Recognize Your Nurses Today!


Spring Conference to Offer Support, Advice for Caregivers

Ursuline Support Services is presenting a day-long conference, Stocking the Caregiver’s Toolbox: Techniques and Tips for Families and Professionals, Wednesday, May 13, at the Edgewood Country Club in Churchill.

Sponsors for the conference include: GOLD – AARP Pennsylvania, United Way of Allegheny County, and UPMC Health Plan/UPMC Cancer Center; SILVER – Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Westminster Presbyterian Church; BRONZE – Dollar Bank; along with Supporting Sponsor – The Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

“Now more than ever, those who find themselves thrust in the role of caregiver are seeking ways to ensure they are delivering the most innovative and compassionate care,” said Ursuline Executive Director Anthony Turo. “As the title indicates, this conference will provide both professionals and nonprofessionals with the latest methods and ideas for providing care for others while also taking better care of themselves.”

[Read more…]

Technologies to Support Clinical Documentation Improvement (Part 1)

Dr Jon Elion, MD, FACC- Founder, President of ChartWise Medical SystemsBy Dr. Jon Elion, Founder and CEO of ChartWise Medical Systems

The Photographic Painting

Often the value of a new technology is often not understood for many years after its invention.  The first film cameras (remember film?!) were initially used to capture landscapes, still life studies and portraits. In that regard, they were acting as a “photographic painting”, capturing the standard known subject matter for artists that were using traditional media. It wasn’t until much later that the technology began to realize its full potential in fields as diverse as astronomy, microscopy, high-speed photography and movies.

Computer applications in the Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) field are capable of making a similar transformative leap.  Rather than simply recreating what we already do today with notes, simple databases and spreadsheets, new technologies allow for totally new workflows, efficiencies, integration, reporting and analysis.  Some of these recent trends are starting to have a tremendous impact on CDI.

Rules-Based Expert Systems

An expert system is a specialized type of software that provides answers to problems, eliminating the need to consult a human expert.  When applied to a CDI program, the expert system collects and organizes clinical information, examining its own knowledge base and applying its rules, and thereby making its documentation expertise widely available throughout a healthcare organization.

The expert system approach has already been shown to be capable of providing a number of valuable enhancements to CDI, where its rules are applied to the clinical data that has been collected.  For instance an expert system could:

  • Examine the list of a patient’s medications and laboratory results and suggest additional diagnoses to be considered.  This can be as simple as a reminder to add the diagnosis of “hypokalemia” when the serum potassium is low, or to consider congestive heart failure if the patient is taking Furosemide.
  • Ask about possible infections when the patient is receiving an antibiotic but there is not bacterial infection diagnosis listed.
  • Identify simple relationships among diagnoses, and make a comprehensive list of suggestions when there is “altered mental status” present.
  • Put together more abstract diagnoses such as gastrointestinal bleeding and a low hemoglobin and hematocrit and suggest the user consider anemia, and additional suggestions looking to see if the anemia is caused by the GI bleed.

While an expert system cannot be expected to be better than the human expert, the system provides the ability to automate, process large amount of information, and to clone the expertise of the human expert.  This becomes extremely helpful in improving efficiencies and in training new staff in the subtleties of CDI. [Read more…]

American Nurses Association Highlights Nursing Ethics at Inaugural Event

Ethics Symposium Part of ANA’s “Year of Ethics”

Acting ethically is critical to effective nursing practice and high- quality patient care. To highlight the importance of ethics in the nursing profession, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is convening its inaugural Ethics Symposium this summer to connect nurses with the nation’s most influential experts to create a culture of ethical practice, build ethical competencies and resilience, and strengthen the ethical foundation of nursing.

“ANA is committed to improving the quality of health care for all. Ethics is a critical foundational component of nursing practice and guides all nurses as they deliver high-quality health care to individuals, families and communities,” said ANA President, Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN.

The two-day symposium takes place June 4-5 at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore, Md. Symposium attendees can expect to learn critical elements of an ethical practice environment and how to implement “ethical watchfulness” into daily work. The symposium also will address ethical situations nurses face today, aim to equip nurses with strategies and tools to help them manage ethical situations more effectively, and provide opportunities to learn from health care professionals who have acted on their ethical beliefs.

The symposium is just one of many events designed to highlight the need for ethical work environments in what ANA has designated the “Year of Ethics.”  “Year of Ethics” events kicked off in January with the release of the revised Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, the first update since 2001. The Code, an ethics resource for nurses, the public and policymakers, upholds the best interests of patients, families and communities. National Nurses Week, May 6-12, will also focus on ethics with the theme: “Ethical Practice. Quality Care.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 3.04.40 PM

[Read more…]

Selfies and Social Media

Brian Shrift

Brian Shrift

Why a Social Media Policy is Important for your Organization

By Brian Shrift, HCISPP

If you don’t Tweet, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Snapchat, that’s OK.  But your staff may. And if they do it in the office, that could mean a HIPAA Security Breach and an audit for you – or even worse, a fine or a lawsuit.

