Twin Cities medical groups must be relieved that the Buyers Health Care Action Group didn't disclose the specific results of its most recent endeavor-a report comparing 32 area medical groups on their costs.
The Bloomington, Minn., employer group, famous for its effort to force providers to compete through provider-sponsored networks, took three years of PPO claims data from multispecialty and primary-care groups and adjusted the data for risk.
Per-member, per-month costs for treating an identical population varied by a whopping margin-from $62 to $110. The average was $89.
Results for individual medical groups weren't disclosed. Groups will use their own cost data to bid for the BHCAG's 100,000 covered lives.
Executive Director Steve Wetzell said it shows "there's an awful lot of inefficiency," even in a state with plenty of managed care and relatively low costs.
It's believed to be the first time employers have used risk-adjusted claims data to make an apples-to-apples comparison of healthcare providers.
Given the cold, Minnesotans have plenty of time to cook up such schemes. "Bowling gets old after awhile," Wetzell explained.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's convention in Atlanta will draw a record 15,000 attendees-7,500 healthcare professionals and about the same number of vendor representatives vying for their attention.
So how does a vendor try to stand out among the 430 exhibitor booths taking up 133,500 square feet of floor space at the Georgia World Congress Center?
How about trucked-in palm trees? Or drawings for "palmtop" computers? Those attention-getters and more will be in high gear for the five-day conference and exhibition, which starts March 4 with a keynote speech by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine).
Oacis Healthcare Systems, which sells clinical data repositories and related software, will conduct presentations in a 400-square-foot Arabian tent, complete with palms and Persian carpets.
HBO & Co., a vendor of comprehensive healthcare software and services, has registration cards in its promotional mail to bring to its booth for a shot at a notebook computer. One will be given out each day.
Hewlett-Packard Co. is making its waves at the adjacent CNN Center, where in addition to drinks and hors d'oeuvres after hours, attendees can sit at the CNN anchor desk and read the day's headlines-and get a videotaped souvenir of the occasion.
Just two years ago, the HIMSS exhibit floor held 244 vendors and the total attendance was 6,300, which even then was a 50% jump from the previous year.
Now with total attendance 250% of what it was back then, and a maze of 400-plus booths to spend precious time on, just planning an itinerary can be a headache for attendees trying to educate themselves on what's out there.
So the associations representing the sellers and prospective buyers got together to cook up a menu of pitch sessions-or "exhibitor marketplace overviews," as they're being called-so attendees can get an advance look at product and service claims the day before the exhibition opens its doors.
The 30-minute sessions in seven rooms run back to back from 8: 30 a.m. to 5: 15 p.m. at the Georgia World Congress Center. They're sponsored by HIMSS and by the Center for Healthcare Information Management, which represents healthcare vendors and consultants.
And of course, attendees qualify for a drawing for a laptop computer.
Oregon hospitals fared relatively well in the state's disastrous flooding earlier this month. Several hospitals reported minor basement flooding, and some postponed elective surgeries, but no hospitals had to close.
Perhaps the most serious disruption occurred at Tillamook County General Hospital in Tillamook, about 75 miles west of Portland, which converted its obstetric wing into a temporary 18-bed nursing facility after the town's nursing home was flooded.
"We left two labor and delivery rooms available, but no babies were born" during the flooding, said Tillamook Administrator Wendell Hesseltine.
Some businesses in Tillamook were under three feet of water for days after the floods, but apart from basement flooding, the 20-bed hospital remained high and dry, thanks to sump pumps and a flood door at one end of the building, he said. Because major roads into Tillamook were closed, the U.S. Coast Guard flew in pharmaceutical supplies, which were delivered to the hospital by police, Hesseltine said.
Linn House, the first hospice in the United States designed and built specifically for people with AIDS, has opened in West Hollywood, Calif. The 25-bed, state-of-the-art facility was built by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
The facility offers a full spectrum of care to maintain a high quality of life, including 24-hour medical care, social activities, social services, bereavement counseling and spiritual support. Each resident enjoys a furnished private room and adjoining bathroom, cable television and VCR, and access to a balcony or patio area. Skylights flood the two-story building with natural light.
Admission requires a six-months-to-live AIDS diagnosis. Linn House also offers AIDS patients who don't have such severe diagnoses "respite care" for up to five days to give their regular caregivers a break from their duties.
The challenge for Los Angeles-based Cavaedium Architects was to design a facility that complied with hospital construction codes and yet fit into a neighborhood of older single-family homes and courtyard housing. While Linn House spans two lots, its construction and roof lines are varied and it has the appearance of three houses linked together.
AHF board member Ron Meyers, who has designed restaurants and night clubs in Los Angeles, said he was determined that the facility not "end up looking like an institution."