A new boot camp is designed to take timid hospital case managers, accountants and business services workers and turn them into steely eyed soldiers in the war against HMO claims denials.
The New Jersey Hospital Association inaugurated its Managed Care Boot Camp last fall, and it was such a success, the group started another four-week camp for wet-behind-the-ears inductees on Jan. 29.
The drill sergeants for the camp include some counterintelligence agents such as the former medical director of an HMO and health insurance and patient accounts experts. The customized sessions, presented over the course of four consecutive weeks, train the recruits in everything from how better to predict certification status to how to more effectively track and appeal denied days. Participants also get the opportunity to share their own war stories and receive feedback from faculty.
Valerie Sellers, the NJHA's senior vice president of health planning and research, says the long-term benefit of Boot Camp is a better working relationship with managed-care companies, going "a long way toward reinforcing a fair and workable dialogue with HMOs."
The operative word is "long-term."
The right stuff
Torchbearing is nothing new for John Sackett.
The 44-year-old CEO of Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, Colo., in the 1980s took note of population changes predicted for his rapidly growing suburb just outside of Boulder, and voiced the need for a full-service hospital in the community. He wound up seeing 58-bed Avista from its seed stage to its opening in 1990, and is now guiding the not-for-profit hospital through an expansion that will double its size.
Sackett, who has two decades of service in the healthcare field, last week carried a torch of a different sort: the Olympic flame. As he ran the two-tenths of a mile through the streets of Boulder, family, friends and colleagues cheered him on. But they were cheering more than the torch; they were saluting the true Olympic spirit. Sackett has lived since birth with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that on average kills its victims by the age of 12.
"(For me) to be able to run the two-tenths of a mile and carry the torch symbolizes to people that life is about overcoming barriers," says Sackett, husband and father of two.
No Enron around this
The Enron Corp. scandal has put the president of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston on the defensive.
John Mendelsohn, M.D., the center's president, has been on Enron's board of directors since 1999, serving as a member of the board's audit committee. That committee oversees the company's preparation of financial statements and its relationship with its auditor, Arthur Andersen. Those activities are at the center of the investigation into the Enron failure.
What has troubled a number of shareholder advocates is Mendelsohn's lack of qualifications for his audit committee duties. His background as a physician and respected cancer researcher hardly seems suited to the arcane details of audits.
And the close ties of Mendelsohn and M.D. Anderson to top Enron officials also has raised eyebrows. Enron and its executives have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to M.D. Anderson in the past five years, and Mendelsohn and former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay are friends in Houston's social elite.
"It's beyond clubbiness," Richard Koppes, a former shareholder activist who is now a lawyer at Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, told the New York Times.
Mendelsohn, in a Times interview, brushed aside criticism that he was not independent because the cancer center had received donations from Enron. With the center receiving donations of more than $233 million in the past five years, Enron's donations are but a drop in the bucket, he noted.
Hold the acronyms, pass the lotion
With the anthrax attacks still reverberating throughout the country, everybody is getting in on the bioterrorism preparedness biz. So much so, in fact, that it is no longer even surprising when a company like E-Z-EM, which until recently has concentrated mainly on barium enemas for colon cancer screening, jumps into the fray.
The Westbury, N.Y.-based company, an international leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of contrast media for diagnostic imaging of the gastrointestinal tract, brought along two Canadian partners to a luncheon/news conference in Manhattan last week to show off its newest products. The presentation, sprinkled liberally with acronyms and Canadian ice-fishing jokes, showcased Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL), "a personal decontamination lotion for neutralizing and destroying chemical warfare (CW) agents" and the Blast Guard System. The latter includes a tent used in conjunction with the Canadian Aqueous System for Chemical-biological Agent Decontamination (CASCAD), a foam that removes and destroys chemical and biological warfare agents from vehicles, equipment and surfaces.
The move into bioterrorism preparedness is not really such a jump into the unknown: E-Z-EM already makes some dermatology products for L'Oreal, said E-Z-EM President and CEO Anthony Lombardo.
The new business is, well, A-OK with us.