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January 3, 2011 — 1:02pm ET | By Janice Simmons - Contributing Editor
To successfully shape the future of healthcare, a vision of how healthcare information technology should evolve--combined with ways to successfully engage patients and the population--should be considered, according to experts participating in a series of three workshops sponsored by the Institute of Medicine and the National Coordinator for Health IT last summer and fall.
A summary of the workshops' findings and suggestions has been compiled in a new IOM report, "Roundtable on Value and Science-Driven Health Care," which was released in late December.
Monday, January 03, 2011
From the release of the final rule on meaningful use to the launch of the temporary electronic health record certification program to the establishment of 62 Regional Extension Centers aimed at helping physicians become meaningful users of EHRs, there was a flurry of health IT activity in 2010.
Much of the activity centered on implementing policies and programs related to the meaningful use incentive program included in the 2009 economic stimulus package's HITECH Act. Under the program, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records beginning in 2011 can qualify for incentive payments through Medicaid and Medicare. Beginning in January 2015, health care providers who are not meaningfully using EHRs will face penalties equal to a 1% reduction in annual Medicare payments per year up to 5%.
In an interview with iHealthBeat, National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal discussed the biggest challenges the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT faced over the last year, his office's game plan for 2011 and concerns about current EHR adoption rates. Blumenthal also discussed the importance of health IT to the implementation of the federal health reform law, the role of the government in overseeing EHR safety and why other countries have expressed interest in the U.S.' meaningful use program.
Posted: December 30, 2010 - 1:15 pm ET
The CMS has added new information about physicians and other healthcare providers to the agency's physician directory tool. Called Physician Compare, the new site updates the agency's healthcare provider directory that guides beneficiaries looking for Medicare-participating physicians online.
According to the CMS, the new site was required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and contains information about physicians enrolled in the Medicare program, including doctors of medicine, osteopathy, optometry, podiatric and chiropractic medicine. It also contains information about other health professionals who care for Medicare beneficiaries, such as nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, registered dieticians, physical therapists, physician assistants and occupational therapists.
Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , December 30, 2010
Attention, wizards, rocket scientists, game theorists and stats nerds: There's a physician in Los Angeles who wants to give you $3 million.
All you have to do is design an elegant math model that accurately identifies which of 100,000 Medicare Advantage patients from an actual 2009 database required an unplanned hospital admission in 2010.
The prize is offered by Richard Merkin, MD, Heritage Provider Network CEO and President. Heritage is an accountable care organization-like physician network that absorbs risk for 700,000 lives in Southern and Central California and New York and which contracts with more than 100 hospitals.
The idea is to design a suitable predictive model, so programs and resources can be focused to prevent those admissions – and readmissions – and potentially realize savings of up to $30 billion, the estimated cost of unnecessary hospitalizations throughout the U.S.
Hard-to-use software is behind the leakage of sensitive health data online, according to a study by Dartmouth researchers published in December.
Health documents with sensitive patient information can be found in “peer-to-peer” networks, which people typically use to share music files and the like. The programs used to navigate these networks often locate files on a user’s computer and share them — whether they’re music and videos or things like spreadsheets with health data. The issue can arise when health workers transfer data from firms’ proprietary software to their home computers. If they or someone in their family uses file-sharing software, files can be picked up.
Over a two-week period in 2009, the researchers were able to find more than 200 files that contained identifying information such as name, address, date of birth, social security numbers, insurance numbers and health-related information. It’s not much compared with the vast number of files in these networks, but it presents a big risk — for health companies as well as patients.
Health IT firm EHR Doctors gets clearance for its C32 Continuity of Care Document, which enables hospitals and doctors to achieve meaningful use in the electronic exchange of medical data.
By Nicole Lewis, InformationWeek
Jan. 3, 2011
As the quest to advance the electronic exchange of medical records continues, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has approved the C32 Continuity of Care Document (CCD) technology developed by health IT firm EHR Doctors. The technology enables an interoperable health record to be shared among organizations for purposes ranging from transitions in care to adjudication of insurance claims.
Executives from EHR Doctors said Sunday the capability to generate CCDs is a critical piece of technology that will help hospitals and eligible physicians meet meaningful use requirements, which is a prerequisite to apply for payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs. EHR Doctors' CCD technology is certified for meaningful use under the Office of the National Coordinator -- Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATB) program.
Technically Speaking. By Pamela Lewis Dolan, amednews staff. Posted Jan. 3, 2011.
Medical liability insurers once said electronic medical records would let physicians earn discounts on their premiums, because the potential benefits of the technology included improving patient safety.
But those discounts haven't materialized. The reason, a study says, is that liability insurers are betting that claims will rise during a so-called adjustment period, when practices new to the technology are working out the kinks in their systems.
Conning Research and Consulting published a study looking at medical liability and factors that could influence the industry, including the adoption of electronic medical records. It found that EMRs have the potential to reduce the number of liability claims in the long term.
