Proposition 46 Making Waves in California and Nationwide

The nation is watching as money begins to pour into campaigns for, and especially against, a ballot initiative called Proposition 46 which is set to be on the November 4th ballot in California. The initiative would do three things:

  1. It would raise the caps on non-economic damages in malpractice cases from $250,000 to $1.1M.
  2. It would require doctors to submit to random drug and alcohol testing.
  3. It would require doctors to consult a state administered prescription drug database before prescribing certain drugs to first time patients.

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Why Telemedicine? What is the Future of the Virtual Appointment?

Telemedicine Benefits – Efficient Practices, Pleased DoctorsWith the recent push to achieve “meaningful use” of EHR, the advent of Accountable Care Organizations, increasing numbers of patients, and other effects of the Accountable Care Act telemedicine is becoming more common and more necessary than ever.  But what is telemedicine exactly?  The American Telemedicine Association defines it as follows:

“The use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status. Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.”

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Wisconsin Malpractice in the News

Wisconsin MalpracticeWisconsin has been in the news quite a bit lately with stories related to healthcare and particularly malpractice.  In many ways the state’s situation presents a microcosm of a number of the questions and contradictions at issue in states all across the U.S.  From debates about informed consent to available representation and fair compensation, incentives, motives and more are at issue in the many conversations being had and cases being decided across the state.  One thing is for sure—there isn’t much agreement.

For instance, malpractice filings are down dramatically in Wisconsin.  In fact, since 1999 the number of filings has dropped more than 50%.  Further, following but far exceeding a national trend, the number of paid claims in Wisconsin dropped 66% between 2003 and 2013, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).  These drops have followed in the wake of such reforms as the implementation of caps on non-economic damages, the creation of a state administered Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, and most recently passage of a law that gives doctors more discretion in the area of informed consent.

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Can “Meaningful Use” Improve the Quality of Healthcare?

Meaningful UseIt’s no secret that Americans spend more money on healthcare than any other developed nation in the world.  But does spending more money equate to higher quality healthcare?  According to a recent publication by the Commonwealth Fund, it does not.  In fact the report, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, ranks the U.S. dead last, number 11 out of 11 countries studied, including Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.  The criteria included the cost, safety, and quality of healthcare as well as access to care.  While studies and opinions may vary on where we rank there is no debate that improvements need to be made to the healthcare system.  One way the Affordable Care Act attempts improve the quality of healthcare is through “Meaningful Use.”

“Meaningful Use” (MU) is the term used for an incentive program encouraging the adoption and effective use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems.  There are 3 stages of requirements spanning 6 years with objectives and measures that healthcare providers must meet in order to receive incentive payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). [Read more →]

New Insurance Requirements for Arizona Docs

Arizona Medical Malpractice Expert Sean MintzIn October 2013, the Arizona legislature passed a measure that changes insurance requirements for many doctors in Arizona. Under this new provision, doctors contracted with the state Medicaid system are now required to carry sexual abuse and molestation insurance coverage.

eQuoteMD caught up with an expert in the field of Arizona medical professional liability insurance to find out more about the rule change. Sean Mintz of Centurion Medical Liability Services filled us in on the details: [Read more →]

Medical Malpractice Insurance Cost… Location, Location, Location

We’ve talked here before about the differences between rural and urban medical work and malpractice insurance needs, and about the differences in malpractice rates from one state to another.  But today we want to highlight just how dramatically location can play into what it costs to insure yourself against malpractice liability.

Take a look at the map below. No place illustrates this idea better than New York. An OB/GYN practicing in the Rochester area can expect to pay, on average, around $37k a year for malpractice insurance. In Long Island or the Bronx, it’s nearly five times that!  For a general surgeon, the difference is even greater.

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An Independence Day Salute to Doctors from eQuoteMD

eQuoteMD wishes you a Happy Fourth!Hey eQuoteMD readers, it’s a holiday weekend and we know you’re all excited for a weekend of BBQ, fireworks, parades, and family time just like we are.  But this Independence Day we’d like to take an opportunity to think about independence a little differently.

While we’re all thankful for the kind of freedom afforded us by living in a country like ours, freedom is more than just political liberty.  Freedom can’t be exercised apart from certain conditions.  Particularly the freedom to live and love life, to be healthy and able to make a living, to live pain free and without fear of disease—these are freedoms that we often take for granted, but that are core components of a truly free life.  And these core components are provided to us and maintained by you all: doctors, nurses, and health care professionals.  Without you we would not be able to enjoy the freedom afforded us by being healthy! And without that freedom any other freedom isn’t of much value.  Without you many of us would be unable to enjoy the freedoms we have.

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Mapping the Future of Malpractice Insurance in Light of the Affordable Care Act

She is mapping out the Affordable Care Act and its implications for medical malpractice insurance.According to the Insurance Journal, while the details are still spotty and the data still limited, experts are beginning to feel more comfortable making some observations and predictions about the likely impact that the Affordable Care Act will have on medical malpractice insurance and the liability market going forward.  Specifically, while warning about the spin that comes with a topic as politically charged as healthcare reform, the Journal reported on a session given at the Casualty Actuarial Society’s Seminar on Reinsurance in New York, titled, “The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Medical Professional Liability – an Update.”  This seminar brought together “two casualty actuaries and a veteran medical malpractice underwriter” to discuss what the next decade might look like for medical malpractice insurance.

In addition to that recap, the Insurance Journal’s Amy O’Connor had reported in a story earlier this month on trends that are being seen even now in the medical malpractice market and, on her analysis, these changes too are being driven largely by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  So, what kinds of changes do these industry insiders see happening both now and moving forward?  Here are some of the highlights.

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Patient Portals: Enhancing Engagement & Increasing Efficiency

Patient PortalsOver the last few weeks we’ve been taking a look at new and rapidly developing technologies that offer benefits to doctors and practices in the form of greater efficiency, better patient engagement and satisfaction, more secure and compliant communication, and cost savings.  Today we turn to patient portals—a technology that has the potential to provide benefits in all of those categories.  But what is a patient portal?  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines it like this:

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Electronic Check In Systems Offer More than Ever Before

Electronic Check-InsContinuing our series on new and developing technologies that have proven helpful to many in the healthcare community, today we’ll take a look at electronic check-in systems.  It wasn’t long ago that an electronic check-in system was really no more the name indicates—a computerized way of letting a practice’s staff know when patients arrive for their appointments.  But today, these systems offer so much more.  At their most basic they provide an online, real-time, method of checking in, and in many cases tracking where patients are in the process of their visit.  Much like the check-in systems used by childcare facilities and churches, most electronic check-in systems these days provide comprehensive tracking, so that at any time staff can see which patients are where, wait times, who has checked in and out, and more.

The Technology

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