Archive for November, 2013

PRN Gives Thanks for Nurses

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for the many nurses who serve their communities. Nurses work long shifts, often without a significant break, and their schedules may cross days, weekends, and holidays. They are tireless in their efforts to improve their patients’ experience while on the job.

Nurses are typically a patient’s first point of contact during a medical visit. They measure vitals and ask the necessary questions to set you up for the proper care. The nurse you encounter can set the tone for your entire visit.

Nurses must be calm under pressure. By the nature of their positions they spend more time with patients than any other medical professional, including in emergency and other potentially high-stress situations. A caring countenance can do much to soothe a patient and his family.

Nurses are your advocate with the physician. Doctors evaluate tests and observations to determine a diagnosis, but nurses are there to report your condition in the moment. They administer the medication that doctors order and speak out for or against procedures that are in your best interests.

When a woman is admitted to deliver a baby, for example, the labor and delivery nurse will take her birth plan and communicate it to the physician to make sure that patient has the best possible experience. The nurse will also, more importantly, communicate to the patient when deviations are necessary to preserve her wellness and that of her child.

Nurses provide peace of mind to patients and the concerned friends and relatives who accompany them. A nurse will sit down in the waiting room with anxious family and reassure them of the quality care their loved one is receiving. A nurse will bring an upbeat attitude into the room in order to lift a patient’s spirits, even if she has been on the floor for ten hours straight. That same nurse will also remove the complexity – and fright factor – from overly technical medical explanations.

Nurses are often companions to their patients, no matter the type of facility. The sight of one or two friendly, familiar faces throughout the day gives immeasurable comfort. This is especially true of nurses who care for our loved ones at the end of their lives.

Of course, not every nurse walks the halls of a hospital. Home care nurses spend hours a day traveling to their patients so they may convalesce in the comfort of their homes. Whether a patient is rehabilitating or receiving hospice care, these nurses allow them a measure of freedom and normality that they would otherwise lack. For many, it would not be possible to continue living at home without the help of a home care nurse.

The next time you encounter a nurse, whether you own a staffing agency or have a medical visit, don’t forget to thank them for all the work they do.

Happy Thanksgiving from PRN Funding!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Younger Nurses Feel Positive About the Future of Nurse Employment

Monday, November 25th, 2013

In a recovering economy, many older nurses are considering retirement or have plans to pursue another career. Although the job market still hasn’t full recovered, a recent survey shows that many younger nurses hold a positive outlook for their profession and plan on pursuing higher education in the field.

According to the 2013 Survey of Registered Nurses conducted by AMN Healthcare, nearly 190,000 nurses admitted that they were thinking about leaving nursing or retiring as the economy continues to improve. Additionally, one in four nurses age 55 and up said they would change their career paths entirely by searching for work in other industries.

When it comes to furthering education, less than half of the nurses who held an associate degree or diploma said they were planning to pursue higher education in the field of nursing. Conversely, younger nurses are more likely to be interested in additional education. The landmark Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, advises that 80 percent of nurses in the U.S. should hold a BSN or higher degree by the year 2020.

Although nurses among all age groups reported that they were highly satisfied with their profession, the survey found that younger nurses (19-39) held a more positive outlook than nurses 55 and older in regards to the current quality of nursing. Furthermore, 66 percent of nurses 55 and older believe that the quality of nursing care has declined.

As a result, a generational gap exists among nurses in regards to their overall perspective of their practice. The survey revealed that younger RNs often hold a positive opinion of the nurse supply. Regardless of shortages in the industry, nurses between the ages of 19-39 said they remain positive about the supply of nurses, and believe that they are capable of meeting the expectations brought on by the new healthcare initiative. Additionally, while 45 percent of younger nurses said the shortage has improved throughout the past five years, 41 percent of older RNs between the ages of 40-54 held the same belief.

The survey also measured nurses’ overall satisfaction with their current jobs. Among the respondents, 90 percent of nurses reported that they were happy with their careers, while 73 percent said they were satisfied with their current profession.

Peter McMenamin, healthcare economist and senior policy fellow for the American Nurses Association, said that this survey projects an optimistic future for nursing. Additionally, he said that the findings revealed from the survey are consistent with research conducted by the ANA.

