How Industry Spends $1 Billion a Year on Continuing Medical Ed.

From the Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

Drug and device companies, along with other industry players, spend about $1 billion a year to fund the continuing medical education classes doctors have to take to keep their licenses current. We may soon get more insight into how that money flows: A little-discussed provision in the House health care bill would require drug makers to disclose their spending on CME, the WSJ reports.

Sens. Herb Kohl and Chuck Grassley have been interested in this sort of thing for a while — and they’ve been the target of some critical blog posts by Tom Sullivan, the owner of a CME company called Rockpointe.


CMS paid out $92 million in PQRI incentives in 2008

From Modern Healthcare:

The CMS in 2008 paid more than $92 million in incentives to doctors under the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative compared with $36 million paid in 2007.

PQRI is a voluntary program that allows physicians and other eligible healthcare professionals to receive incentive payments for reporting data on quality measures related to services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries.

More than 162,800 professionals participated in the 2008 PQRI. Of those, the agency reported that more than 85,000 physicians and other eligible professionals successfully reported quality-related data, receiving incentive payments totaling more than $92 million—well above the $36 million paid in 2007.

Medpedia Expands System to Include Q&As, Alerts, Analysis of Medical News

From Medgadget:

Medpedia, an information source styled on Wikipedia but with authoritative authorship, has released new tools to help people sift through medical information and even get some questions answered by experts.

Secretary Vilsack Announces $35M for Telemedicine and Distance Learning in Rural Areas

From the USDA via AveraHealth/Twitter:

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Nov. 12, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that 111 projects in 35 states have been selected to receive more than $34.9 million in grants to increase educational opportunities and expand access to health care services in rural areas. The funding will be provided through USDA Rural Development’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.

EMS Volunteer Shortage

From the East Hampton Star:

Alone at home in Montauk on Oct. 22, Mary Stewart, a 90-year-old, felt weak and had mild chest pain, so she dialed 911. A dispatcher Durell Godfrey answered her call. Tones sounded over the emergency services radio frequency and then came an announcement: “Elderly female, weak, Stewart residence. . . . “ It was 1:34 p.m.

An East Hampton Town police officer was on the scene in five minutes, but no ambulance personnel responded.

The call was reactivated three times over nine minutes. Then the mutual aid system for the East End was activated, and Amagansett, the nearest neighboring district, was asked to help. When its volunteers did not reply, the call went out for a crew from Springs.

Next, at 1:51 p.m., came a call to East Hampton, then one to Bridgehampton, and then to Sag Harbor.

Twenty-four minutes after Mary Stewart had first called for help, at 1:58 p.m., Bridgehampton confirmed it had volunteers available. They reported to the firehouse near the Candy Kitchen, climbed into an ambulance, turned on its lights and siren, and sped toward Montauk.

Thirty-six minutes after Ms. Stewart’s call for help went out, the Bridgehampton ambulance passed Town Pond in East Hampton Village with another 16 miles yet to travel.

The Bridgehampton ambulance arrived at the house at 2:28 p.m., 54 minutes after the initial call. It left for Southampton Hospital at 2:40 p.m.

AHA report disputes geographic healthcare spending theory

From Modern Healthcare:

The American Hospital Association issued a report challenging the notion that regional variations in healthcare spending are a roadmap to controlling costs.

Officials in the Obama administration and some lawmakers have pointed to places such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, where health outcomes are among the best, yet Medicare spends much less than it spends in many other parts of the country.

The AHA report—called “Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending: A Closer Look—asserts that the most relied upon source for regional spending data, the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, fails to reflect that a “complex interplay of variables influences an area’s level of spending” and that “policy proposals that fail to account for these complexities could create unintended consequences for providers and communities.”

An apology gone wrong?

From the somewhat sensationalist CNN Empowered Patient series:

After the scan, the nurse led Higuera back to a room to wait for the doctor.

“I was so scared. I told my husband, I’m sure I’ve had a miscarriage. I’m sure the doctor is going to come and tell us we lost the baby,” she says.

But that wasn’t what happened at all.

After about half an hour, Higuera says the emergency room physician, two radiologists and a representative from the hospital’s human resources department came into her room.
But then they told the Higueras there was something else they needed to know. “They said, ‘We made a mistake; we did something we shouldn’t have done,’ and I was like, ‘What do you mean?'” Higuera remembers. “They said ‘There’s another patient here named Kerry, and you two are the same age. We mixed you up. She was supposed to have the CT scan, not you.’ “