Letter from the Editor: Looking to the future

At Medical News Today, we pride ourselves on providing you with the latest news in medical research. This month, we’ve gone one step further, taking a deep dive into the future of health technology.

Last week, MNT attended the annual Future Healthcare 2019 Exhibition and Conference, which took place in London in the United Kingdom.

It was an intriguing, eye-opening conference, brimming with healthcare professionals and scientists from across the globe, brought together to talk about the latest technological innovations in healthcare.

One standout innovation for me was a technology called GripAble.

Full story at Medical News Today

Researchers at HSS Receive Grants to Study Bone Stress Injuries

Two research teams at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) have been awarded grants by the NBA and GE Healthcare Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Collaboration. This strategic partnership between NBA and GE Healthcare was launched to collaborate with leading clinical researchers to address the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries affecting NBA players and everyday athletes.

A team led by Brett Toresdahl, MD, primary care sports medicine physician at HSS, received a grant of nearly $300,000 that will go towards investigating the use of ultrasound imaging to monitor healing and guide readiness of return to play in athletes with bone stress injuries.

Full story at HSS.edu

Top SNF Therapy Provider Settles DOJ Lawsuit for $125 Million

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that the nation’s largest nursing home therapy provider has agreed to pay $125 million to settle a DOJ lawsuit that alleged the company engaged in a “systematic and broad-ranging scheme” to increase Medicare reimbursements by submitting false claims for rehabilitation therapy.

RehabCare Group Inc, RehabCare Group East Inc, and parent company Kindred Healthcare will pay out the money in response to allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by “providing unreasonable and unnecessary services to Medicare patients,” and that they “led … SNF [skilled nursing facility] customers to submit artificially and improperly inflated bills to Medicare that included those services,” according to a DOJ press release. RehabCare contracts with more than 1,000 SNFs in 44 states to provide rehabilitation therapy.

Full story of DOJ lawsuit at APTA

Survey: Your Boss Is Concerned About Your Retirement—To a Point

Health care employers understand the importance of offering a retirement plan to employees, and they may even be concerned that their employees are financially prepared to leave work, but taking steps to foster that kind of retirement readiness? That’s a trickier question.

Modern Healthcare survey of 523 health care executives looked at how health care employers think about retirement plans, and how they go about shaping them. The results show a strong sense of appreciation of a retirement plan as a benefit but more scattered views on whether the employer has a responsibility to do more than simply offer a plan.

When it comes to helping their employees reach retirement readiness—defined by most respondents as “when employees understand how their savings translate to income to support them through retirement”—the executives were sensitive to the role of the employer, with 87% responding that their organizations “feel responsible for helping employees become retirement ready.”

For more information on the healthcare survey, visit 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 

New CPG Requirements Will ‘Raise the Bar’ at Federal Clearinghouse

The federal government’s official clearinghouse for practice guidelines will adopt more stringent standards for acceptance in the coming months. The new standards, adopted from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), include requirements for content, authorship, methodology, format, accessibility, and currency.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) will implement the new standards beginning June 1. The changes result from a 2008 directive from the federal government for IOM to identify best practice for developing clinical practice guidelines (CPGs). A full report, titled Clinical Practice Guidelines we can trust is available at the IOM website.

Full story of the new CPG requirements at APTA

HIPAA Violation Leads To $4.1 Million Judgment Based On State Law

A protected health information (PHI) breach that violated HIPAA may now result in the same facility paying out an additional $4.1 million for violations of state privacy laws.

According to a recent article in Healthcare IT News, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has approved the class action settlement that asserts Stanford Hospital and Clinics violated California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. The settlement stems from a 2010 breach that involved the posting the PHI of nearly 20,000 patients to a student website. The information remained on the public website for almost 1 year, and contained patient names and diagnoses.

Full story of HIPAA and state law at APTA

APTA Contributes to FTC Discussion on Consumer Access

A March 20 and 21 meeting of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) examined activities and trends related to cost, quality, access, and care coordination that may affect competition in the US health care industry. APTA representatives attended the event and provided pre workshop comments that pressed for greater patient access to physical therapists (PTs), the elimination of physician self-referral, and expanded health care networks under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), among other issues.

The meeting, “Examining Healthcare Competition” was attended by APTA staff and included panel discussions and presentations on the professional regulation of health care providers, measuring the quality of health care, and the interplay between quality and price transparency, among other topics.

Full story of FTC discussions at APTA

Medicare Spending Differences Still a Mystery

Just about everyone knows that Medicare spending varies depending on geography. Just about no one knows why.

A recent Health Affairs Health Policy Brief reviewed current theories on why, for example, Medicare spent an average of $15,957 per beneficiary in Miami, Florida, and $6,569 per beneficiary in Grand Junction, Colorado, and found most explanations lacking. “Even after multiple factors are considered, some geographic differences remain unexplained,” the report states. In 2012, Medicare spent a national average of $9,503 per beneficiary.

Full story of medicare spending at APTA

Omron Healthcare Named a Strategic Business Partner

Omron Healthcare Inc, a manufacturer of personal wellness products, has been named a Strategic Business Partner of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

“We are pleased to welcome Omron Healthcare to APTA’s Strategic Business Partners family,” said APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS. “It is important to APTA to enhance our business relationships and develop meaningful partnerships with for-profit companies. We are pleased to offer services and marketing opportunities that provide mutual benefits to our partners and APTA.”

In our connected and digital world, consumers want to accurately monitor and track certain aspects of their day-to-day health on and offline. Omron products provide accurate health information that support positive lifestyle changes. The company’s personal wellness products can be used safely and accurately at home.

Full story on the new partner at APTA