Corinth Surgeon Performs Revolutionary Hip Replacement
Dr. Randall Frazier perfoming the revolutionary hip replacement surgery.
Corinth orthopedic surgeon Randall Frazier, M.D. has performed at Magnolia Regional Health Center, Corinth what only a handful of surgeons across the country have been able to offer: computer-assisted, less-invasive total hip replacement surgery.
Computer-assisted surgery is being referred to as a "global positioning system" for the human body, allowing surgeons to be more precise when placing implants. Dr. Randall Frazier of Alcorn County recently performed his first computer-assisted surgery, or "CAS," using the Smith & Nephew Achieve CAS software that runs on the Orthosoft platform. Frazier is one of the few doctors in the United States to perform a Smith & Nephew Achieve CAS hip procedure. "I am encouraged by the accuracy this new technology affords in performing this procedure," states Frazier. "This should allow better functional outcomes and perhaps improved longevity of the total hip replacement and thus reduce the need for future surgeries. It also allows the use of minimally invasive techniques on hips."
BY CHIP MABRY
Local Neurologists Work to Curb High Incidence of Brain Tumors
Dr. Paul J. May, UMC associate professor of anatomy, illustrates the activity of neurons in the brain for an NEI study (Midbrain Circuitry for Neuronal Control of Gaze).
Since childhood, Paul May has been fascinated with how the brain responds to stimuli.
May, M.D., an associate professor of anatomy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMC), recently illustrated the activity of neurons in the brain for his NEI study, "Midbrain Circuitry for Neuronal Control of Gaze." His emphasis, inspired by a family member with torticollis, focuses on the brain circuits coordinating eye and head movement. Torticollis, which is incurable, represents an involuntary contracting of neck muscles which results in an unnatural position of the head.
"It's as if the system that would normally turn your head to look at something is turned on and won't turn off," said May. "This project could allow physicians to make more rational hypotheses about what is happening to patients who have this disease."
BY LYNNE JETER
Managed Care Plans Roll Out Their Part D Drug Programs
Roger Gates, DSS Research
For months a group of managed care companies has been carefully crafting drug programs to be subsidized for seniors under Medicare Part D. Kept under wraps and waiting for federal approval, the MCOs were clearly straining at the legal leash that was used to prevent any marketing activities until October.
"Were excited about the growth potential," said Mike Seltzer, CEO of Humana's Florida senior products division. "What I'm seeing is that there are a lot of marketing plans. CMS has millions of marketing dollars ready and assigned for various areas around the country. They're going to be talking a lot about the new drug benefit."
And in this case, talk is not cheap.
BY TRACY STATON
|Physician Spotlight: Scott Whitaker|
When Scott Whitaker was a student at Heritage Academy in his hometown of Columbus, he was known as the class clown. Never taken seriously by his schoolmates, he was named Least Likely to Succeed at the school's senior banquet in 1980.
For several years after graduating from high school, Whitaker believed his peers might have been right. The son of real estate professionals, he was a real estate mortgage finance major at Mississippi State University when he flunked out of college and went on the road as bass guitarist for the rock band Easy Street. He made $250 a week.
"After a little bit of growing up, I went from being a high school and college failure to being a dean's scholar and going to medical school without a diploma, out of state at that," said Whitaker, M.D. and D.M.D., and proprietor of Oxford Maxillofacial Surgery Center in Oxford. "Besides, my girlfriend, Susan, who's now my wife, gave me a choice: her or the band. And I chose her."
BY LYNNE JETER
To Sleep Perchance to Dream
Dr. Howard Roffwarg of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
"We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep," wrote William Shakespeare in The Tempest. Today's research shows that the great playwright may have been ahead of his time in understanding the importance of dreaming sleep and its relationship to our health.
Dr. Howard Roffwarg of the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMC) has studied sleep and dreams, particularly REM Sleep, his entire professional career. In 1960, as a resident in psychiatry at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, he attended a lecture on sleep and dreams by William Dement, M.D., Ph.D. Dement had early grasped the importance and was at the forefront of the fledgling field of sleep research. His work and efforts eventually led to establishment of the first scientific sleep research society, the Association for the Psychophysiological Study of Sleep and, later, the first sleep disorders clinic in the USA at Stanford University. Roffwarg was fascinated with the 1960 lecture and volunteered to help Dement with his research in New York. Dement accepted and Roffwarg had an opportunity to participate in research history.
BY CHIP MABRY
|Accounting Firms Provide Multitude of Services Beyond Tax Filing|
Handling tax returns and bookkeeping duties are mere starting points for the plethora of services Certified Public Accountants, or CPAs, provide medical practices these days.
Perhaps more than any other business advisor, a CPA knows how businesses function, and this specialized knowledge provides opportunities for them to help physicians become more profitable. They anticipate challenges and help physicians prepare strategically to meet those challenges. They also keep up with regulations that allow them to provide insight on how to best position physician operations to benefit from these changes. Because of their hands-on expertise and knowledge of the healthcare industry, they assist medical practices and hospitals with problem solving.
