This blog is totally independent and has only three major objectives.
The first is to inform readers of news and happenings in the e-Health domain, both here in Australia and world-wide.
The second is to provide commentary on e-Health in Australia and to foster improvement where I can.
The third is to encourage discussion of the matters raised in the blog so hopefully readers can get a balanced view of what is really happening and what successes are being achieved.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Weekly Overseas Health IT Links - 23rd January, 2016.
Note: Each link is followed by a title and few paragraphs. For the full article click on the link above title of the article. Note also that full access to some links may require site registration or subscription payment.
A teledermatology program helped improve patient access to face-to-face care in a study at the Mann-Grandstaff Spokane Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.
Most teledermatology research focuses on specialist visits avoided, notes the report, published in Telemedicine and e-Health. In light of the VA wait-time scandal, these researchers wanted to examine the effect of teledermatology on wait times for specialist appointments.
As a means of dealing with the burgeoning demand for dermatology services, the VA center trained two primary care physicians to perform basic dermatology procedures at its rural clinics. It also implemented a store-and-forward teledermatology program at the rural clinics. Later, it expanded teledermatology at its main Spokane location.
Big data and predictive analytics were supposed help Medicare prevent fraudulent payments the same way credit card companies deny suspicious charges. Fraud schemes still plague Medicare because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is too concerned about provider backlash to use the full force of claims data, according to an article published in Pacific Standard.
The article dives into the history of Medicare fraud and the way organized crime entities have infiltrated the system by setting up sham clinics, stealing physician and patient information and billing Medicare indiscriminately. CMS pays the claims until it recognizes an anomaly, but by then, the scammers have moved on. Some investigators have referred to this "pay-and-chase" model as an endless game of Whac-a-Mole.
“After an incredible run from 2010-2014, VC funding into health IT companies leveled off last year,” Mercom Capital Group CEO and Cofounder Raj Prabhu said in a statement. “We are beginning to see a slowdown in early stage deals, a sign the sector is beginning to mature. We are also seeing funding trends shift from practice-focused to consumer-focused technologies and products. Apart from innovative technologies and solutions, business and revenue models are becoming more important.”
by Joe Infantino, iHealthBeat Senior Staff Writer Thursday, January 14, 2016
A soon-to-be-convened HHS task force and its forthcoming report on cybersecurity mark a step toward strengthening privacy and security in health care, but it might have been the wrong one to take, some experts say.
"The industry already knows what needs to be done," said David Harlow, a health care attorney, consultant and author of HealthBlawg, citing data encryption and training to avoid human-error breaches as a few best practices. "We don't have to wait for a report in order for those things to happen."
According to the task force, the tool could be useful for providers making their first EHR purchase, considering a modular component purchase to meet new health IT needs, and determining what products are in the market to assess further purchases. The task force acknowledged that purchase needs vary by practice size, location, specialty and provider type, and that the tool should be searchable by multiple categories at a time. Existing tools do not include comparisons on cost, interoperability or usability (workflow and safety); the tools also need to provide information beyond what is captured through ONC's certification program.
Health Level 7 and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT kicked off a new challenge that aims to alleviate provider frustrations with the usability of HL7's consolidated clinical document architecture standard.
The C-CDA is s an XML-based document markup standard specifying the structure and semantics of documents – imaging reports, discharge summaries – exchanged among providers and patients.
The process by which C-CDAs are made human readable is called rendering: a chief requirement of the documents is that all relevant clinical content be present – and renderable – in human readable form.
While most mobile health (mHealth) app users and executives believe that their apps are at least adequately secure, many of the health apps tested that were approved by FDA or the UK National Health Service (NHS) were actually found to be vulnerable, according to a report from Bethesda, Md.-based IT security vendor Arxan Technologies.
A combined 84 percent of mobile app users and mobile app executives believe that their mobile health and finance apps are "adequately secure," and 63 percent believe that app providers are doing "everything they can" to protect their mobile health and finance apps. However, according to the report, the 5thAnnual State of Application Security Report, the majority of mobile health and finance apps contain critical security vulnerabilities.
The new research is based on the analysis of 126 popular mobile health and finance apps from the U.S., UK, Germany, and Japan, as well as a study examining security perspectives of consumers and app security professionals.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has taken a number of steps recently designed to provide greater protections to both patients and the public under the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
First, last week, in response to President Obama’s executive actions on gun control, OCR said it will change the rules so that mental health providers can share data with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This will allow mental health providers to show the identities of patients subject to a federal mental health prohibitor that prevents them from shipping, transporting or possessing a firearm.
The HHS Office for Civil Rights recently issued extensive guidance for providers, insurers and patients on rules under the HIPAA law to enable patients to get paper or electronic copies of their medical records.
The guidance is long overdue; patients have had this right for a decade or longer, and many still face obstacles in getting their records. But how useful will the guidance actually be? And with little federal enforcement over the years, will compliance improve?
OCR has paid attention to the right of patient access, responding to patient complaints by working with providers and helping them understand their compliance obligations, says Jodi Daniel, formerly director of policy in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and now a partner in the law firm of Crowell & Moring.
The meaningful use program is on the cusp of major changes, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said late Monday, adding that 2016 would likely see the end of the program altogether.
The Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, with its emphasis on a new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System and alternative payment models, demands a new streamlined regulatory approach, he said, speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.
Slavitt also posted the news on Twitter on Monday.
Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , January 13, 2016
MU will be "replaced with something better," says Andy Slavitt. Reaction from healthcare CIOs is largely one of relief.
For the first time, the leader of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has said publicly that the agency "has the opportunity" to sunset the meaningful use program in 2016.
Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of CMS, made his remarks Tuesday at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Slavitt's full remarks were then posted on the CMS blog, and summarized in a series of tweets.