The future of nurse staffing looks promising. Is your nurse staffing agency primed for growth? PRN Funding offers accounts receivable factoring programs designed exclusively for the nurse staffing industry. Cash flow can get tight during times of growth, but nurse staffing factoring provides a steady source of working capital to cover payroll and other expenses. Learn more about factoring for nurse staffing.


Hospital Fee Models Make Pay-for-Performance Problematic

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Attempts by healthcare payers to incentivize quality care by providers are nothing new. However, a study on pay-for-performance programs, as they are called, indicates that the practice may not improve the quality of patient care to the intended extent.

Most hospitals currently operate pay-for-service models, in which providers receive a set amount for each service provided. This model tends to encourage quantity over quality and time-intensity over efficiency. Pay-for-performance, which Medicare has already implemented through its Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, flips the traditional fee model on its head and reimburses facilities for “quality” treatment – or, in the case of the HRRP, penalizes hospitals that fail to meet established benchmarks for patient care.

There are several issues with pay-for-performance, from what to measure to the size of the incentive offered, and the model’s impact on hospitals’ performance is mixed.

What “performance” is measured?

Many payers in this model focus on measuring adherence to processes rather than patient outcomes. A facility may qualify for incentives because they follow procedure accurately, but that does not necessarily reflect added value. Providers will prioritize the care for which they will be rewarded, while showing no change or a negative change in other measures.

Measuring outcomes, meanwhile, can lead to an artificially inflated or deflated result because the care provided is only one element of patient outcomes. In addition, facilities working for certain outcomes may be risk averse to treating patients unlikely to see a positive outcome.

How should incentives work?

Andrew Ryan from Weill Cornell Medical School claims that in most pay-for-performance models, the incentives offered are insufficient to compel providers to improve their practices. On the other hand, increasing incentives may be cost-prohibitive to many facilities.

Either way, even the best pay-for-performance program may not motivate caregivers to improve their practices. One suggestion to overcome this obstacle is to leverage providers’ risk aversion by paying incentives up front, and requiring providers to pay back money for standards they fail to meet.

Is there a better way?

System-wide change to the payer-provider relationship may be a better path to higher quality care than tweaks to payer methods. Individual providers may lack the resources or motivation to attack systemic issues, but payers and providers can collaborate and cooperate with one another to address those problems together and build a system that provides the quality care that patients deserve without relying on financial incentives to do so.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Concerns Linger About Lower Doctor Pay Through Health Exchanges

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

As millions of Americans are expected to purchase coverage through the new healthcare marketplace, several doctors are becoming increasingly concerned about their pay. With more patients opting for affordable coverage through the online exchanges, many physicians fear that they will be paid much less to provide care.

Some physicians have even voiced their concerns to various medical associations. These doctors explained that the discounted rates could cause a two-tiered system to develop, where fewer doctors would be willing to participate. As a result, consumers could have a harder time obtaining necessary care.

Nevertheless, insurers have been under plenty of pressure to make premiums more affordable for consumers. As a result, insurance officials have reduced the rates for some plans. Additionally, because plans usually are comprised of smaller networks, insurers believe that doctors will be compensated for pay decreases as more patients come to them for care. However, when it comes to providing care for current patients, many primary care physicians admit that they are already pressed for time.

A major reason for this conflict is that doctors aren’t always sure which plans they are listed under, or even how much payment they should expect to receive from patients covered under a certain plan. Additionally, some physicians are just starting to find out about the decreasing pay rates among particular plans sold through Obamacare’s online exchanges.

According to a senior executive at Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a few of its 37 member organizations are already providing lower rates to doctors that belong to smaller exchange plan networks. However, the executive also said that an adequate amount of doctors are being enlisted within their plans, and that insurers are well aware that a good network of providers is necessary to retain patients.

Regardless, some doctors have a different opinion. Contracts established between insurers and physicians can vary, and some even permit insurers alone to alter rates of payment issued to doctors. Furthermore, insurers may enlist doctors into several different plans. As a result, several physicians are undecided as to whether or not they will participate in the new plans.

In a survey conducted by The Medical Society of the State of New York, more than 400 doctors were asked if they would participate in an insurer’s exchange plan. Among the respondents, 40 percent said that they would not participate, and one-third said they were unsure. Lastly, two-thirds admitted that they never received any type of reimbursement information.

