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Technology and the Patient Experience

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 09:34

In addition to cutting-edge tools and devices, some healthcare leaders are finding that even putting consumer feedback on a website can play a role.

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Telemedicine Reimbursement and Licensure Expands in State Regulations

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 07:18

At its annual meeting, the American Telemedicine Association reports that 24 states now require that healthcare received via telemedicine be paid the same as in-person services.

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Pioneer ACO Program Saves $384 Million, OK'd for Expansion

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 07:12

Medicare's accountable care organization model has notched sufficient savings to meet the agency's criteria for expansion to a larger population of beneficiaries.

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Contrary to goals, ER visits rise under Obamacare

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 06:56

Three-quarters of emergency physicians say they've seen ER patient visits surge since Obamacare took effect — just the opposite of what many Americans expected would happen. A poll released today by the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that 28% of 2,099 doctors surveyed nationally saw large increases in volume, while 47% saw slight increases. By contrast, fewer than half of doctors reported any increases last year in the early days of the Affordable Care Act. Such hikes run counter to one of the goals of the health care overhaul, which is to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by getting more people insured through Medicaid or subsidized private coverage and providing better access to primary care.

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With sickest patients, cost sharing comes at a price

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 06:52

The growth in health care spending is slowing down, and one reason might be that cost sharing is rising. The proportion of insured workers with at least a $1,000 deductible was 41 percent in 2014, quadruple that in 2006. Hidden in the numbers is the fact that increasing cost sharing for patients with chronic illnesses can backfire, causing their health care spending to go up, not down. When patients face higher cost sharing for prescription drugs, they tend to cut back on them. That's a finding from a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research by Peter Huckfeldt and colleagues, who examined employer-based health plan enrollees who use drugs to treat high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.

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Surrounding CA hospitals wonder whether patients will return to King

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 06:51

When the old King/Drew medical center was forced to close in 2007 after a series of treatment lapses, tens of thousands of South Los Angeles patients scrambled to find somewhere else to go. Many officials predicted that surrounding hospitals, some with already strained emergency rooms, would be flooded. Indeed, a new Times analysis of state data found that two public and three private hospitals in the area experienced an increase of more than 20% in outpatient ER visits, some well after the troubled King/Drew closed. St. Francis Medical Center, just three miles away, had an immediate 24% emergency room bump.

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Latest tool for neurosurgeons: Virtual reality headsets

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 06:50

Virtual reality headsets are already revolutionizing the way people experience video games: put on a pair of goggles and you can travel anywhere from outerspace to the battlefield. But gamers aren't the only ones this technology can transport to new worlds, reports CBS News' Kara Finnstrom, only on "CBS This Morning." "It's just amazing to see every little opening in the skull where a nerve goes through," said Dr. Neil Martin, chairman of University of California Los Angeles' department of neurosurgery. At UCLA, neurosurgeons are slipping on virtual reality headsets to go inside their patients' brains.

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Iora Health's promise: Patients come first

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 06:48

A year ago, Jeffrey Davis had just about given up on going to the doctor. He was tired of waiting for physicians who always ran late, tired of being rushed through appointments, tired of never having diagnoses or treatment plans fully explained. Then a coworker suggested that Davis, 53, of Haverhill, check out the Iora Health practice in Burlington. There he found the attention, care, and personal interest that was so lacking in his past experiences. "We can sit down and talk about anything," he said after a consultation that covered a wrist injury, his attempts to quit smoking, and his cholesterol levels. "You have someone watching to help you do what you should."

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Patients not hurt when their hospitals close, study finds

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 06:45

A hospital closure can send tremors through a city or town, leaving residents fearful about how they will be cared for in emergencies and serious illnesses. A study released Monday offers some comfort, finding that when hospitals shut down, death rates and other markers of quality generally do not worsen. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health examined 195 hospital closures between 2003 and 2011, looking at health experiences in the year before and the year after the hospital went out of business.

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Healthcare security: Adapt or die

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 06:44

"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change" – a quote, often attributed to Charles Darwin, (turns out it was actually a paraphrase by some accounts), but that aside, a lesson in evolutionary biology turns out to be incredibly useful in the realm of healthcare security. When examining the rapid speed at which the threat landscape for healthcare is changing and combining it with the traditionally slow-to-adapt nature of the healthcare industry in general, the problem's pretty clear. It's a different threat world nowadays.

