John Gallagher, ethics guru at South Bend, Ind.-based Holy Cross Health System, is sure to bring some real-life experience to bear when he hosts a seminar next week at the annual meeting of the Catholic Health Association in New Orleans.
Vice president of system organization integrity and ethics at Holy Cross, Gallagher is scheduled to lead a seminar on corporate compliance.
You might say the timing is uncanny.
Gallagher's scheduled appearance comes one month after it was disclosed that a physician recruitment company owned by a Holy Cross subsidiary pleaded guilty in federal court to paying illegal kickbacks to two doctors for patient referrals.
It'll be interesting to hear what Gallagher has to say.
And the winner is . . . me!A surgeon from Orangeburg, S.C., became the first physician awarded a certificate of accreditation under the American Medical Association's new American Medical Accreditation Program last week.
OK, so he wasn't just any surgeon picked from a hat. The gold star surgeon, Randolph Smoak Jr., M.D., also happens to be chair of the AMAP governing body and vice chair of the AMA board of trustees.
"As chair of the body that set the standards for this new national benchmark of physician quality, I feel obligated to demonstrate my commitment to the importance of this new process by assuring my own practice meets the same quality measures that I helped create for others," Smoak says.
Decisions on some of the 3,000 New Jersey physicians who have applied for accreditation are expected in coming weeks. AMAP will be available to physicians in the District of Columbia, Idaho and Montana this month, followed by six other states by the end of the year, the AMA says.
Not so vigorous. Ownership within healthcare networks actually increased in 1997, countering the notion that systems have been building "virtual" networks based mostly on contractual relationships.
That's among the findings published in Hoechst Marion Roussel's latest report, Integrated Health Systems Digest. Forty-nine percent of provider units in the most highly integrated systems were equity relationships last year vs. 40% in 1996, according to the drugmaker, whose North American operations are based in Kansas City, Mo.
Systems appear to be increasing ownership in hospitals and physician practices while contracting with home health agencies, HMOs, diagnostic imaging centers, hospices, cancer and dialysis centers, medical suppliers and information technology specialists, the report says.
There's also news that could bode well for Medicare provider-sponsored organizations, which will require hospitals and physicians to coordinate care. The firm cites an increase in the number of "highly integrated" health systems, defined as having three or more components. Growth was particularly strong in metropolitan statistical areas with fewer than 1 million people, where systems with four or more components increased 72.3% to 81 from 47 in 1996.
Take two and pay me in the morning. A growing number of doctors are adding a new service that likely won't be covered by insurance anytime soon.
These physicians, it seems, are peddling vitamin supplements. Some are even signing up patients and colleagues as salespeople in multilevel marketing networks, adding to their commissions.
While proponents say it's a perfectly acceptable way for doctors to respond to their patients' demands, others see a conflict of interest.
"You shouldn't profit by what you prescribe," says James Winn, M.D., executive vice president of the Federation of State Medical Boards, which is devising standards in consultation with other medical groups.
Vitamin makers and the doctors who sell the products say patients are driving the trend, increasingly asking physicians for advice on a dizzying array of supplements. "I've had people come to me with a shopping bag full," asking what's best, says David Cislowski, a cardiologist in Visalia, Calif., who decided to sell products to control what his patients take. "I see it like any other service I provide the patient."
Camping on the edge. A new study about medical problems in California's national parks suggests the great outdoors shares many of the same hazards as a city street.
Many of the 1,708 illnesses and injuries that occurred in the state's parklands between 1993 and 1995 were no different from ones that might have occurred at an office building construction site, according to the study, which was conducted by physicians and researchers affiliated with the University of California at San Diego and published in the April issue of the Western Journal of Medicine.
More than 38% of the injuries were lacerations, bruises and sprains sustained in falls. Only 30 cases were attributed to the more dramatic outdoor hazards-animal bites and near drownings. Another 144 injuries were caused by insect bites. Thirty-four cases stemmed from auto accidents, food poisoning or overeating, and drug overdoses.
"The causes of morbidity are not exotic, like bear and mountain lion attacks and falls from peaks," says Terence Davidson, M.D., one of the study's co-authors. "The same admonitions I would make for city living apply here: Don't drink and drive; don't drink and play."
And here's the solution. Talk about creating your own market. An American Hospital Association representative was on Capitol Hill earlier this month calling on the feds to help hospitals manage the "millennium bug." That's the inability of computers to recognize the year 2000. It could "interrupt the smooth delivery of high-quality healthcare," says Jennifer Jackson, general counsel and vice president of clinical services at the Connecticut Hospital Association, testifying on behalf of the AHA. But what this potential chaos also could mean is big business for the AHA, which, along with 20 state and local hospital associations, has created a new for-profit company to sell member services to hospitals.
The company's first product? You guessed it. It will be a software service developed by the Connecticut Hospital Association to help tackle year-2000 problems.