  Social Media consists of websites and applications, like those mentioned earlier, that allow almost anyone anywhere share information by spreading ideas, photographs and videos on the Internet.  Often times you’ll hear of celebrities posting something and it “going viral,” meaning their post, often a comment or image, is being seen and spread by tens of thousands of individuals, if not millions.  Once something has been posted, it’s near impossible to have it deleted, as it is spread and downloaded by others immediately.

“Selfies,” a photo of yourself taken with your smartphone and posted to a social media site, are very popular.  Often people will snap a selfie of themselves while they’re stuck in traffic, after a new haircut, all dressed up for a night on the town, flexing in a mirror, or at the office.  While there could be objections to all the shirtless flexing selfies on the Internet, the one we’re concerned with is the office selfie.

[Read more…]

3 Key Reasons to Help Seniors Avoid Preventable Hospitalizations

HospitalWhen a senior breaks a bone or has a heart attack, a hospital can be the safest place for them. But entering the hospital also carries certain risks. Senior care professionals observe that seniors who go into the hospital may not go home the same. Sadly, they may not even go home at all. That’s why it’s imperative for the elderly to avoid preventable hospitalizations.

A preventable hospitalization is one where steps could have been taken to monitor and manage symptoms, prevent an accident, or correctly follow a physician’s orders and thus avoid the need for a trip to the hospital.

A recent survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, revealed that almost half of all hospitalizations could be prevented, according to nurses who specialize in senior care. The nurses surveyed also identified the top risks of hospitalization for the elderly and why prevention is so important. Here are three good reasons to help seniors avoid preventable hospitalizations.

[Read more…]

Securing the ‘Security Rule’—Importance of HIPAA Compliance for All Practitioners

Brian Shrift

Brian Shrift

By Brain Shrift, HCISPP

Evidence is mounting that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is beginning to crack down on medical practitioners who aren’t fully compliant with the HIPAA Security Rule.

That’s potentially bad news for many health care organizations that have taken a less than rigorous approach toward compliance. What does it take to become compliant? First, let’s take a brief look at the rule itself.

The Security Rule’s primary objectives are to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of protected health information (PHI).  In plain English, the law was written to ensure adequate safeguards are put in place to ensure patient data is protected from unauthorized access and disclosure, cannot be improperly altered or deleted, and is always accessible when needed.

The HITECH Act of 2009, which required compliance by Sept. 23, 2013, strengthens the civil and criminal enforcement of the Security Rule.  The Security Rule has been in force since 2006, but with minimal penalties for non-compliance there was little incentive to make the investment in compliance.  With the HITECH Act ushering in penalties up to $1.5 million, noncompliance is a costly risk.

[Read more…]

STTI Provides Straightforward Guide for Academic Writing

Step-by-step guide helps nursing students with their dissertation or capstone project

All But Dissertation, or ABD — the dreaded term no PhD or master’s student trying to complete his or her dissertation or capstone project wants to hear. Writing a final paper to earn an advanced degree is a daunting task, even for the most confident candidate. Nurses are no exception.

Karen Roush, PhD, APN, knows more than a thing or two about writing one of these final papers. Her new book A Nurse’s Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Dissertation or Capstone, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), is a straightforward how-to guide that will help students plan and write the perfect finale to their education. She delves into the fundamentals of exactly what the student needs, with a short, concise guide.

Roush knows that the nursing field rarely prompts students to focus on their writing skills. Her role as a writing mentor with years of experience as an editorial director and clinical managing editor encouraged her to create this clear, highly practical step-by-step guide for the busy student nurse, coaching readers through the scholarly writing process in an engaging, conversational style.

[Read more…]

Advocacy In Nursing

By Verlia M. Brown, MA, RN, BC

In today’s healthcare system, one of the newest phrases is “advocacy in nursing.” What is advocacy? According to Webster’s Dictionary, it is “the act or process of advocating,” or “a public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.”

As nurses, we are made aware that our patients benefit from our care and that we must have their best interest at heart and look out for them when delivering quality nursing care. The code for nurses is “do no harm.” In the delivery of nursing care there are certain guidelines, policies, and regulations that nurses must follow as mandated by their institutions and or hospitals. The American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics, their state licensing board’s regulations and the patient’s Bill of Rights also serve as guides.

When patients are hospitalized and often unable to fend for themselves, nurses must protect their rights to quality patient care and intervene for them when care or treatment is compromised, ensuring that patients get the care they deserve. It is the nurse’s prerogative to report and educate the persons involved who might infringe upon the patient’s right to recovery.

