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Daily Briefing Blog

What to know about current foodborne illness outbreaks

April 27, 2015

Sam Bernstein, Daily Briefing

Blue Bell Ice Cream is suspending all of its manufacturing operations starting today, following an outbreak of listeria linked to its products that has sickened 10 and killed three. But the Blue Bell outbreak is only the latest in a series of foodborne illness outbreaks in the news.

Listeria outbreaks in multiple states

Listeria is a type of bacteria found in soil and water that can be carried by animals. It is commonly found in unpasteurized cheese and milk, as well as processed meats. Listeria can be particularly difficult to eradicate because it grows very well in cold temperatures.

Most people exposed to Listeria do not become ill. However, exposure to the bacteria can lead to listeriosis; people with compromised immune systems, elderly individuals, and pregnant women are most at risk. Early symptoms of infection include fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

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Why physicians are more burned out and dissatisfied than ever

April 24, 2015

Juliette Mullin, senior editor

If I had one takeaway from this year's physician compensation survey from Medscape Medical News, it's that doctors are making more money than ever—but they're also more dissatisfied than ever about their career choices.

Survey breakdown: Two physician specialties saw compensation drop last year

In recent years, doctors have consistently reported dissatisfaction with their choice of specialty and practice setting. In the most recent iteration of Medscape's survey, which included 19,500 physicians polled between December 2014 and March 2015, the majority of doctors (64%) said they would choose medicine as a career if given the chance for a life do-over. But just 45% of them would pick the same specialty, and just 24% of would choose the same practice setting. 

For some specialties, the dissatisfaction is even more evident. For example, just 25% of internal medicine doctors said they would pick the same specialty again, compared with 73% of dermatologists.

It's clear that David Bornstein was on to something when he wrote in the New York Times in 2013 that "[m]edicine is facing a crisis, but it's not just about money; it's about meaning," Bornstein writes.

So what's driving this burnout and disengagement among this critical part of the health care workforce?

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What happens when a hospital closes

April 23, 2015

Juliette Mullin, senior editor

On Tuesday, "Amazing Grace" played in the halls of Doctors Medical Center (DMC) as its staff members hugged and talked about the 60-year-old hospital's closure and the end of an era for the city of San Pablo, California, which will now go without a hospital or access to timely emergency care.

But the moment came as no surprise. In fact, the closure was the culmination of years of efforts to keep the facility open, and then months of work to shut it down.

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67 hospitals earn spots in the second round of the BUILD Health Challenge

April 20, 2015

More than 300 city-based partnerships from 41 states submitted applications for the inaugural round of the BUILD Health Challenge. Each submission included at least three partners from a low-income urban neighborhood: a hospital or health system, a local health department, and a community-based nonprofit.

The applications revealed a diverse understanding of what it means to address the upstream causes of health, highlighting issues as varied as stress remediation, food system assessments, immunization programs, housing, education, and more.

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Where hospitals fared best in CMS's new five-star ratings

April 20, 2015

Juliette Mullin, senior editor

Last week, CMS caused quite the stir when it introduced a new ratings system for hospitals, this one using a five-star scale to evaluate hospitals on patient experiences.

About the new ratings

The new ratings—on the Hospital Compare website—are part of a broader effort to offer star ratings on all of CMS's consumer-facing Compare websites.

Medicare first began using star ratings in 2008, when it applied them to nursing homes. In the past year, it has implemented similar programs for home health providers, dialysis facilities, and large group practices. According to Modern Healthcare's Sabriya Rice, the rollouts were met with controversy over the methodology and debate over whether the ratings added or eliminated confusion for patients.

The hospital rating system offers a star rating based on the 11 publicly reported measures in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey, which assesses patient experiences. This year's ratings evaluated patient experiences from July 2013 to June 2014.

In total, Medicare awarded five-star ratings to 251 of the 3,553 eligible hospitals—or about 7% of the nation's hospitals. In addition:

  • 1,205 hospitals, about 34%, received four stars;
  • 1,414 hospitals, about 40 %, received three stars;
  • 582 hospitals, about 16% received two stars; and
  • 101 hospitals, about 3%, received one star.

Medicare did not rate 1,102 hospitals, because it lacked adequate patient experience data during the survey period.

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Interviews with the influential

April 6, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

How did Toby Cosgrove's life change after being named CEO of Cleveland Clinic? What advice does Providence Health's Rod Hochman have for aspiring clinician leaders? 

If you regularly read the Daily Briefing, you probably know the answers.

Modern Healthcare this week named Cosgrove, Hochman, and 48 other prominent doctors to their annual list of the 50 "Most Influential" physician executives—and several of these top leaders have shared secrets of their careers in exclusive Daily Briefing interviews.

Below, see excerpts from our conversations with Cosgrove, Hochman, Mayo Clinic's John Noseworthy, and more. (We've denoted where they stand on Modern Healthcare's list by inserting a number in front of their names.)

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The power of a superstar co-worker

March 30, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

You've probably heard the maxim: A good team is greater than the sum of its parts.

But what if a good team only becomes great because of its best part?

That's the finding of a recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, where University of Iowa researchers tracked about 600 workers at a Chinese petrochemical company, split into nearly 90 different teams.

The best-performing teams had strong common processes in place. They knew where to pitch in, when to share work, and how each of them needed to achieve at least a minimum level of quality.

But what the Iowa researchers found was something that project managers have intuitively understood for centuries: a single superstar coworker can exert outsized influence.

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The states where the Alzheimer's population is surging

March 25, 2015

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

Currently, about 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. But the latest data from the Alzheimer's Association finds that, every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops the condition.

By 2025, experts predict that more than seven million Americans will have Alzheimer's. And by 2050, that number is expected to reach 13.8 million—barring medical breakthroughs to prevent or cure the disease.

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