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AMA Renews Call for ICD-10 Contingencies

Healthcare News - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 06:54

A hardship exemption is needed for physicians who've tried in good faith to meet the Oct. 1 implementation deadline, but who've been hamstrung by issues beyond their control, says the president of the American Medical Association.

Categories: Healthcare News

Fraud still plagues Medicare drug program, watchdog finds

Healthcare News - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 06:38

Fraud and abuse continue to dog Medicare's popular prescription drug program despite a bevy of initiatives launched to prevent them, according to two new reports by the inspector general of Health and Human Services. The release follows the arrests of 44 pharmacy owners, doctors and others, who last week were accused of bilking the program, known as Part D. The reports issued Tuesday provide more insight into the extent of the fraud, as well as steps federal regulators should take to stop it. The first, which covers data from last year, found: More than 1,400 pharmacies had questionable billing practices last year in the drug program.

Categories: Healthcare News

Covered California data-mining project will collect patient health, insurance info

Healthcare News - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 06:36

California's health insurance exchange wants to know why you got sick this summer. With 1.4 million people enrolled, the state-run marketplace is embarking on an ambitious effort to collect insurance company data on prescriptions, doctor visits and hospital stays for every Obamacare patient. Covered California says this massive data-mining project is essential to measure the quality of care that patients receive and to hold health insurers and medical providers accountable under the Affordable Care Act. The state in April signed a five-year, $9.3-million contract with Truven Health Analytics Inc. of Michigan to run the database.

Categories: Healthcare News

Hospital closing shows potential problems when for-profit management group is in charge

Healthcare News - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 06:33

As legislators prepare for an intense debate on how to overhaul state health care programs, the closing of Yadkin Valley Community Hospital is as an example of what can go wrong with having a for-profit management group in charge. Senate Republican leaders, led by President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, want to eliminate by 2019 the regulatory process for how the state determines whether new health care facilities and equipment are needed. Their latest proposal was included in the Senate's state budget, which it approved Thursday. A certificate of need (CON) is required by state law before a health care system or provider can build a medical facility, buy equipment or offer a medical procedure.

Categories: Healthcare News

Hospital workers union pushes to regulate MA healthcare prices

Healthcare News - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 06:29

A plan to regulate the price of health care treatments negotiated by insurers could be a booster shot for cash-strapped community hospitals, supporters say. The proposal by Sen. Ben Downing, D-Pittsfield, caps prices that commercial insurers agree to pay hospitals for a variety of services at no more than 20 percent higher than the average of what other providers receive. His bill also sets a pricing floor for "safety-net" hospitals — which serve mostly low-income patients — of no lower than 90 percent of the average. The proposal is backed mostly by a hospital workers' union, which argues that large teaching hospitals, such as Partner HealthCare's Massachusetts General, dominate the market and demand higher payments from insurers, driving up health care costs and shortchanging smaller facilities.

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Report: NH hospital discharges delayed for older patients with nowhere to go

Healthcare News - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 06:28

A recent study by the Foundation for Healthy Communities found frequent delays in hospital discharges for medically cleared patients in New Hampshire. Data collected from 21 acute care hospitals in the state revealed that over half of affected patients were over the age of 65. The biggest barrier to timely discharge was access to a nursing home bed. Other barriers included insurance and Medicaid issues and the sometimes lengthy process of establishing a guardian for older patients. Mental health is often a barrier as well. The study found an average discharge delay of 20 days - though there are some mentally ill patients that can remain in hospital beds for over 50 days.

Categories: Healthcare News

Why Americans are putting off doctor visits

Healthcare News - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 06:26

The doctor may be in, but a lot of people aren't bothering to see her. A new survey, commissioned by the medical scheduling company ZocDoc, found that 80 percent of Americans say they delay getting preventative health care, or forgo it. Millennials are even less likely to visit to the doctor, with 93 percent of them not scheduling them. The survey findings come despite the fact that under the Affordable Care Act, a slew of preventive health services, such as blood pressure and cholesterol screening, vaccinations and "well-women" visits, must be covered by a patient's insurance plan with no co-payment or co-insurance charge.

