In the News
Mainstream and online media are filled with provocative news articles and commentary on issues and trends affecting the quality of patient care. We gather some of the items we find most interesting and useful and link them here for your information. We don’t agree with all of the opinions expressed in these articles, but we do find that they contribute to a robust discussion. If you have items to recommend for this section, please email a link to firstname.lastname@example.org. If something you read here sparks an opinion from you, please share it at email@example.com.
Minnesota hospitals are testing ways to reduce return trips
New Medicare penalties spur effort to reduce costly readmissions. Minnesota hospitals have adapted new policies to help patients understand medication, care and prevent return trips. Read more here.
Minnesota No. 1 in medical care
The Agency for Research and Quality recently ranked Minnesota’s health care system best in the nation. Among the strengths are the places in which Minnesotans receive care. AHRQ underscores that we have some of the highest quality clinics, hospitals and nursing homes in the country.
Twin Cities hospitals, clinics see decline in operating income
According to data compiled by the St. Paul Pioneer Press (and published June 10, 2012), “Hospital and clinic systems based in the Twin Cities saw a decline in operating income and profit margins during 2011.” The article also cites an April report from Moody’s Investors Service saying, “Inpatient admissions were again flat in 2011, repeating trends seen in 2009 and 2010, and will continue to be a factor in our expectations for lower-than-average revenue growth.”
Where you live affects your health, says Commonwealth Fund
A scorecard on the performance of health systems around the country found that where you live affects the quality of health care you receive. Overall, Minnesota scores well. Four of the seven top-performing communities nationally are in Minnesota. St. Paul ranks first, followed by number three Rochester, Minneapolis at fourth and St. Cloud seventh.
Top job in the U.S.: Nursing
Even in a tough economy, nursing has flourished compared with most other occupations. Thanks in part to an aging population, job growth is expected to be much faster than the national average.
“Permanent Patients” are creating cost challenges for hospitals.
An NBC News investigation finds that patients who need long-term care can end up in hospitals rooms. “From 2005 to 2009, the last years for which data was available, uninsured hospital patients with no access to Medicare or Medicaid in need of long term care increased 20 percent,” according to the report.
Minnesota sees “significant” increase in uninsured children.
Georgetown University Health Policy Institute reported last year that Minnesota was one of only three states to see an increase in the number of uninsured children – and the only one of the three states in which the increase was “significant.”
Minnesota ranks 6th in state health.
America’s Health Rankings, which measures the relative health of populations in the 50 states, found that Minnesota ranks 6th. A concern is the gap between Minnesota’s rank in “outcomes” measures – factors indicating the current status of health – and “determinants” – an indication of our future health. The state ranks second on outcomes and seventh on determinants (http://tiny.cc/ja4new).
Accountable Care Organizations, medical homes starting to take root
The New York Times (reprinted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune) reports that by enrolling patients “patients with complex and expensive diseases in a program called a medical home, the system tries to ensure that doctors spend more time with patients and work more closely with parents to coordinate care. The program has cut emergency-room visits by slightly more than half.”
“The ACO concept is based on the idea that there are too many individuals involved in a patient’s care who often don’t consult with each other. Critics say this lack of communication leads to poorer patient care and higher costs due to medical errors, readmissions to hospitals, and duplication of tests.Accountable care organizations still are being defined,” according to a report in 2011 on Minnesota Public Radio.
A primer on Accountable Care Organizations.