In the Puget Sound region’s latest affiliation deal, Seattle-based nonprofit Virginia Mason Health System announced Wednesday that it will affiliate with Yakima-based Memorial Family of Services.
By Shefali Luthra
When Charles Thompson checked into the hospital one July morning in 2011, he expected a standard colonoscopy.
He never anticipated how wrong things would go.
Partway through, the doctor emerged and said there were complications, remembered Ann, Charles’ wife. Charles’ colon may have been punctured. He needed emergency surgery to repair it.
Charles, now 61, from Greenville, S.C., almost died on the operating table after experiencing cardiac distress. His right coronary artery required multiple stents. He also relies on a pacemaker.
If treatment makes things worse – meaning patients need more care – who pays? The answer, it seems, is that it depends.
When things like this happen in the hospital, questions arise: Who’s responsible? If treatment makes things worse – meaning patients need more care – who pays?
The answer, it seems, is that it depends. Continue reading
By Michelle Andrews
In addition to treating what ails you, a number of health care systems aim to sell you a health insurance plan to pay for it. With some of the most competitively priced policies on the marketplaces, “provider-led” plans can be popular with consumers. But analysts say it remains to be seen how many will succeed long term as insurers.
Doing so funnels more patients to a health system’s hospitals and doctors.
The Seattle-based medical enterprise, which has about 5,500 employees, has offered some workers voluntary severance packages before it decides whether layoffs will be necessary in 2016, said spokesman Gale Robinette.
Swedish announced today the launch of a telehealth service that will allow patients to connect with a Swedish health care professional through a smartphone, tablet or computer.
The service, called Health eXpress, is designed to provide video consultations for common medical conditions such as colds, sore throat, ear infections or rashes.
During the visit, a Swedish doctor or nurse practitioner can review medical history, answer questions, diagnose, treat and even prescribe medication.
The service is available to anyone in King County. The average wait time after logging in is less than five minutes, Swedish said.
Visits cost $39 and available to those with or without insurance. A number of health insurance plans now pay telehealth visits. Patients without health insurance or with insurance that does not cover the cost can pay for a visit with a credit or debit card.
Patients should check with their health insurance provider to see if Health eXpress visits are a covered benefit or reimbursable expense, Swedish said.
The service is available to people in King County from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Health eXpress is already available in the rest of Washington and in Oregon through Providence.
By Phil Galewitz
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Kristen Shorey gave birth to her second baby this summer in a marble-lined bathtub surrounded by LED candles and rested afterward on a queen-size mahogany bed. She received no pain killers, never saw a doctor and was home with her newborn son, Rowan, seven hours after birth.
It was nothing like the hospital experience where she had her first son two years ago, she said. In fact, the June birth wasn’t in a hospital at all but at the Greenville Midwifery Care & Birth Center. She delivered with help from a midwife instead of an obstetrician. Shorey, 25, labored in a water-filled tub rather than a small bed while hooked up to intravenous tubes and a fetal heart monitor — her 27-year-old husband, Taylor, by her side.
“This was the most empowering experience of my life,” she said. Continue reading
By Michael Ollove
Johns Hopkins University and the Hopkins health system said the upheaval in Baltimore last April, which revealed the depths of economic misery in the city, lent urgency to the major jobs, contracting and purchasing initiative they announced last month. Other hospitals around the country have also launched anti-poverty efforts.
BALTIMORE—As a child, Bishop Douglas Miles heard the warnings about vans trolling East Baltimore streets, snatching up young African-Americans for medical experiments at nearby Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Whether there was any truth behind those stories—Hopkins has always denied them—hardly mattered. The mythology lived on and, combined with the hospital’s very real development decisions, contributed to a persistent view of Hopkins as an imperious, menacing presence amid the largely poor and African-American neighborhoods surrounding it.
“Hopkins was viewed with a great deal of suspicion and anger,” said Miles, who graduated from the school in 1970 and is the bishop of Koinonia Baptist Church in northeast Baltimore.
But now, Miles says, that perception could be changing. Johns Hopkins University and the Hopkins hospital and health system have launched an ambitious initiative to fill many more jobs with residents from distressed Baltimore neighborhoods, boost the use of minority contractors and vendors from those areas, and require their partners to follow their lead. Continue reading
By Jay Hancock
There is a good chance that your once-independent doctor is now employed by a hospital. Dr. Michael Reilly, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., orthopedic surgeon, does not believe this is good for physicians, patients or society.
