May 10, 2013
By Sarah Kitchell*
Edited by Amy Kaufman
Leapfrog Group's Safety Scores Show Plateau in Quality and Safety Improvement
Modern Healthcare (5/8) reported that the Leapfrog Group's recently issued hospital safety survey showed "little improvement" among hospitals over the last year, with "nearly three-quarters of hospitals maintain[ing] the same letter grade" they received in the last update of the survey. According to the article, 74% of hospitals received the same grade, and approximately 2% saw "big changes—up or down two or more grades" in safety scores. Leapfrog Group's leader said that this lack of improvement was concerning, noting that "hospitals still have a long way to go" in terms of quality and safety improvement. Leapfrog Group's survey pulls from publicly available data and from voluntary submissions by hospitals throughout the country. (Note: registration is required to access the full article.)
Enrollment in Advanced Nursing Degrees Increased Dramatically Over Last Five Years
FierceHealthcare.com (5/7) reported that, despite barriers that include long hours and childcare responsibilities, enrollments in advanced nursing degree programs have increased dramatically over the last five years. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported that "enrollment in master's programs has ballooned to 67 percent . . . and admission to practice-focused doctorates rose a whopping 955 percent." The article noted that the increase in enrollment "coincides with a nationwide push to hire nurses with advanced degrees" and cited several nursing programs that have reduced barriers to enrollment in such degree programs by offering online courses and reducing course hours required to graduate.
$68 Million in Funding for Comparative Effectiveness Research Infrastructure
Amednews.com (5/6) reported that the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an independent, nonprofit research organization created by the Affordable Care Act, announced $68 million in funding to "create a national, patient-centered data infrastructure" to "advance research comparing the effectiveness of different treatment options." This "network of networks" would promote sharing of clinical effectiveness data among researchers, healthcare providers, and patients. The article noted that letters of intent for applicants interested in the funding are due June 19, with final applications due in September.
Leaders Question Scientific Validity of Psychiatry's Diagnostic Manual
The New York Times (5/6) reported that Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and other leaders in psychiatry have increasingly questioned the scientific validity of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the "so-called bible of mental disorders." This criticism comes on the heels of the DSM-5, the "first major reissue since 1994." Dr. Insel and other experts hope to redirect research in the field away from describing mental illness through symptoms and focus instead on the biologic and genetic causes of the diseases. Dr. Insel urged researchers seeking funding from NIMH, and the reviewers who consider such applications, to "disregard [the DSM's] categories and investigate the biological underpinnings of disorders instead."
Reports: PCP Revenues to Hospitals Increase While Specialist Revenues Decrease
FierceHealthcare.com (5/9) reported that hospitals receive more revenue from primary care physicians (PCPs) than from specialists. The article cited a report from recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins that showed PCPs generate "$1.57 million versus $1.42 million" for specialists. Another article, published by Medical Economics, noted that over the past ten years, revenues from PCPs increased 23%, while revenues from specialists have fallen 10%. Additionally, the article noted that a full-time PCP "brings in $1.45 million in annual revenue to his or her affiliated hospital" through patient admissions and ancillaries. The article cited recent reforms and payment incentives as driving the need for PCPs and associated increases in compensation for PCPs.
*We would like to thank Sarah Kitchell, Esquire (McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Boston, MA), for providing this week's update. We would also like to thank Amy E. Kaufman, Esquire (Patton Boggs LLP, Washington, DC), for coordinating and editing the weekly update.