Researchers: A City’s ‘Stress Level’ Could Affect Local Hospital Ratings

Could it be that when it comes to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s (CMS) star rating system, no hospital is an island? Some researchers are wondering just that, after finding a high correlation between a city’s level of “stress” among residents and lower overall ratings for local hospitals.

The report, published as a research letter in the November 28 edition of JAMA Internal Medicine (abstract only available for free), compares CMS hospital ratings with the results of arecent study that compiled demographic, health, and financial data on residents of 150 cities across the US. The CMS star system, posted at its Hospital Compare website, bases its ratings on factors such as readmission rates, surgical mortality, and hospital-acquired infection. The stress study, sponsored by WalletHub, looked at 5 categories of stress: work, money, family, health/safety, and coping mechanisms. Using data that touched on a range of issues including, among others, poverty levels, divorce rates, suicide rates, average hours of sleep per night, binge drinking, and number of psychologists per capita, WalletHub researchers assigned an overall “stress level” score to each city.

Full story of a city’s stress level and local hospital ratings at APTA

Trump Taps Price for HHS, Verma for CMS

President-elect Donald Trump has announced his hoped-for changes to leadership of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), with Georgia Rep Tom Price (R-6th) to be nominated for HHS secretary, and Seema Verma, CEO of the Strategic Health Policy Solutions (SVC) consulting group, tapped to serve as CMS director.

Price joined Congress in 2004, where he now serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee, and is a member of the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. Trained as an orthopedic surgeon, Price worked in private practice for nearly 20 years.

Full story of Trump choosing Tom Price for HHS at APTA

USBJI Young Investigators Program Accepting Applications for 2017 Program

Physical therapist investigators have an opportunity to receive guidance in getting their research funded and “other survival skills required for pursuing an academic career” through a program that connects them with experienced researcher-mentors.

The United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI) and Bone and Joint Canada are now accepting applications for the Young Investigator Initiative, a career development and grant mentoring program. Investigators chosen for the program will attend 2 workshops 12-18 months apart and work with faculty between workshops to develop grant applications.

Full story of the Young Investigator Initiative and USBJI at APTA

From Move Forward Radio: A Journey Out of Pain and Away From Painkillers, Thanks to Physical Therapy

Morgan Hay had been down with the flu for about a week and was starting to get bored. So she turned on a horror movie to break up the monotony. It worked: not long into the movie, she jumped off the couch and attempted to run upstairs, away from all the scariness, only to slam her right big toe into a stair. The resultant pain was intense.

That’s when she entered what turned out to be a real-life nightmare that took her from specialist to specialist, and subjected her to multiple painkillers that made her feel “like a zombie.” The pain was so overwhelming that it caused her to lose consciousness nearly 2 months after the initial injury.

Full story on the journey away from pain with PT at APTA

From PTJ: Selecting the Right SCI Outcome Measure Sometimes a Matter of Clinical Judgment

A new report on outcome measure (OM) recommendations for treatment of people with spinal cord injury (SCI) finds that, yes, there are strong tests and measures for this population, but physical therapists (PTs) still need to rely on their clinical judgment when the measures are weak on evidence.

Appearing in the November 2016 issue of Physical Therapy (PTJ), APTA’s scientific journal, the report comes from the Spinal Cord Injury EDGE (Evaluation Database to Guide Effectiveness) Task Force led by the APTA Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy. In addition to the recommendations, the task force’s efforts illuminated areas of strength and weakness in outcomes tools for specific areas.

Full story of the right outcome measure for treatment with SCI at APTA

Study: EHR Interoperability Necessary for Evaluating Quality Improvement

Electronic health records (EHRs) are effective for improving patient care and clinical decision making, and the transition to value-based care and the increasing focus on population health also makes them a promising tool for comparing quality data across the board. But with so many different EHR vendors out there, increased standardization is essential, according to a new study from the Netherlands published in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making.

In the study, authors examined whether data extracted from EHRs was as complete and correct as data from 5,960 physical therapist (PT) surveys describing patient cases for calculating quality indicators. There were 160,000 patient cases in the survey and 90,000 from EHRs.

After identifying 8 quality indicators based on current practice guidelines, authors found that 3 could not be extracted from the EHRs at all, and another could not be compared with the survey data due to errors in the extraction software. Of the remaining 4, EHR data turned out to be both more complete for 3, and more correct for all 4, than survey data.

Full story of electronic health records on improving care at APTA

Quick Guide and Call-In Q&A Are Latest New Resources to Prepare for Payment in 2017

A new guide to using the 3 new tiered evaluation codes that come into play January 1, 2017, gives APTA members a quick graphical explanation of the criteria for determining when an evaluation is considered “low,” “moderate,” or “high” complexity. Developed by APTA, the guide is available as a 2-page printable PDF download and, as a bonus, is being included as a printed pocket-sized guide in members’ December 2016-January 2017 issues of PT in Motion magazine.

The quick guide joins other APTA resources that can help members become familiar with the codes, which were included in the final 2017 Medicare physician fee schedule.

Full story of latest resources to prepare for payment in 2017 at APTA

The Good Stuff: Members and the Profession in Local News, November, 2016

“The Good Stuff,” is an occasional series that highlights recent, mostly local media coverage of physical therapy and APTA members, with an emphasis on good news and stories of how individual PTs and PTAs are transforming health care and society every day. Enjoy!

“It’s more than a miracle, I got my husband back, my kids got their dad back. These folks here are more than just miracle workers—they’re now part of our family.” – Deanna Messinger, wife of Mark Messinger, on the physical therapy team that helped her husband recover from injuries sustained from a falling tree.

Full story of news in the PT profession at APTA

Parkinson’s disease patients benefit from physical activity

A comprehensive review published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease confirms that people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) can benefit from being physically active, especially when it comes to improving gait and balance, and reducing risks of falls. It concludes that health professionals should be confident about prescribing physical activity to improve the health and quality of life of PD patients.

“Exercise should be a life-long commitment to avoid physical and cognitive decline, and our research shows that this is also true for individuals with PD,” explained Christian Duval, PhD, Professor, Département des sciences de l’activité physique, Université du Québec á Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada. Despite the progressive nature of the disease, people living with PD can expect to improve their physical condition by being more physically active.

Full story of physical activity and Parkinson’s disease at Science Daily

ACOs Beginning to Take Creative Steps to Address Nonmedical Needs – But Can Those Steps Be Expanded?

Some accountable care organizations (ACOs) are well aware of the ways that nonmedical needs in patients—like housing, transportation, and food insecurity—can impact health outcomes, and are attempting to do something about it. But according to results of a new qualitative study, those sometimes-creative efforts to address the needs through ACOs are in their early stages, and are already meeting some significant challenges.

In a study published in Health Affairs, researchers reported on the results of telephone interviews with 58 leaders from 32 ACOs, as well as the findings from 3-day site visits of 3 ACOs. They found that while 16 of the 32 ACOs surveyed were addressing patients’ nonmedical needs, the ways those needs were addressed varied in how the care was integrated and the nature of the care itself.

Full story of ACOs addressing non-medical needs at APTA