Comment: Useful Summary of New England Journal Article which is here:
"Medical Malpractice Liability in the Age of Electronic Health Records," The New England Journal of Medicine, Nov. 18, 2010 - Free Article
HDM Breaking News, January 3, 2011
A new report from market research firm Kalorama Information estimates the worldwide market for medical mobile applications hit $84.1 million in 2010, more than double the $41 million market of 2009.
January 04, 2011 | Molly Merrill, Associate Editor
A panel of healthcare experts representing privacy, trends, technology, regulatory, data breach and governance have identified the top seven trends in healthcare information privacy for 2011.
The experts suggest that as health information exchanges take form, millions of patient records – soon to be available as digital files – will lead to potential unauthorized access, violation of new data breach laws and exposure to the threat of medical and financial identity theft.
"Endemic failure to keep pace with best practices and advancing technology has resulted in antiquated data security, governance, policy plaguing in the healthcare industry," said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute.
Tue, Jan 4 2011
LONDON (Reuters) - The number of people looking for health information online is set to soar as workers return from holiday breaks, but few will check where the information comes from, according to an international survey on Tuesday.
A report by researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE) commissioned by the private healthcare firm Bupa said that with smartphones and tablet computers set to outsell personal computers by 2012, more health information is available online and there are more ways to access it than ever before.
The Bupa Health Pulse survey questioned more than 12,000 people in Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain and the United States and found that 81 percent of those with internet access use it to search for advice about health, medicines or medical conditions.
MyHealthNewsDaily Staff Writer
livescience.com – Sun Jan 2, 9:10 am ET
In the winter, a mountainous region of California that the locals call the Grapevine is plagued by severe weather. The highway that winds through it is coated with snow and ice, making travel between central and southern parts of the state difficult and, sometimes, nearly impossible.
During these stormy outbursts, Dr. Gregory Smith, who specializes in treating chronic pain and prescription drug abuse, can't make it from his office in Los Angeles to his Fresno clinic. Two years ago, his only options were to reschedule appointments or cancel altogether.
But now, Smith uses his computer webcam to "see" his patients. He estimates the video technology enabled him to save 350 to 500 appointments this year.
HealthLeaders Media Staff , January 6, 2011
Radiologists and referring clinicians frequently use CDs and DVDs to review patient medical images (e.g., MRIs and CT scans) acquired at outside imaging centers, but issues regarding access, importability, and viewing of these portable media could negatively affect patient care, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.
The report looks at current practices for portable media use for medical imaging in both academic and nonacademic radiology departments in the United States.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reviewed a 22-question survey of members of the Association of Administrators in Academic Radiology, the Association for Medical Imaging Management, and the University HealthSystem Consortium.
By Mary Mosquera
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
The Health and Human Services Department plans to develop and maintain a continuous scan of current and emerging health information technology innovations to help HHS agencies understand and be aware of potential breakthroughs in healthcare delivery.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will collect information about technology trends along with subject-matter experts and health IT innovators and developers, according to a Dec.30 announcement in Federal Business Opportunities. HHS will use a vendor to support the innovation scanning effort.
ONC will update the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality on the development of the most promising health IT innovations that may support the achievement of meaningful use and the adoption of health IT, as well as other program efforts that will be affected by technological advances.
January 6, 2011 — 11:11am ET | By Dan Bowman
As more patient information is funneled into online exchanges, more issues will arise, according to top healthcare IT experts, who were asked to offer insights on the most significant privacy trends for 2011. Novice or overworked employees launching said exchanges will be a big factor in just how many breaches occur, they believe, according to data breach prevention specialists ID Experts.
Other predictions made for this year include an increase in fines and regulatory actions due to the increased breaches and cost increases due to a rise in penalties. Experts also anticipate a major data spill that will garner nationwide attention.
December 22, 2010 | Molly Merrill, Associate Editor
CHICAGO – An electronic health system that alerts physicians with a yellow light when problems exist with a patient's care is being used by doctors at Northwestern Medicine. The system goes one step further by tying docs' responses to the alerts to quarterly performance reports.
Forty primary care physicians at Northwestern Medicine were part of a study which showing that, after one year of using the new system, it had significantly improved doctors' performance and the healthcare of patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It also boosted preventive care in vaccinations and cancer and osteoporosis screenings.
Among the improvements: the number of heart disease patients receiving cholesterol-lowering medication rose from 87 to 93 percent, pneumonia vaccinations increased from 80 to 90 percent, and colon cancer screenings from 57 to 62 percent.
Posted: January 4, 2011 - 12:01 am ET
HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has issued a final rule establishing a permanent certification program for organizations that seek ONC approval to test and certify health information technology.
