Tablets: The Future of Care Coordination in Home Health?

It may not be a 1-size-fits-all solution, but least 1 fairly large home health care agency thinks it may have hit upon the technology that can best coordinate care, reduce costs, and minimize privacy concerns: the 7-inch mobile tablet.

A recently published case study from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHiME) tells the story of Sutter Health at Home, a division of Northern California-based Sutter Health. With a program that employs about 1,300 caregivers who make home visits to nearly 100,000 patients across 23 counties, Sutter was on the lookout for technologies that could improve coordination of care and reduce costs.

Full story of home health care at APTA

US Diabetes Rates Double in 20 Years, Diagnosis Rates Improve

The “staggering” increase in obesity rates among Americans is the most likely reason behind a near-doubling in the prevalence of diabetes over the past 20 years, according to a new study, which also found “striking differences” in diabetes rates among minorities. On average, about 10% of the adult US population now suffers from the disease—up from 5.5% in 1994.

The findings, which appear in the April 15 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, point to general improvements in diagnosis rates, with the rate of undiagnosed diabetes estimated at about 11% of total confirmed cases. The study also reports that prevalence of treatment is also more widespread.

Full story of diabetes diagnosis rates improving at APTA

Professionalism Across Disciplines Subject of Panel Discussion

What is professionalism, exactly? Part of a person’s character? A set of learned behaviors? In a health care environment that demands increased levels of interprofessional collaboration, how important is it that individual providers understand professionalism across disciplines?

APTA recently hosted a roundtable via Google+ Hangouts event that brought together representatives from physical therapy, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, and osteopathic medicine to talk about professionalism—what it is, how it’s incorporated into education programs, and the importance of understanding how professionalism is manifested in other health care professions. A recording of the session is free to view on the APTA Inter-professional Education and Collaborative Practice Resources webpage.

Full story of professionalism panel discussion at APTA 

Study: Rethink Benefits of Antihypertensive Meds vs Risk of Serious Falls

For adults over 70, could the risk of falls due to the effects of antihypertensive medications outweigh the risks of not taking those medications? According to a recent study of nearly 5,000 community-living adults over 70 with hypertension, it’s a valid question that should be asked at the individual level.

In an article e-published ahead of print (abstract only available for free) in the February 24 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers led by Mary Tinetti, MD,concluded that “antihypertensive medications were associated with an increased risk of serious fall injuries,” with those taking antihypertensive medications who have already experienced a fall more than twice as likely to experience a subsequent serious fall than those who are not taking the drugs.

Full story of meds vs falls at PTA

New Standards for Residency and Fellowship Program Accreditation Announced

Physical therapist (PT) residency and fellowship education programs enrolling their first participants after December 31 will be required to follow new standards for American Board for Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABTRFE) accreditation.

The new procedures include applying for and obtaining recognition as a developing program followed by applying for and obtaining candidate status.

Full story of ABTRFE accreditation at APTA

’2 Midnights’ Rule Subject of Lawsuit

The enforcement delay for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) “2 midnights” rule has apparently left an opening for a legal attack. This week, the American Hospital Association (AHA) announced that it has filed 2 lawsuits against the US Department of Health and Human Services challenging the rule as “wholly arbitrary,” according to an AHA press release.

Intended to reduce costly admissions in cases better suited to outpatient treatment, the rule stipulates that auditors can presume that an admission is reasonable and necessary if the patient spent at least 2 days as an inpatient, defined as spending 2 midnights in a hospital bed. AHA and some physician organizations view the rule as a usurpation of medical judgment by CMS.

Full story on 2 midnights rule at APTA

AMA: Massive CMS Data Release Could Be Misleading

With the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) release of provider payment data now 3 days old, media attention is turning to discussions of what the data really means, and the American Medical Association (AMA) is facilitating the discussions by way of media guidelines and a webpage that explains how the data could be easily misinterpreted.

On its “9 ways CMS claims data could mislead patients, reporters” page, AMA walks readers through issues of accuracy and context that should be considered before drawing conclusions from the massive amounts of data on payments to over 880,000 health care providers. AMA was opposed to the data release.

Full story of the massive CMS data release at APTA

Foundation Ready to Move Ahead on ‘Groundbreaking’ Center of Excellence Project

A groundbreaking plan to jumpstart physical therapist research in health services and health policy is about to take a big step toward becoming a reality. The Foundation for Physical Therapy has announced that is has released its request for applications for a $2.5 million grant to create a “Center of Excellence” (COE) that would serve as a one-of-a-kind center focused on providing physical therapists with the training they need to expand the profession’s research portfolio into underrepresented areas.

The 5-year grant will be awarded to an institution or health systems network to create and oversee the Center of Excellence in Physical Therapy Health Services and Health Policy Research and Training, whose goal is to “develop sustainable research infrastructure and centralized resources to enhance interdisciplinary health services/health policy research by physical therapist scientists,” according to the request document.

Full story of the center of excellence program at APTA

Health Indicators Report Cites Improvement in Physical Activity, Stalled Obesity Rates

According to a recent federal report on the health of Americans, the US is making steady gains in the number of adults who meet guidelines for physical activity, but obesity rates haven’t changed much for any population age group—including children.

The latest findings are included in a progress report on 26 leading health indicators (LHIs) tracked by Healthy People 2020, a federal program that monitors a long list of health objectives. The report compares current LHIs against a baseline as well as goals for the campaign. In the case of adults meeting aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening guidelines, the report shows a 2012 rate of 20.6%–up from the 2008 baseline of 18.2% and slightly above the goal of 20.1%.

Full story of US improving obesity rates at APTA

New Review Says Virtual Reality, Gaming for Individuals Poststroke Provide ‘Moderate Advantage’ Over Conventional Therapy

In a study they describe as the first to incorporate analyses of International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Heath (ICF) data, researchers make a cautious assertion that for individuals poststroke, the use of virtual reality—including commercially available video game systems—produces “a significant moderate advantage” in ICF outcomes compared with conventional therapies.

The findings were the result of an analysis of 26 randomized controlled trials that focused on the use of virtual reality (VR) to augment or replace conventional therapy in populations largely or solely comprising individuals poststroke. Of the studies analyzed, 4 focused on the use of commercially available gaming platforms such as the Nintendo Wii, while the rest used more specialized virtual environment (VE) equipment designed for rehabilitation. The study was published in the March 28, 2014, edition of PLoS ONE.

Full story of virtual reality gaming for stroke patients at APTA