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People in the News

September 1, 2006
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A Star Shines at Marshfield

Marshfield Clinic (Marshfield, Wis.) has named Justin Starren, M.D., bioinformatics researcher. Starren, associate professor in the departments of biomedical informatics and radiology at New York's Columbia University, will lead Marshfield's biomedical informatics initiativeJustin starren, m.d.

As the scientific field that focuses on the use of information, data and knowledge in biomedical domains, biomedical informatics studies new methods for structuring, storage, retrieval and sharing of information to improve problem solving and decision making. Originally called medical informatics, the field became popular in the United States in the 1950s with the rise of computers and the microchip and now typically refers to providing information to caregivers at point of care.

“With a big organization, it's like trying to turn a supertanker.”

The Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care, research and education with 41 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.

One of the things that Starren says attracted him to Marshfield was its size. “It is big enough to think and dream about the big problems in healthcare, but small enough to actually execute solutions,” he says. “With a big organization, it's like trying to turn a supertanker.”

CMS Restructures Hospital Reimbursements

In an effort to improve the accuracy of Medicare's payment for inpatient stays, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued payment reforms.

The reforms, which will be phased in over time, align hospital payments more closely with the costs of a patient's care by using hospital costs rather than charges, and by accounting more fully for the severity of the patient's condition. The revised payments will become effective for discharges on or after Oct. 1.

Medicare's inpatient rates for operating expenses will increase 3.4 percent in fiscal year 2007 for those hospitals that report quality data to CMS. According to CMS, the final rule is estimated to increase payments to acute care hospitals $3.4 billion.

Communication Breakdown

A new report, “Communications Issues in the Healthcare Industry, 2006-2009,” discusses the lagging involvement of the healthcare industry with regard to communication technology adoption.

The report finds:

  • Among healthcare providers, e-mail is used heavily in communications between physicians. Yet 82 percent of healthcare consumers indicated that they have never received an e-mail message from their primary healthcare provider.

  • Only 15 percent of survey respondents indicated that their healthcare providers give them the option of scheduling their own appointments by e-mail or through a Web site.

  • Nearly three-quarters of healthcare consumers would prefer to pay their medical bills through an online system, but only one in seven can currently do so. By contrast, while three-quarters of healthcare consumers currently pay their medical bills via postal mail, only 30 percent actually prefer this approach.

The report was written by Osterman Research (Black Diamond, Wash.) and Health Industry News.

New Release

Ethical Challenges in the payment for inpatient Management of Health Information, Second Edition

By Laurinda Harman, AHIMA, 2006;; $51.95, ($64.95 for non-members).