"The benefits to a medical practice are tremendous," said Joey Havens, CPA, of Horne, LLP, CPAs and Business Advisors in Jackson. He quickly listed such advantages as operational reviews to assist in capturing revenues and collections, coding reviews to keep the practices in compliance with payer guidelines for documentation, and buy-in/buy-out issues that require special expertise.
BY LYNNE JETER
|Handling Past Due Accounts|
When it's time to turn over uncollectibles to a collection agency, physicians should choose a bonded agency affiliated with the American Collector Association and one that is familiar with medical collections, especially related to co-pays, deductibles, secondary insurance and HIPAA regulations.
"The national average for all medical collections is about 14 percent, in the southeast, about 16 percent, and in metropolitan areas, the recoveries are in the low 20 percent range," said Dick Williams, president of Healthcare Financial Services, LLC, in Jackson. "However, this is more a function of 'age of account placed.' Usually less than 150 days old is ideal."
BY LYNNE JETER
|Keeping Files Safe|
"It's hard to defend against a widespread natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina," said George Butler, CPA, head of GranthamPoole CPAs' medical team. "However, having a well-designed disaster plan is a first step. The plan should include alternate clinic locations, backup computer resources, and adequate insurance coverage for business interruption and property damage."
Physicians and their clinics are gradually converting to paperless document storage and Electronic Medical Records (EMR). The accounting information and patient files are stored electronically and backups may be stored in multiple locations. Daily, monthly and annual backups should be made. Multiple monthly and year-end backups should also be made and stored in different secure locations.
BY LYNNE JETER
|Advantage: Consulting Services|
Just as it is important for medical practices or hospitals to use consultants who have expertise in the area where improvement is being sought, it is also vital for the consultant to be able to interpret national standards and criteria related to medical practice and hospital operations.
"It is an advantage for medical practices and hospitals to use outside consultants," said Bettie McGruder-Sanders, a certified family nurse practitioner with Sanders Medical Consultants, Inc., in Madison. "Consultants are able to see areas of improvements that staff who work in the medical practice or hospitals are unable to see. The consultants can make suggestions along with guidelines on how a particular area can be improved. These areas may include staff changes, policy, or procedural changes. It is well known that staffs that work day to day in operations are unable to see areas for improvement. Using a consultant helps delete the old saying, 'if it is not broken, don't fix it.' This limits the growth of the medical practice or hospital."
BY LYNNE JETER
|Health Officials Hopeful That Sufficient Flu Vaccine Will Be Available|
Flu season is upon us, and health officials are keeping their fingers crossed that this year will play out without any of the sudden vaccination snafus that have roiled the healthcare system in years past.
This year, health officials believe the United States will need about 90 million doses of flu vaccine to satisfy demand. And vaccine manufacturers have assured the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta that 89 million to 97 million doses are on their way, says Ray Strickas, M.D., assistant director for adult immunization activities for the CDC.
Strickas believes that the U.S. should be able to avoid a repeat of the last flu season, when British health officials found that the Chiron Corporation's vaccine production facility in the U.K. was contaminated and unexpectedly shut it down, erasing more than half of the United States' needed vaccine supply.
BY JOHN CARROLL
Wesley Opens New ER, Newton Regional Opens New Hospital
Newton Regional Hospital
Wesley Medical Center now has the most comfortable and technologically advanced Fast-Track ER in south Mississippi. Minor injuries and illnesses are treated as quickly as possible while patients with more serious conditions are triaged separately. The newly renovated ER facilities were fully operational on August 22.
After a $5.4 million renovation Wesley now has the following: five Fast-Track rooms for quicker response to minor injuries, a dedicated cardiac treatment room, a dedicated room for obstetrical emergencies, an ear, nose and throat exam room, an orthopedic exam room, a dedicated room for trauma injuries, a decontamination room, and a new family-friendly waiting area with a separate children's play area.
BY CHIP MABRY
Pine Grove Offers Treatment and Recovery Programs in Natural Surroundings
Located on 22 acres of pine trees within natural surroundings, Pine Grove offers a tranquil and serene environment for treatment and recovery.
Nestled in a grove of pine trees — a natural colonnade of tall, straight evergreens fortified against the elements — is Pine Grove, a haven renowned for behavioral health and addiction treatment.
The 22-acre campus, an extension of the not-for-profit Forrest General Hospital healthcare system, houses one of the south's most comprehensive treatment facilities. Accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, Pine Grove features separate inpatient units for adult psychiatric treatment, adult alcohol/drug treatment, and child/adolescent treatment, and also assists families through outpatient and residential programs.
"Pine Grove was originally established 21 years ago to treat physicians," said Dr. Alexis Polles, medical director of Pine Grove's Professional Enhancement and Gentle Path programs. "Over the years, our reach has extended to a full spectrum of treatment for a full spectrum of people. Our programs address the needs of not only those privileged by education, finances or ability, but also the indigent and homeless population. The diversity of patients and staff represents an unusual collection of colorful and creative individuals."
