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But over the past decade, as state and federal governments have intensified monitoring efforts to root out incorrect and/or fraudulent billing practices by health care providers, Holderle found himself heading up an effort that takes on increasing importance throughout the University of Rochester Medical Center.
"Our institution has high quality and ethical standards to guide all faculty and staff in their actions, no matter what their job is," Holderle said, who serves as the Compliance Officer for URMC and Strong Health. "We all need to be vigilant in ensuring that what we do – whether it’s training residents, providing patient care, or billing for services – meets our standards and established guidelines."
The Compliance Office plays a key role in making sure this is happening throughout the Medical Center by offering proactive assistance with department initiatives such as developing documentation templates, implementing a new service, or evaluating the billing parameters for new equipment. In addition, staff members can help determine the potential impact of mistakes identified by employees.
A Code of Conduct was established to help faculty and staff understand some of the specific laws that regulate their actions. Education programs – including orientation, one-on-one education, group sessions and the recent Health Care Compliance Conference (see sidebar) – are routinely offered to keep employees abreast of the current billing and coding guidelines from state/local governments and insurers. In addition, the Compliance Office completes regular, periodic audits to identify risk areas.
Another key component to the compliance program is the Integrity Hotline (756-8888), a resource that allows employees to confidentially and/or anonymously report suspected violations directly to the Compliance Office. Faculty and staff are encouraged to call the hotline with any issues or concerns.
"It’s important that everyone recognize compliance issues
are not the purview of this one department. The opposite is true –
compliance is the job of every single person and every single department,"
Holderle said. "We need everyone to understand their role in compliance
and how they can easily connect with us if there is a concern."
"There are volumes upon volumes of federal and state rules and regulations that make coding and billing extremely complicated," Levy said. "We understand mistakes can be made, and want to do all we can to help employees stay ahead of the curve and proactively correct mistakes before they become large issues."
Levy added that in today’s environment, where state and federal governments are actively investigating billing irregularities, it makes a big difference when an institution comes forward and self-reports errors. "We sincerely believe we need to be transparent in our business operations. If we find problems, we need to correct them. Our hope is that government agencies will view our ‘get it right’ attitude favorably, minimizing our risks of being subject to the large fines and penalties that can result from documentation or billing mistakes."
Berk assumed the role on Aug. 1, following a national search. In the months since, he has been leading a comprehensive strategic planning process that charts the Medical Center's course for the next five to 10 years.
"As he nears his 100th day as Chief Executive Officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center, Brad has already demonstrated that he is the right person to lead URMC to a new level of clinical and research achievement," University President Joel Seligman noted. "He has an inspiring balance of scientific prowess, leadership talent, and care for the health of patients and the more than 13,000 individuals who work at URMC. He is and will be a great leader."
Chief of Cardiology Mark Taubman, M.D., traced Berk's career as a leading cardiac scientist during the event. Berk's work has focused on characterizing the molecular signals that determine a person's cardiovascular health – why, for instance, a person might have a stroke or heart attack, or why he or she may be prone to high blood pressure. Berk has made "perhaps the most substantial contribution in the world to scientists' understanding of these signals," Taubman said.
In his inaugural address, Berk borrowed a phrase from Martin Luther King, Jr., when speaking of the importance of embracing future opportunities with "the fierce urgency of now." Citing the shift from manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy and the awesome potential of new technology, Berk said, "…never before in the history of this institution has the convergence of opportunities been greater."
Berk also gave an update on the creation of the Medical Center's strategic plan that he said is "designed to guide us through a landscape where intellect, innovation, and creativity are cultivated and where the spirit of exploration, discovery and risk-taking leads the way."
The evening began with Seligman presenting the Eastman Medal to URMC Board chair Robert Hurlbut. The Medal recognizes individuals who, through their outstanding achievement and dedicated service, embody the high ideals for which the University stands. Hurlbut has been a long-time member of the Board of Trustees and the URMC Board. In bestowing the Medal on Hurlbut, Seligman cited his "sage advice, loyalty, and willingness to help strengthen a great University and a great medical center."
The community education event drew more than 400 "students" to learn about aging, cancer, cardiac care, ophthalmology, and orthopaedics. James P. Wilmot Cancer Center scientist Craig T. Jordan, Ph.D., gave the opening lecture on the application of stem cell science in cancer research.
A new era began on Thursday, Nov. 16 at the University of Rochester Medical Center as the entire campus and select off-site locations became Smoke FREE – inside and out. This means that all faculty, staff, patients and visitors who wish to smoke must do so outside of the established Smoke FREE perimeter.
As a leading health care organization, it is inconsistent with our missions to allow anyone to smoke – or be exposed to smoke – while at our facilities. In making this move, the Medical Center joins several other organizations in our region including Highland Hospital, Rochester General Hospital and Newark Wayne in its effort to create a healthier environment for faculty, staff and patients.
Brochures with the new perimeter map are available at main access points to the Medical Center. In addition, information on the program, including details on smoking cessation programs available free of charge to faculty and staff, is available on the Medical Center intranet or at www.stronghealth.com (click on Smoke FREE icon).
Two new cartoon characters officially joined the Golisano Children’s Hospital family in November, headed by matron mascot Sandy Strong.
"Anna Wellagain" and "Michael Miracle" were selected by a team of hospital faculty and staff, who pored over more than 600 suggestions submitted by local kids in response to a naming contest. Children were invited to suggest names in hopes of leaving their mark on the region’s only children’s hospital. The names came from two local children:
Olivia Spence, 4, of Fairport, brainstormed the name "Anna Wellagain". She says it gives hope and meaning to "why we go to the hospital." Steven Campione, Jr., 9, of East Rochester, created "Michael Miracle", a tribute to his brother, "whose name is Michael, is autistic, and has really come a long way." Stephen says his brother’s progress is nothing short of a miracle.
Both won a prize package consisting of an iPod nano, a one-year family membership to Strong – National Museum of Play, and a doll of the named friend sewn by local artist Shanna Murray.
Sandy Strong was originally designed by area artist John Kuchera in the ‘70s. Although she has evolved since – much like renderings of Mickey Mouse have – she, along with her friends, still stand for state-of-the-art healthcare and a symbol of children’s wellness for Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region on whole.
For more information on Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong or the naming contest, visit www.gchas.org.
More than 200 faculty, staff and students stopped by the Flaum Atrium on Tuesday, Nov. 14 to partake in the inaugural concert of the Music on My Mind series. With the goal of infusing music into the life of University of Rochester Medical Center employees, the Department of Neurosurgery launched the musical series, and plans to offer the free concert series throughout the year for faculty, staff and students.
"Music on My Mind is the collective brainchild of many in our academic and clinical communities who have yearned to infuse music into the daily life and culture of our institution," said Webster Pilcher, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. "With the extraordinary musical resources available in the broad University of Rochester community, it is only natural that such an initiative has sprung to life, fostering an informal, collegial interchange between members of the entire University community.
Subsequent concerts will feature a full orchestra with piano concerto, string, brass, guitar performers, and will embrace a wide spectrum of offerings including classical, romantic, contemporary, jazz and folk music. All will be held at 4:30 p.m. to accommodate as many as faculty and staff possible. The next concert is scheduled for Wednesday Dec. 6 in the atrium. For more information, call the Department of Neurosurgery at 275-8344.