The current issue of AAMC News and Leadership Announcements is now available:
An article in Wednesday’s issue of the New York Times reported, “With growing pressure to reach an agreement on deficit reduction by the end of the year, some consensus is building around the idea that the largest Medicare savings should come from hospitals and other institutional providers of care.” The article also reported, however, that hospital executives contend “that they have already agreed to $155 billion in cuts over a decade as part of the Affordable Care Act and they face billions more in additional cuts as part of the current negotiations. They argue that such large cuts to hospitals will ultimately affect beneficiaries. ‘There is no such thing as a cut to a provider that isn’t a cut to a beneficiary,’ said Dr. Steven M. Safyer, the chief executive of Montefiore Medical Center…” The article also noted, “Urban teaching hospitals, which are already receiving some reduced payments for treating poor people under the federal health care law, say they, too, will have difficulty managing if there are significant cuts to medical education programs to train physicians and to the higher payments they get for outpatient care.”
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) on Tuesday announced that it has approved 25 awards, totaling $40.7 million over three years, to fund patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research projects under the first four areas of its National Priorities for Research and its Research Agenda. The awards were part of PCORI’s first cycle of primary research funding and were selected from among nearly 500 completed applications submitted earlier this year.
The Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday reported, “Findings against the clinical laboratory at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center are so airtight that an administrative judge should uphold the sanctions without first holding a hearing, the federal government argues in a new case document. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services levied the sanctions this past summer after the lab sent six proficiency-test samples – meant for quality control, not patient diagnosis – to the Mayo Clinic and another OSU lab for testing. Federal law forbids sending out samples such as those.” The article further reported, “The penalties, which are on hold during the hospital system’s appeal to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Departmental Appeals Board, could cost the lab millions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, as well as its certification. Losing its certification could force central Ohio’s only fully automated hospital lab to close, though OSU officials say they are dedicated to maintaining uninterrupted service for patients.” The article notes, “Of the 9.1 million patient tests performed by the OSU medical laboratory network in 2011, 7.24 million were performed at the lab in question.”
Inside Higher Ed reported on Tuesday, “The first class of nine students graduated Saturday from the University of Queensland School of Medicine’s unique partnership program with Ochsner Health System, in New Orleans. In total, 171 students have enrolled in the transnational program since it launched in January 2009 with the stated goal of producing more physicians for the United States. Students must hold U.S. citizenship or permanent residence in order to enroll in the Queensland-Ochsner program, which entails two years of basic sciences in Brisbane, two years of clinical training in New Orleans, and culminates in the awarding of a bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery, the Australian equivalent to an M.D. Queensland also sends its ‘traditional’ medical students to its clinical school at Ochsner for up to three clinical rotations, or six months. So far, 254 traditional Queensland students have rotated through Louisiana in the course of their degrees.”
Health care consumers considering a physician at University of Utah Health Care now have an additional tool – online access to the system’s patient satisfaction scores and comments. The rankings are based on more than 40,000 patient surveys and evaluate physicians on nine questions. To the system administrators’ knowledge, they are the only system in the country posting individual physician ratings. Patient comments are reviewed before being posted and only edited to remove information that might identify a patient or be considered libelous or slanderous. So far, 99.5 percent of all physician comments received have been posted unedited.
The National Quality Forum Board of Directors has named Dr. Christine K. Cassel as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Cassel will begin her position at NQF effective mid-summer 2013. Dr. Cassel announced in April this year she was leaving her position as the President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the ABIM Foundation after ten years of service. She also formerly served as Dean of the School of Medicine and Vice President for Medical Affairs at Oregon Health and Science University, Chair of the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Chief of General Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago. She is board certified in internal medicine and geriatric medicine. She succeeds Dr. Janet Corrigan who stepped down earlier this year.
An external review of the University of Minnesota’s Academic Health Center (AHC) was released on Monday. The AHC has six schools, the largest being the medical school. According to the paper, “A ‘malaise’ has infected the University of Minnesota’s medical school, a special panel appointed by [University] President Eric Kaler has found. Its prescription? Pick an organizational structure, then quit fretting over it. Inspire faculty with clear goals. Seize the ‘golden opportunity’ of the new Biomedical Discovery District… ‘The review does not provide a road map, but rather a calibration,’ Kaler said in an e-mail to faculty. In a written response to the report, Kaler announced that a faculty-led group would fashion a strategic plan by next summer. He also said he would stick with the school’s current leadership structure, in which the dean of the medical school also acts as vice president of health sciences.”
A new Second Opinion podcast series from the AAMC explains how Medicare payments to teaching hospitals help support these institutions’ efforts to provide life-saving services and physician training programs. Narrated by Chief Public Policy Officer Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D., the first three installments describe the differences between direct graduate medical education and indirect medical education funding, the danger of cuts to GME funding, and the important services and programs provided by hospital outpatient departments. Future podcasts will explore other policy issues important to medical schools and teaching hospitals.
An article in Tuesday’s New York Times discussed the recommendations of the NIH Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce and NIH’s initiatives related to the panel’s recommendations, which are drawing strong support.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Wednesday featured a lead investigative report that asserts, “Doctors with financial ties to drug companies have heavily influenced treatment guidelines recommending the most lucrative drugs in American medicine, an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today has found.” According to the report, “The Journal Sentinel examined 20 clinical practice guidelines for conditions treated by the 25 top-selling drugs in the United States…An analysis of the guideline panels, which involved 293 doctors, found: Nine guidelines were written by panels where more than 80% of doctors had financial ties to drug companies. Four panels did not require members to disclose any conflicts of interest. Of the 16 that did, 66% of doctors on the panels had ties to drug companies.”
