Back

 Feature Profiles

Physician Spotlight: Dr. Jerry Edwards
New imaging technology at Tennessee Christian Medical Center in Madison is improving the diagnosis and treatment of emergency cardiac patients and is earning the praise of the hospital's emergency medical director, Jerry Edwards, a doctor of osteopathic medicine. The new Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA) technology is an advanced diagnostic tool to image the flow of blood through arteries. "The new technology enables us to specifically hone in on the coronary arteries and see if there appears to be a significant blockage or narrowing," Edwards explains. "We see the flow through the artery, rather than just the 'footprint.'" Because of the detailed nature of a CTA, physicians can also see other vessels, lung abnormalities or clots, collapsed lungs, and even problems related to the liver or the spleen, he adds.
by Sharon H. Fitzgerald

 Nashville Archives

Lead Line Photo
Skyline's New Cardiac Cath Lab to House Innova 3100
In order to accommodate both a busy interventional radiology practice and the latest technology, Skyline Medical Center is building a new cardiac catheterization lab, scheduled to open this summer. The cath lab will be Skyline's second and will house the Innova 3100 equipment. Manufactured by GE, Innova 3100 uses flat-panel detector technology, which lets physicians see the vessels and anatomy of the heart, as well as the finest vessels, without having to use an image intensifier. "For us to look at small vessel detail, the resolution is incredible. It's like going to high definition TV," said Rick Phillips, admimistrative director of clinical operations. "The technology is unbelievable."
by Kathy Whitney

Lead Line Photo

James L. Elrod, Managing Director, Vestar Capital Partners (left); and Joseph P. Nolan, Principal, GTCR Golder Rauner, LLC, sat on the six member panel at the NHCC meeting.
Investing? Invest in Healthcare, NHCC Expert Panel Says
And the deals just keep on coming. That's the way it looks in Nashville healthcare these days. A Maryland firm pays $43 million for Brentwood-based Cambio Health Solutions. A private equity investment firm in Chicago recapitalizes Nashville-based NewQuest to the tune of $134 million and commits up to $200 million to startup Capella Healthcare in Brentwood. Fresenius Medical Care announces its acquisition of Nashville-based Renal Care Group for $3.5 billion. No wonder more than 200 people packed the Nashville Health Care Council's event last month, "Financing the Deal: Strategic Issues for Healthcare Companies." Featuring a panel of six healthcare-savvy investors, the discussion was a good-news fest as the experts confirmed the strength of most healthcare sectors today.
by Sharon H. Fitzgerald

Lead Line Photo

Dr. Kenneth Robinson
Safety Net Task Force Unveils Recommendations
In late May, the Governor's Task Force on the Healthcare Safety Net presented their recommendations to shore up Tennessee's services in the wake of TennCare cuts. The 26-member task force, led by Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health Dr. Kenneth Robinson, outlined 16 broad recommendations in three categories — core recommendations, future options when funding becomes available and potential adjustments to TennCare.
by Cindy Sanders

Lead Line Photo

Dr. James C. Loden
Loden Vision Center Debuts New Multifocal Lens
Last month, Dr. James C. Loden, founder of Loden Vision Centers and Ambulatory Surgery Center, became the first ophthalmologist in the nation to implant the AcrySof ReSTORĀ® Intraocular Lens (IOL) outside the FDA clinical studies. ReSTOR joins Crystalens™, which received FDA approval in late 2003, as a new generation of implantable options for cataract and pre-cataract patients that frees them from corrective dependence on glasses or contacts. "For someone with standard, healthy eyes with cataracts, 100 percent are good candidates for this procedure," Loden said of the new ReSTOR IOL implants.
by Cindy Sanders

Lead Line Photo

Kevin L. O'Brien, LECG Managing Director
LECG Healthcare Practice Continues to Grow
LECG was formed in 1988 in California as an expert services firm. It grew quickly to become a global company that conducts economic and financial analyses to Fortune Global 500 corporations, major law firms and local, state and federal governments and agencies in the United States and abroad. Since 1994, LECG has worked on more than 6,200 assignments for more than 3,500 clients in over 30 countries. LECG's healthcare practice is based in Nashville, and its managing director is Kevin L. O'Brien, who affectionately refers to Nashville as the healthcare mecca. "We are a full service healthcare consulting firm," O'Brien said. "We are international in focus. Aside from our Nashville office, we have a strong healthcare presence in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. We are seeking to grow the Nashville office. It is a relatively new office for the firm. Clearly Nashville is the heart of the healthcare industry. It makes sense that we are here."
by Kathy Whitney

