Research

A Need for Medicare Appeals Process Reform in Hospital Observation Care

by Ann Sheehy, MD, MS, FHM
By Ann M. Sheehy, MD, MS, FHM Concern has existed regarding Recovery Auditor enforcement of outpatient (observation) and inpatient status determinations. Scrutiny of the contingency fee-based Recovery Auditors, often called Recovery Audit Contractors (“RACs”), has prompted Congressional attention and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reforms. Although the impact of these changes is not fully known, there is bipartisan support for reform of the initial auditing step in the Medicare audit and appeals process. Congress and CMS must now turn their attention to reforming the 5-Level Medicare administrative appeals process that follows an initial audit and denial. Last year, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report Medicare Fee-for-Service: Opportunities Remain to Improve Appeals Process cited a 2000% increase in Level 3 inpatient appeals from 2010-2014. In response, CMS issued appeals reforms, including allowing senior attorneys to hear some Level 3 appeals and permitting the Medicare Appeals Council to set…
Ann Sheehy, MD, MS, FHM, is a physician and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Medicine and Public Health. She received her MD and MS in Clinical Research from Mayo Medical School and Mayo Graduate School, respectively, in Rochester, Minnesota. She completed her residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland in 2005. The same year, Dr. Sheehy joined the Division of Hospital Medicine as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. In 2011, she became a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine. Dr. Sheehy held the position of Interim Director, prior to being appointed Division of Hospital Medicine Director in 2012. Dr. Sheehy has a background in academic medicine, with emphasis on diabetes screening practices and care of inpatients with hyperglycemia, as well as health care disparities and the effect of health care policy on patient care in the hospital. Dr. Sheehy is a member of the Society of Hospital Medicine Public Policy committee, and serves as Vice President of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) Medical Board and is chair of the Credentials Committee. Dr. Sheehy is a two-time recipient of the Evans-Glassroth Department of Medicine Inpatient Teacher of the Year Award and has also been awarded the University of Wisconsin Internal Medicine Residency Professionalism Award. Dr. Sheehy is an active SHM member in the Public Policy Committee and has found herself on Capitol Hill multiple times, testifying before Congressional committees focused on the U.S. healthcare system, on behalf of hospitalists and SHM.

A GIF Is Worth 3000 Words: Introducing #VisualAbstract for #JHMChat

by Charlie M. Wray, DO, MS
If you’re like most hospitalists, your day usually starts around dawn (or dusk, for our nocturnal colleagues). After arriving at the hospital and quickly receiving sign out on your patients, you down the last bit of coffee and rush off to spend a morning on the wards. As you’re getting into a rhythm, the charge nurse on 3C grabs you as you walk by and lets you know that Mr. Sanchez’s son arrived and would like an update. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP: “Mrs. Jones wants to know when she can eat.” Just as you head her way, the cardiology fellow sees you and wants to discuss the follow-up plan on Mr. Aldridge… By 3PM, you’ve grabbed a quick bite to eat, and you’re likely leading the Patient Safety Committee meeting (while still fielding intermittent pages, of course). By early evening, you’re placing a few last minute orders and putting out small…
Charlie M. Wray, DO, MS is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. He completed medical school at Western University – College of Osteopathic Medicine, residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and a Hospital Medicine Research Fellowship at The University of Chicago. Dr. Wray’s research interests are focused on inpatient care transitions, care fragmentation in the hospital setting, and overutilization of hospital resources. Additionally, he has strong interests in medical education, with specific focus in evidence-based medicine, the implementation of value-based care, and how learners negotiate medical uncertainty. Dr. Wray can often be found tweeting under @WrayCharles.

US Versus Foreign Trained Docs: Who Saves More Lives?

Yeah, I know the headline drew you in.  I sleuthed ya---but I have a reason. A study out in BMJ today, and its timing is uncanny given the immigration ban we are now experiencing. First, to declare my priors. I will take an IMG to work by my side any day of the week.  You need to be twice as smart, motivated, and industrious to make your way to American shores. The paper:   The researchers analyzed data on 1.2 million hospital admissions of Medicare patients aged 65 and over between 2011 and 2014 and for 44,227 internists. The average age of patients was 80, and the most common causes of death were sepsis, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The difference in results was slight, but I post the tables if only to show, at least based on this sample set, at worst, IMGs are equal to, and best,…

Do Clinicians Understand Quality Metric Data?

The number and complexity of quality metrics within healthcare continues to expand, many of which are used to compare performance between hospitals, systems, and/or clinicians. To make these comparisons fair, many quality reporting agencies attempt to “risk stratify” these metrics, so as not to penalize those caring for higher complexity patients. Although laudable, these attempts also increase the complexity of the data and may reduce the ability of clinicians to understand and analyze quality performance. A recent article in the Journal of Hospital Medicine explores clinicians’ understanding of quality metrics using central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) as an example. The investigators used a unique Twitter-based survey to explore clinicians’ interpretation of basic concepts in public-reported CLABSI rates and ratios. I recently caught up with the lead author, Dr. Sushant Govindan, to better understand his team’s research and its implications for quality reporting. Dr. Govindan is a Pulmonary-Critical Care fellow…

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

OK; that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But if you left your clinical shift asking why you feel so depleted and frustrated and why you had that negative interaction with that patient, you should do yourself a favor and read the recent review in the Journal of Hospital Medicine entitled "When Personality Is the Problem: Managing Patients with Difficult Personalities on the Acute Care Unit". In this article, it notes that about 4-15% of the population is affected by at least one personality disorder and that this prevalence is thought to be much higher in those seeking healthcare services – perhaps as high as 25% of the population. This is thought to be due to in part to lifestyle factors, such as drinking and drug use, as well as the fact that individuals who possess these dysfunctional personality structures may have difficulty accessing and utilizing care adequately. These…