The MedElite Group hosted its annual after-party following the 2023 eCap Summit on February 6th, in Miami, Florida. The eCap Summit is one of the leading healthcare conferences in the country, with this year’s event consisting of 1500 people, including some of the most influential owners and operators in the industry.
This year’s after-party featured a surprise special guest: former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal! O’Neal treated guests to a fireside chat and meet-and-greet, and we thank him for making the event one to remember.
Thank you to everyone for a memorable evening, and we are already looking forward to next year!
Interoperability remains the Holy Grail in healthcare, the goal to which all organizations aspire. The urgency to remove silos and improve communication between various systems and organizations is paramount, as it promises to lead to greater efficiency and improved outcomes while at the same time lowering costs – and not a moment too soon, given the fact that the world’s population is aging and there is a growing shortage of clinicians.
More and more, blockchain – a secure, decentralized digital ledger most often associated with cryptocurrency – is being viewed as a pathway toward achieving interoperability, or building bridges between “data islands” – i.e., the organizations and systems where patient data might be stored (but not shared).
That’s how they were described by Sriram Bharadwaj, vice president of digital innovation and applications at Franciscan Health, a Midwestern organization, on the website Health IT Analytics. More often labeled data silos, the frequent inability to share information between them leaves clinicians in a position where they do not always have a full picture of a patient’s medical history, and thus unable to provide the best care. Blockchain can address this issue, and help create unified patient records (UPRs).
Additionally, wider availability of information would go a long way toward compiling population health metrics, a crucial element in establishing health policy and programs.
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Healthcare-related jobs saw a boost in employment outlook last month thanks to a broad January hiring surge. The US reportedly added nearly double the amount of jobs expected in January across all sectors, which, according to Investopedia, pushed the collective unemployment rate to its lowest point in decades.
In healthcare, employment gains were among the highest for a specific sector, ranking alongside or just behind leisure and hospitality, government, and retail trade. The sector added nearly 58,000 jobs – with many openings occurring in doctors’ offices and outpatient facilities.
This optimistic news comes amidst the ongoing healthcare fallout resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to fuel widespread burnout, harm healthcare facility staffing, and ultimately stunt job growth rates from returning to pre-pandemic levels. However, the industry has remained resilient, ending 2022 with improved job growth.
With Q1 2023 already well underway, these recent findings stand to offer hope to a healthcare field that, in many ways, is finding its feet again en route to a brighter, more progressive future.
February is American Heart Month, an important time of year for people to take inventory of their cardiovascular health. Leading a healthy, active lifestyle and identifying key cardiovascular risk factors are key aspects of heart self-care. Here are five ways to boost your heart health this year and beyond:
There are countless benefits to establishing a healthier diet, and cardiovascular well-being is one of the most crucial. The US Department of Health and Human Services suggests eating less saturated fat, reducing sodium intake, consuming more fiber, and broadly committing to more heart-healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Whether it’s running, yoga, or something else, regular exercise is a great way to build and support good cardiovascular health. Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends taking part in aerobic exercise (walking, running, swimming), resistance training (weight lifting, body-resistance training), and flexibility work (stretching, balance improvement) as great avenues for boosting heart health.
When it comes to avoiding heart-related illness and trauma, prevention and foresight are crucial. This fact takes many forms – from knowing the signs of heart attack to pinpointing key risk factors and predispositions to certain diseases and conditions. Be sure to schedule annual visits with your doctor and pay attention to symptoms that may warrant further examination.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports that around 1 in every 5 deaths in the US is related to smoking – and heart disease is one of the most common forms of smoking-related death, as it significantly harms the heart and blood vessels over time. The path to quitting can be difficult, but such a commitment can yield countless health-related benefits ranging from disease prevention to improved circulation.
Today, there are countless reasons to feel stressed – from work to world events. While stress can seem innocuous to some, its potential health effects can burden many parts of the body and mind, including the cardiovascular system. Luckily, for as many stressors as there are in the world, there are almost just as many ways to combat those feelings. Broadly speaking, consider investing time in breathing and meditation practices, therapeutic healthcare options, and other lifestyle changes focused on eliminating anxiety triggers and bolstering personal interests and points of comfort.