For years he watched Broward Health, a nonprofit Florida hospital system, hire community doctors, pay them millions and minutely track the revenue they generated from admissions, procedures and tests.
“We are making money off these guys,” Broward Health’s CEO told Reilly, according to a federal whistleblower lawsuit filed against the system by Reilly and the U.S. Justice Department.
Last month Broward Health agreed to pay $70 million to settle allegations that it engaged in “improper financial relationships” with doctors under laws prohibiting kickbacks in return for patient referrals. Continue reading
Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center has begun posting online star ratings for, and patients’ comments about, its clinic physicians and providers.
The ratings (up to five stars) and comments are based on patient satisfaction surveys and appear with providers’ biographies on the Virginia Mason website, VirginiaMason.org.
To find a specific provider, type his or her name in the “Search” field at the top of the homepage. Click here to see an example.
In satisfaction surveys, patients rate physicians and other providers (i.e., physician assistants, advanced registered nurse practitioners) as Very Poor, Poor, Fair, Good or Very Good on these topics:
- Friendliness/courtesy of the provider
- Explanations the care provider gave you about your problem/condition
- Concern the care provider showed for your questions or worries
- Care provider’s efforts to include you in decisions about your treatment
- Degree to which the provider talked with you, using words you could understand
- Amount of time the care provider spent with you
- Your confidence in the provider
- Likelihood of your recommending this care provider to others
Ratings and patients’ comments are verified by Press Ganey Associates, an independent company that conducts ongoing satisfaction surveys.
The Virginia Mason Patient Relations and Service Department also uses information from the satisfaction surveys to identify and address issues of importance to patients and their families.
Virginia Mason is among a few health systems across the U.S. that post ratings for, and patient comments about, its providers on the Internet. Others include Cleveland Clinic, University of Utah Healthcare, Stanford Healthcare and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Virginia Mason has launched several other similar initiatives include: implementing the Patient Cost Estimator, which offers comprehensive estimates of out-of-pocket costs for numerous medical exams and procedures; posting online the estimated prices of the 100 most common outpatient surgical procedures; and enabling Virginia Mason patients to see clinical notes about their care on the secure, online patient portal, called MyVirginiaMason.org.
By Jordan Rau
Medicare’s quality incentive program for hospitals, which provides bonuses and penalties based on performance, has not led to demonstrated improvements in its first three years, according to a federal report released Thursday. Continue reading
By Julie Appleby
Almost every American will experience a medical diagnostic error, but the problem has taken a back seat to other patient safety concerns, an influential panel said in a report out today calling for widespread changes.
Diagnostic errors — defined as inaccurate or delayed diagnoses — account for an estimated 10 percent of patient deaths, hundreds of thousands of adverse events in hospitals each year and are a leading cause of paid medical malpractice claims, a blue ribbon panel of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said in its report.
Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero
As a dermatologist, I often hear from patients that they don’t have time for intensive skin care.
However, people should still take care of their skin by doing the basics over their lifetimes.
Good skin care and healthy lifestyle choices can help delay the natural aging process and prevent various skin problems.
Protect yourself from the sun
One of the most important ways to care for your skin is to protect it from the damaging effects of overexposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. A lifetime of sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and other problems, like skin cancer.
For the most complete sun protection Continue reading
By Jay Hancock
Why did hospitals binge-buy doctor practices in recent years?
To improve care coordination, lower costs and upgrade patient experiences, say hospitals.
To raise costs, gain pricing power and steer patient referrals, say skeptics.
Ownership by a hospital “dramatically increases” odds that a doctor will admit patients there instead of another, nearby hospital.
Ownership by a hospital “dramatically increases” odds that a doctor will admit patients there instead of another, nearby hospital, they found.
Worse, from the viewpoint of reformers, it boosts chances that patients will go to higher-cost, lower-quality hospitals. Continue reading
Seattle Children’s Hospital is working with the state health department and the Centers for Disease Control after it was revealed that the required procedures for cleaning and sterilizing surgical instruments at the hospital’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center were not always followed.
“I understand that families will be concerned, and rightly so, but from a scientific perspective, the risk is low, which I hope that families find reassuring,’ Seattle and King County Public Health official Justin Duchin, M.D. said at a press conference on August 26.
As a result of the problems with sterilization, patients who had a surgical procedure at the Bellevue Clinic may need to be tested for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV, the hospital said in a statement.