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UTMC coders help generate $1.4M in gross revenue

The University of Toledo Medical Center collected $1.4 million in gross revenue last fiscal year because of a commitment to educate on accurate and detailed physician documentation.

Paula Kessler, director of health information management at UTMC, said the documentation improvement team is dedicated to the identification of clinical indications and treatments or services provided to patients. The team wants to make sure the treatments are reflected accurately in the physician’s documentation in the medical record before going to the inpatient coders and, ultimately, the insurance companies. The more accurate the coding, the more likely the insurance companies will pay accordingly, she said.

“The bottom line is we are doing a good job of painting an accurate picture of the patient’s hospital stay, which allows for the hospital to be accurately reimbursed for the services provided,” Kessler said.

UTMC began hiring documentation improvement specialists in 2007. Kessler said housing the documentation improvement program in health information management works because of the detailed and concentrated coding education and training that the employees receive in a two- or four-year health information college program.

For instance, a doctor might note a drop in hemoglobin and order a transfusion. However, the doctor might never state that the patient has anemia and what type of anemia the patient has, which is important to know for reimbursement purposes.

“Documentation improvement specialists know the coding and are diligent in their efforts to contact the doctors to get clarification,” said Holly Hill, coding manager. “We don’t want to leave money on the table. This is what we went to school for. Doctors went to school to care for patients. We are here to help the doctors.”

Documentation improvement specialists at UT Medical Center are, from left,  Megan Burtscher, Carmen Clarke Davis, Holly Hill, Kita Fleming and Jenny Blandford.

Documentation improvement specialists at UT Medical Center are, from left,
Megan Burtscher, Carmen Clarke Davis, Holly Hill, Kita Fleming and Jenny Blandford.

Inpatient coders at UTMC are, from left, Sarah Hamblin, Jennifer Pawlaczyk and Angela Huss.

Inpatient coders at UTMC are, from left, Sarah Hamblin, Jennifer Pawlaczyk and Angela Huss.

UT faculty film accepted to prominent international film festival

Holly Hey, a filmmaker and faculty member of The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film, will screen one of her films in the internationally recognized Aesthetica Short Film Festival in November.

The Aesthetica Film Festival, accredited by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, is a celebration of independent film and an outlet for championing and supporting short filmmaking. The festival includes a selection of films from around the world in genres including advertising, artists’ film, music video, drama and documentary.

These stills are from Holly Hey’s film, “the dum dum capitol of the world,” which will be shown at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in November.

These stills are from Holly Hey’s film, “the dum dum capitol of the world,” which will be shown at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in November.

Hey’s film, “the dum dum capitol of the world,” emerged successfully after two competitive rounds of selection review.

The UT associate professor of film said the first-person experimental documentary is a moving-image meditation that contemplates landscape, home, recollection, queerness and time.

“The project uses personal history to reflect on universal themes about home, life, love, parenting, memory and death,” she said.

Hey began the project in 2005 when she received funding from the LEF Moving Image Foundation. She later received funding from The University of Toledo in 2012 and completed the film in 2014.

To date, “the dum dum capitol of the world” has screened at several festivals, including the Ann Arbor Film Festival; the Athens Film Festival in Athens, Ohio; the Queens World Film Festival in New York; and the Moon Rise Film Festival in British Columbia.

Hey is head of the UT Film Program. She holds a master of fine arts degree in filmmaking from the Art Institute of Chicago.

She makes a broad range of work that can be seen in galleries, film festivals, live performances and on television. Her works have screened both nationally and internationally, and the National Educational Telecommunications Association distributed her last major release, “Rat Stories,” which aired on PBS affiliates in the United States, British Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Medical director to lead outpatient care at UTMC

Dr. Jodi Tinkel has been named medical director of ambulatory care at The University of Toledo Medical Center.

Tinkel has been a faculty member of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences since 2009 and has served as medical director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center since 2010.

Tinkel

Tinkel

She also has managed the UT Health ambulatory office at the Fulton County Health Center since 2009, leading significant improvement in service quality and growth of the practice, according to Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Tinkel said. “I think UT Health is in transition, and I am excited to be one of the providers who can direct that transition. I am devoted to UT. I am devoted to outpatient care. I trained at this medical school. I live in northwest Ohio. I want to see continued growth.”

