Anesthesia Industry eAlerts
Sent to subscribers every Monday morning, our eAlerts deliver timely updates on regulatory, legislative and practice management developments of interest to anesthesia professionals.
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May 26, 2015
On June 30, CMS is going to release information on payments made to physicians during 2014 by pharmaceutical, device and other manufacturers. This will be an update to the information made public for the first time in September, 2014. The current database is available at https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/.
May 18, 2015
Post-acute care services are a major driver of spending, particularly for the Medicare population. Nationwide, one in seven surgical patients is readmitted within 30 days, stated Michael Schweitzer, MD, MBA, who chairs ASA’s Future Models of Anesthesia Practice task force and who gave a very thought-provoking talk on “The Future of Anesthesia Practice” at the MGMA Anesthesia Conference in Chicago on May 1, 2015.
May 11, 2015
Medscape is one of the very few organizations that surveys physicians on compensation and practice patterns, breaks out the specialty of anesthesiology and publishes the results for free. The Medscape Anesthesiologist Compensation Report also has one of the larger absolute response rates; in the most recent survey, reported in March 2015, 1179 responses were received from anesthesiologists during the period December 30, 2014 – March 11, 2015. For those reasons alone, it behooves anesthesiology practices to be familiar with the Medscape data. The sample is small. It is probably not representative. As science, the survey does not pass muster. But since there is so little information of any better quality available, the Medscape compensation surveys are being used, usually in conjunction with other surveys such as those published (and sold) by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) and American Medical Group Association.
May 4, 2015
The term “Enhanced Recovery After Surgery” and the acronym ERAS are familiar to most anesthesiologists and to other clinicians. Anesthesia administrators and non-physician advisors may not have encountered the ERAS concept yet. Because of burgeoning interest in better evidence-based perioperative care protocols leading to improved patient outcomes in this era of value-based payment, administrators and practice management staff should acquire a basic understanding of the ERAS concept.
April 27, 2015
The Anesthesia Quality Institute’s Qualified Data Clinical Registry (AQI QCDR) became even more valuable with the recent addition of 16 new measures bringing the total number of measures adopted by the AQI for use in its QCDR to 27. With the nine official Medicare Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) measures that can also be reported to the QCDR, the combined total of 36 measures will give most anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologist assistants ample opportunity to satisfy the PQRS requirements for 2015. The array of available measures should also provide practices with sound choices for their own quality measurement and improvement programs.
April 20, 2015
Leadership has never been more important in anesthesiology than it is today. As the specialty demands and takes ownership of increasing levels of responsibility in healthcare reform, the quality of leadership becomes one the fundamental factors that determine success. Developing the Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH), the most exciting organizational concept to emerge within anesthesiology this century, requires outstanding leaders. So does maintaining the highest quality of patient care in each anesthesiology department or practice.
April 13, 2015
Let us begin with the basic answer to the question in the title of this Alert: anesthesiologists continue to benefit from a specialty-based exemption from the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program’s “meaningful use” (MU) requirements, so only those who are have chosen to earn the incentive will be affected directly by the new Stage 3 rules. Pain physicians may be affected, unless their practice meets the EHR program definition of “hospital-based” or they have been granted a hardship exception (see Alert dated February 16, 2015).
April 6, 2015
Cyber attacks on health databases are occurring so frequently that they are only newsworthy when they affect millions of records, as happened with the recently-reported massive Anthem (about 80 million individuals) and Premera Blue Cross (more than 11 million) data breaches. Last year, in fact, was characterized as the “year of the data breach” by some, according to Becker’s Hospital Review, which reports that: “Across industries, the healthcare sector experienced the highest percentage of breaches in 2014, according to Identity Theft Resource. Of the 761 data breaches reported last year, 322 of them came from the healthcare industry.”
March 30, 2015
Once more, the law preventing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula from wreaking havoc on Medicare payments to physicians is about to expire. Payments are scheduled to decrease by 21.2 percent on April 1.