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Study: ER doctors cautious when prescribing narcotic painkillers

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 06:43

U.S. emergency room doctors are cautious when prescribing narcotic painkillers that carry a high risk of abuse, a new study shows. Researchers analyzed data collected from more than 27,000 patients seen at 19 emergency departments (EDs) across the United States during a single week in October 2012. Nearly 12 percent of the patients were prescribed narcotic painkillers. Narcotic painkillers include drugs such as Oxycontin (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone). The average age of the patients was 41 and slightly more than half were women, the investigators found. Most of the prescriptions for the painkillers had a low number of pills and nearly all were immediate-release versions, not long-acting medications such as Oxycontin and MS-Contin, which carry a greater risk of overdose.

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Opinion: Targeting the 'superusers' of healthcare with telehealth

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 06:41

The consumer version of "telehealth" is both easy to imagine and easy to use. Faced with a healthcare event or condition (that isn't 911), a consumer uses a smartphone, tablet or desktop connection to engage clinical care in real?time. The cost is relatively affordable (even outside of insurance) and it saves an annoying trip to either a walk?in clinic or the local urgent care. It's the video equivalent of "1?800?doctor" or the nursing call center. It's an important consumer category of primary care, of course, but what about the so?called "superusers?" These are the 5% of patients ? often elderly ? that have multiple chronic conditions and account for up to 50% of all healthcare spending.

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FL man sues hospital after police find his amputated leg in garbage

Healthcare News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 06:39

A Florida man is suing Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables after his amputated leg was found in a dumpster with his name tag still attached. John Timiriasieff, 56, had his right leg removed from below the knee at Doctors Hospital in October 2014. A month later, homicide detectives visited his Key Largo home to ask why his limb was found at a waste facility, The New York Daily News reports. Initially, the detectives suspected foul play. However, the Miami Herald says the real story was about hospital sanitation. The hospital failed to incinerate the amputated leg and instead threw it into the garbage.

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Most Clinical Data Registries in the U.S. Are Deficient, Study Finds

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 13:24

A study by Johns Hopkins University researchers finds the majority of U.S. clinical data registries that collect information on patient outcomes are subpar, preventing the data from being useful for stakeholders. FierceHealthIT, Johns Hopkins Medicine release.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

More Insurers Covering Telemedicine Services in Their Health Plans

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 13:18

Telemedicine is becoming increasingly available to consumers as more insurers are offering such services in their coverage options. Some experts say the move to telemedicine has been spurred by the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion and provisions to make shopping for insurance on the exchanges easier. Wired.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Premier Calls for Interoperability in ’21 Century Cures’ Measure

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 13:04

The Premier health care alliance has called on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health to include language in its “21st Century Cures” draft bill that would require health IT interoperability. Meanwhile, a provision in the draft measure would remove an Open Payments reporting requirement for drugmakers and device manufacturers. FierceHealthIT et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Health Care Organizations Report Data Breaches Affecting Thousands

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 12:51

Health care organizations across the U.S. have reported data breaches in which patient information was compromised through email phishing scams. For example, St. Vincent Health System in Indiana has notified 760 patients of a data breach — the system’s seventh large HIPAA breach in five years. AP/ABC News et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Reports: Telehealth Regulations, Licensing Practices Vary by State

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 12:44

Two reports from the American Telemedicine Association find varying regulations and physician group standards among states, suggesting that lawmakers have not come to a consensus about how to handle telehealth. The reports update findings from two similar analyses last year on coverage and reimbursement policies, as well as practice standards and licensure. MedCity News, ATA release.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

US emergency-room visits keep climbing

Healthcare News - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 09:51

Emergency-room visits continued to climb in the second year of the Affordable Care Act, contradicting the law's supporters who had predicted a decline in traffic as more people gained access to doctors and other health-care providers. A survey of 2,098 emergency-room doctors conducted in March showed about three-quarters said visits had risen since January 2014. That was a significant uptick from a year earlier, when less than half of doctors surveyed reported an increase. The survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians is scheduled to be published Monday. Medicaid recipients newly insured under the health law are struggling to get appointments or find doctors who will accept their coverage, and consequently wind up in the ER, ACEP said.

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Primary Care Accessible, But Costly for Uninsured Patients

Healthcare News - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 07:29

In a study, only 6% of would-be patients were told they were refused an appointment because they were not covered by a health plan. But fewer than 20% of physicians were willing to see an uninsured patient unless they were paid in full up front.

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