The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) has released its annual U.S. and Canadian Licensing Activity Surveys, covering fiscal year 2011. AUTM reports, “In the case of product sales, 58 institutions (31 percent of the 186 respondents) reported that 2,821 of their licenses paid $662 million in running royalties based on $37 billion in product sales, implying an average royalty rate of 1.8 percent. Only 65 of these licenses yielded more than $1 million in royalty income. Total income for all U.S. institutions from running royalties was $1.5 billion…” AUTM further reported, “In the case of startups, 66 institutions (35 percent of the 186 respondents) reported employment of 24,653 by 1,731 operational startups, an average of 14 employees per startup.”
The Salt Lake City Tribune reported on Monday, “The board of trustees for the Roseman University of Health Sciences, which has campuses in Nevada and Utah, voted Friday to begin the process of opening a college of medicine in Henderson, Nev.”
Forbes has posted a listing of “30 Under 30” in 15 different fields, including health and research. The individuals are “bright stars” and “young disruptors, innovators and entrepreneurs.” Many are associated with medical schools.
The application deadline for the Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering program (ELATE) – modeled after ELAM but tailored to women in the STEM fields, is rapidly approaching. The application deadline for the ELATE program is January 3, 2013.
The AAMC Integrating Quality Meeting will be held June 6-7, 2013 at the Intercontinental Chicago O’Hare Hotel. The meeting is a highly interactive, interprofessional program that brings together health care leaders, faculty, educators, trainees and students from teaching hospitals, medical schools, health professions schools, and other health care organizations to share strategies for enhancing the culture of quality in clinical care and health professions education. Teams that lead these efforts are encouraged to attend together. The meeting organizers are seeking proposals for poster presentations, interactive workshops/sessions, and plenary presentations in the selected areas. The deadline for submitting an abstract is Friday, January 18, 2013. Registration will be available online in March.
The San Antonio Express News on Sunday reported that the University of the Incarnate Word has created a task force to study whether to open a medical school. According to the article, “The UIW board of trustees will hear the task force’s findings in March and vote on whether to move forward” according to the University’s president. The article further reports, “In the past eight years, UIW has created new schools of pharmacy, optometry and physical therapy. It has long had a nursing school and also has programs in nutrition and health administration.”
Bob Temple, M.D., Deputy Director for Clinical Science at the Food and Drug Administration, has posted an essay on the Agency’s new draft guidance “that spells out how drug developers can use such strategies, known as clinical trial enrichment, to greatly increase the likelihood that data collected during a clinical trial will demonstrate that an effective drug is effective.” Dr. Temple reports, “These are potentially powerful strategies for the pharmaceutical industry because appropriate use of enrichment could result in smaller studies, shortened drug development times, and lower development costs.”
The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported on the growing number of health systems forming their own insurance plans. According to the article, Piedmont Healthcare and WellStar Health System “are set to announce a jointly owned insurance arm, with the goal of marketing coverage to employers and Medicare recipients in 2014. They also will consider selling coverage on a health exchange, one of the online insurance marketplaces required in each state by the health-overhaul law.” UPMC and Intermountain have had long-established plans. Sutter Health, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, and MedStar have recently announced plans to create insurance plans. (Subscription may be necessary.) http://tinyurl.com/cd3yj4f <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/19029702:21456662070:m:1:1612442508:214B27987A1A1FF452F666BD62E9AD52:r>
Ronald L. Gross, M.D., a 1982 graduate of the West Virginia University School of Medicine, has been appointed chair of the School’s Department of Ophthalmology and director of the WVU Eye Institute. Dr. Gross has been on the faculty of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, since 1987, and holds the Clifton R. McMichael Chair in Ophthalmology there. He will join WVU in the first half of 2013.
Paul Rothman, M.D., Dean of the Medical Faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, has announced that Landon S. King, M.D., has agreed to assume additional duties as the School of Medicine’s executive vice dean. Dr. King is currently the David Marine Professor of Medicine and Biological Chemistry, director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and vice dean for research. According to Dr. Rothman, “As executive vice dean, Landon will assist me in overseeing operations and program development in the School of Medicine.”
Congress on Tuesday passed legislation granting Sopuruchi (Victor) Chukwueke permanent resident status. The private bill now heads to President Obama who is expected to sign it into law. The bill will allow Mr. Chukwueke to attend the University of Toledo School of Medicine, where he has been admitted pending resolution of his immigration status. Mr. Chukweuke suffers from “an extreme case of neurofibromatosis,” just one of many hurdles he has faced on his journey to the U.S. and to medical school. He hopes to be a surgeon.
And finally…The British Medical Journal’s annual Christmas issue is now available on-line. Important articles in the eagerly-anticipated compilation include: “Why Rudolph’s nose is red: observational study;” “Pain over speed bumps in diagnosis of acute appendicitis: diagnostic accuracy study;” “Mind wandering and driving: responsibility case-control study;” and “The tooth fairy and malpractice.”
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