Happy Fierce Friday!

While you're digesting the Turkey, enjoy FierceHealthcare's digest of the best-of features from 2012. With the Supreme Court decision, presidential election and healthcare reform implementation, this year has proven to be one of the most exciting times in healthcare. We therefore give your our favorite special reports, interviews and columns from the past year.

FierceHealthcare wishes all our readers a happy, healthy holiday season! We look forward to bringing you even more breaking news and in-depth stories in the year ahead.

Maps of 2012 Medicare accountable care organizations

Under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, health reform encouraged accountable care initiatives to start in 2012 and aim for three things: the right care at the right place at the right time.

More than 150 collaborative groups launched their ACOs through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. FierceHealthcare highlights the full lists and maps of Medicare ACOs that launched this year.

>> See the special report

Transitional care models to combat readmissions

Two-thirds of hospitals will be hit with Medicare penalties, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. For discharges that started on Oct. 1, 2012, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, under the Affordable Care Act, requires that Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reduce reimbursements to Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) hospitals with excess readmissions. Hospitals that perform worse than average, with patients coming back to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, face up to a 1 percent penalty, worth up to seven figures--a rate that will only increase as time goes on.

According to the CMS website, IPPS hospitals face the following penalties:

  • October 2012: Up to 1 percent on acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and pneumonia
  • October 2013: Up to 2 percent
  • October 2014: Up to 3 percent, with additional measures, expected around chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, vascular problems, angioplasty and heart bypass surgical complications

Click through to find out more on transitional care models:

  • Care Transitions Intervention
  • Transitional Care Model
  • Project BOOST
  • Project RED

How one hospital system changed hand hygiene compliance

Hand hygiene is easier said than done. Sentara Healthcare, a nonprofit health system that includes 10 acute care hospitals and covers 2 million residents in Virginia and North Carolina, knew that all too well before it launched a system-wide testing and implementation project that increased hand hygiene compliance from about 77 percent to 95 percent. How did it do it? By changing the culture of the system, the hospitals and the staff, including the worst offenders--physicians.

Bloodstream infections, urinary catheter-associated infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia all used to be conditions that were simply considered the cost of doing business at a hospital. Today, those types of healthcare-acquired conditions are avoidable with patient safety advocates making a consorted push for health workers to wash their hands.

  • The impact of hand hygiene on infections
  • What worked and didn't work
  • Changing the organizational culture

Fierce Q&A: Cleveland Clinic wellness program gets results

As Cleveland Clinic's wellness program hits its five-year anniversary, Chief Wellness Officer Michael Roizen says the program is showing real results and returns. FierceHealthcare spoke with Roizen about how the program has affected the patients, the community and employees--plus previews a patient wellness widget that's in the works.

FierceHealthcare: Cleveland Clinic has been a target of criticism for its strict wellness program, with rules against smoking and a ban on sugared drinks, for example. How do you respond?

Michael Roizen: We want to do things that will help our employees be healthy and don't want to do things that will help employees to be unhealthy.

Our goal is to help our employees be as healthy as they can be, which obviously will drive down our costs, which drive down the community's costs, which make our communities competitive for jobs. It's not "Big Brother" to foster health.


Special report: Health reform winners and losers

The Supreme Court this summer ruled much of the reform law was constitutional. The high court's ruling made its mark on several industries, leaving a trail of winners and losers in its wake.

Here, FierceHealthcare, FiercePharma and FierceMedicalDevices look at the major effects of healthcare reform and share our take on the wins, the losses and the draws.


Timeline: Key healthcare deadlines for 2012 and beyond

Whether you're a winner or loser in healthcare reform, moving forward with implementing ACA provisions will involve some new rules and regulations.

Some took effect last month, such as the hospital value-based purchasing (VBP) program to reward quality not quantity. Meanwhile, providers and insurers have more breathing room to comply with ICD-10 coding, thanks to a one-year reprieve from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.