Tinkel received her medical degree in 2000 from the former Medical College of Ohio, where she completed an internal medicine residency and cardiovascular fellowship. She later served as the program director for the cardiovascular fellowship. Tinkel received her undergraduate degree from Ohio State University.

Tinkel will work in collaboration with Olivia Dacre, the faculty and staff to improve and optimize the UT Health Clinic Operations, Cooper said.

“Dr. Tinkel has trained in this institution and works in this institution,” said Dacre, chief administrative officer and integrated clinical operations. “She has developed relationships across all the clinics, and I believe those relationships will help her succeed in this position.”

Tinkel said outpatient services continue to grow as patients seek cost-savings in health care. UTMC has worked to make patient care more convenient.

“We are really trying to reach out and let patients get care in their neighborhoods,” she said.

Twice as nice: Fraternity brings home national honors again

In recognition of its exceptional work over the past year, a University of Toledo fraternity received top honors last month.

The University’s Epsilon Epsilon chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha was given the Smythe Award — one of the highest national honors the fraternity can receive — for the second year in a row. The award, named for one of the fraternity’s junior founding members, is granted to the top 10 percent of chapters. The fraternity has more than 220 chapters internationally.

Members of UT’s Epsilon Epsilon chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha received the Smythe Award for the second year in a row. The honor is given to the top 10 percent of chapters.

Members of UT’s Epsilon Epsilon chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha received the Smythe Award for the second year in a row. The honor is given to the top 10 percent of chapters.

“The Smythe Award recognizes all our hard work we’ve done the past year, especially the work put toward bettering the UT community,” said Brandon Alves, executive board member for Pi Kappa Alpha and third-year pharmacy student. “When we’re classified as the top 10 percent, it’s basically saying of all those chapters, we are the elite based on a variety of factors, including campus presence, community service, athletics, anything really that would make an organization great.”

He attributes the win to the many accomplishments the fraternity has garnered this year; these include top honors at Homecoming, Songfest, Greek Week, and receiving the Dean Parks Award for campus community involvement.

“I think our enthusiasm for making this a better community is what sets us apart at UT,” he said. “I think we have a really strong common bond to help each other and that reflects in our competitive attitude toward bettering campus.”

In addition to receiving honors on campus, the fraternity puts a lot of work into its philanthropy: Children’s Miracle Network. Each semester members host Pike Pretzels, a fundraising event featuring music and soft pretzels, to raise money for the organization.

Additionally, UT’s annual RockeTHON benefits Mercy Children’s Hospital, which is a member of the Children’s Miracle Network. For the past several years, Epsilon Epsilon has been the top fundraiser, contributing more than $15,000 this past year.

“We are looking forward to taking the momentum from this impressive achievement into continuing to better The University of Toledo and the community around it,” Alves said.

Professor recognized by National Medical Association

Dr. Reginald F. Baugh, professor of surgery, chief of otolaryngology and assistant dean for admission in the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ Department of Surgery, has received the exclusive Hinton-Gladney Award.

“It’s been years now since somebody has been given the award, so it’s not given out all the time,” Baugh said. “I’m very humbled and honored to have received the award.”

Baugh

Baugh

He was presented the award Aug. 2 during the 113th annual Convention and Scientific Assembly hosted by the National Medical Association, the largest and oldest organization representing physicians and patients of African descent in the United States.

“The award is given to someone who has made substantial contributions, has recognizable accomplishments in his or her respective field, and has been a positive force in the African-American community,” Baugh said.

For most of his career, Baugh has been an academician on staff at the University of Kansas, Henry Ford Health System, Texas A&M University and most recently at The University of Toledo. He served as a quality and process improvement consultant for the Food and Drug Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

“I’ve been fortunate to serve the people and my specialty for the development and implementation of head and neck guidelines,” Baugh said.

Working to improve patient safety, he has chaired efforts in identifying and implementing national guidelines on tonsillectomy, Bell’s palsy, and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo treatments.

During the past year, Baugh has been working on developing a machine to assist in the assessment of patients’ swallowing function through mechanical receptor function testing in the throat.

