Ebola 101: What Challenges Do Physicians Face Treating This Disease?

Ebola has been a biological bogeyman for decades, but it’s only recently that the disease has made its way into the United States. With fewer than 10 cases and only a single fatality it could be argued that the response to the disease was proper. However, could that fatality have been avoided? And what problems are physicians facing trying to treat this disease in what is supposedly one of the best health care systems in the world?

Ebola 101: What Challenges Do Physicians Face?

Ebola is a deadly condition whose symptoms bear a resemblance to influenza (fever, coughing, weakness, vomiting, etc.) until bruising and bleeding starts. Fortunately Ebola is transmitted by close, personal contact (including contact with a patient’s bodily fluids) which means that it’s much more difficult to spread than an airborne virus. When examined from the outside Ebola should be a fairly simple disease to contain and control, and once it’s contained the treatment should be routine.

Should be is the key phrase here.

Ebola 101: What Challenges Do Physicians Face?The primary challenge that physicians face treating Ebola is actually containing it. The disease first has to be identified, and patient placed in isolation, and then physicians need to ascertain that no one else caught the disease from the patient. Given the fear associated with Ebola people may be unlikely to come forward if they were exposed, and this can lead to problems with the disease’s spread.

Another issue that physicians often face is the lack of training and proper protocol regarding Ebola. Whether it’s due to a lack of proper equipment (full body suits that will protect the doctor from a patient’s fluids are a primary concern, and they’re also something of a rarity), or simply not having a plan that’s been communicated to everyone on staff there are often breaches that result in the disease spreading to others when it shouldn’t. Part of the issue is funding, and part of it is experience since those who aren’t familiar with the CDC’s protocols for personal protection may find they make mistakes when they try to follow the guidelines.

Overcoming These Challenges

These challenges are not going to vanish overnight, which is why physicians must take necessary steps to overcome them. Making sure proper equipment is in place is a necessity, and making sure that staff can use that equipment through classes and drilling is also a necessity.

Another necessity is making sure that the protocols put in place are easy to follow, and that they work. That’s where Avidity Medical Design comes into the picture. With years of experience in the healthcare industry, and a thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology, Avidity Medical Design can develop curriculum to train your staff on guidelines and strategies for treating patients with the Ebola virus. This comprehensive training is ideal for physicians, as well as nurses and other healthcare practitioners, who must address the demands of treating patients with the Ebola virus.

For more information on how Avidity Medical Design can help you simply contact us today!

ICD-10 and What the Ebola Virus Means for Healthcare Reimbursement

Public health officials are learning more every day about the procedures required to care for Ebola patients. But one thing that the Ebola crisis has revealed is that the health care system lacks the classification codes to track the disease and ultimately, to reimburse for care of patients who have the disease.

what the ebola virus means for healthcare reimbursementICD-9 has no specific code for Ebola. Under the classification system, the hemorrhagic fever would currently fall under 078.89 – the code for “other specified diseases due to viruses.” That means Ebola shares a code with many other viruses that have not yet been assigned a specific code. The next iteration of the classification system, ICD-10, gives Ebola the code A98.4. But the U.S. Congress in the spring delayed implementation of the new classification system. The fact that the United States still uses ICD-9 will make it more more difficult to share information about the disease and its movement with other countries, HIT Consultant reported. All of the world’s industrialized nations use ICD-10 and use the codes in the newer system to report health information to the World Health Organization.

Besides disease tracking, health officials are starting to learn what the Ebola virus means for healthcare reimbursement. The classification codes are also important for reimbursing the cost of care. When health claims are submitted to payers, the claim must include a code to indicate a particular disease or procedure. If any more Ebola cases arise in the United States, ICD-9 allows no way for a health care provider to submit a claim specifically for Ebola. Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who was treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, had health care costs estimated at $1,000 an hour, Bloomberg News reported. That cost takes into account not only the care provided to Duncan, but also the expense of isolation procedures for an Ebola patient. The Texas hospital is not expected to recover any of the costs associated with the care of Duncan, who was uninsured.

The Texas hospital has offered to pay the health care costs of Nina Pham, one of the nurses who treated Duncan and was later diagnosed with Ebola, while she was in the hospital’s care. Pham was recently declared Ebola free after being treated at the the National Institutes of Health; that bill will likely be picked up by the federal government.

ICD-10 offers a way to submit health care claims for Ebola and also file for reimbursement for treating patients with the disease. But its implementation did not come in time for Ebola’s arrival in the United States. Much is still being learned about the procedures hospitals need to use to care for Ebola patients and it’s unclear whether new codes will be needed. But what is now clear is that the health system has a classification code for Ebola but for now, it has no way to use it. To learn more, contact us.

What is the Impact of ObamaCare on Physician Reimbursement?

