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Apply to be a speaker at CRC 2012

The Credentialing Resource Center is excited to put the call out for speakers to present at the 15th Annual Credentialing Resource Center Symposium, May 10-11, 2012 at the Hilton Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fl.

That’s right, to celebrate the 15th year of this two-day conference for MSPs and medical staff leaders, we’ve decided to shake things up a bit. We’re leaving Las Vegas and bringing the show to Orlando, right on the Walt Disney property!

In addition to a new location, we’re looking for speakers who can present interactive workshops on topics such as privileging, legal issues, accreditation, best practices for measuring physician competency, and just about anything else medical staff-related.

If you’re interested in applying, please download the application and e-mail it to editor Julie McCoy (jmccoy@hcpro.com) by September 14, 2011.

We look forward to seeing you in Orlando!

Will forcing docs to work full-time take pressure off the shortage?

Dr. Karen Sibert’s recent New York Times Op-Ed has been raising some eyebrows in the medical community. In her article, Dr. Sibert contends that physicians (particularly female physicians) should practice full-time to help meet increasing shortages. Dr. Carolyn Anderson, a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, recently published a response to the article, arguing that obligating physicians to work full-time is a “band aid solution” to meeting shortages and only results in burnt-out doctors.

Evidence from the Physician Retention Survey we conduct annually with American Medical Group Association shows that providing flexible work options for doctors is key to keeping them employed through all stages of the career cycle. Part-time options are a viable solution for keeping more physicians in practice, while providing them the chance to lead well-balanced lives. 

What do you think? Would requiring physicians to work full-time help meet shortages while still providing quality care?

Case review form and peer review referral form

In the May issue of Credentialing & Peer Review Legal Insider, we discuss with Linda Van Winkle, CPCS, CPMSM,  manager of medical staff services at Christus St. Patrick in Lake Charles, LA, the chart review form and the peer review referral form that she submitted to the Credentialing Resource Center Symposium contest. These two forms have helped in Christus St. Patrick’s quest to reduce the number of peer review cases that are sent to the multi-disciplinary peer review committee unncessarily and have helped Van Winkle  sail through the OPPE process. In the newsletter, Linda explains why she developed the forms and how to use them. Check them out and see if your facility can adapt them.


Thanks for sharing, Linda!

Should smoking lead to unemployment?

A February 11 article in The New York Times titled Hospitals Shift Smoking Bans to Smoker Ban raises an interesting question for healthcare facilities. Should smokers be ineligible for employment in the healthcare industry? The article cites facilities in several states, including Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas, that have stopped hiring smokers.  Most would agree that smokers, on average, have higher healthcare costs and miss more time from work than nonsmokers. So it would certainly be in the financial interest of healthcare facilities to not employ smokers. Smoking is associated with significant healthcare costs and is a leading cause of preventable death, but does that mean smokers should not be employed in the health care industry? You can make a case that unemployment is not good for your health either. What about other activities or conditions that are less than healthy: obesity, sleep deprivation, excessive alcohol use, certain sexual practices, and high-risk recreational activities? This seems like a pretty slippery slope. 


Board certification poll



Medical staff advisor: Advocate for MSPs

One of the most valuable duties of the medical staff advisor is the working alliance with the medical staff professionals. As a group, MSPs are probably the most unappreciated employees of the hospital. They serve as the gatekeepers of safety in their credentialing and recredentialing roles and assist the medical staff as it performs its primary duty of governing itself. Many times, administrators and other hospital departments do not understand the depth and breadth of knowledge these dedicated professionals possess or their passion for keeping patients safe.

The medical staff advisor can serve as a senior advisor to MSPs, as well as provide a buffer between the medical staff officers and administration. They can help the MSPs as they seek to implement change by explaining, introducing, and adopting new Joint Commission standards, CMS directives, and other regulations.

This relationship is a two-way street, and the medical staff advisor is continuously educated by the professionals on current rules and regulations and what is needed to maintain good medical staff governance.

Over the past few weeks, I have described just some of the ways medical staffs and hospitals can leverage seasoned physicians for the common good of the hospital, the medical staff, and–most importantly–the patient. Given the opportunity, the medical staff advisor can leave the place a little better than he or she found it.