“We have a working prototype that’s patent-pending,” Baugh said. “We are working on the final approvals now from the FDA and Institutional Research Board. In early fall, we hope to begin testing.”

Funding to help create jobs in community health field

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences recently announced a program that will add 35 community health workers to the region to connect patients with resources to help them obtain the care they need.

UT, through its Area Health Education Center program, received $458,000 from the Medicaid Technical Assistance and Policy Program Healthcare Access Initiative to provide scholarship stipends to allow community members to receive the appropriate training to become a community health worker.

Vasquez

Vasquez

“Community health workers are entry-level health practitioners who serve as a liaison between individuals and health-care providers,” said grant administrator Kathy Vasquez, director of the UT and Ohio Statewide Area Health Education Center programs and UT associate vice president for government relations. “Community health workers go by many titles that include care coordinator, navigator or advocate. No matter what they are called, though, they are vital employees who connect individuals and families to health insurance, health information, food, housing and transportation, so that those things do not keep them from obtaining the care they need.”

The Area Health Education Center Partnership for Community Health Workers program is a collaboration among UT’s Area Health Education Center program, the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio/Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, Mercy College of Ohio, North Central State College and Care Coordination Systems.

The Healthcare Access Initiative is funded by the Medicaid Technical Assistance and Policy Program through the Ohio Department of Medicaid and administered by the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center. It supports the development, training and retention of health-care practitioners to serve Ohio’s Medicaid population using emerging health-care delivery models and evidenced-based practices.

Scholarship stipends, with commitment to serve Ohio’s Medicaid population, are available and will cover the full cost of the program being conducted by North Central State College. Partial coverage (up to $3,000) for those attending the program through Mercy College of Ohio in Toledo also is available.

Mercy College started a class Aug. 15. North Central State College will offer a class at the Mansfield campus in August and another class on UT Health Science Campus in early 2016.

The certification program will include classroom, laboratory and clinical components designed to prepare students for work in many health-care settings, including an ambulatory care center, a senior outreach program and a pregnancy center.

Course work in the program entails medical terminology, cultural diversity, basic life support, and first aid and community health specific topics such as advocacy, referral processes, documentation, and skills to complete home visits. Practical experiences in community health settings also are part of the program.

Graduates of the program will receive assistance finding a job upon successful completion of the program and certification by the Ohio Board of Nursing. Employers also could be eligible for funds to assist with the cost of creating new community health worker positions and employing workers to fill those positions.

The Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB partners with organizations that hire community health workers. The HUB is focused on finding people at risk for poor health and identifying and reducing barriers to care by addressing social issues and measuring the results.

“Through the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, nonprofit organizations that hire community health workers can secure sustainable sources of funding for their care coordination program focused on addressing the social determinants of health,” said Jan Ruma, director of the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB and vice president of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio.

According to national employment data, community health jobs are supposed to increase 21.8 percent through 2020. Annual salaries vary greatly based on the type of employer but average approximately $37,000.

“Community health workers are expected to be in demand in our area in the coming months and years,” said Cheri Nutter, dean of innovative and transitional education at Mercy. “This certification program is helping Ohio create employees for the growing Medicaid population, and Mercy is glad to be partnering with The University of Toledo.”

UT research featured on cover of chemistry journal

Featured on the cover of a recent issue of one of chemistry’s most notable journals was a diagram of lead iodide molecules assembling into a complex photovoltaic material. It referenced an article inside the magazine written by a group of scholars from The University of Toledo.

Chemistry of Materials is a peer-reviewed scientific journal featuring fundamental research in chemistry, chemical engineering and materials science.

Chemistry of MaterialsThe article and cover art in the July 14 edition focused on the formation of revolutionary material that is exciting the photovoltaics community: so-called perovskites. This material, applied to solar energy conversion only in the last five years, has quickly demonstrated high efficiency for generating power from solar energy.

The project has been worked on for the past two years in UT’s Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization, which was started in 2007 to strengthen photovoltaic research and manufacturing in Ohio. Drs. Michael Heben, Randy Ellingson and Adam Phillips of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, along with students Suneth Watthage, Zhaoning Song and Brandon Tompkins, contributed to the research and writing for the article.

