Specialists are in short supply in the EDs of more than half of the nation's community hospitals, says a new survey from the American Hospital Association. In the past two years, 55 percent of hospitals reported a shortage of specialists for at least some length of time. The fields most in demand these days are orthopedists (26 percent of hospitals lost adequate coverage at some point in 2007) and neurosurgeons (25 percent report a coverage gap). Reasons for the specialty gap range from lifestyle issues, such as a desire to work fewer hours, to an inability to attract physicians.
Minnesota is the first state to require healthcare providers to send their claims electronically. Starting in 2009, physicians and other providers must use their computers to complete transactions (including verifying eligibility and sending claims) with health plans, according to the new state law. Minnesota's Commissioner of Health, in consultation with a consortium of public and private payers, hospitals, healthcare providers, and state agencies, will set up uniform standards for the e-claims process.