The medical staff advisor as mediator

Peer review activities and credentialing committee deliberations and recommendations are arguably the main reason the organized medical staff exists. Traditionally medical staff members sought these committee appointments. However, for whatever reason, the number of physicians that are willing to perform these duties is diminishing. Medical staff advisors can serve on these committees. Particularly if he or she is retired, the partner or competitor conflict goes away and the medical staff advisor can become a statesman and not a “turf warrior.”

The medical staff advisor can also provide the cultural history of how the medical staff has approached similar problems or questions in the past, such as interviews, longer provisional periods, proctoring arrangements, and referrals to the physician health committee to name just a few. Many times, practicing physicians are hesitant to evaluate a fellow physician’s clinical competence, but the medical staff advisor can be the catalyst to aim the discussion in the right direction. Instead of looking for reasons not to investigate or discipline a physician, the medical staff advisor many times is in the unique position to describe  how similar behavior in the past has resulted in less-than-desirable outcomes.

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Patients still assume that more care equals better care

A study published in the June 3 Health Affairs suggests that patients are not on board with evidence-based care. As the healthcare providers strive to reduce healthcare costs and provide higher quality care, patients may be undermining their efforts by thinking poorly of providers who recommend less care. Patients also still adhere to the age-old belief doctors aren’t capable of making mistakes or recommending inappropriate care. Thus, patients seldom question their providers’ suggestions for treatment plans. 

“The dominant role of physicians in determining patient care has been a fact of medical care delivery for many decades. Therefore, many consumers may find it difficult to move into a more active and accountable role in which they are expected to understand and weigh multiple pieces of complex and potentially conflicting evidence,” states the study.

Internet blurs the boundaries between physicians and patients

As the popularity of social networking sites skyrockets and more patients use the Internet to research everything from their symptoms to a local hospital’s quality scores, physicians are faced with some serious ethical dilemmas, according to an article in The Boston Globe. Although patients may not initially hesitate to “friend” their doctors on Facebook or MySpace, they may end up feeling uncomfortable with their doctors knowing certain details of their lives (or knowing too much about their doctors). And if a doctor discovers perhaps some unsavory details of a patient’s life, what should he or she do with that information?

Although the article recommends that patients conduct online searches to verify their doctors’ training and education, it brings up a good question: Should physicians ever Google their patients? Some cases seem legitimate; one psychiatrist whose patient went MIA searched for his patient online out of concern and later told her that he had done so. But where should doctors draw the line?

VA leading healthcare IT implementation; private sector lagging

A study in Health Affairs, “The Value From Investments In Health Information Technology At The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” reveals that the VA’s implementation of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) between 2001 and 2007 led to fewer unnecessary or redundant tests and better quality care.

If that’s not enough, the reduction of unnecessary tests and better quality of care paid back about $3 billion more than the $4 billion that the VA initially invested, according to Bob Brewin, a healthcare journalist at Government Executive and contributor for www.NextGov.com.

The study abstract states:

The VA spent proportionately more on IT than the private health care sector spent, but it achieved higher levels of IT adoption and quality of care. The potential value of the VA’s health IT investments is estimated at $3.09 billion in cumulative benefits net of investment costs. This study serves as a framework to inform efforts to measure and calculate the benefits of federal health IT stimulus programs.

AMA issues HIPAA compliance guidelines

Protecting patient information isn’t just the responsibility of billers and coders. Those on the front lines, including nurses and physicians, must do everything possible to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. To help them do that, the American Medical Association has issued guidelines. Some of the AMA’s suggestions include encrypting electronic information that is stored on a computer’s hard drive and encrypting emails and other information in transit.

Does your institution encrypt patient information?

States not disciplining physicians as severely as they did in the past

According to Public Citizen, a public advocacy group, state medical boards are not disciplining physicians as much as they did in the past. Using data from the Federation of State Medical Boards, Public Citizen determined that although the rate of serious disciplinary actions taken against physicians (revocations, surrenders, suspensions, and probation/restrictions) rose in 2009 compared to 2008, the numbers are still significantly lower than the peak over the past 10 years.

The 10 states that have taken the least amount of action against physicians are:

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