Stemming the tide of avoidable transfers from nursing homes to hospitals is a significant challenge for the healthcare industry. There are questions about just how significant – one study said as many as half could be avoided, another 60 percent, another 70 percent – but suffice it to say that some measures are in order, given the threats to patients’ physical and psychological well-being such transfers represent.
It might be as complicated as improving the manner in which card studies (i.e., surveys about the manner in which any given patient receives care) are performed. Or it might be as simple as a text chain.
Both measures are in the works.
Click the link above to read her full piece.
In an attempt to streamline providers’ workflows, boost cost-effectiveness and improve patients’ care journey, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), introduced on Dec. 19 a rule proposal entitled “Adoption of Standards for Health Care Attachments Transactions and Electronic Signatures, and Modification to Referral Certification and Authorization Transaction Standard (CMS-0053-P).”
The rule, if finalized, would establish standards for electronic signatures used in transactions involving medical charts, X-rays and provider notes, according to a news release. It would also modify transactions consummated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), and according to an estimate by the CMS, save $454 million a year in administrative costs.
As CMS administrator Chiquita Brooks LaSure said in the release:
The proposed rule further aims to streamline the healthcare-claim process by “providing structured, standardized electronic data to payers.” Additionally, it “proposes to adopt a modification to the standard for the referral certification and authorization transaction, thereby reducing potential barriers to adopting value-based payments,” which, again, will reduce administrative costs and burdens on providers.
The issue of standardizing electronic transactions has been one that has been under consideration since HIPAA was enacted by Congress, in 1996 – specifically, another CMS release said, through a codicil that called for “Administrative Simplification.” And indeed, there were attempts, in 1998 and 2005, to standardize electronic signatures. In 1998, stakeholders did not believe such technology had reached maturity, and in 2005 they could not reach a consensus on how best to use that which was available.
The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, includes a requirement that the Secretary of Health & Human Services adopt standards for healthcare claim attachments.
The rule can be reviewed here, and according to the release, the CMS welcomes comments from all interested parties, particularly “patients and their families, providers, clinicians, consumer advocates, health plans, and health care professional associations.” The deadline for doing so is March 22, 2023.
The holidays are over; so now what? Everyone’s mood is bound to drop, just like the temperatures. The website Visitingangels.com asserted that seniors are especially susceptible to the winter blues, due to limited social contact, lack of sunlight and/or inactivity.
What starts as the blues could devolve into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), an affliction that impacts some 10 million American adults and is characterized by fatigue, lethargy, weight gain and irritability (among other symptoms), and can only be treated by a trained clinician.
So the question is, how can we help seniors through this difficult time? Here are some tips:
Natural light is often the tonic for the blues, for scientific reasons: Vitamin D helps improve one’s mood. As a result, we would do well to make sure seniors’ blinds are open during the day, to let in as much sunlight as possible. And it wouldn’t hurt to venture outside on occasion, though bundling up is crucial, given their susceptibility to the cold.
Exposure to Vitamin D, albeit that which can be consumed through one’s diet, was also the subject of a University of Georgia study cited by Visitingangels.com. The study drew a correlation between mental health and a deficiency of this vitamin, meaning seniors (and, well, everyone) would do well to load up on foods like eggs, seafood and the like.
Doesn’t mean they have to venture outdoors; that’s what treadmills are for. But it is crucial to move one’s bones. There is not only the physical benefit, but also the emotional one, courtesy of the endorphin release. Whether that’s through walking, biking, dancing or even gardening, it doesn’t matter. The net effect is the same
There is no shortage of ways to engage one’s creative side. Maybe it involves baking or photography. Maybe it involves knitting or scrapbooking or crafting. The point is, it activates the brain and relieves stress, including that which can result from the winter doldrums.
This is crucial not only in wintertime, but all the time. The deleterious effects of social isolation have been well-documented. And while it might be more difficult in the colder months, it is vital that we make sure seniors mingle.
All of us in the MedElite family wish one and all the happiest of holidays, and a health, prosperous New Year!
The issue of seniors and social isolation came into sharper focus during the pandemic, with nursing homes locked down and those 65 and older too often left to fend for themselves, without the crucial support of loved ones. Immediately there were reminders that isolation is on par with smoking as a risk factor for mortality, and that it has been shown to cause or exacerbate such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders and even cancer.
