The Health Care Compliance Association has, shall we say, gone out of its way to honor Mike Lotzof for his contributions to meeting the letter of the law on fraud and abuse.
The Minneapolis-based HCCA has traditionally been rooted in this country but last week held its first International Compliance Awards Dinner during its annual meeting in New Orleans. The other winners of the International Compliance Award were Americans who work in the healthcare arena. Though he's a lawyer, Lotzof doesn't follow the pattern. He's an Aussie, and the Australian Compliance Institute, of which he is CEO, isn't a healthcare group.
Lotzof says compliance in Australia isn't confined to the healthcare or defense industries, where it has found fertile ground in the U.S. Nor has its growth been driven by government prosecutions. He says healthcare organizations and providers consitute only 1% to 2% of his membership, but predicted that figure would soon grow to 15% to 20% of membership.
"Our issues in healthcare aren't driven by upcoding or fraud. We don't have class-action lawsuits in Australia. There's no equivalent of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Sarbanes-Oxley or the False Claims Act," he says, explaining that Australians enjoy universal healthcare.
"Our primary motivation for compliance in healthcare is quality of service and care. We don't have a corporate agenda or a government agenda. We have a public agenda."
While the Australian compliance philosophy may differ a little from its American counterpart, Lotzof didn't take himself too seriously. The day after the dinner he was spotted wearing a black T-shirt that said: "Comply or die. Resistance is futile."
In life, healthcare futurist Russ Coile Jr., one of the industry's best-known personalities, was accustomed to giving his audiences some interesting but rather mundane expositions on such weighty topics as the strategic implications of hospital costs. His annual Futurescan forecast read like, well 1/4 a doctoral dissertation, all but bereft of style or suspense.
Now, more than a year and a half after his November 2003 death at age 60 from complications of brain cancer, Coile has posthumously published his most dynamic offering ever, a whodunit titled Murder at Pebble Beach: A Shane O'Neill Mystery. The 258-page softcover, available through Amazon.com for $16.95, is set on the fairways of the world-famous golf resort in Northern California and tells the story of a former Los Angeles cop and would-be pro golfer who plays all three Pebble Beach courses while simultaneously investigating a murder.
Writing in the Carmel (Calif.) Pine Cone, a weekly newspaper that serves the Pebble Beach area, Margot Petit Nichols called the tome "riveting," opining that "the author's descriptions of each scene in the book are wonderfully atmospheric and add to the verisimilitude and suspense of the well-plotted novel."
A humor break
Some say Robert Suter vaguely resembles Conan O'Brien. During last week's Excellence in Journalism Awards presentation in Washington, the American College of Emergency Physicians president seemed to be imitating the late-night comic host.
And as is the case with O'Brien, Suter has writers to thank for his material.
Suter was prepared to hand the Network Television Award to ABC "20/20" co-host John Stossel, whose regular feature "Give Me a Break" won an award for a segment about the need for medical liability reform.
Suter had the always-awkward job of announcing that award recipient Stossel "could not be here today." But he made the most of the moment, adding that ABC says Stossel would be happy to come to the event "for an appropriate appearance fee." According to the ACEP, ABC usually asks $30,000 to 40,000 for Stossel to speak.
The ACEP members in attendance let out a collective sigh and a chuckle at the mention of the fee.
But Suter wasn't finished. After a brief pause, a la Conan, he concluded by adding: "To (Stossel's) request for a speaking fee, the ACEP replies `Give Me a Break.' "
The line was actually the idea of ACEP spokeswoman Colleen Hughes. She agrees that Suter's delivery was O'Brien-esque.
Biker dudes for healthcare
St. Anthony's Hospice in Henderson, Ky., gets along well with the fervent local motorcycle culture. So it's only natural that CEO Dave Haley would turn to bikers when he needed money for patients.
Haley is having Orange County Choppers of Montgomery, N.Y., build a custom blue-and-gold chopper to raffle off later this year (See the accompanying example of the firm's work). The bike will be signed by the crew of "American Chopper," a Discovery Channel series. Haley's a big fan of the show and got his idea from watching it.
"In the motorcycle world, it's the Rolls Royce of sports custom motorcycles," Haley says of the bike. At $100 a pop for 2,500 tickets to the raffle, Haley hopes to bring in about $250,000 from the bike-minus $60,000 in expenses, including the $44,000 cost of the hog.
That is, if the bike survives its first few months. Haley plans to haul it around to bike rallies, like Biketoberfest in Daytona Beach, Fla.; the Sturgis Bike Rally in Black Hills, S.D.; and the Little Sturgis Rally in Kentucky, which donated $9,000 to the hospice last year.