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Blog | Leadership Skills Development

Healthcare News of Note: Nation’s transplant system in need of an overhaul

Blog | Leadership Skills Development

Healthcare News of Note: Nation’s transplant system in need of an overhaul

  • It’s time for an entire overhaul of the United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit agency that operates the country’s transplant system, according to a confidential government review obtained by The Washington Post.
  • Informing physicians about how their performance compares with that of their peers can affect physician well-being, but a new study shows leadership support training could help mitigate this negative influence.
  • Four healthcare professionals have been appointed to Dollar General’s new Healthcare Advisory Panel as part of the company’s emphasis on expanding its healthcare offerings.

Over the last few weeks, I have found these industry news stories that should be of interest to healthcare finance professionals.    

1. The nation’s transplant system in need of an overhaul, says an exclusive byThe Washington Post

It’s time for an entire overhaul of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the nonprofit agency that operates the country’s transplant system, according to a confidential government review obtained by The Washington Post.

“The system for getting donated kidneys, livers and hearts to desperately ill patients relies on out-of-date technology that has crashed for hours at a time and has never been audited by federal officials for security weaknesses or other serious flaws,” wrote Joseph Menn and Larry Bernstein, the authors of the July 31 article in the Post.

The draft review, completed in January 2021 by the White House’s U.S. Digital Service, recommended that the government “break up the current monopoly” that UNOS has held for 36 years, according to the authors.

The authors added: “As portrayed in the report and interviews with current and former government officials, the technology that runs the transplant system is not only far behind current standards but also unlikely to catch up. That’s because UNOS owns the system under an unusual contract with the Department of Health and Human Services that prevents meaningful oversight.

“That ‘leaves the government with only a monitoring function to make sure the OPTN [Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network] contractor follows the statute … Any change in the way the system operates likely would require Congress to amend the 1984 law.”

2. Physician performance comparisons likely to affect job satisfaction and increase burnout, says study

A commonly used behavioral intervention — informing physicians about how their performance compares with that of their peers — can affect physician well-being, according to a new study. The researchers say leadership support training could help mitigate this negative influence.

The study — published July 14 by PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science) — found that such peer comparisons:

  • Did not significantly improve physicians’ preventive care performance
  • Did significantly decrease job satisfaction and increase burnout with the effect on job satisfaction persisting for at least four months after the intervention had been discontinued

Study authors noted that while in past studies these types of comparisons have been shown to change physician behavior, such as overprescribing of antibiotics, “researchers and policymakers risk overlooking an important, less-visible class of outcomes, namely, recipient well-being.”

The authors wrote that an intervention appears to inadvertently signal a lack of support from leadership.   

“Our work highlights that when leaders offer the necessary context and support to accompany a peer comparison intervention, recipients may draw more positive inferences about their leaders’ intent,” wrote the authors. “This can buffer against the harmful effects of peer comparison interventions on well-being.”

The five-month field experiment (November 2019 through March 2020) involved 199 primary care physicians and 46,631 patients.

3. Dollar General appoints 3 physicians and 1 DNP to new Healthcare Advisory Panel

Dollar General Corporation appointed “four members to the Company’s newly established Healthcare Advisory Panel as part of DG’s emphasis on expanding its healthcare offerings,” according to a July 28 news release.

“The panel is composed of healthcare industry subject matter experts who will serve as thought partners and strategists to Dollar General regarding its developing approach on how to best invest its resources in the context of the health and wellness landscape,” said the release.

Joining Albert Wu, MD, the discount store’s chief medical officer, according to the release, are:

  • Patrick Carroll, MD, the chief medical officer (CMO) of Vida Health, San Francisco, and a former CMO for Walgreens.
  • Katy Lanz, DNP, APN, the chief strategy and product officer at Personal Care Medical Associates in Pittsburgh, and a national board director for National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in Arlington, Virginia.
  • Von Nguyen, MD, the clinical lead of public and population health at Google and a former CMO and senior vice president at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.
  • Yolanda Hill Wimberly, MD, MSC, FAAP, the senior vice president and chief health equity officer at Grady Health Systems, Atlanta, and a professor of pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta. 

Wu, formerly the engagement manager at McKinsey & Co., Boston, joined Dollar General in July of 2021 at the same time the company announced the planned expansion of its healthcare offering, according to the release.

 

About the Author

Deborah Filipek

is a senior editor with HFMA, Downers Grove, Ill.

Sign up for a free guest account and get access to five free articles every month.

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