March 23, 2015
The New York Attorney General announced, on March 11, 2015, that his office had entered into a settlement agreement with EmblemHealth, Inc., requiring the health plan to cover anesthesiology services provided in connection with an in-network preventive colonoscopy, without any cost-sharing by the patient. The agreement includes a $25,000 penalty and applies not just prospectively but also requires Emblem to send nearly $400,000 of reimbursements to 255 patients who were inappropriately charged co-payments
March 16, 2015
One especially alarming artifact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB is a 15-member panel charged with making proposals to “reduce cost growth” and “improve quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.” It is required to recommend cost-saving initiatives in any year in which per capita spending exceeds a threshold determined by the government. In addition, the Commission is authorized to make recommendations to “constrain the rate of growth in the private sector.”
March 9, 2015
Health policy dominated the news media last week, with the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the case with the potential to eviscerate Obamacare, on Wednesday March 4. Demonstrators crowded the steps in front of the Court during the hearing; most urged that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) be left intact.
March 2, 2015
Anesthesiologists’ role in perioperative medicine is rapidly expanding. It is now sufficiently visible that some surgeons are concerned about turf; see Brian Dunleavy’s article Perioperative Surgical Home Promotes Perioperativists in the February issue of General Surgery News online.
February 23, 2015
The compliance deadline for ICD-10, as you have read many times, is October 1, 2015. After three delays since the deadline was originally set for 2011, there may be some doubt—not to say cynicism—about whether the October 1st date will slip too. It may—but the majority of viewers believe that the transition to ICD-10 codes will occur as scheduled.
February 16, 2015
For those anesthesiologists who intend to demonstrate meaningful use (MU) of an electronic health record (EHR) in 2015, CMS’ recent announcement regarding a 90-day reporting period is good news. It is also good news for pain specialists who might face a MU penalty for the first time if they do not participate this year.
February 9, 2015
Price transparency is playing a more and more critical role in health care. As Costs of Care Executive Director Neel Shah, M.D. has stated, “We make purchasing decisions for every other commodity based on transparent price and quality information (think Yelp, Travelocity). Why not healthcare, too?”
February 2, 2015
The Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) was one of the hottest topics on attendees’ minds at the January 23-25, 2015 ASA Practice Management Conference in Atlanta. There is still a great deal of confusion regarding how anesthesiologists and pain physicians can satisfy the reporting requirements and avoid the penalties. In addition to explanations given at the Conference, the following recent publications clarify those requirements:
January 26, 2015
Are we heading toward a health care system in which medical care comes with a money-back guarantee? That would seem to be the ultimate stage of accountability. We do not see anesthesia, pain medicine or any other practices offering to refund payments if patients are not satisfied on the horizon. We are aware of only one instance of a money-back offer in health care: Janssen Pharmaceuticals recently entered into an arrangement with the English National Health Service under which Janssen UK will refund the cost of its hepatitis C drug Olysio for patients who do not successfully clear the virus after 12 weeks. Janssen will also offer free access to pre-treatment blood tests to determine which patients are likely to benefit from treatment. (McKee S. Janssen offers NHS to pay for Olysio failures. PharmaTimes Digital, January 15, 2015.)
January 19, 2015
On many lists of the top five, or ten, or twenty trends to watch this year are bundled payment programs. Bundled payments are taking hold more and more firmly. Although traditional fee-for-service is still the dominant method of payment for anesthesia services, we should all be familiarizing ourselves with emerging payment methodologies including bundled or “episode of care” systems along with accountable care organizations and shared savings programs.
January 12, 2015
If anesthesiologists and pain specialists are like other physicians, at least as far as this question goes, online rating web sites like HealthGrades and Vitals do not provide much useful information on provider quality.
January 5, 2015
Does your practice have any Medicare appeals pending? If you have appealed a decision within the last several years, be prepared to wait a long time for a ruling. The backlog of provider appeals has grown so that the system is heavily overloaded, causing at least a two-year delay for appeals to be heard at the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) level. One of the key contributing factors is the RAC program. The number of appeal from RAC determinations has grown exponentially since the program began in 2011. In 2013 alone, there was a 506 percent increase in appealed RA program claims over fiscal year 2012, versus a 77 percent increase in appealed claims not related to the RA program during that same period of time.