Ensuring user privacy and keeping customer data safe must become non-issues before the healthcare industry will fully embrace mHealth wearables, according to new industry research.
The Forrester report reveals 21 percent of consumers are now using a wearable to track health and wellness activity, and the data is providing a much more accurate depiction of a user's healthcare status. But challenges such as meeting HIPAA mandates and regulatory compliance on data storage must be solved before the data gathered via Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, such as wearables, can be leveraged for full benefit.
"While, in theory, clinicians should be rushing to promote these devices and incorporate the data from them into care methods, the reality is that there are significant impediments before they can use it," Kate McCarthy, a Forrester senior analyst serving chief information officers, writes in the report.
1. Clinical value. Eighty-three percent of survey respondents indicated their organization's EHR implementation resulted in improved clinical staff quality performance efficiencies. Additionally, 52 percent of respondents reported increased staff productivity.
2. Savings value. Most organizations (90 percent) have a formal measurement in place with at least one financial metric, according to survey respondents. Of these respondents, 81 percent indicated their organizations documented a positive impact in savings. The three most common areas for savings were coding accuracy, days in accounts receivable and transcription costs.
Jerry Holt • firstname.lastname@example.org Colleen Loye, 77, was able to avoid an invasive cardiac test thanks to a new supercomputer. She has suffered two heart attacks and also has breathing problems from a lifetime of smoking and working amid chemicals as she restored old cars.
A California supercomputer is advising heart specialists in Minneapolis on when they should — and more importantly when they shouldn’t — thread instruments inside patients’ blood vessels to examine blockages.
The so-called HeartFlow system uses images from a patient’s CT scan and analyzes them against volumes of data on the human vascular system and the science of fluid dynamics. As a result, it can diagnose patients’ needs — and help doctors avert heart attacks and stroke — without the costly and invasive procedure of inserting a catheter.
To make it easier for people to gain access to their personal health information, the U.S. Department Health and Human Services had posted some clarifications about individuals' right under HIPAA privacy rules.
“Unfortunately, based on recent studies and our own enforcement experience, far too often individuals face obstacles to accessing their health information, even from entities required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule,” Jocelyn Samuels, HHS director of the Office for Civil Rights wrote. “This must change.”
HHS explained that the “Privacy Rule requires HIPAA covered entities (health plans and most health care providers) to provide individuals, upon request, with access to the protected health information about them in one or more ‘designated record sets’ maintained by or for the covered entity,” HHS said. ”This includes the right to inspect or obtain a copy, or both, of the PHI, as well as to direct the covered entity to transmit a copy to a designated person or entity of the individual’s choice.”
Providers, payers and other organizations should consider teaming up with senior living communities (SLC) on telemedicine to reduce visits to the emergency department.
Patients living at communities that are more engaged with technology and telemedicine see a decrease in ED use, according to a study published in Telemedicine and e-Health.
The researchers, from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, examined a total of 1,219 seniors. Of those, 479 received telemedicine care, while 740 did not.
Startups may find the healthcare market harder to break into and the scrutiny of what they offer more severe after recent reports about the veracity of lab testing company Theranos' technology.
New health IT entrepreneurs will have to be careful of overhyping their products, Justin Smith, a pediatrician and medical advisor for digital health at Cook Children's in North Texas, tellsFast Company.
"If we overhype things that aren't real--and I'm not saying it [Theranos's technology] is not--that we'll have a harder time getting buy-in for things that are real," he says.
This week, the American Medical Association (AMA) released a list of the top nine issues physicians should follow closely in 2016 and a number of health IT issues, namely data security and telemedicine, made the list.
Medicare reform and the electronic health record (EHR) Meaningful Use program topped the list. “The Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under development is intended to streamline the various reporting programs for physicians, and alternative payment models (APM) will support physicians in adopting new models of care. Shaping the MIPS so that it fixes the problems of the current system and is beneficial for both physicians and patients will be at the heart of Medicare reform efforts in the coming year,” the AMA wrote in a release.
The AMA said it would continue its work on this front, including a task force of physicians who already drafted and delivered to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) 10 principles to guide the foundation of the MIPS.
2015 set significant foundations for change. From the 8.4 million Americans obtaining insurance through Obamacare to the rise in digital health investments, reaching more than $4.3 billion in funding and 180 merger and acquisition deals, value-based and person-centered care were increasingly discussed in 2015. In 2016, we'll experience more change as value-based care continues to expand in health facilities across the nation. The future looks bright as we strive to ensure the right care is provided to the right person at the right time in a cost-effective manner. Here are a few predictions for health care in the New Year:
Prediction One: Changing payment models will increasingly require value for the patient, and we'll see a corresponding reduction in payments for volume-based care.
A year ago -- in January 2015 -- HHS set a goal that fundamentally changes the way Medicare pays for care. Across the nation, providers and beneficiaries are adjusting their relationships in anticipation of this pivotal change in payments becoming increasingly tied to care quality and care value. Thanks to its influence over the speed with which other payers transition to value-based care payment models, HHS' goal represents a game-changer.
Roy Wyman is a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and is a member of its Healthcare Regulatory and Transactional Team.
In a year not too distant, Loretta, a woman in her late 20s, hears a pleasant tone from her watch and checks to see a text. The message isn’t from a friend or work, it’s from the watch itself: “You’re pregnant.” Loretta is surprised; conception was merely days before. But pregnancy is one of the many tests constantly checked by her wearable and household technology.
A minute later, a second text comes through — this time automatically generated by her doctor’s office — conveying a list of dates and times that her calendar and her physician’s are both open for a video conference. Based on that meeting, a plan of care will be agreed upon, with any necessary medications automatically delivered to Loretta’s home, dispensed through a small, web-connected device in her kitchen, paid for by her insurance company automatically and seamlessly.