[Read more…]

Medicare Specialists of Pittsburgh: An Agency that You Know and Can Trust

m-logo2From time to time, we like to spotlight great organizations across the region. This month we draw your attention to Medicare Specialists of Pittsburgh, an Independent Insurance Agency. They represent many different companies so they can find the one that is right for you. They can shop your insurance for you instead of you having to call around.

Their goal is to provide you with the insurance you want at the lowest possible price, while providing you with the highest level of customer service. They can furnish you with an assessment of your insurance needs and a choice of which package fits you best.

It helps to find an agency that you know and can trust. Their staff has the knowledge and experience of our insurance products to provide maximum benefit and protection to their clients. Let one of their licensed professional insurance agents help you with any of your personal or business insurance needs serving Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For more information, visit


The Future of ACOs

????????By Daniel Casciato

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have long held the promise of better integrated and more efficient healthcare. In concept, it should reduce duplication—and by extension—the cost of managing an episode of care. However, David Pearce, a partner in the Healthcare Practice of Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, says a downside is that by aligning vertically with select providers it reduces patient choice.

“By selecting an ACO or by having one selected for you through your health plan, the providers have already been chosen for you,” he says. “Of course, that is already happening to some degree in most existing managed care structures.”

So is the future bright for ACOs or is it doomed to become a failure?

[Read more…]

Changing Healthcare Regulations Increase Need for More Agile Technologies 

Randy HickelBy Randy Hickel

In 2014, new regulations for electronic health records (EHRs) will apply to Medicare and Medicaid providers. To meet these changing regulations and needs, providers need more agile technology to offer patients and government agencies information faster, per the Stage 2 of Meaningful Use criteria. Below are the changes and how you can address them using innovative technology: 

Electronic Documentation: Changing the Process of Practicing Medicine 

Healthcare reform has been a prominent issue impacting millions of patients, providers and businesses across the country. Though debate has intensified recently with healthcare coverage requirements kicking in for the general public, legions of providers have been hard at work for the past five years transitioning to an electronic health record (EHS) system. While more are expected to embrace new technology given its many advantages and to keep pace with social change, federal regulations and incentives have helped spur early adopters in preparation for rigorous new standards.

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act were passed, outlining a vision and phased approach to modernize our healthcare system, promote greater portability of medical records, enhance security protections and improve patient care. Since then, the Department of Health and Human Services has provided billions in Medicare and Medicaid incentive funds for eligible hospitals and providers that adopt certified EHR technology. According to a 2013 CDC survey, 48 percent of office-based physicians currently have a basic EHR system in place. The first phase of this implementation, Stage 1, ran from 2011 to 2013 and focused on electronic data capture and sharing.

[Read more…]

Top Ten Things Nurse’s Should Know About Providing End of Life Care

At some point in your nursing career, you will encounter a patient who is dying.  Care for that patient is multi-dimensional and involves not only the patient but the family. Nurses must be skilled clinicians, advocates and above all, guides for patients and families. Here are ten things you need to know.

Patients and Families Trust You

Honest communication is important when caring for a dying patient.  Using open phrases such as “Tell me what you know about your illness,” helps guide patients through difficult discussions. Emphasizing what can be done, rather than what can’t be done instills trust and confidence. Use words such as “We will do everything we can to keep you comfortable,” and “I’ll be here for you.”

Advance Directives are Your Friend

Encourage patients and families to talk about what kind of care they would like at the end-of-life. Questions such as “Have you ever told your family what you would want if you couldn’t speak for yourself?” can open up and important conversation. More importantly, have your own discussion with your family.

[Read more…]

LaRoche Classes Now Forming!

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 8.48.21 PM

Massachusetts General Hospital Leaders Share Secrets to Improved Patient Care

Top hospital executives explain narrative model in new STTI book

Hospitals are filled with doctors, nurses, and other health professionals who have the utmost respect for science by nature of their profession. At the illustrious Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), these health care professionals also hold in high regard an art form that may seem less than scientific — storytelling.

Using real stories from MGH that demonstrate clinical practice instead of discussing theory, the authors, all top hospital executives at MGH, address the importance of the use of narratives in their new book Fostering Clinical Success: Using Clinical Narratives for Interprofessional Team Partnerships From Massachusetts General Hospital.

Authors Jeanette Ives Erickson, BNP, RN, FAAN; Marianne Ditomassi, DNP, RN, MBA; Susan Sabia, BA; and Mary Ellin Smith, MS, RN, share their model for creating, embedding, and fostering a narrative culture, ultimately creating a safer environment with improved patient care, interprofessional communication, and patient and staff satisfaction. [Read more…]