BY LYNNE JETER
Southwest façade of the John E. Porter National Neuroscience Research Center.
In the late spring of 2004, research scientists began moving into the new state-of-the-art John E. Porter National Neuroscience Research Center.
Three years earlier, more than 150 investigators representing nine institutes of the NIH gathered to hear Dr. Gerald Fischbach, then director of the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and Dr. Steven Hyman, then director of the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), outline their idea of creating an integrated framework to further research efforts in the neurosciences.
The two leaders, who are no longer with the NIH, envisioned a facility where investigators from different disciplines could work together sharing space, equipment and ideas to build upon basic research in five key areas — neurogentics, neuroplasticity, neurodevelopment, neural circuits and mood incognition.
Today, their dream is rapidly becoming a reality. Already, scientists from different institutes work in clusters depending on their lines of research.
BY CINDY SANDERS
|Alzheimer's and ALS Research Continues|
Age typically plays a key role in the onset of Alzheimer's and ALS. One disease imprisons the mind, while the other imprisons the body. Even though treatment options are limited for both conditions, researchers continue to search for clues behind these devastating neurological disorders.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person's memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities.
By 2025, America's healthcare community will experience a 44 percent increase in patients with Alzheimer's disease, with the southeastern states among the hardest hit. According to the May 11 issue of Neurology, this trend will emerge as perhaps the greatest threat to the nation's healthcare system unless researchers find a way to prevent or slow the progression of the disease.
BY LYNNE JETER
Demetrius Maraganore, M.D., Mayo Clinic
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have produced the first large-scale whole genome map of genetic variability associated with Parkinson's disease, with results highlighting changes in a dozen genes that may increase the risk for the disease in some people. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research funded the project, in collaboration with scientists at Perlegen Sciences, Inc.
"This represents one of the first large-scale whole genome association studies of any disease," said Mayo Clinic neurologist Demetrius Maraganore, M.D. "It's something we've wanted to do for years, and now we finally had the technology and funding to make it happen. If confirmed, the findings may lead to new insights about the causes of Parkinson's disease."
"The impact of this research to Mississippians with Parkinson's disease is pretty far out," said Bertha Blanchard, M.D., a neurologist with Southern Neuro Science Center in Hattiesburg. "What do you do if you discover a Parkin gene? We don't have any gene therapy, or therapy to agitate or manipulate the gene in any way. It's very controversial, but the answer to these progressive neurological diseases sits in stem cell research."
BY LYNNE JETER
MCI Screen May Improve Alzheimer's Detection, Treatment
Dr. William Rodman Shankle
Dr. William Rodman "Rod" Shankle is a board-certified neurologist and statistician whose entire career has been focused on Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, or ADRD.
Almost two decades ago, he co-founded the Alzheimer's Research Center at the University of California, Irvine. Currently, he manages about 1,000 patients through his community-based private clinic in Orange County and is the chief medical officer for the Medical Care Corporation (MCC), a private company he founded that specializes in management and detection tools for ADRD.
Last month, Shankle demonstrated the centerpiece of his company's technologies, the MCI Screen, at the American Academy of Family Physicians Conference. The screening tool for mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, was developed by a team of cognitive and computer scientists.
Shankle says he and his team screened the neuropsychological tests from the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease (CERAD) Battery for the National Institute of Aging.
BY CINDY SANDERS
An Exciting Time for the Neurosciences
Dr. Thomas Swift
The American Academy of Neurology has gone public.
Established in 1948, the international association of 19,000 neurologists and neurosciences professionals has just wrapped up its inaugural public expo.
Held in Atlanta, this first public forum was designed to increase visibility of neurological diseases, disseminate information, to raise awareness of the impact of neurological disorders on American society and to try to connect patients with support services.
Dr. Thomas Swift, a board certified neurologist and the 29th president of the AAN, says the late October event was a "proof of concept" experiment. The organization will evaluate the results in the coming weeks to decide whether to replicate the event in other areas around the country.
Whether or not public education continues in this particular format, the impetus to share information on neurological advances and raise awareness of diseases is clear when examining the number of people who will be affected by a neurological disorder in their lifetime.
BY CINDY SANDERS
|New Medical Technologies' Price Tag Will Challenge Society|
A new report from the influential Rand Corporation underscores the dilemma posed by new and better healthcare therapies: They work.
New drugs in the pipeline for chronic ailments like Alzheimer's will likely extend seniors' lives, says Dana Goldman, director of health economics at Rand Health and leader of the research project. But in the process, the elderly will live longer, adding more to the already soaring cost of Medicare and presenting major societal debates over how these technologies will be paid for.
"An array of new medical technology on the horizon could greatly inflate elderly healthcare spending," says Goldman. "This technology is valuable because it will improve health and extend lives. But we need to begin thinking about how to pay for it."
Goldman and fellow Rand researchers looked at 10 new medical technologies likely to be adopted over the next 25 years to see what impact they would likely have on healthcare spending in America. The cost model they used was developed by Rand, Stanford University and the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System.
BY TRACY STATON
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