Archive for the ‘General’ Category

July Brings New Medical Malpractice Reform to Oregon

reform to medical malpractice in oregonAs of July 1, 2014, Oregon Senate Bill 483 took effect, changing the way medical malpractice is handled in the state. The law, which was drafted by legislators in 2013 with the full support of Gov. John Kitzhaber, is the first of its kind to be implemented statewide in a comprehensive fashion. In a rare coming together of interests, SB 483 has garnered the praise and support of both the Oregon Medical Association and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association. The bill allows for what is known as Early Discussion and Resolution (EDR) in cases of adverse medical outcomes that lead to serious injury or death.

SB 483 called on the Oregon Patient Safety Commission to develop and implement administrative rules that would bring EDR not only to hospitals, but to all medical providers in the state. The commission brought together numerous experts and interest groups, as well as medical malpractice insurers, and representatives from major hospitals to work with their board in developing these rules and guidelines. The task force that was ultimately responsible for crafting the language of implementation included physicians, lawyers, and legislators among others.

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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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HIPAA Compliant Text Messaging for Medical Professionals

hipaa compliant text messagingTechnology and Compliance: Solutions for Physicians

It’s obvious to anyone in the industry that technology is playing a more significant role in the field of healthcare than ever before.  With electronic health records (EHR) going from a growing trend to the mandated standard, and everything that goes with that (i.e. ICD-10 compliance requirements, encryption standards, etc.) digital and electronic technologies have become fully integrated into nearly every aspect of the field of medicine.  It’s no longer just equipment we use to diagnose patients or manipulate data and material in the lab that utilizes the latest technological breakthroughs. It’s also the ways we communicate, keep and store records, and interface with patients, too.

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Are Caps on Non-Economic Damages a Thing of the Past?

Economic Damages CapsOn Thursday, March 13th, Florida became the latest in a growing list of states whose supreme courts have struck down caps on non-economic damages.  In Florida’s case the court argued in a 5-2 ruling that the caps “arbitrarily” and “illogically” limited damages, particularly in cases where there are multiple claimants.  The court found that by having a single cap irrespective of the number of claimants, thus reducing the amount each claimant could receive in a multiple claimant case, the provision violated the equal protection clause of the Florida Constitution.  The court also cited other states that had ruled similarly and offered some pushback to the arguments that caps are necessary to prevent runaway juries and skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums.

As noted, Florida is the latest in what is getting to be a long list of states where the court has overturned caps on non-economic damage awards (i.e. pain and suffering).  Illinois, New Hampshire, Missouri, Georgia, and others have seen similar decisions.  A few states have re-written laws capping damages after a court overturn of an initial version, including Texas, Kansas, Ohio and Wisconsin.  But for other states like, Kentucky, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming, caps are explicitly forbidden in the language of their state constitutions.  The trend definitely seems to be toward states moving away from these caps on non-economic damages.

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Physician Shortages, Gone Country

Practicing Medicine in a Rural Context

Physician Shortages Gone CountryMost of us who work in and around the medical field are aware that for some years now we’ve been experiencing a physician shortage relative to need, and that recent legislative moves and demographic trends are likely to exacerbate the problem.  With millions coming into the total patient pool under the Affordable Care Act, an aging baby boomer population, and less young people opting for a career in medicine the challenges ahead are substantial.  But what often doesn’t get as much attention is the specifics of whom this affects.

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Disability Insurance: Are You Covered?

Disability InsuranceGet an additional $3M or more as a tax-free lump sum.

Disability insurance is one of those things most of us don’t often think about.  But, for doctors especially, there are particularly good reasons to consider it carefully.  The specifics of what doctors do and what could constitute disability in their line of work, combined with the often substantial salaries of those in the medical field combine to make disability insurance even more valuable to doctors than to the average person.  However, those same factors can make getting the right kind of disability coverage particularly difficult for doctors as well.

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