Lead Line Photo

Meghan Gerety, M.D.
Study Shows Seniors Often Shun Prescription Drugs
America's seniors often avoid taking the drugs that are prescribed for them, either because they can't afford it or they don't feel they need to, according to a detailed analysis of the feedback gathered by Medicare. And those seniors who do take drugs as their doctor suggests often take a complex variety of pharmaceuticals that are often prescribed by more than one doctor and are frequently filled in different pharmacies. The researchers paint a complex picture of seniors who often appear deeply confused by the drugs that they're on, the potential for harmful interactions as well as anxiety over who picks up the tab. And the three groups that conducted the analysis - the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund and Tufts-New England Medical Center - say that the data also presents some clear challenges to Medicare as it rolls out a new prescription benefit plan in January.
by Tracy Staton

Lead Line Photo
New InnerVue System Offers An Inside Look At Body Damage
Dr. Kenneth Bramlett has had years of experience trying to gauge the severity of a child's knee injury or an adult's arthritis through an MRI or by using his fingers in a probing clinical examination. But in many cases Dr. Bramlett never got all the information he really wanted for his diagnosis. Now, though, he can look right at the damage. About six months ago, Dr. Bramlett - an orthopaedic surgeon and clinical director of a Southeast orthopedics clinic - began to use Arthrotek's InnerVue Diagnostic Scope System. A 1.9 mm fiberoptic tube - about the size of a surgical needle - can be inserted directly into a knee or shoulder. A tiny camera gives the doctor a crystal clear, digital image of the tissue or bone injury, making it possible to make a visual examination of the damaged area inside the body.
by John Carroll

Lead Line Photo

Mary Frank, M.D.
Asking for Drugs By Name Can Drive Prescriptions — Even When They're Not Needed
Medical experts and drug companies have argued for years over the effects direct-to-consumer advertising has had on patients. But a new study has brought the argument over DTC advertising back to the front burner. Researchers sent groups of white, middle-aged actresses to 152 primary care physicians' offices describing similar symptoms of event-induced — also known as transient — depression brought on by divorce and the loss of a job. One of the groups asked about the anti-depressant Paxil, another group asked about antidepressants in general and the third didn't mention drugs. And even though anti-depressants are not believed to be effective in treating event-induced depression, more than half of the actresses asking for Paxil by name obtained prescriptions for either that drug or another anti-depressant. Thirty-nine percent of the group asking about drugs in general obtained a prescription and only 10 percent of the control group complaining of the same condition without asking about drugs walked away with a prescription.
by Tracy Staton

Genentech Touts Major Gains in Cancer Fight
Every year, tens of thousands of the world's top cancer experts are brought together by the American Society of Clinical Oncologists to delve into the nitty-gritty world of clinical trial data and the never-ending search to find a better tool to fight the world's toughest killer. And each year, one of the drug developers touting their new pharmaceuticals walks away with the unofficial title of cancer drug champion as the reporters who cover the scene shine their spotlight on the greatest triumphs of the past 12 months. This year, virtually everyone at the annual meeting in Orlando in mid-May was willing to hand the crown to Genentech as this year's easy winner.
by John Carroll

Lead Line Photo

Ralph J. Ibson
Advocating for the Mentally Ill
Last month, Ralph J. Ibson, vice president for government affairs for the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), listened as Dr. Larke Huang, PhD, outlined key issues and findings on the state of mental health in America during a Congressional Briefing (see sidebar on page 18). Huang, who had served as one of the commissioners appointed by President George W. Bush to the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, rolled out disturbing statistic after disturbing statistic on the number of Americans who suffer from a mental or emotional disorder and the nation's response to these individuals. "I was struck by an observation," said Ibson. "The data she was citing made it very clear we have a crisis in mental health among juveniles in America. For any other disease, it would warrant a national campaign ... sadly that's not the case for mental disorders."
by Cindy Sanders