7 Popular Medical Apps for Doctors

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

In an age driven by technology, many doctors are taking advantage of medical apps on their smartphones and tablets. Although many physicians expressed dissatisfaction with certain apps, medical app usage among medical practices remained fairly high among smartphone and tablet users.

On a daily basis, 51 percent of doctors used medical apps on their smartphones. Additionally, 30 percent of physicians accessed these apps on their tablets. Not only do medical apps help doctors save time, they also help doctors by speeding diagnosis, improving patient monitoring and reducing patient visits to a physician or hospital. Here are seven of the top medical apps for healthcare providers that are used on a regular basis.

Check out these 7 top medical apps for doctors:

Epocrates

As one of the leading medical apps, Epocrates allows doctors to access safety information and prescribing instructions for various drugs. In addition to offering drug coverage information, the app enables physicians to determine various calculations, ranging from BMI to GFR. Epocrates also provides doctors with instant access to medical news and research.

Medscape

As a branch of WebMD, this app provides physicians with safety information and prescribing instructions for drugs. Additionally, this medical app offers procedure videos, a medical calculator, and access to materials for continuing medical education.

MedCalc

This app is ideal for determining various medical calculations. MedCalc offers an extensive array of formulas, scales, scores and calculations for doctors.

Skyscape

Aside from providing doctors with access to journal article summaries, Skyscape serves as a helpful decision-making app. In addition to drug information, a medical calculator is readily available for doctors’ use.

Doximity

This networking app helps physicians connect with one another. Doximity is fully equipped with HIPAA- compliant faxing, text messaging, and emailing capabilities to help streamline communications.

ResolutionMD

Doctors can access X-rays and other images via their smartphone or tablet by using this FDA-cleared app. Physicians have reported that this app is useful for providing instant viewing access for images, regardless of where the doctor is located.  ResolutionMD has all the tools necessary for a diagnosis, including 2D, MIP/MPR, 3D and interactive collaboration.

Alivecor

This medical app doubles as a portable heart monitor and runs on a patient’s smartphone to produce electrocardiograms. The monitor’s sensors use the patient’s finger to produce the EKG over the smartphone/tablet. Patients reap huge benefits from Alivecor, since it works to reassure them that their heart health is in order.

Image courtesy of Anusorn P Nachol / FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Image courtesy of Anusorn P Nachol / FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

brings together all of the viewing tools needed to make a diagnosis including 2D, MIP/MPR, 3D and interactive collaboration. – See more at: http://www.calgaryscientific.com/resolutionmd/mobile-resmd/#sthash.M1YdakyP.dpuf
brings together all of the viewing tools needed to make a diagnosis including 2D, MIP/MPR, 3D and interactive collaboration. – See more at: http://www.calgaryscientific.com/resolutionmd/mobile-resmd/#sthash.M1YdakyP.dpuf

Obama: Individuals May Keep Cancelled Insurance Policies for Now

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Obamacare established new standards for health insurance coverage in the U.S. As a result, millions of Americans were presented with policy cancellation notices, forcing many people to drop their current coverage and opt for a new health insurance plan. In order to help alleviate this troublesome situation, the president made an announcement yesterday that his administration would not enforce the Obamacare provisions that led to policy cancellations throughout the country.

Therefore, individuals who were in favor of their current coverage plans may be able to keep them for another year. However, once midterm elections are complete, plans that are not in accordance with the new healthcare law will get canceled again.

The new transitional policy introduced by the administration will enable people who were happy with their insurance to remain on their current plans, as long as their policies were effective on Oct. 1 of this year. Furthermore, another stipulation for this newly-enacted policy is that insurers provide free advertisements for their competitors on Obamacare’s online exchanges.

Aside from the 25 million Americans who opt for their own coverage through the individual market, several employees covered by employer-based insurance will also encounter cancellations. Currently, 156 million people obtain healthcare through their employers.

In addition to this particular provision, there are many other  aspects  of Obamacare that will not be enforced yet, such as postponing the employer mandate for a year. These and other unilateral actions are being announced by the White House, since the administration wants to avoid the potential for Congress to pass legislative amendments to the new healthcare law.

