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Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’

Employers Reining in Costs: Cutting Ineligible Dependents Cuts Healthcare Spend

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

A recent Wall Street Journal article explained that employers are taking new initiatives to decrease healthcare costs. One simple solution employers are turning to – dependent eligibility audits. Dependents costs employers around $2,100 per year and an average of 2 – 10% of all dependents are ineligible.

Typically employers do not require employees to submit documents to confirm the eligibility of dependents – many currently use the honor system, entrusting that employees aren’t out the cheat their employers. However, times are tough and employers are viewing these dependent eligibility audits as an easy way to cut cost without laying off employers or decreasing health benefits.

So how do the audits typically work? Medical Business Associates, Inc. conducts electronic audits using a secure sever and email communication. Typically, there is an amnesty period for employees to drop dependents without penalty. Then employers receive information about required documents for each dependent. Employees then upload, mail or fax the required information to keep their dependents on the plan.

According to a CNN article, removing ineligible dependents could save companies between 4% to 6% of their annual healthcare costs. With Medical Business Associates, Inc. electronic solution, all required documents are stored, so if a company decides to conduct a follow up audit, employees will not be required to submit duplicate birth or marriage certificates if dependents status hasn’t changed.

For more information on MBA’s audit solution visit here.

Patient Safety Trends & Data

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

In honor of Patient Advocacy Week that took place April 12th – 18th the focus of this commentary will relate to patient safety and self-advocacy.

In a recent RAND report “Is Better Patient Safety Associated with Less Malpractice Activity? Evidence from California” it was found that there is a correlation between the frequency of adverse events and malpractice claims. “On average, a county that shows a decrease of 10 adverse events in a given year would also see a decrease of 3.7 malpractice claims.” What this is telling us is that there is a link between patient safety and malpractice claims. While that might not necessarily be news to some, it does put some light on the “frivolous” lawsuits. If hospitals were to concentrate on patient safety and patient education the malpractice lawsuits will (according to this report) most likely decrease.

Another article by the Wall Street Journal titled “New Focus on Averting Errors: Hospital Culture” highlights the fact that errors made by healthcare professionals cause 44,000 to 98,000 deaths per year. To combat this number hospitals are taking a surprising approach: “Not only are they trying to improve safety and reduce malpractice claims, they’re also coming up with procedures for handling – and even consoling – staffers who make inadvertent mistakes.” Hospitals are taking a proactive approach to patient safety and staffer guidance instead of waiting for a bad event to occur and then reacting.

A Personal Health Record Can Help with Safety

And now just a little information regarding Personal Health Records (PHRs) and their useful for patient safety. Having a PHR can certainly save you time and help with all the cumbersome paperwork, but having one can also save your life. Patient data is lost/mixed up etc. daily and having your own record of your health will help keep you safe. The state of California has the largest PHR adoption rate. Here is a look at the numbers:
1. 7% of adults had used a Personal Health Record (PHR)
2. California leads the nation in PHR use, at 15%
3. 58% of PHR users with two or more chronic conditions say they know more about their health care as a result, compared to 44% of those with only one or no chronic conditions
4. 48% of caregivers are interested in using a PHR for the person they care for
5. 75% worry about the privacy of PHR information
6. 40% of those who do not have a PHR express interest in using one

Digital medical records (EHRs)… New wave of healthcare?

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

In a previous post, legal implications surrounding privacy standards with EHRs was discussed. The questions asked were: Are there enough safeguards surrounding the technology? Is it easier to steal patient information when records are in an electronic format? And the list goes on. The post did not address the advantages and shortcomings of the EHR technology. Adaptation is slow. Why is that?

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal “Can Technology Cure Health Care” stated that “digital medical records come with some big promises – they’ll improve patient care, eliminate errors, stem costs and make health care more efficient.” On the other hand a 2009 study indicated that “hospitals with more-advanced electronic systems fared NO better than other hospitals on measures of admin costs, on average, even if the systems might ‘modestly improve’ performance on care.”

What does that mean? Healthcare professionals are frustrated with the electronic systems. Could it be because healthcare – notoriously slow to change – isn’t ready for the switch? Unlikely – the article surmises that it might not have to do with how the digital records are implemented, but with how they are designed.

The article discusses how hospitals can customize digital systems to fit their own unique needs. Digital technology has a chance to revolutionize healthcare. We just need to come up with a system that is uniform enough so all systems can communicate, but unique enough to satisfy each health facilities’ needs and wants.