Heben, UT professor of physics and the Wright Center’s endowed chair, explained that perovskites have attracted so much attention for photovoltaics because they have only been around for a fraction of the time of other photovoltaic materials, but already have demonstrated great effectiveness.

“It’s really unanticipated that a material that was not on anybody’s radar would come on the scene about three years ago and rapidly progress from efficiencies of just a few percent to efficiencies greater than 20 percent,” he said. “Researchers from all over the world have been very rapidly working to improve the performance of the materials in solar cells.”

With all the haste to improve efficiency, some fundamental science questions have gone unanswered. The UT group’s research gained attention due to the creation of a phase diagram for the handling and processing of the perovskite material. A phase diagram is a material’s representation of the limits of stability of the various phases in a chemical system with respect to variables such as composition and temperature, Heben explained.

“The reason that this is important is because it will provide a road map for others who want to work in this field, and help those currently working in the field to understand and improve upon the results they already have,” he said.

In the past month, the article has been one of the top downloads from the journal.

“Solar energy is booming; the market is growing 30 to 40 percent each year and has been doing so for more than 15 years. In many parts of the country, clean solar energy is already cost-competitive with conventional forms of electricity,” Heben said.

For more information about the article, contact Heben at Michael.Heben@utoledo.edu.

Professors assessing financial damage from water crisis

The memories of last year’s water crisis in and around Toledo are still fresh in the minds of most residents, and the anxiety about a repeat event in 2015 is high.

But two University of Toledo professors are hard at work at one of the critical issues surrounding last year’s three-day event: What was the economic impact of the 2014 Toledo water crisis on the local economy?

Aug.24.FA.inddDr. Andrew Solocha, professor in the Department of Finance in the College of Business and Innovation, along with Dr. Neil Reid, director of the UT Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center and professor of geography and planning in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences, are researching that very issue, funded by a grant from the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago. They began their research in May and will have an initial impact report by the end of August.

“Lake Erie is an enormously important resource,” Solocha said. “I didn’t know anything about the science behind this, but I was really concerned about what happened here last year, and so I volunteered my time for this research. We envision a series of reports, the first one in August about the three days from last year, and then other reports over time.

“My training is in economics, data and model building, and for this research and report it is essential to have someone with experience in both business and economics because we have to interpret this data, find out what the data is saying to us; sometimes it doesn’t say anything at all. We have to go and interview people, and people can be confused or have misinformation. This is a work in progress, and we don’t yet know where all the answers are to make this complete.”

“One of the main challenges in doing this research is getting reliable data,” Reid said. “Often in the research we do, you can go to a public data source like the census and use data that has been collected in a systematic fashion. But with unanticipated one-off events like this, there are no data that are systematically collected.

“So it becomes like doing a jigsaw puzzle, but one in which you have to go out and find all the data pieces,” Reid said. “And, unfortunately, many of the pieces are either very hard to find or may not even exist. Our task here is to find as many of the pieces as possible and put them together to paint as complete a picture as we possibly can.”

“We need to be able to assess what the damages — all the damages — are. We know several sectors that were impacted by the 2014 water crisis, including hospitals, the food processing industry, restaurants, tourism and consumers, plus we will probably see an impact on housing,” Solocha said.

“But there may be impacts that we can’t see, and there could be a long-term impact. For example, people who typically go to Lake Erie beaches who have decided that now they can’t go there in the future because of the negative publicity for the region.

“Of course, there was also good news, such as the charities that came out, mobilized and helped,” he observed. “For example, the American Red Cross brought in water for people, and the National Guard distributed water and food.”

Solocha added, “The University of Toledo has been fantastic in helping us with this project, as have other organizations such as the United Way of Greater Toledo. It is absolutely critical that people know we are working on this report and that they help us.”

If you have information you would like to share about the economic impact of the 2014 water crisis, contact Solocha at Andrew.Solocha@utoledo.edu or Reid at Neil.Reid@utoledo.edu.

