Shopping for that hospital leader who has everything? Here's a stocking stuffer that offers something every hospital CEO, general counsel and medical director would like to know: "10 Things You Can Do For Your Doctors Without Going To Jail."
The catchy title isn't an enticement to violate the federal Stark and antikickback laws but is a Dec. 18 audio teleconference exploring the legal ways physicians and hospitals can collaborate.
"Today, in some respects, doctors and hospitals are further apart than they've ever been," says healthcare lawyer Dan Mulholland of the Pittsburgh office of Horty, Springer & Mattern. "Those relationships are fraying at a time when they really need each other."
Rodney King would be proud.
"The devil is in the details," Mulholland says. Which is why he and his Horty, Springer partner and co-presenter Henry Casale were willing to share The List:
1. Help physicians with malpractice insurance premium increases.
2. Pay for emergency room call coverage.
3. Assist in recruiting new associates.
4. Make hospital rounds go faster.
5. Streamline operating room scheduling.
6. Reimburse for time spent on medical staff and other administrative duties.
7. Improve communications between physicians and patients.
8. Get physician offices ready for HIPAA.
9. Buy the doctors lunch (and other goodies).
10. Bring physicians into the governance loop in a meaningful way.
"Each item on the list has a little bit of a `yeah, but' to it," Mulholland says. "But if the amounts of the payments are reasonable and advance the legitimate mission of the hospital and aren't tied to referrals, if the parties document what they (the physicians) have done to warrant the payments and if the hospitals maintain a paper trail to back up everything, then all of these things can be done safely and legally."
For more on the teleconference log onto hortyspringer.com/orders/10things.pdf.
Talk about an aging population
The American Medical Association, viewed by many as a retirement club for aging physicians, isn't getting any younger. In fact, the Chicago-based doctors' group keeps getting older and smaller.
Despite a concerted effort in recent years to inject a bit of energy and youth into the old-boys' network, the AMA has lost almost 40,000 members since 2000, when that figure, already having fallen for years, was pegged at 290,359. When a persistent member at the AMA's mid-year meeting in New Orleans last week insisted on current figures, officials acknowledged that membership now stands at just 250,253-a dramatic plunge over the past two years.
What's more, the number of AMA members under 40 who pay full dues has plummeted more than 16% in the past year alone to 23,190 as of Oct. 31. The number of members aged 40 to 55 also dropped precipitously, by more than 10%, to 69,400. The smallest decrease came among members age 55 and above. That figure fell by almost 4%.
To try to deal with this dilemma, the AMA has hired a marketing whiz to try to whip up a new plan to attract members-including the younger set. That initiative is expected to be rolled out in February.
Snyderman's new role
Nancy Snyderman, the physician and part-time television journalist who got into hot water with her bosses at ABC News for making a radio commercial touting the benefits of Tylenol, has decided to go all the way and work for Johnson & Johnson, the maker of the product.
In the position created for her, vice president of medical affairs, Snyderman will advise Johnson & Johnson and its companies on the introduction of new technologies, the company says.
Snyderman was suspended by ABC News for a week last spring for violating the news division's policy against employee endorsement of products. She publicly admitted the Tylenol spots were a mistake.
Her television career began in 1983 at the ABC affiliate in Little Rock, Ark. At the time, she was a surgeon at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Since then, she's balanced a head-and-neck surgery practice in San Francisco with being a regular medical correspondent for ABC News. As such, she's done work for "20/20" and "Good Morning America," while also serving as a fill-in anchor for the latter show.
ABC News Senior Vice President Phyllis McGrady praises Snyderman's work, saying that she helped millions to better understand the most complex medical issues.
* "This sure is a tough way to get my first rest since taking the job."
-U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, M.D., who underwent an emergency appendectomy at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii last week. He had been attending a research symposium and meeting with state and federal health officials when he was hit by intense abdominal pain. An appendectomy is unusual for men his age (he's 53), but he was found to be in excellent overall health and is expected to recover quickly.
* "As an insurance model Medicare is a joke. It's a big price-fixing government monster that's slow to react when we make mistakes."
-CMS Administrator Thomas Scully, at a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association briefing on hospital costs last week. Scully, however, also said he is proud of the Medicare program, which guarantees that no one over the age of 65 is uninsured.
* "Like they shouted from the windows in the movie Network, `We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!' "
-Michael Maves, M.D., executive vice president of the Chicago-based AMA, speaking at a midyear meeting to members of the organization's House of Delegates about Congress' inaction on reversing Medicare payment cuts for physicians.