“IF OUR BEDS ARE FILLED, IT MEANS WE’VE FAILED.” That’s the striking message in an ad I came across for Mount Sinai Hospital, and it could speak for hospitals across the nation as they transform from being strictly providers of care to promoters of health. The ad does a good job of explaining in lay terms how the new focus on population health management means that “instead of receiving care that’s isolated and intermittent, patients receive care that’s continuous and coordinated, much of it outside the traditional hospital setting.” It spotlights Mount Sinai’s “tremendous emphasis on wellness programs”; its Mobile Acute Care Team, which treats patients at home for certain conditions that otherwise would land them in the hospital; and its Preventable Admissions Care Team aimed at averting readmissions by providing both medical care and help with nonmedical factors that impact health and access to care, like housing and literacy. Not a lot there that hospital leaders don’t already know, of course, but you’ve got to admit, the headline’s a grabber.
WHAT THE HECK IS XENOTRANSPLANTATION? It’s the process of transplanting organs from one species to another, and it could mean that eventually inside some human being will beat the heart of a pig. The hope is that being able to use organs from nonhuman species will make up for the tragic shortage of human organs now available for everything from lung to liver transplants. Xenotransplantation has gotten a big financial boost from biotechnology executive Martine Rothblatt, whose daughter might one day need a lung transplant and whose goal is to create an unlimited supply of transplantable organs. MIT Technology Review’s Antonio Regalado reports that “U.S. researchers have been shattering records in xenotransplantation” by keeping a pig heart alive in a baboon for 945 days and by achieving "the longest-ever kidney swap" between those two species, lasting 136 days. The research is extremely costly and it’s a big leap from pig-baboon transplants to those in which the recipient is a human being. But here’s hoping.
BIG MAC NOT SO HOT IN CLEVELAND. At least not at the Cleveland Clinic, which on Sept. 18 will usher McDonald’s off its premises. Is it part of a trend? Since 2009, six other U.S. hospitals have bid McDonald’s adios. National Public Radio’s Allison Aubrey reported Wednesday for "All Things Considered" that the move is part of Cleveland Clinic's’ efforts to promote a culture of wellness among employees and patients. McDonald’s protests that it has added healthful items to its menu, but others note that burgers, fries and soda remain the top sellers. They also make for a pretty inexpensive meal, so the Cleveland Clinic says it will look to replace McDonald’s with a vendor that serves both healthful and affordable food.
DON’T PANIC, BUT ICD-10 STARTS IN JUST 40 DAYS. The American Hospital Association has put together a handy, dandy checklist for hospital leaders to share with their coding transition teams to make sure everything is ready to go on Oct. 1. It’s divided into three sections: Check Internal Systems, Verify External Partner Readiness and Consider Financial Protections. It’s worth a look even if you’re pretty confident you’ve got all your ducks in a row.
I HATE TO GIVE AWAY AN ENDING, but I can’t resist sharing these words of wisdom that closed an article in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine by Lisa Sanders, M.D. She’s quoting a fellow physician, Robert Kavaler: “Forty-five percent of the time, a patient is in your office for nothing. Fifty percent of the time, it’s for the usual stuff. It’s that 5 percent of the time, when someone has something weird that you have to be alert for. Because if you miss it, that’s when something bad can happen.” Sanders writes the “Well” blog on the Times’ Web page and the “Diagnosis” series that runs periodically in the magazine. Each installment focuses on one individual with an unusual or hard-to-pinpoint condition. The article takes you from the time the symptoms first manifest themselves to the process by which clinicians figure out exactly what’s ailing the patient and how to treat him or her, often including wrong assumptions and misdiagnoses along the way. They always make for fascinating reads.