The meaningful use of certified electronic health-record technology is a core requirement for healthcare providers looking to qualify for incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs. According to the ONC, the program provides new features that are intended to enhance certification of health IT by increasing the comprehensiveness, transparency, reliability and efficiency of current processes that are used for EHR technology.
Health Data Management Blogs, December 31, 2010
We mostly write from the perspective of health care providers and users of health care I.T., but this one time let’s take a look at electronic health records from the perspective of vendors.
Without a doubt the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is an enormous boost to the EHR industry. The $20 billion or so promised from the feds is just about equivalent to entire annual health care I.T. spend (depending on whose market-size numbers you believe). But that does not mean all EHR vendors will thrive. There’s still a lot of competition.
At Crosstree Capital Partners, we identify five market strategies that successful EHR vendors will adopt. While no vendor uses only one of these approaches to the EHR market, most select a primary strategy and then mix in other techniques as they grow and adapt. See if you can identify your EHR vendor.
Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media , January 4, 2011
In a perfect world, everyone in the world would have access to vaccinations against influenza and administration of flu vaccinations would be safe, simple, and effective. We do not, of course, live in a perfect world. But two new technologies are getting medicine a little closer to those goals.
The traditional vaccination method—using a needle and syringe—can be difficult, time-consuming, and dangerous in some countries where unsterile reuse occurs. So why not eliminate the needles? Needle-free jet injectors (and yes, they look like the hypospray devices from the Star Trek TV series) can administer tens of millions of doses of influenza, smallpox, meningitis, and many other vaccines in rapid fashion. Jet injectors reduce the dangers of needles, including reuse of non-sterile needles, needle-stick injuries to health workers, and unsafe disposal of sharps waste, according to the CDC.
December 27, 2010
Researchers recently examined the various methods and interventions used to improve patient adherence to cardiovascular medications, according to an article published in the American Journal of Managed Care.
The study examined methods and results from 51 randomized clinical trials published since 1975. Most of the studies included in-person interventions, such as direct and personal message delivery by a trained layperson or medical professional at the site of care or over the phone. Other interventions included mailed, faxed or hand-distributed messages and electronic systems.
Computer engineers and emergency medicine specialists at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., think the time is approaching when robot assistants will help manage patients in the ED.
Mitch Wilkes, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, represented the team in presenting a paper, “Heterogeneous Artificial Agents for Triage Nurse Assistance,” about hospital ED robots earlier this month at the Humanoids 2010 Conference in Nashville.
By Gregg Blesch
Posted: January 3, 2011 - 12:00 pm ET
Aetna has completed its $500 million acquisition of Medicity, a Salt Lake City-based company that develops health information exchange technology.
Medicity, which claims 760 hospitals and 125,000 physicians as customers, will operate as a separate company within the Hartford, Conn.-based insurer, according to a news release from Aetna. The deal was first announced in December.
By Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News
After relocating to Washington, Clint Morrison needed a doctor to follow up a tonsillectomy he had a few weeks earlier in California. When he started calling specialists in his health plan's directory, he struck out: They either weren't taking new patients or had no openings for several weeks.
So in September, Morrison went to www.zocdoc.com. He could see doctors' appointment calendars and identify those that took his insurance and were located near his office. With a couple of clicks, Morrison, 24, scheduled an appointment for the next day with Mark Dettelbach, an ear, nose and throat doctor. "It was painless," Morrison says of the experience.
January 3, 2011 — 3:44pm ET | By Dan Bowman
For doctors looking to add patients and lower overhead costs, one easy solution, according to a Kaiser Health News/USA Today collaboration, is online scheduling. While the practice hasn't exactly gone mainstream yet, with only 16 percent of family doctors using online scheduling in 2009, it clearly has become less of an anomaly. Just four years earlier, only 6 percent of doctors participated in the trend.
Two mass online services highlighted by KHN--ZocDoc and Health In Reach--are fast becoming go-to sites for those looking for quick appointments, particularly younger patients. ZocDoc, which launched in 2007 and currently costs patients nothing and charges doctors a $250 monthly listing fee, boasts hundreds of listings each in four cities: Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and Dallas. Cyrus Massoumi, the site's CEO, plans to expand to Boston, Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia in the near future, and compares his site to restaurant reservation website opentable.com.
- Chris Smyth
- From: The Times
- January 03, 2011
BRITAIN'S National Health Service has been told millions of pounds could be saved by outsourcing more NHS administration to India.
The call was made by the head of a government-backed company leading healthcare efficiency reform in Britain.
However public unease means these savings are unlikely to be realised.
Patients may not like calling an operator in Delhi to book an appointment with their GP, or having their medical notes stored on overseas databases. But as pressure on NHS budgets intensifies, John Neilson suggests the alternative is cuts to services.
Call centres and offices in Delhi and Pune already handle invoices and other administration for a significant number of NHS trusts for a fraction of what British-based labour would cost.