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Digital tools for health come with 'hope, hype and harm'

Healthcare News - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 06:38

Dr. Robert Wachter has long been an advocate for patient safety and a keen observer of trends in medicine. Years ago, Wachter coined the term "hospitalist" and predicted the rise of these doctors who specialize in caring for hospitalized patients. Wachter, associate chairman of University of California, San Francisco's department of medicine, has a new book out: The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine's Computer Age. In it, he turns his attention to the rise of technology in health care, and the risks and rewards as we digitize everything from medical records to office visits. Here is an edited and condensed version of our recent conversation about it.

Categories: Healthcare News

Telemedicine gains support in MN

Healthcare News - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 06:36

Medical insurers in Minnesota may soon be required to cover expenses incurred by patient care given over the phone or by virtual doctor visits. A bill making its way through the Legislature, called the Minnesota Telemedicine Act, would require insurance companies to treat distance medical consultation and treatment as if a patient was simply going to a doctor's office. Some advocates call this type of care the future of medical treatment, and say it could help rural and underserved communities. "[Telemedicine is] not being utilized to the full extent, so this legislation hopes to do that," said Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, co-author of the bill.

Categories: Healthcare News

Senate to consider six 'doc fix' amendments

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 13:45

The Senate is expected to consider six amendments on a $200 billion Medicare reform package that is slated for a vote Tuesday afternoon, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. Under current plans, senators will consider three proposals from Democrats and three from Republicans to amend the House's "doc fix" legislation. Nearly all the amendments will require 60 votes to pass, including a measure by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would repeal ObamaCare's individual mandate. The only vote that will require a simple majority is a measure from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that would require Congress to offset the costs of the bill, which would stop steep payment cuts to doctors who treat Medicare patients, completely.

Categories: Healthcare News

Surescripts’ New Tool Aims To Improve Interoperability, EHR Access

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 13:15

Surescripts has integrated a new tool, called the National Record Locator Service, with the electronic health record systems of eClinicalWorks, Epic and Greenway Health in an effort to improve providers’ access to patient records and make it easier to share data. EHR Intelligence, Clinical Innovation & Technology.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Survey: Fewer U.S. Physicians Now Believe EHRs Improve Patient Care

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 12:50

A new Accenture survey finds that 46% of U.S. physicians say that electronic health records improve treatment decisions, down from 62% of 2012 respondents. However, nearly 80% of respondents in the new survey say they are more proficient at using EHRs than they were two years ago. Healthcare IT News et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

IBM Launches Venture To Improve Health Through Data Analytics

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 12:45

IBM has launched a new venture aimed at providing health care data analytics that is supported by new partnerships with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic. IBM’s Watson Health will work as a cloud-based service that stores and analyzes large data sets to create applications that can improve personal health and treatment plans. Reuters et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Health Care Organizations Say IT Advances the Industry’s ‘Triple Aim’

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 12:30

The 26th annual Leadership Survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society finds more than two-thirds of health care organizations say IT has helped improve health care’s triple aim of advancing the health of populations, improving patient experiences and reducing costs. EHR Intelligence et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Houston Fire Dept. Uses Telehealth To Reduce Unnecessary ED Use

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 11:42

The Houston Fire Department has been using a telehealth program that connects ambulance crews to physicians in an effort to avoid costly, unnecessary emergency department visits. The program, which costs more than $1 million annually, provides paramedics with a tablet device that enables patients to video chat with providers. Kaiser Health News

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Technology and the Patient Experience

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 08:54

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.

Categories: Healthcare News

Military-style Workflow Boosts Patient Volume 30%

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 07:15

The data-driven Military Acuity Model aims to determine which tasks are most important to patient care, and which ones cost physicians and patients time and poorer health if they're not completed.

Categories: Healthcare News

Population Health and the Revenue Cycle

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 07:12

In preparing to take on the financial risks involved with caring for defined patient populations, healthcare providers are finding value in their billing and coding data.

Categories: Healthcare News

Even as EHR proficiency rises, enthusiasm dips

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 07:00

Doctors have become better at using electronic health records software in the last two years but, fewer physicians believe EHRs actually improve care. Whereas 62 percent of doctors in 2012 believed their EHR helped improve patient care, only 46 percent answered the same way in 2015, according to research that Accenture published on Monday. More specifically, 72 percent of respondents indicated that their EHR reduced medical errors and 58 percent said they improved outcomes in 2012 – while those numbers dipped to 64 and 46 percent, respectively.

