Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|December 2, 2022

Iowa news

The role of Hospitals: St. Anthony Regional Hospital

In Iowa, like much of the rural U.S., rising costs and a shortage of health care providers make access to services challenging. Fifty of Iowa’s 99 counties provide obstetric services. Since 2000, 42 Iowa hospitals have closed OB services because of a declining population and an inability to recruit and retain physicians willing or able to provide obstetrics care. At St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll, Iowa, hospital staff noticed that only three hospitals within a 45-mile radius of St. Anthony provide obstetrics and maternal services. They recognized that factors like increased expenses and staff shortages contribute to disparities in care and poor outcomes. So the 99-bed hospital, which serves about 71,500 people over six counties in west central Iowa, responded to their community needs. (American Hospital Association)

Doctors prescribe fruits and vegetables to improve patient health

A wellness initiative put free fruits and vegetables in the hands of patients dealing with chronic health issues. The Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, in collaboration with Broadlawns Medical Center, conducted a pilot of a produce prescription program from June 2021 to February 2022. Its goal was to address health concerns for food-insecure patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. The Polk County Produce Prescription Program connected food-insecure people who had diet-related diseases with medical providers who then wrote prescriptions for free fruits and vegetables and delivered nutrition education and collected monthly biometrics. (Business Record)

Iowa COVID-19 infections continue to steadily increase

Iowa’s COVID-19 infection rate increased about 17% in the past week, and infected people receiving inpatient hospital treatment jumped 35%, according to state and federal health data. The state reported a similar increase in the infection rate last week after weeks of roughly steady numbers of infections. The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,700 new cases among those who weren’t previously infected and 3,434 total positive tests for the past week. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

National news

The ins and outs of charges for MyChart messages

Although hospitals and health systems have garnered attention lately for announcing they would charge patients up to $50 for certain MyChart messages, the rule that allowed them to do so was rolled out in 2020. The Current Procedural Terminology codes released that year gave providers a way to bill for patient portal messages. Providers can bill for cumulative work done over a seven-day period that takes five minutes or more. Time worked can’t be counted twice or billed under a separate code. The clock on the seven days starts ticking with the review of the patient’s inquiry and can include an examination of the patient’s medical record, the development of a management plan, the generation of a prescription or test order and any subsequent online communication. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

More pain, no gain for hospitals’ operating margins

Hospitals are nearing the end of an exceptionally difficult year for finances with a slight downturn to their operating margins and smaller likelihood of ending the year in the black. Kaufman Hall’s November “National Hospital Flash Report” — based on data from more than 900 hospitals — found hospitals’ median operating margin was -0.5% through October. Operating margins dropped 2% from September and 13% from October 2021. High expenses continued to outpace revenues, particularly labor expenses. Total labor expenses are up 10% year to date and up 3% from September to October alone. Total non-labor expenses are up 5% year to date and held flat from September to October. (Kaufman Hall)

‘The floodgates opened’: Flu hits hospitals

In a one week period, new flu hospitalizations in the U.S. rose nearly 30%, and experts say cases are expected to continue rising in the coming weeks. The CDC’s latest FluView report indicates 11,269 lab-confirmed flu patients were admitted to hospitals for the week ending Nov. 19, up from 8,707 admitted the week before. The agency estimates there have been at least 53,000 flu-related hospitalizations since October, the highest rate seen this early in the season in more than a decade. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

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