Merger Creates New Jersey's Largest Hospital System

The largest healthcare system in New Jersey has been created by the merger of Barnabas Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Health System. The new system will operate as RWJ Barnabas Health. The new organization will have 30,000 employees and an operating revenue of $4.5 billion per annum. RWJ Barnabas Health will have a market share of roughly one third within the region covered by its 11 hospitals. The deal still requires a seal of final approval from the Attorney General of New Jersey. This is confidently expected sometime within the next twelve months.

2015 SAMHSA Voice Awards

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the SAMHSA Voice Awards. It takes place on Wednesday August 12, 2015, at Royce Hall, UCLA in Los Angeles. “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Chandra Wilson (aka  Dr. Miranda Bailey) will be the host for this annual event.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) uses the Voice Awards as a vehicle to address public attitudes towards mental health and addiction issues, by recognizing community leaders, TV and Film professionals whose work and personal stories of resilience showcase the community contributions that can be made by those that currently are or that have recovered from mental and substance abuse disorders.

The spotlight of the Voice Awards this year will focus on the high national suicide rate. Linked closely to behavioral health issues, suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the US. This shocking statistic will be addressed by the Voice Awards program which will discuss support services and information which could save lives and aid grieving families by featuring the inspirational stories of some of those community leaders, TV personalities and film actors, and of how they overcame their personal demons or were affected by the actions of others.

To find out more about the Voice Awards, including the program and how to get tickets, click HERE to visit the SAMHSA web site.

CMS Relaxes ICD-10 Burden On Providers

The CMS confirms that the October 1st deadline for transition to ICD-10 will not change. That date is fixed. They have, however, recently announced new measures which will allow struggling providers and EP's a little breathing space while they prepare for this coding system implementation.

First up, a new and dedicated communication and collaboration center for ICD-10 implementation, which will triage issues and smooth out potholes. This department will oversee the transition and the easements just introduced. It will also feature an ICD-10 Ombudsman, putting a more human face on transition issues and provider concerns.

What easements? Good question.

Five more reasons to outsource your medical billing today

Many benefits are given for outsourcing medical billing. Some of the more intangible ones are actually the best. Dollars and cents often speak loudest, but taking the five less obvious points below into consideration may be more persuasive to some. Depending on the unique variables which make up a medical practice you may find if possible to gain practical improvements and save money.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Here, then, are our five selections of the less obvious reasons to outsource your medical billing.

Obama wins 6-3 in Supreme Court battle

Yesterday, (Thursday 25 June 2015) the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 in favor of upholding federal subsidies in the contentious King v. Burwell case, which addressed whether the wording of the Affordable Care Act intended the State to subsidize insurance premiums in states with Health Exchanges that were not federally implemented or controlled.

One of the three dissenters, Scalia, said that "Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is 'established by the state." His approach rested on the literal interpretation of the wording of the Act.

In contrast, Chief Justice Roberts (one of the six that voted in favor of the administration) said things less literal for him. "In every case we must respect the role of the Legislature and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not destroy them. If at all possible we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former and avoids the latter."

ICD-10, 1-2-3

When ICD-10 hits on October 1st, many will be swamped or swept away by the tsunami. The news is full of articles about what practices can do before the dreaded date to prepare for the impact. But what should practitioners do on October 2nd? And 3rd? Now, there's a question.

The first three months following ICD-10 transition will be the most painful, and carry the majority of this dramatic learning curve. Six months in, ICD-10 coding will be almost second nature. Getting through that initial transition period will inevitably be traumatic, but there are steps you can take now to minimize the pain later.

Here are three suggestions...

High Deductible Health Plans and Your Bottom Line 

Ever-tightening budgets mean that employers are increasingly moving toward adoption of low-premium High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) in efforts to reduce ongoing costs. HDHP are attractive to employers, as the larger part of the financial burden, the High Deductible part of HDHP, falls on their employees, making them much more affordable.

This is a mixed blessing. Employees still get the health benefits they need, but with 2015 deductibles starting at around $1300 for single plans and $2600 for family plans, when someone falls ill and it comes time to actually use the health plan, some patients find the high deductible forms an insurmountable barrier to treatment. In short, that high deductible is just too much of an up-front cost. And this in turn means that some patients are electing to skip minor treatments.

Are You Coming to NAATP 2015?