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Eight Texas Communities Receive Vaccination Grants

Texas Medical Association - Hot Topics - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 12:39

Eight communities across Texas will receive disease-preventing and potentially life-saving vaccinations, thanks to Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Be Wise —ImmunizeSM program. The program awarded grants totaling nearly $18,000 to physicians, medical students, and TMA Alliance chapters (comprising physicians and physicians’ spouses), who often partner with other local organizations to provide free and low-cost vaccinations to uninsured and underinsured Texans.

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Local Physician Invites Community to “Walk With a Doc”

Texas Medical Association - Hot Topics - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 10:08

Tyler residents of all ages are encouraged to lace up their walking shoes and join local physician Li-Yu Mitchell, MD, Smith County Medical Society, and FitCity for Tyler’s final FREE weekly Walk With a Doc Texas event of the spring-summer season.

Categories: Healthcare News

AMIA Unveils Recommendations for Advancing EHRs by 2020

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 13:13

The American Medical Informatics Association has unveiled the 10 recommendations from its EHR-2020 Task Force for improving electronic health record systems by 2020. The report outlines five key focus areas, including supporting person-centered care delivery. MedCity News et al.

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Contest Seeks Wearables To Improve Health in Developing Countries

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 13:03

The “Wearables for Good” challenge — launched by UNICEF in partnership with smartphone chip manufacturer ARM and design firm Frog — seeks wearable devices that can be used to help individuals in underdeveloped countries avoid death, disease and disasters. MedCity News et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Study: ICD-10 Transition Could Pose Problems for Hospital EDs

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 12:39

A new study finds that hospital emergency departments could be negatively affected by the upcoming transition to ICD-10 code sets if challenges posed by current mapping tools are not addressed. Specifically, the study finds EDs could experience problems with clinical workflow and finances. FierceHealthIT et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Health Data Breaches Cost More To Remediate Than in Other Sectors

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 12:08

A Ponemon Institute study finds that health care data breaches are the costliest to remediate, at $363 per exposed personally identifiable record, compared with $154 in other industries. In addition, researchers find that the cost of remediating health care data breaches is increasing. Modern Healthcare et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Health IT Business News Roundup for the Week of May 29, 2015

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 11:59

Xerox has acquired Healthy Communities Institute, a cloud-based public health data company, for an undisclosed sum. Susannah Fox — former associate director of the Pew Research Center and “entrepreneur in residence” at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — has been named HHS CTO.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Bill Would Ease Location Rule for Interstate VA Telehealth Services

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 13:06

House lawmakers have introduced a bill that aims to ease a telehealth rule requiring Department of Veterans Affairs patients and providers to be at a federal facility. The legislation would allow VA providers to provide telehealth services across state lines as long as they are qualified and the treatment is “within the scope of their authorized federal duties.” mHealthNews, FierceHealthIT.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Federal Officials, Lawmakers Seek Ways To Bolster Interoperability

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 12:50

Amid reports of information blocking among electronic health record vendors and hospitals, lawmakers and federal officials are seeking ways to increase interoperability and ensure the free flow of information. For example, a bill approved by a House committee last week would define information blocking as a federal offense. New York Times.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Survey: Many Providers Use EHRs for Data Analytics Capabilities

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 12:37

A HIMSS Analytics survey finds that the use of data analytics among health care organizations has increased by six percentage points in the last two years. The survey shows many organizations use their electronic health record systems to support their analytics capabilities. Health Data Management, Politico‘s “Morning eHealth.”

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

CMS Plans To Create Online Medicare Fraud Tracking System

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 12:11

CMS is seeking a contractor to create a comprehensive Medicare fraud tracking system that would monitor enforcement actions taken against providers. The system would be available on, which have not yet launched, and would help avoid redundancies by Medicare review contractors. Modern Healthcare.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use

Most Health Care Providers Lack Health IT Roadmaps, Report Finds

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 12:07

A new report finds that more than half of health care providers lack a roadmap for implementing health IT, even though most recognize the technology’s potential for improving care efficiency. Meanwhile, the report states that the federal government’s increased focus on interoperability likely will boost development in the health IT market. FierceHealthIT, Frost & Sullivan release.

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Minn. Passes Bill To Exempt Solo Practitioners From EHR Requirement

Making Sense of Meaningful Use - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 13:21

Minnesota House and Senate lawmakers have passed legislation that would exempt solo practitioners and cash providers from a statewide mandate for health care providers to adopt electronic health record systems by the beginning of 2015. Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom praised the passage. EHR Intelligence et al.

Categories: Making Sense of Meaningful Use