Lead Line Photo

Jim Moore
Fighting the Demons of Addiction
Physical, mental, emotional … the power of addiction is indelibly intertwined, and like the multi-headed hydra, it is a difficult monster to defeat. "It is certainly a physical health problem, but the effects rapidly become mental health issues," said Jim Moore, CEO and executive director of Cumberland Heights, one of the southeast's oldest alcohol and chemical dependency treatment facilities. The Nashville facility was chartered in 1965 and opened its doors to patients in 1966. Now 40 years later, Cumberland Heights is recognized among its peers as one of the top treatment facilities in the nation. The Nashville facility is held in the same high regard as The Betty Ford Center, Hazelden, the Caron Foundation and Sierra Tucson.
by Cindy Sanders

Lead Line Photo

Dr. Herbert Meltzer
Mapping Out a Treatment Plan for Schizophrenia
In January 2005, a team of 15 experts from eight countries led by Dr. Herbert Meltzer, director of the Division of Psychopharmacology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, launched a Web-based tool to help clinicians determine the best medication course for patients with schizophrenia. Dr. Kenneth Johnson, a Knoxville psychiatrist, founded the International Psychopharmacology Algorithm Project (IPAP) to bring together psychiatrists, psychopharmacologists and algorithm designers to create step-by-step protocols to improve treatment of psychiatric disorders. He recruited Meltzer, the Bixler/Johnson/Mays professor of psychiatry at VUMC, during a meeting in China to discuss the benefit of using Web-based algorithms to guide mental health services in areas where there are few providers.
by Cindy Sanders

New Treatment Guidelines for Bipolar Children
The March edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry debuted new guidelines for treating bipolar disorders in children ages six and older. The new guidelines focus on diagnosis, acute treatment, comorbidity and maintenance treatment as supported by therapy and mood-stabilizing drugs. The hope is that early diagnosis coupled with aggressive treatment will help these children function more successfully among family and peers and will also reduce the negative outcomes associated with the disorders.

Lawmakers Dig in for Fight Over Specialty Hospitals
With a moratorium on Medicare reimbursements for new specialty hospitals set to expire in just a matter of weeks, battle lines are taking clear shape on Capitol Hill. On one side is Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, both powerful lawmakers allied behind a new bill that would close a loophole in the Stark Law which allows physicians to refer patients to hospitals they have a financial interest in. That provision had helped spur doctors' involvement in dozens of new specialty hospitals around the country. The Senators also want existing specialty hospitals to be restricted in size and scope, unable to change specialties, increase their number of beds or add new investors.
by John Carroll

Lead Line Photo
Advanced Imaging Equipment Progresses Radiology While Diagnostic Costs Soar
What a thrill to be in medicine during this age of ever-evolving technological ascent, and radiology proves to be a field advancing by leaps and bounds with super fast equipment and increasingly precise detections. High tech CT, PET and MR equipment lead the way, and with the implementation of electronic medical records, radiologists are able to receive data quicker, detect abnormalities sooner that can dramatically improve a patient's treatment, and consult with one another more efficiently. But all this remarkable equipment does not come cheap. Medical imaging costs are reaching $100 billion a year as imaging utilization increases at unprecedented rates. With such astounding innovations as the 64-slice CT scanner and recent applications of combined PET/CT, the radiology specialty has become a desirous practice, and imaging has become an equally desirous commodity.
by Holli W. Haynie

Lead Line Photo

Dr. Daniel Wunder at Skyline viewing PACS images.
Radiology Moving Away from Film to Digital
As technology moves photography away from film to digital images, it only makes sense that the field of radiology would follow suit. While x-ray film may never become completely obsolete, it will certainly take a back seat to a new program known as the picture archiving communication system (PACS). PACS is a digital archive imaging application that allows images captured by CT, MRI, traditional x-rays and ultrasounds to be archived digitally and accessed by physicians on a secure network. "It's basically taking the convenience of our digital lifestyle and applying it to medical image technology," said Dr. Robert Singer, a neurosurgeon at Skyline Medical Center, where the new technology was recently implemented.
by Kathy Whitney