This will continue to be a concern going forward, given the aging U.S. population. The Census Bureau estimates that by 2030, 70 million Americans (or roughly two in 10) will be over the age of 65. Keeping them connected is a question of the personal and the technological, of maintaining one’s physical and mental health.
Click the link above to read her full piece.
Two of the loftier healthcare aims of President Joe Biden – one dating back to his days as vice president, the other stressed in his first State of the Union Address, in March 2022 – are, respectively, curtailing the cancer rate and addressing the mental health crisis in the U.S.
Both are part of The Calendar Year 2023 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Final Rule, which was announced on Nov. 1 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through its Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The rule, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023, will expand access to not only behavioral healthcare and cancer screening coverage but also dental care, while promoting innovation and coordinated care.
Medicare payments have been made under the PFS since 1992, and cover services rendered in various settings, including hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra reiterated in a news release the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to “expanding vital prevention and treatment services.”
“Providing whole-person support and services through Medicare,” he added, will improve health and well-being for millions of Americans and even save lives.”
While beginning the first of his two terms as vice president under Barack Obama in 2016, Biden launched the Cancer Moonshot, the aim of which was to “accelerate the rate of progress against cancer.” That announcement came the year after Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer at the age of 46.
Since becoming president in January 2021 Biden has set a new goal of cutting the cancer rate by at least half over the next 25 years.
“The experience of cancer – of getting a cancer diagnosis, surviving cancer, losing someone to cancer – has touched virtually every American family,” reads the copy on the White House page summarizing the Moonshot. “This is personal for the President and First Lady, like it is for so many of you.”
In his first State of the Union Address, he stressed that mental-health services should be accessible to all Americans, and his fiscal year budget for 2023 contained a provision doubling the funding for programs integrating physical and mental health.
The PFS final rule builds upon that, as it “ensures that the people we serve will experience coordinated care and that they have access to prevention and treatment services for substance use, mental health services, crisis intervention and pain care,” as CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in the aforementioned news release.
Winter preparedness is especially important for seniors, so healthcare providers would do well to encourage those age 65 and over to take the necessary steps to keep themselves safe over the coming months.
Those steps include the following:
While the pandemic has abated to some degree, it is still lingering. In early November 2022, for example, an average of 334 Americans were dying every day from COVID-19, and Dr. Ashish Jha, head of the White House Covid task force, has said that 70 percent of the deaths are among those 75 and older.
Small wonder that Jha told Yahoo Finance in October that getting the vaccine could be “the difference between life and death.”
Getting a flu shot is no less important. Dr. Leslie Kernisan, a geriatrician, cited CDC statistics showing that in an average year before the pandemic, influenza impacted between nine million and 45 million Americans, led to as many as 810,100 hospitalizations and resulted in between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths.
The bottom line: Seniors need their shots.
Falls are the leading cause of accidental death among seniors, and the danger obviously ramps up in the winter time, when outdoor areas can be snow-covered and/or icy and even indoor floors can wind up slippery, should someone walk in with wet footwear.
Caregivers and healthcare providers would do well to heed the advice offered on the website HealthinAging.org, which urges that the outdoor steps and walkways around seniors’ dwellings be cleared of snow and ice. Also, seniors should be made aware of the necessity of wearing footwear with non-skid soles, and replacing the tips of canes that might have been worn smooth.
The National Institutes of Health reports that we lose body heat faster as we age, and that that can lead to hypothermia, which in turn can result in issues impacting the heart, liver and kidneys.
It goes without saying, then, that it is best to urge seniors to stay indoors, but that doesn’t go quite far enough. They also need to make sure they are dressed warmly – in layers, preferably – and that they set the heat at 65 degrees or higher. The NIH took note of a Vermont man who had his thermostat at 62 and was saved only by the timely arrival of his son.
If seniors must venture out – and sometimes it’s just unavoidable, should they have an appointment, etc. – they should be urged to wear not only a hat, gloves and coat, but also a scarf to cover their nose and mouth.
There is nothing like cozying up to a fireplace in the wintertime, but the dangers of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning are very real.
As a result, seniors should be urged to make sure their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors have up-to-date batteries, and that their chimneys and flues are inspected each year. Also, a word about space heaters – they need to be at least three feet away from curtains, bedding and furniture, according to HealthinAging.org.
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