Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More Hospitals Offering Alternative Therapies—Are You?

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 17, 2008

A new survey this month by American Hospital Association subsidiary Health Forum shows that a growing number of hospitals are offering complementary and alternative medical services, or CAM.

Is your hospital part of this trend?

Click here to read full article.

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Iowa Public Radio Interview

I was interviewed by an Iowa Public Radio reporter about the Medicare Tweener issue.

Click here to listen.

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Alternative treatments serve a patient's mind, body and spirit

When nurses tried to insert an IV into patient Linda Aron's hand, she was so anxious over the impending operation to fix her acid reflux that they simply had to stop.

Instead of continuing to poke and prod Aron, nurses at Grinnell (Iowa) Regional Medical Center called in a massage therapist to rub her shoulders and arms to help her relax. Within 10 minutes, Aron had an IV in place.

Click here to read full article in today's USA Today

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Friday, September 5, 2008

“Tweener” Hospital Makes National Hospital Business Journal

Modern Healthcare magazine printed an article in the Aug. 4, 2008 issue that discussed the legislation Sen. Grassley introduced to address “tweener” payment inequity. There was our word, “tweener,” used in the article as well as our definition, “a hospital that is too large to be considered a Critical Access Hospital and too small to be a Rural Referral Hospital.” While we weren’t specifically mentioned, they clearly interviewed a member of Sen. Grassley’s staff.

Also in this issue was a very critical editorial written by David Burda, editor of Modern Healthcare. This editorial stated that this legislation to help tweener hospitals was “special-interest legislation of the worst kind.” The editor slammed the American Hospital Association for applauding Senator Grassley for his commitment to rural healthcare providers. In order to pay for the proposed new Medicare Part A classification, Grassley’s bill would restrict the number of physician-owned hospitals.

We don’t have many physician-owned hospitals in Iowa. There’s a clear for-profit financial benefit for a physician who orders tests and procedures done at the hospital he or she owns. The Congressional Budget Office indicates physician-owned specialty hospitals cost Medicare more than community-owned hospitals and are therefore a reasonable target for reducing Medicare spending and making payment to tweeners more equitable. We clearly have no beef with physicians…they are our hospital every bit as much as our employees, volunteers and board members. It is the doctors and profit minded investors that only build hospitals that provide the best reimbursed services, in essence skimming the profits on only well paid services and leaving the rest for the community hospitals. The competition would be welcomed if it was a level playing field and the physician owned specialty hospitals took all patients and offered the full range of hospitals services. Do you see specialty hospitals offering neonatal intensive care or burn services or even trauma services…only orthopedic, cardiac and imaging hospitals. If you are interested in reading the editorial from Modern Healthcare and our letter to the editor in response please email Denise Lamphier in our public relations department.

We continue to make efforts to make sure we get paid fairly. In addition to Senator Grassley’s bill which was supported by Senator Harkin as well, we have worked with Congressman Boswell to offer a companion bill in the House of Representatives. There are only three short weeks left in this Congress so the window is tight for getting something done this year…but we are hopeful!

I will keep you posted.

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Upgrading Our Billing

Recently, GRMC started working with a different company to help us with patient bills and insurance claims. The reason for the change was to improve patient satisfaction with our billing and collection process so that patients would better understand what they owe, give them the ability to pay their bill online, and/or help them set up a payment plan. The idea was to find an organization that specializes in this complex and ever changing process and is committed to only doing billing function. They would then work with our employees locally that do billing. We would work together to have the best billing system possible.

Sounds great, but for a few folks we really got off on the wrong foot with this new system. We’re working through some technical difficulties with the transfer of data from our previous billing company. This resulted in some patients getting letters that said some had already recently received a bill, when they may not have. Statements didn’t include information that we expected it to include, and, to make matters worse, the website address on the statement was incorrect. The correct address is

We take quality service very seriously at GRMC from the moment you walk through the door to providing you with accurate and timely billing information. We apologize for the confusion and problems this situation may have caused a few of our patients. We also thank you for your patience as we correct this and move forward. We literally sent out thousands of bills and the vast majority of them were accurate and timely.

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.