Categories: Healthcare News

The tangle of coordinated healthcare

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 06:58

Who coordinates the coordinators? More specifically, who coordinates the proliferating number of health care helpers variously known as case managers, care managers, care coordinators, patient navigators or facilitators, health coaches or even — here's a new one — "pathfinders"? Rachel Schwartz, a licensed clinical social worker for close to 20 years, came face to face with this quandary earlier this month. Employed by a home care agency in Virginia, she visited a woman in her late 70s who had recently come home from the hospital. The patient, who lives with her husband and daughter, has diabetes and dementia.

Categories: Healthcare News

Why some doctors are hesitant to screen smokers for lung cancer

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 06:56

In February, Medicare announced that it would pay for an annual lung cancer screening test for certain long-term smokers. Medicare recipients between the ages of 55 and 77 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years are now eligible for the annual test, known as a spiral CT scan. Medicare's decision was partly a response to a 2011 study showing that screenings with the technique could reduce lung cancer deaths by 20 percent. That translates into thousands of lives each year, says Dr. Claudia Henschke, a radiologist who heads the lung and cancer screening program at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Categories: Healthcare News

Former Yale medical professor accused of sexual harassment

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 06:54

For the second time in less than a year, the Yale School of Medicine is embroiled in charges of sexual harassment. A nephrology professor, Dr. Rex L. Mahnensmith, who worked at the university for over 20 years, has been accused of a pattern of sexual harassment while he was medical director of the New Haven Dialysis Clinic, where university physicians treat their patients. Last year, when the accusations boiled over but were being handled quietly by Yale, the clinic removed him, and Yale forced his resignation. But now, two federal lawsuits have been filed against him in Connecticut, detailing a history of sexual misconduct that stretches back more than a decade.

Categories: Healthcare News

Survey: Informatics nurses have positive effect on clinical processes

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 06:53

Informatics nurses have had a positive effect on their facilities' health IT environments, according to a survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, Health Data Management reports. For the survey, researchers polled 576 respondents about informatics nurses' effect on: Clinical systems processes; Emerging technologies; and Quality of care. About 79% of respondents identified themselves as informatics nurses. Non-informatics nurse respondents included CIOs, chief medical information officers and chief nursing officers. Findings of the 2015 HIMSS Impact of the Informatics Nurse Survey were released at HIMSS15.

Categories: Healthcare News

The hidden cost of mammograms: More testing and overtreatment

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 06:51

There's no question mammograms can save lives by detecting breast cancer early. But they can also result in unnecessary testing and treatment that can be alarming and costly. In fact, each year the U.S. spends $4 billion on follow-up tests and treatments that result from inaccurate mammograms, scientists report in the current issue of Health Affairs. That's a "stunning number," says the study's lead author, Dr. Kenneth Mandl, at Harvard Medical School's Center for Biomedical Informatics. Mandl and a colleague analyzed the insurance records of more than 700,000 women from 2011 to 2013.

Categories: Healthcare News

Husband fatally shot wife at doctor's office, police say

Healthcare News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 06:50

A woman fighting with her husband ran into a doctor's office and begged the staff to call the police before the man shot her dead, ran to their home nearby and holed up there during a lengthy standoff with police, officials said Monday. The couple lived near the doctor's office, and 24-year-old Leaj Jarvis Price apparently fled there from their home in small-town Jemison because it was the closest place to go, police chief Shane Fulmer said. "The first thing she said when she came in was, 'Call the police,'" Fulmer said. He said six to seven people — all employees, including the doctor — were in the office at the time.

Categories: Healthcare News

Texas Medical Board Imposes Stricter Restrictions on Telehealth Visits

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Mon, 04/13/2015 - 12:56

The Texas Medical Board has voted to require physicians to meet with a patient in person prior to conducting telehealth services, with limited exceptions. Meanwhile, the Washington state Legislature has passed a bill that would enact telehealth parity requirements for private insurers. Dallas Morning News et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

ONC Emphasizes Interoperability in IT Privacy, Security Guide Update

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Mon, 04/13/2015 - 12:50

Today, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released an updated version of its Guide to Privacy and Security of Electronic Health Information. The update is part of ONC’s goal of explaining how security regulations can improve interoperability and includes information on HIPAA rules and the meaningful use program. FierceHealthIT, “Health IT Buzz.”

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use