Sigmund Software is! As long time supporters of this important addiction treatment event we will be there in force this year, exhibiting at Booth 116. We invite everyone to stop by and see what we have to offer.

The NAATP (National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers) conference this year is being hosted at the prestigious Omni La Costa Spa and Resort in Carlsbad, CA., between May 16 and 18 inclusive.

This beautiful resort is worthy of a visit just for the scenery. Our team is in the air as this is being typed, and they will be on the ground ready to meet, greet, and answer questions. If you will be here for this conference, they look forward to seeing you.

Concierge Medicine: A hedge against Medicare/Medicaid reductions? 

Ever increasing costs and ever more regulatory controls are adding ever more pressure to many practices already seeing reductions in their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement levels. This pressure has in turn led many practices to seek alternatives revenue streams, and one increasingly popular source of revenue in particular: Concierge medicine.

In this business model a practice is not dependent on payers, insurance companies, or Medicare incentive payments. In fact, many concierge doctors don't even accept insurance payments or patients. Rather, in concierge medicine, doctors set fixed monthly or annual fees. For payment of this flat fee, patients receive unlimited access to their doctor. Occasional co-pays balance things when needed, but in the course of regular business everybody wins. The practice receives a steady and independent source of income. Patients receive the healthcare they need with a simplified payment structure, often at a lower cost than through a health plan, one which makes their health costs far more manageable and worry-free.

ICD improvements mean faster reimbursements.

In 2012 the ChiroCode Institute joined forces with the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) to forge an amalgam of their coding manuals, respectively the ChiroCode Deskbook and the ACA Chiropractic Coding and Compliance Manual. Since then, the partnership has flourished. The most current resource, titled the ICD-10 Coding for Chiropractic (Chirocode ICD-10 Coding Resource Endorsed by ACA) is currently available on the ACA web site at a member price of $119. Non-members pay $129.

ChiroCode Premium members can save themselves a further $10 by purchasing instead through the ChiroCode site, where the price is $109.

The manual promises to be valuable reading for chiropractors, offering a comprehensive list of relevant ICD-10-CM codes for Chiropractic, along with practical tools and advice on converting codes between ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM. The book promises to be a complete guide to understanding ICD-10-CM and also offers 'Other aids you need for a painless transition'.

Here is an example of how it could help.

Remembering the good old days

I grew up in the 60's. Black and white TV, moon landings, JFK. I remember waiting for the TV to warm up, and I remember watching the white dot until it disappeared when the set was turned off. Then came the 70's, with bigger TV sets and bigger hair, both in psychedelic color. The 80's introduced MTV, the 90's the Internet, and from then on it has been a roller coaster that gets faster every day. But I still remember that massive TV set in the corner.

Nowadays, I have a 48" flat screen LED TV attached to my wall. I can control it through my iPhone. I can surf the Internet, check email, or watch videos from my computer. Nice. No way would I go back to black and white cathode ray technology. 

I think most of us feel the same: Nostalgia is fine, but it should be kept in a rose-tinted box until we want to look at it again. Modern technology offers far better picture quality and viewing convenience. So why, oh why, is everyone so resistant to change?

National Council 2015

The annual conference dedicated to behavioral health, NATCON, will this year be held between April 20th and 22nd at the Gaylord Palms Convention Center, Orlando, Florida. Featuring keynotes from industry thought leaders, TED style talks, and a daily film festival, the conference has a lighter side too, with cookery lessons, a spa, Zumba, Ping Pong, airbrush tattoos and even a retro gaming arcade.

This and many other attractions are sure to offer something for everyone.

What is NATCON? We will let them speak for themselves.

Working With Self-Diagnosing Patients

A recent survey on behalf of the Astellas Innovation Debate determined that 75% of medical practitioners had noted a 'marked increase' in the number of self-diagnosing patients during the last twelve months. Many of these, 21%, presented at their doctor's office armed with supporting data from a growing range of health apps and smart devices. Some even carried folders full of graphs and printouts to support their arguments. Some saw that as helping their doctors. Others saw it as a declaration of war, with their doctor on the opposing side. The numbers of self-diagnostic patients are likely to increase as the number of available devices grow, and the various supporting platforms all see corresponding growth in the numbers of healthcare apps in their respective stores.

This issue will also continue to grow.

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Custom User Interfaces with Administrative Dashboards in the AURA EHR from Sigmund Software



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