Consumer tastes shift to mattress replacements

Novel technologies and lower costs for mattress replacements are shifting consumers from specialty bed systems and overlays. In an effort to provide more therapeutic value to the end users at an affordable cost, mattress replacements are becoming more technologically advanced. Mattress replacements are increasingly designed to fit the needs of most frames in all healthcare settings, including acute, long-term and home care.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (Palo Alto, California) finds that the U.S. specialty bed and support surface market for wound management earned revenues of $1,625 million in 2005 and estimates it to reach $2,917.4 million in 2012.

The growing demand for highly functional and less-expensive products is creating a cost-driven market, compelling manufacturers to lower prices. Due to an aging population that is prone to developing pressure sores and an increasing number of obese patients, specialty beds and support surfaces with advanced technologies are expecting to dominate the market.

Hospitals pushing for shorter hospital stays are driving demand for advanced technologies in specialty bed and support surface equipment for alternate-care settings.

Hospitals improperly coding Medicare ER claims

Some hospitals are improperly coding Medicare claims for emergency services, according to a study released by American Hospital Directory (Louisville, Kentucky). The report, which looks at Medicare claims and payments for hospital emergency services nationwide from 2002 through 2004, explains that accurate Medicare coding is essential to ensure appropriate payment for evaluation and maintenance services.

Medicare implemented the Outpatient Prospective Payment System in 2000. However, the data examined by Paul Shoemaker, president and CEO of American Hospital Directory, and Leatrice Ford, founder and CEO of ConsultCare Partners, showed an increase in the number of visits coded as high-level emergency visits from 2002 to 2004.

While the level of care given to emergency-room patients may differ because of hospital-specific factors including the complexity of services and size, the shift also may also reflect changes in hospitals' Medicare coding practices, the study reports.

The study provides benchmarking data to aid hospital administrators in determining whether its Medicare coding for medical emergency care is within expected ranges or in need of internal review. The study categorizes hospitals by the number of claims per year and provides the methodology for determining whether a hospital's average reimbursement is higher or lower than expected.

Snoring may affect emotional health

In a recent survey of 5,600 snoring patients, many suffered from depression, anxiety and reported having family issues directly related to their snoring.

“We know that patients who suffer from severe snoring and sleep apnea have an increased level of morbidity and mortality,” according to Dr. Mansoor Madani, chairman of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Capital Health System (Trenton, New Jersey) and associate professor of oral surgery at Temple University (Philadelphia).

“We focused our study on the impact of snoring and sleep apnea in three levels of the patient's daily life: personal, institutional and socioeconomic,” he said.

The study revealed that these personal issues affected their job performance as well. More than 48% had trouble concentrating at work and got tired easily. It was also noted that these patients in the study had continued difficulties in problem-solving and performing complex tasks.

“Our concern was the impact it had on their driving habits. Eighteen percent of patients reported they dozed while driving at least once over the last few years and 7% were involved in accidents causing injuries to themselves and others,” Madani said. He has been treating patients with snoring and sleep apnea for the past 12 years and is a pioneer in laser surgery.

Of an estimated 25 million patients who suffer from sleep apnea, only 5% have actually been diagnosed with sleep apnea. “Snoring is one of the main indicators of sleep apnea and unfortunately is largely being ignored,” he said.

“It costs the U.S. economy over $88.4 billion each year in poor performance, accident claims and healthcare costs,” Madani added.

COPD patients need spirometry testing

At least two-thirds of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) do not receive lung function testing that is recommended for the accurate diagnosis and effective management of the disease, suggesting that the majority of patients are diagnosed with COPD based on symptoms alone.

New research published in the June issue of Chest, the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (Northbrook, Illinois), finds that only one-third of patients recently diagnosed with COPD underwent spirometry, a noninvasive lung function test, to confirm COPD or to manage their condition. Current national guidelines recommend spirometry for the diagnosis and management of COPD.

“Spirometry testing is necessary for the diagnosis and staging of COPD, yet the majority of patients with COPD are being diagnosed based on symptoms and smoking history,” said Todd Lee, PharmD, PhD, of Hines VA Hospital (Hines, Illinois) and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Chicago). “While these patients may indeed have COPD, spirometry is needed to make a definite diagnosis. As a result, patients who do not have COPD may be receiving unnecessary chronic therapy.”

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