Hospital Medicare outpatients poorer and sicker

Medicare patients who receive care in a hospital outpatient department are likely to be poorer and have more severe chronic conditions than Medicare patients treated in an independent physician office, according to a study prepared for the American Hospital Association (AHA) by KNG Health Consulting LLC. It also examined the characteristics of Medicare cancer patients seen in hospital outpatient departments and independent physician offices and found similar results. “America’s hospitals and health systems are proud to provide care and emergency services 24/7 to all who come through the door regardless of their ability to pay,” says AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “But as this study clearly shows, the needs of the patients [that] hospital outpatient departments care for each day are different from those who choose to be seen at an independent physician office.”

CDC reports decline in hospital infections

Hospitals are showing progress in reducing health care-associated infections, including an 8 percent decline in Clostridium difficile infections; 7 percent declines in catheter-associated urinary tract, colon surgical-site and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections; and a 2 percent decline in ventilator-associated events in 2016, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Hospital Association and the CDC recently published a best practices guide on using the health care physical environment to prevent infections as part of a three-year CDC initiative to improve infection-prevention and control efforts in U.S. hospitals.

FDA announces actions for device cybersecurity

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a framework to help hospitals and other health care providers plan for and respond to cybersecurity incidents involving medical devices. Developed by Mitre Corp., the “playbook” includes such steps as developing a medical device inventory and conducting training exercises. The agency also announced two memoranda of understanding to create information-sharing analysis organizations, groups of experts that will gather, analyze and disseminate information about cyberthreats. “We believe this transparent sharing of information will help manufacturers address issues earlier and result in more protection for patients,” says FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

AHA comments on FCC telehealth proposal

The American Hospital Association (AHA) recently encouraged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide sufficient funding for health care providers (HCPs) to manage pilot projects under its proposed Connected Care program, and to make it easy for them to apply and measure success. It also urged the commission to allow all providers in areas of need to participate in the program, including for-profit providers and rural consortia, and low-income patients who are not Medicaid enrollees. “Lastly, equipment (including end-user devices) should be eligible for funding, with the understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all equipment solution for all HCPs,” the AHA stated. The comments were submitted in reply to initial comments on an FCC notice of inquiry regarding the proposed program. The AHA encouraged the commission to proceed to a notice of proposed rulemaking, calling the Connected Care Pilot Program “an important next step toward delivering affordable telehealth services to those Americans who need it the most.”