In order for this cancellation fix to actually work, insurers must find some way to rush their old products into the marketplace by January 2014. This will be extremely difficult for insurers to pull off. Since new reimbursement rates for 2014 would have to be negotiated with doctors and hospitals, insurers would have to submit these plans to state insurance regulators in order to obtain approval.

Despite the proposed cancelation fix, a new Gallup poll released this week revealed an increase in disapproval rates for the Affordable Care Act, rising from 47 percent to a high of 55 percent. Additionally, the president’s overall approval ratings have fallen between the high 30s and 40s.

Even with the change, the administration is leaving it up to each individual state to determine whether or not residents can keep coverage plans that are not in accordance with the new healthcare initiative. As a result, state insurance commissioners, along with other health policy experts, have established the fact that insurance plans will greatly vary across the country.

Long Shifts Impact Nurse Health and Lower Patient Satisfaction

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Working long hours at a hospital can have a negative impact on both patients and nurses. Aside from lowering patient satisfaction levels, prolonged hospital shifts can also take a toll on nurses’ overall health. In addition to these impacts, 12-hour nursing shifts increase the potential for medical mishaps, and are linked to higher burnout rates among nurses

In order to be productive and perform at their best, nurses must remain healthy and alert. However, nurses who work prolonged shifts often report that they feel fatigued, which ultimately results in patient dissatisfaction. Even though there are no policies in place regulating nurse shifts in the U.S., hospital scheduling software can help healthcare administrators avoid the negative effects of prolonged shifts on nurse health.

A recent study published by the British Medical Journal’s Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that nurses who work prolonged shifts are at a greater risk for developing breast cancer than their colleagues who take on shorter shifts. Additionally, according to Scrubs magazine, the correlation between prolonged hospital shifts and breast cancer is caused by disruptions to internal body mechanisms, which are responsible for maintaining a person’s health.

Aside from cancer risk, nurses who endure prolonged hospital shifts are also at risk for other types of diseases. According to Scrubs, many reports have found that healthcare employees who work night shifts or longer hours are at a higher risk for developing diabetes and prostate cancer. Other potential health issues reported included sleep deprivation, burnout and emotional fatigue.

Lastly, in a study conducted by MedScape, research revealed that longer shift lengths were directly linked to both patient and nurse dissatisfaction. Nurses who worked 10 or more hours were at a greater risk of being burned out and unhappy with their profession. Furthermore, nurses’ well-being was also correlated with patient experiences. The study showed that longer hospital shifts resulted in undesirable outcomes for both patients and nurses.

Can Obamacare Help Physician Shortages?

Friday, November 8th, 2013

As more Americans opt for health insurance under Obamacare, a scarcity in primary-care physicians may be prevalent. According to recent research, the new healthcare initiative introduces primary care models that may actually alleviate physician shortages. As a result, the shortage of physicians could be eliminated through the use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Recently, researchers at RAND Corporation said that by increasing the number of patient-centered medical homes and health centers managed by nurses, the number of shortages among primary-care physicians could drop by 50 percent or more in the U.S. by 2025. Many of the new primary care models enacted by the Affordable Care Act call for increased interactions between nurse practitioners, physician assistants and their patients, ensuring that they are taking medications regularly, eating well, and abiding by their doctor’s orders.

With the introduction of accountable care programs and organizations, hospitals and health systems are adding several new nurse practitioners to their staff in order to ensure efficient operations. While several health plans are linking to ACOs, these organizations are rewarding healthcare providers for working as a team to help manage costs and provide quality care. Additionally, by grouping all medical care providers together under a single entity, nurses and other caregivers are used to help control care for several patients.

As a result, if the ACOs obtain better results, providers within the organizations will divide up the profits saved with the health plans. Several private health insurance companies, including Aetna, Cigna, Wellpoint, UnitedHealth Group and Humana are connecting with ACOs and patient-centered medical homes. In addition to these efforts, many large drugstores across the country, including Walgreens and CVS, are connecting with medical care providers to help manage patient treatment plans with both nurse practitioners and pharmacists in their clinics.