Healthcare in the United States is still being developed around private insurers and public providers. ObamaCare was signed into law to make affordable healthcare services accessible to patients all over the country. ObamaCare required insurance companies, hospitals, clinics, and private practices to make many changes to accommodate patients without prejudice. Some of these changes have affected how physicians and private practices are reimbursed by insurance companies covering a patient under ObamaCare. This article discusses the impact of ObamaCare on physician reimbursement.

impact of obamacare on physician reimbursement

ObamaCare

ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act, has made health insurance a requirement for all Americans. ObamaCare was signed into law on March 23, 2010. Under the terms of ObamaCare, insurance providers cannot deny coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions. ObamaCare also regulates the prices of healthcare plans in accordance with a market of free commerce, so that all patients are eligible for affordable healthcare coverage. Although the free market principle has resulted in low cost insurance, it has also resulted in lower coverage.

Physician Reimbursement

Many physicians and private practices have noticed a decrease in reimbursement from ObamaCare plans. As these plans are provided by private insurers, many doctors felt that their businesses would still receive the same kind of operating revenue as they had been.

According to an article from the New American, one doctor has noticed a substantial decrease in reimbursement.

‘I cannot accept a plan [in which] potentially commercial-type reimbursement rates were now going to be reimbursed at Medicare rates,’ Dr. [Doug] Gerard told NPR. ‘You have to maintain a certain mix in private practice between the low reimbursers and the high reimbursers to be able to keep the lights on.’

Dr. Gerard is describing how his practice is his business, and that his operating expenses are becoming prohibitive due to reduced payments from ObamaCare health plans.

ObamaCare has resulted in:

  • Reduced reimbursement rates from private insurers of $100 down to $80.
  • Reduced health care availability to consumers because physicians are changing their businesses to a cash only model.
  • Reduced quality of care for consumers as insurers adjust their health plans to match the costs of ObamaCare plans.

Many primary care physicians have felt that ObamaCare is stifling their business, so they are choosing early retirement. The problem is compounded by fewer medical students pursuing careers as a physician.

ObamaCare was provided as a means for Americans to receive healthcare at affordable rates. This required insurance companies to adjust their plans in order to accept lower rates. Many physicians have found that ObamaCare plans reimburse their practices at levels similar to Medicare and lower than private insurance. This has resulted in several unintended side effects within the American healthcare system, that manifest themselves as a reduction in healthcare quality.

Avidity Medical Design provides services for healthcare course development. Please contact us with any questions.

Brain-Computer Interfaces: What They Mean for the Future Students of Healthcare Education

Do you remember the old sci-fi movies and TV shows that we grew up with? Do you remember how you felt when you saw Luke Skywalker, William Shatner and Arnold Schwarzenegger using out of this world technology that you thought was the creation of movie magic. What if I told you that the future is already here?

Technology has grown and matured over the last 25 years to a point where man and machine are slowly becoming one. A new and exciting area of tech that is receiving a lot of buzz right now is brain-computer interface technology.

brain computer interfacesWhat is Brain-Computer Technology?

A brain-computer interface is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an electrical device. The neurons of the brain are measured with electrodes, which then sends an electronic signal to a device such as a prosthetic leg or arm to simulate human movements.

There are currently two approaches that are yielding results in field studies. The non-invasive brain-computer interface measure activity from large groups of neurons with electrodes placed on the surface of the scalp (EEG). Invasive brain-computer interface measure activity from single neurons with miniature wires placed inside the brain.

Who Is Using Brain-Computer Interface Today?

The United States military has always been on the cutting edge of developing and using new emerging technology in all branches of the services.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, contracts worth $56 million to create electrical brain implants capable of treating seven psychiatric conditions, including addiction, depression, and borderline personality disorder.

The military is trying to overcome an epidemic of mental illness among veterans, including suicide rates three or four times that of the general public due to long combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. This is why the military is turning to neurological devices.

The Brain Chip

Doctors in Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and researchers from Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio have helped a quadriplegic man move his hand for the first time with a brain chip.

Ian Burkhart, the man who was injured in a driving accident was the first patient to use Neurobridge. The Neuobridge system is made of a computer chip implanted in the brain, a brain-computer interface and a sleeve able to send electric signals to the forearm and hand of the patient.

This groundbreaking technology proves the brain-computer interface is more than just a fantasy it is a reality.

What Does This Mean For The Future Of Healthcare Education?

What this means for the future of healthcare education is that learning is going to have to be more cross categorical than ever before.

It won’t be enough for a student to know about basic brain functions and muscle interaction. They will need to understand mechanics, engineering, and software development just to name a few categories.

The healthcare system and healthcare technology are rapidly evolving. Healthcare education must evolve with it to meet the demands of today. I can help you develop a curriculum that can meet this demand. The future is here. Contact me with any questions you may have today