ProMedica, The University of Toledo reach academic affiliation agreement

ProMedica and The University of Toledo College of Medicine have finalized an academic affiliation agreement that will enable the two organizations to develop one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. The academic and clinical medical model will recruit medical students, physicians and researchers to northwest Ohio and benefit our communities for generations to come.

ut-promedicaA signing ceremony will take place Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m. at the Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Toledo.

“Our goal is to establish one of the nation’s premier academic medical programs that will attract and retain the best caregivers and specialists,” said Randy Oostra, ProMedica president and chief executive officer. “This agreement lays the foundation for our long-term vision to create healthy individuals and healthy communities for generations to come.”

“As we look out at the next half century, this affiliation positions both organizations to be national leaders in health-care education and medical research,” said UT President Sharon Gaber.

The focus of the agreement is on academics and research as well as:

• Offering a broader range of educational and training opportunities for future physicians and medical professionals;

• Attracting and retaining a greater percentage of physicians and other medical specialists;

• Increasing clinical training capacity that will be comparable to other major academic centers;

• Creating new jobs and driving community revitalization, economic and business development opportunities; and

• Enhancing research and innovation opportunities.
Substantially, all of UT’s medical students, residents and fellows will be placed at ProMedica facilities. The agreement includes a commitment by ProMedica to support the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, including teaching, research, and the college’s facilities.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to enrich the quality of medical education and expand our clinical training capacity in Toledo and northwest Ohio,” said Dr. Lee Hammerling, ProMedica chief medical officer. “We’re very excited about the future.”

According to a recent report released by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the nation will face a shortage of between 46,000 to 90,000 physicians by 2025, including primary and specialty care. At the same time, the demand for physicians continues to intensify as a result of the nation’s growing and aging population.

The partnership will be governed by an Academic Affiliation Operating Group, which will serve to develop and implement an academic and programmatic plan for the affiliation. The group will be comprised of six members with equal representation from both parties. A first key action by the group will be the development of a transition plan, which is anticipated to begin implementation in July 2016.

The dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, Dr. Christopher Cooper, will chair the Academic Affiliation Operating Group.

“The outcomes of this agreement will be truly transformational,” said Cooper, who also serves as UT’s executive vice president for clinical affairs. “For too long, we have educated students that have traveled to other parts of the country to practice medicine. Thanks to UT’s and ProMedica’s affiliation, not only will we retain far greater numbers of the health-care providers we educate, but I have no doubt students, residents and clinical faculty will be drawn to northwest Ohio and what we have created together.”

For more information about ProMedica, visit promedica.org/aboutus. For more information about UT, visit utoledo.edu.

UT faculty member elected to national professional council

Dr. Patrick L. Lawrence, professor and chair of The University of Toledo’s Department of Geography and Planning in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences, has been elected to the National Council of the American Association of Geographers, a nonprofit scientific and educational society founded in 1904.

“They are the predominate professional organization for geographers both in academia, like students and faculty, and those who are employed in various fields but are trained as geographers,” Lawrence said. “There are more than 10,000 members from professionals to students, and it’s become much more of an international organization.”

Lawrence

Lawrence

The council is the governing body of the association and consists of 15 elected officers and councilors and the executive committee’s executive director and most recent past president.

“I’m looking forward to the experiences,” Lawrence said. “I’ve served on other national boards, but to be able to participate in my predominate professional organization at the national level is very exciting. In our department, we are constantly looking at how to be innovative and how to improve our programs; we are always thinking about our students and what will benefit them, so I’m excited for the opportunity and hope a lot of what I learn can be brought back to apply here at UT.”

As part of his three-year term that began July 1, Lawrence will represent the East Lakes Division of the association as its regional councilor where he previously served as chair of the division executive committee. The division has more than 500 American Association of Geographers members from 20 member colleges in Ohio and Michigan.

“The regional councilors have a unique role in that we are the voice of our region,” Lawrence said. “Typically twice a year, we meet as members of the national council and give a brief overview of what is happening in our respective regions: what the challenges are, does it have to do with education, outreach, faculty hiring or resources.”

Additionally, Lawrence is the chair of the President’s Commission on the River, which played an integral role in the restoration efforts on the portion of the Ottawa River that runs through the University’s Main Campus. He also is part of the UT Water Task Force that was established last summer.