Former and current National Coordinators Karen DeSalvo, MD and Vindell Washington, MD take to Health Affairs to detail the “health IT transformation” seen across the country since the HITECH Act was passed in 2009. A few stats:
- 96 percent of hospitals and 78 percent of physicians use certified EHRs.
- 84 percent of academic literature review studies showed that certified EHRs had a positive or mixed-positive effect on care quality, safety, and efficiency.
- 80 percent of hospitals electronically exchanged lab results, radiology reports, clinical care summaries, or medication lists with providers outside their organization in 2015.
- 84 percent of providers reported in 2015 that their EHR met or exceeded their expectations.
- 90 percent of hospitals had digital health data they needed from outside sources or providers available at the point of care – double the national average.
The duo, who both have fond memories of caring for patients in Louisiana, emphasize that continued transformation will require federally recognized standards, combating data blocking, and creating an ROI around interoperability.
Last Week’s Most Interesting News
- Aetna announces plans to offer an Apple Watch subsidy through large employers and select individual customers to ramp up its wellness and care management programs.
- InstaMed announces a $50 million investment from Carrick Capital Partners.
- Former Tuomey Healthcare (SC) CEO Ralph Cox will personally pay a $1 million fine to settle Stark Law allegations that he illegally compensated doctors in exchange for unnecessary patient referrals to the hospital.
- The FDA approves Medtronic’s artificial pancreas that automatically monitors a patient’s blood sugar levels and then administers the appropriate insulin dose.
- Hilary Clinton outlines in NEJM her plans for improving healthcare, which includes improving ACA, working to “integrate our fragmented healthcare delivery systems,” and helping to increase research and innovation.
October 13 (Thursday) 2:00 ET. “Glycemic Control During Therapeutic Hypothermia.” Sponsored by Monarch Medical Technologies. Presenter: Tracey Melhuish, RN, MSN, clinical practice specialist, Holy Cross Hospital (FL). Using therapeutic hypothermia (TH) as a method of care can present risks of hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and blood glucose variability. Maintaining safe glucose levels during the cooling and rewarming phases of TH reduces the risks of adverse events. Tracey Melhuish, author of “Linking Hypothermia and Hyperglycemia,” will share best practices for optimal glucose control during TH and the success Holy Cross Hospital sees while using a computerized glucose management software.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
Safety Net Connect and private equity firm Gary Comer Inc. acquire Chicago-based patient engagement and care coordination technology company VCareConnect for an undisclosed sum.
Senior care services provider US CareNet forms a new company, HC360 Technologies, after purchasing the chronic care and transitional care management technology used in its NavCare care management division.
Announcements and Implementations
Miami Children’s Health System adds ambulatory business office services including RCM to its existing Millenium EHR partnership with Cerner.
Cohen Veterans Network (CT) selects Netsmart’s MyEvolv CareRecord to help it provide free mental healthcare to veterans and their families. The network, which launched in April, have opened five Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics across the country and plans to open 20 more over the next five years.
Community Health Partnership (CO) will implement ClientTrack case management software from Eccovia Solutions to better assist its membership of 25 organizations coordinate medical and behavioral healthcare.
Drchrono develops a “native” iPad and iPhone app for e-prescribing of controlled substances.
Government and Politics
The Dallas Morning News spotlights the refusal of the Texas Department of State Health Services to release data related to pregnancy and maternal death rates to reporters and other organizations looking to gain a better understanding of why the state’s death rates doubled between 2011 and 2012. The department has even refused – without explanation – to release a data record layout, akin to a table of contents that shows what data it collected and how it’s stored. “It’s ridiculous,” says Texas-based lawyer and open records expert Joe Larsen. “We have a clear public health problem, and the people really need to know what in the world is going on here, and they’re stymied by this," he said. "A record layout is not software. It’s not code. It’s not source code. Period. I liken it to the key of a map. It’s actually public information itself.”
Privacy and Security
- Marin Medical Practices Concepts notifies 5,000 patients that their medical records were lost during a recovery process stemming from a ransomware attack in July. After patient files were held for 10 days, the California-based billing and EHR company decided to pay an undisclosed ransom amount, which successfully unlocked the files. MMPC attributes the lost files to a faulty backup, adding that the recovery was done during a system upgrade.
- Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford (MS) notifies patients seen before August 2 of a likely ransomware attack initiated in early July, noting in their letter that, “The hackers held the server for ransom before turning control back over to the Urgent Care staff.” The clinic shut down their server’s remote access shortly thereafter, implying that the hackers (thought to be of the Russian variety) snuck in via remote desktop access.
- Martin Army Community Hospital (GA) alerts patients of a possible HIPAA breach that took place at Fort Benning between January 2011 and December 2013. The breach stems from “criminal activity involving identity theft by an employee in the laboratory shipping section.” The employee, who was tried for the crime and is now serving time, apparently used information from discarded lab specimen labels to file fraudulent tax returns.
Ochsner Health System (LA) SVP David Carmouche highlights EHRs, registries, and new compensation models as integral to its population health activities and overall move away from fee-for-service:
“We’re leveraging electronic health records, which connect all of our systems. We have created some 20 registries identifying groups of patients with certain diseases and conditions, and we’re reaching out to them proactively, to make sure they’re getting the care they need, when they need it. We’re realigning physician compensation for Ochsner-employed physicians, moving away from fee-for-service payment to higher payment for high-value, high-quality care. We’re looking at physician preference items, trying to consolidate down to one or two knee implants, or one or two cardiovascular implants, so that we can get better pricing from manufacturers. The best way to keep costs down will be to provide high quality care, so patients can go home quickly and recover fully.”
The system went live on Epic in 2011, and three years later became the first provider to integrate Epic with Apple’s HealthKit.
Scientific American takes a long-form look at the ways in which the FDA (and, increasingly, other federal agencies) manipulates the media, denying access and offering not-so-true findings to some news organizations, while enforcing restrictive rules like the “close-hold embargo” on others. “By using close-hold embargoes and other methods, the FDA, like other sources of scientific information, are gaining control of journalists who are supposed to keep an eye on those institutions,” writes Charles Seife. “The watchdogs are being turned into lapdogs.”
- Forward Health Group CEO Michael Barbouche is featured in a Wisconsin State Journal article on Wisconsin healthcare technology.
- The HCI Group launches a new “Monday Morning Podcast” series.
- Need help meeting your 2016 goals? Finish the year strong! (Nordic)
- Nordic’s 5th annual Open House Recap (Nordic)