Explode

USA Today reports that the U.S. expenditure for health care, which is already the highest per person in the industrialized world, could increase from it’s current 15.4% to nearly 19% of the entire U.S. economy in the next decade.

The annual increases will exceed growth in workers’ disposable income, and as a result more people could become uninsured.

Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that the problem is so huge that nothing we, as individuals working in the industry, can do will make a difference. Although our individual contributions may be small, medical staff service professionals may well be in a position to move our own organizations toward greater efficiency and less redundancy in the expensive and time-consuming process of credentialing and privileging. Don’t settle for “we’ve always done it that way” as a reason to retain an unnecessarily cumbersome process. Effective, efficient, credentialing and privileging are vital to the provision of safe healthcare, but keep your mind open to new ways of reaching the goal.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all that ever have.” – Margaret Mead

JCAHO Documentation Requirements for CME

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations web site contains a section of frequently asked questions relating to JCAHO standards. Among the posted FAQs is this one regarding required documentation of Continuing Medical Education:

Are copies of the certificates of attendance at continuing education programs (CME) required to be obtained and placed in the credentialing file as proof of attendance?

Read the answer from the Joint Commission.

Emergency Preparedness Checklist

Many of us work with disaster planning and preparedness for our organizations. If we work in a hospital or other healthcare facility, we probably even participate in periodic disaster and fire drills. Should a natural or man-made disaster strike, it’s likely that we have a good idea what to do and how to respond – at work. At home, we may find ourselves less prepared.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) web site provides an Emergency Preparedness Checklist. It offers tips for creating a Disaster Supplies Kit – for both home and vehicle, as well as other useful information.

For example, something I’d never thought about for an emergency preparedness kit is an extra pair of glasses. Not a bad suggestion for the exceedingly myopic among us…

FEMA – Preparation and Prevention

Credentialing Health Care Industry Representatives (HCIR) in the OR

There has been much discussion of late on the topic of whether or not health care industry representatives (vendors) who go into operating suites to observe, demonstrate equipment, etc. must be credentialed.

It is of interest to note that both the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) have had published statements on this topic for some time.

The ACS statement, dated May 2000 can be found here:

The AORN position statement, dated 1999 can be found here:

Both organizations support due diligence in monitoring who is permitted in your OR, and what they will be permitted to see and do while there. The position statements are worth reviewing. Every hospital and ambulatory surgery center needs to implement reasonable standards and practices of oversight for health care industry representatives in the facility. Doing so supports both patient safety and confidentiality.

Hospital Quality Alliance Broadcast – Hospital Compare

The new Hospital Quality Alliance consumer Web site, Hospital Compare, will be featured during a satellite and Internet broadcast March 10th.

During the broadcast, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the other HQA partners will share details on plans for a national rollout of the site, scheduled for late March.

Registration and viewing instructions

Healthcare Industry Must Act to Computerize Voluntarily or Government May Intercede

Dr. David J. Brailer, the nation’s first Health Information Technology Coordinator, has been assigned the task of trying to prod the nation’s health care system into the computer age. He recently delivered a warning to the health care industry: take steps soon to make it happen or the government will probably impose a solution.

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology was formed last year by President Bush. It’s members are drawn from large medical centers, technology companies, insurers, physicians, nonprofit groups and consultants. The Commission’s role is to develop the electronic health record.

Read the New York Times article:
Health Industry Under Pressure to Computerize
(Free registration required)

JCAHO Standards Field Reviews

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization’s web site contains information on current and recent standards field reviews. Field reviews allow healthcare workers and the public to voice their opinions on proposed standard changes before they become effective. Standards currently under field review include medical abbreviations and patient safety goals.

If you work in a JCAHO accredited organization, you may want to bookmark the site below and check periodically on current field reviews.