Lead Line Photo

Dr. Scott Montesi, medical director of the PET/CT site.
Combined PET/CT Scan Becoming Gold Standard
Imaging Alliance - Nashville PET and Radiology Alliance CT have joined forces to offer the innovative combined PET/CT scan, which is quickly on its way to becoming the gold standard in detecting, diagnosing, and staging new and residual cancers. The company opened its office on White Bridge Road about a year and a half ago in order to offer the latest in PET/CT and diagnostic CT technology in a convenient outpatient setting. Imaging Alliance - Nashville PET is a joint venture between Ascension Health and Imaging Alliance. It offers the GE Discovery LS 16 PET/CT scanner. Radiology Alliance CT offers advanced CT technology for a wide variety of specialized diagnostic CT evaluations. Radiology Alliance CT is one of only a few sites featuring the 16-slice CT Angiogram (CTA) technology and the first in Middle Tennessee to offer it in an outpatient setting, according to the company's website.
by Kathy Whitney

Lead Line Photo
VUMC's New $27 Million Imaging Center
Construction will begin next month on a four-floor, state-of-the-art facility in the old emergency room parking lot between the A and B wings of Medical Center North that will house the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS). The $26.7 million project, which has been approved by the Medical Center Board and the University Board of Trust, is "a critically important project for the research enterprise," said Fred DeWeese, vice president of Planning and Development for Space and Facilities. While the 40,000-square-foot facility won't be completed until the spring of 2006, Vanderbilt is going ahead with plans to purchase one of the world's most powerful research magnets. The $7 million, 7 tesla magnet will be installed, with 400 metric tons of steel shielding around it, on the ground floor of the new facility in mid-December.

Growing Numbers Of Working Adults Lack Health Insurance
A job is no guarantee of health coverage. And in the South, there's a growing likelihood that for working adults, staying employed is less and less likely to offer access to affordable health insurance. That's the bottom line of a new survey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which took a detailed look at the status of the uninsured in all 50 states. Louisiana was tied for second place among states with heavy concentrations of the uninsured, with 23 percent of the working population lacking coverage. Altogether, says the Foundation, Louisiana was home to 912,000 people without insurance. (Texas was first among the worst, with 27 percent of working adults lacking coverage. Minnesota with 7 percent uninsured and Hawaii, Delaware and the District of Columbia each with about 9 percent uninsured ranked at the top of states with the best record on the issue.)
by Tracy Staton

Lead Line Photo

Nancy-Ann DeParle
Healthcare Stocks on the Rise, Lure Investors
Medical devices and instruments. Healthcare information technology. Hospitals and other facilities. Managed care. Biotechnology innovations. Administrative outsourcing. All these business sectors and more combine to lure investors of all stripes to the healthcare arena. Yet if you thought healthcare was hot last year, it's on fire now. "I've been on this side of healthcare - the business of healthcare as opposed to the regulation or the legal aspects of healthcare - for about four years. I think there's more going on right now than I've seen since I've started," says Nancy-Ann DeParle, a senior adviser with JPMorgan Partners in New York. DeParle is former administrator of the federal Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and past commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
by Sharon H. Fitzgerald

Lead Line Photo

Ira Chilton
Send the Word Over There, Nashville Healthcare Business Leaders are Coming
"The business of America is business," declared President Calvin Coolidge in 1925. Yet today, that business isn't just within America's borders, and leaders in Nashville's healthcare arena know that. "Historically, Nashville companies have been so entrepreneurial and the U.S. market is so large that they've focused predominantly on U.S. opportunities and that's where they've deployed their capital. But we're hearing more and more from companies about the many good international opportunities that they're exploring," says Matt Gallivan, president of the Nashville Health Care Council. Certainly the Council has contributed to the interest in overseas business, having led five international trade missions starting in 1999. Middle Tennessee healthcare leaders have visited Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and, most recently, Hungary and the Czech Republic. A 2006 mission to Poland and Austria is in the planning stages.
by Sharon H. Fitzgerald

Lead Line Photo

Rob Rinner
Healthcare Investors See Services as Best Bet
As baby-boomers age and government healthcare reimbursement stabilizes, investments in healthcare services are the cream of the crop. That's according to several local investors contacted by Nashville Medical News. "I think across all of the healthcare services sectors we have a fantastic tailwind with regard to demographics. The population is getting older and people are living longer," says Burk Lindsey, one of three senior vice presidents interviewed with Raymond James & Associates in Nashville. Salix Ventures, with offices in Nashville, Boston and San Francisco, is a healthcare venture capital firm with a predominate focus on services. David Ward, a Nashville general partner, says Salix pays special attention to smaller ancillary services such as surgery centers, specialty hospitals, dialysis centers, home health operations, hospices and laboratories.
by Sharon H. Fitzgerald