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.

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Health Care Employers Should Prepare for Overtime Changes

Gary SandersonBy Gary M. Sanderson

Health care employers are increasingly facing liability for failing to pay workers overtime wages as required by federal law.  In recent cases across the country, courts have ruled that hospitals owed health care employees significant amounts of money for overtime pay violations, including: a California hospital owing workers $1.08 million, a Houston hospital owing employees $4 million; and a Lehigh Valley hospital owing workers $4.5 million.

Clearly, the federal government has begun to crack down on overtime violations for health care workers.  And new and proposed changes to federal law are going to make it even more important for health care employers to be vigilant about paying workers overtime.

Overtime rules are set by the Department of Labor (DOL) under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The FLSA mandates that all non-exempt employees must receive overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for working more than 40 hours per seven-day workweek.  Because of the need for round-the-clock workers, health care employers are permitted to adopt an alternative “8 and 80” overtime system.  Under the “8 and 80” rule, employers may count hours over a 14-day period, but must pay overtime for any time over eight hours in a day and 80 hours over two weeks.  

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A Better Way to Pay for Healthcare

Bill Gammie

Bill Gammie

By Kathleen Ganster

Keeping the quality in patient care while working with less funding seems to be an overriding theme in health care these days, which makes collaborative efforts between health care providers more important than ever. 

The Affordable Care Act has changed many aspects of healthcare and payment for services is one of those major changes.

“There are numerous payment models that have been put into effect and the changes certainly provide challenges for health care providers. One thing I think most of us in heath care agree upon is that there is a better way to pay for health care,” Bill Gammie, Vice President of Value Based Care at Celtic Healthcare said. 

The traditional payment models in healthcare have shifted to value based models, Gammie explained.  A driving force behind the changes is the financial burden that Medicare has placed on the country. So like it or not, the changes are here to stay. 

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Poor Health: A Frayed Safety Net

More than a quarter of the hospitals in the Pittsburgh area closed in the first decade of the 21s century, drastically reducing the amount of charitable care available to the poor.

The failure of the remaining hospitals to provide adequate care to low-income patients and the inability of free and government-funded clinics to fill the gap has left the region’s health safety net badly frayed.

The closures of 11 of 39 hospitals here between 2000 and 2010 left the region’s poor “worse off,” said Wilford Payne, executive director of Primary Care Health Services in Pittsburgh, which runs 11 federally qualified health centers in Allegheny County.

Read more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

A Patient Centered Approach to Achieving Value in Health Care

How to Reduce Costs While Delivering Ideal Outcomes and Experiences

Achieving value in today’s healthcare environment requires improving outcomes and experiences while lowering costs. This is a significant challenge for providers who have only worked in a healthcare environment where payment has been based on the volume of services.

At the same time, charges for these services have long been based on providers’ or organizations’ more global health care costs, often as a ratio of cost-to-charges.  A new tool, however, is making it possible for all healthcare constituencies (providers, hospitals, insurers, and policy makers) to identify true cost to deliver care  (e.g., total joint replacement surgery, hysterectomy, diabetes care, etc.). 

This is a significant shift that will allow us to understand cost drivers and move from volume to value throughout the healthcare continuum.

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PBGH Symposium: Punt or Pass: How to Score in Today’s Health Care Game

Join PBGH at its 15th Annual Health Care Symposium on Thursday, Sept. 4, at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, to hear, learn, network and exchange ideas with business and industry leaders and experts.


7:30 AM Pre-Game Tailgating: Registration – Exhibits Open
8:30 AM Opening Ceremonies
Jessica Brooks, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Business Group on Health
9:00 AM Keynote AddressHow Business Can Save America from Health Care
Brian Klepper, Chief Executive Officer, National Business Coalition on Health
- Sponsored by Cigna
10:00 AM Morning Break – Exhibits Open


For more information, click here.

Washington Health System: Physician Executive Wanted

WashingtonHealthGroup 7 2014

Electronic Health Records Save Patients During Devastation

Brian YeamanBy Brian Yeaman, MD 

On May 20, 2013, a level 5 tornado headed straight for Moore Medical Center in Moore, Oklahoma. As a physician on call at the medical center, I was part of a tremendous team that had two priorities: protect those in the building as the tornado was about to hit, and immediately following the impact, resume a high level of care to those affected in the community. 

To address the first priority, the team gathered everyone in the center of the cafeteria and stayed there until the tornado passed. Outside the medical center walls, devastation surrounded us. Tens of thousands of families in the area had lost power and many houses and mobile homes were completely leveled. Moore had taken a direct hit.

Determining the best way to treat our community was the next challenge. Within hours, hundreds of patients flooded the emergency room with injuries ranging in severity from bleeding to unconsciousness. Ten patients had to be admitted who required various medicines and treatment plans. To properly treat these patients and better understand their history, drug allergies, and medications, we needed access to their medical records and quickly.

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New Property for Sale: 203 Orchard Court, Jefferson Hills, PA

Contemporary Multi-Level in the Waterman Farm Estates plan in Jefferson Hills just 5 minutes from Jefferson Regional Medical Center.

Two wood burning floor to ceiling stone fireplaces, Cathedral ceilings, open, airy, light & bright.  Large lever private rear yard with a synthetic wood rear deck, shed, and fenced garden.  Open floor plan, and lots of extra rooms and storage.

Updated kitchen, new carpet, and beautiful wood flooring.  4 Bedrooms and 3 full baths.  One of the top rated school districts in Allegheny County.  Close to Routes 51, 43, and 70.