Although Obamacare may help alleviate physician shortages, physicians must continue to manage their finances effectively in order to ensure the success of their practice. Physician factoring can be the key to increasing your cash flow. Thanks to same-day funding and immediate cash advances, physicians can easily take care of increased overhead costs resulting from the recession. Instead of waiting for payments from private insurers, doctors can accelerate their cash flow by taking advantage of physician factoring services. Learn more about medical factoring for private practice physicians by requesting a quote online today.

Hospitals Taking Steps to Avoid Patient Falls

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

For weak and elderly hospital patients, a fall while in the hospital can extend a hospital stay or, in some cases, cost a patient his life. Hospitals nationwide are responding to this glaring safety concern with a blended approach between technology and human care.

To reduce the number of falls, deemed “never events” (as in, they should never happen in the hospital), many hospitals are relying on high-pitched bed alarms to alert nursing staff when a patient is up from their bed. The alarms use weight-sensitive pads in a bed or chair that emit a noticeable alert when they detect a decrease in pressure.

A study led by Ron Shorr at the University of Florida late last year, however, demonstrates that reliance on bed alarms is simply not enough to reduce the number of falls in a hospital. In a blind comparison of 16 hospital units in which eight units used bed alarms and eight units relied on standard care, there was more than one fall fewer per 1,000 patients in the units relying on standard care procedures. The results are not significant enough to blame bed alarms for more falls, but do call into question the contention that they result in fewer falls.

Nurses cite understaffing as a larger concern that results in other hospital risks. They argue that there is no replacement for capable nurse care. After all, an alarm is only effective if there is a nurse to respond, and hospitals that have increased their staff and provided comprehensive safety training have drastically reduced the number of falls they experience without the added technology.

Nurse staffing agencies are uniquely poised to help hospitals add vital staff to their units, but many may find it difficult to thrive when waiting on extended payments. PRN Funding’s nurse staffing factoring program converts your open invoices to immediate cash that you can use to hire nurses, pay your expenses, and pursue lucrative new contracts with hospitals in need.

Learn more about nurse staffing factoring with PRN Funding, and contact us today to get started.

ACA Changes Mental Health Treatment

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Mental health is a critical but oft-ignored component of health care. Patients in need of mental health treatment face the double blow of social stigma and lack of insurance coverage, making effective treatment an unaffordable option. Provisions of the Affordable Care Act will make mental health treatment more accessible than before, with the potential to completely overhaul the current mental health system.

Insurers have traditionally excluded mental health coverage from their health plans, citing mental issues as a pre-existing condition. With costs as high as $150 or more for a single office visit – not counting costly prescription medication – many more patients are forced to go without care in lieu of paying those costs out of pocket.

The ACA, however, includes mental health in its list of ten Essential Health Benefits and will require insurers to offer coverage on par with other medical and surgical benefits. This will not only benefit millions of uninsured Americans with mental health concerns, but also the many insured Americans whose policies do not currently provide equal mental health coverage.

Mental health providers will face a number of challenges in January when the ACA is fully implemented. One major challenge, of course, is the ratio of available providers to the estimated number of newly enrolled patients they will see. A care gap may persist as providers scramble to provide services to as many as possible.

In addition, the inclusion of insurers as payers for mental health care adds a level of complexity to providing care that will drive many solo practitioners into group practices. Solo therapists who collect cash are able to charge higher fees and often save costs associated with billing software and office space, choosing instead to work out of their homes. However, accepting insurance will require them to get up to speed with medical billing and coding and to accept lower fees per session as part of their agreement with insurers.

A larger practice offers cost-sharing benefits in which many professionals can go in together for expensive software and real estate, though working with insurance companies can take away from the autonomy that many therapists currently enjoy. Another possibility, however, is joining a traditional medical practice to create an integrated approach to healthcare. Having a mental health professional in a group practice gives general health providers another diagnostic option that will allow them to provide better – and less costly – care.

Mental health providers considering a shift in their practice can ease the burden of insurance collections with medical receivables factoring. Factoring allows you to turn your claims into immediate cash that you can invest in the necessary software, real estate, and logistics to continue providing quality treatment to your patients. PRN Funding can get you started in a medical receivables factoring program that fits your needs – contact us today to learn more.

Enhanced by Zemanta