Dan J. Haeck, Realtor
Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services
10 Old Clairton Road
Pittsburgh, PA  15236

412-496-6602 (cell)

Click on any of the photos below to enlarge them.

Could Placenta-derived Cell Therapy Help Address the Increased Long Term Risk of Stroke in Women with a History of Preeclampsia?

Karine KleinhausBy Karine Kleinhaus, MD, MPH

Preeclampsia is a leading killer of pregnant women and a major contributor to maternal and fetal morbidity. Occurring in 6-8% of pregnant women, it is diagnosed after the 20th week of pregnancy by the new onset of high blood pressure and either elevated protein in the urine, or pulmonary edema, cerebral or visual symptoms, low platelets, or specific signs of kidney or liver dysfunction. Although most affected pregnancies deliver at or close to term with good outcomes, women with preeclampsia are at an increased risk for life-threatening events, including stroke and grand mal seizures (eclampsia). Because of these potential outcomes, a key aspect of routine prenatal care is monitoring pregnancies for signs and symptoms of preeclampsia.

Even if preeclampsia is detected in a timely manner, however, delivery remains the only cure. Consequently, women with preeclampsia may need to be delivered prematurely to stop disease progression. This makes preeclampsia an important cause of premature births and early neonatal deaths. In addition, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke association recently identified preeclampsia as an independent risk factor for cardiac disease and stroke in women even decades after an affected pregnancy; it was estimated that preeclampsia doubles the risk of stroke and quadruples the risk of developing hypertension in later life, even if blood pressure returns to normal after delivery. Previously, the negative effects of preeclampsia were thought to resolve after pregnancy.

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Physician Assistance for Western Pennsylvania

Sandra Caffo, Senior Director for LifeSolutionsBy Sandra Caffo

Quality care is what people expect to receive from physicians. However, we don’t likely think about what might impact a physician’s ability to provide this care. Doctors are part of a profession that is one of the most respected in this country – and, indeed, all around the world. As difficult as it is to get into and complete medical school, that difficulty often escalates once the physician begins to live with the day-to-day, 24/7 pressures of being a doctor. 

A recent article in Healthcare Finance News reported that more physicians feel the stresses of their profession than ever before and that the impact of that stress is often underestimated. Not only did 87 percent of respondents to a Physician Wellness survey say they were moderately-to-severely stressed/burned out on an average day, but also 63 percent said they felt more stressed out than they were three years ago.

The modern physician faces questions from all sides including: Are his or her care choices medically appropriate … efficient … cost-effective? How is the Affordable Care Act going to impact where and how physicians work? Physicians face increasing complexity in treatment decisions, along with decreases in autonomy and control. Frustration can seem an inevitable byproduct.    

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Testimonials from Treating Addiction at the St. Joseph Institute Rehab Center

Since opening in May of 2005, St. Joseph Institute has been treating addiction for people throughout the United States and from many other countries.  These are some of their comments:Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 11.20.10 AM

Read the rest of their testimonials.

Continuing Education Classes at Providence Point

Tuesday, August 12, 2014- Providence Point (500 Providence Point Blvd, Pittsburgh PA 15243)

Registration starts at 4 PM

Ethical Considerations of Care and PTSD and Veterans presented by Mary Beth Kelley, MSW, LSW

During the first hour, we will discuss the ethical dilemmas surrounding discharge against medical advice and the steps that can be taken when unsafe discharge decisions are made.  During the second hour, the discussion will focus upon post-traumatic stress disorder and how it affects medical care choices for veterans.

Classes fill quickly, please call (412) 572-3808 to RSVP

Addressing the Whitespace: Digitizing the Missing Pieces of the Medical Record

Therasa Bell, president and Chief Technology Officer, Inofile, healthcare technology, Meaningful Use Stage 2By Therasa Bell

Many Pennsylvania patients will start their next visit to the doctor’s office the same way: by filling out registration paperwork. This simple act adds up to a big problem for the healthcare industry. Despite $19 billion of incentives to push digital patient records forward, many offices are buried in paperwork and other unstructured patient information that often fails to make it to the electronic medical record – whether it is paper, fax, a digital image, email attachment or smartphone app.

That doesn’t mean there’s a lack of effort to digitize these pieces of the patient record. In fact, there’s too much effort. Every source of unstructured content requires time-intensive processes to convert it into a standards-based format that any provider can access.

Typically, this process means a member of the staff scans every page, keying in patient information and other relevant details to ensure the file makes it to the right record and remains accessible. Beyond the time spent scanning and keying, the equipment also requires regular IT support to maintain functionality. And all of this must be in place before a single item is converted and connected to the correct medical record.

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This National Women’s Health Week, Prioritize Your Body, Brains and Bliss!

Dr. Vonda Wright Launches the Second Annual Women’s Health Conversations

Today’s women have emerged as a more powerful consumer force than ever before. They control $3.3 trillion in consumer spending and are responsible for 80% of household buying.

Most importantly, as CEO’s of both work and home, women make more than 80% of health decisions for themselves and those closest to them. The turbulent national healthcare transition we are in makes the best information important.

“Women’s Health Conversations: Prioritizing your Body, Brains and Bliss”

This year’s conference, for 1,000 smart, savvy women, set for November 6, 2014 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Ballroom, will feature highly credentialed nationally known speakers and forward thinking sponsors in vibrant conversations to equip women to fortify their bodies, build their brains, live the life they envision and make the best health choices.
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