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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 10/1/20

October 1, 2020 Dr. Jayne No Comments

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For those of you still playing along with the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program, October 3 is the last day to begin the required 90-day EHR reporting period. This applies to eligible hospitals who want to try to avoid getting a negative payment adjustment (aka penalty) down the road.

It’s hard for some organizations to even care about the CMS programs any more. They are trying to keep their doors open on a month-to-month basis, and the idea of future penalties isn’t on the radar when they’re juggling staffing issues and figuring out how to protect their employees.

Another deadline approaching is that for submitting comments on the 2021 Proposed Rule for the Quality Payment Program. That comment period closes October 5 at 5 p.m. ET and comments may be submitted through regulations.gov.

COVID and the related lockdowns, shutdowns, and limitations to healthcare delivery are having negative impacts on patients in other ways. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from September 11 presents the results of a survey done in June looking at patients whose routine care was delayed. The survey estimates that 41% of US adults have delayed or avoided care, including 12% who reported having avoided urgent care.

A close friend of mine is going through some stress following a delay of care. When she was finally able to get in for her annual GYN exam, there were some abnormal findings, and now she’s beating herself up about whether they would have been found earlier had she gone in April as originally scheduled. I reminded her that in her age group she’s not even recommended to have an annual pap test, which means that her physician performed it “early” per the guidelines rather than “late” due to COVID. It’s hard for most laypeople to wrap their minds around how guidelines are constructed, especially when they’re worried whether they have cancer. At least her care team is running full tilt now, so hopefully she’ll have the answers she needs very soon.

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ONC announces the awardees for the STAR HIE (Strengthening Technical Advancement and Readiness of Public Health Agencies via Health Information Exchange) program. The goal was to support state and local public health agencies, as they use health information exchange services to respond to public health emergencies such as natural disasters and pandemics. Five HIEs were each awarded two-year cooperative agreements: Georgia Health Information Network, Health Current (AZ), HealthShare Exchange of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Kansas Health Information Network, and Texas Health Services Authority.

I enjoyed this article in Nature looking at how researchers are using virtual assistants to diagnose coronavirus infections along with dementia, depression, and more. Vocalis Health, a start-up with offices in Israel and the US, modified an app that was being used to detect worsening chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in an effort to detect COVID-19. They asked patients who had tested positive to use a research app to record their voices, with the recordings processed through machine learning to try to identify a COVID voiceprint. The article goes on to cover the history of voice analysis with neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease as well as how it can be used for behavioral health conditions like mania, where voice features can be telling. I ran the article past my favorite voice expert who thought it was “very fascinating,” although I’m personally curious about how it handles patients speaking different languages with different dialects and regional accents.

Greenway Health is getting into the telehealth game with a solution slated to be available in October. It claims to “deliver quality care from remote locations without interrupting established workflows” and they’ve got a video on the website from their chief product and technology officer, but I’d find it a lot more credible if they had a physician announcing it. The rest of the information requires you to provide your information, so I took a pass.

My state chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians reached out to me on behalf of the state department of health as they try to plan for administration of a COVID-19 vaccine. The documentation is extensive, including a participation agreement and a multi-page provider profile that requires details down to the brand, model, and type of storage unit that will be used for housing COVID-19 vaccine prior to administration. Based on our already unstaffable volumes, I can’t see my practice agreeing to be an administration site, but you never know.

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I registered for the all-virtual Lenovo TechWorld conference today, to be held at the end of October. Based on my interests, it suggested a couple of sessions for me. I’m not sure where the “liquid cooling innovation” one might have come from, but it does sound pretty cool (pun intended). Unlike an in-person conference, it’s easy for the day-to-day to get in the way of virtual conferences, so we’ll see if I make it to any of the sessions.

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I’m mostly interested in seeing how the virtual conferences run and what platforms they use, as well as how they engage (or don’t engage) attendees. The Optum Forum had some glitches this morning, with participants having to log out and back in as well as reload their browsers to continue. Sessions that may have been missed are posted for on demand viewing through October 30, however.

I’ve been dealing with some non-work issues lately, so I’ve been much more likely to answer phone calls from unknown numbers. I had the ultimate bad cold call the other day. I answered the phone as I always do, “Hi, it’s Dr. HIStalk” and the caller says, “Jayne, this is Dave.” “Sorry, Dave who?” “You know, Dave, from XX company. We met at the YY conference a couple of months ago (insert name of conference that I most certainly didn’t attend, because you know, COVID) and you said to call you in a couple of months.”

“I’m sorry, what is this about?” “I wanted to follow up on your cybersecurity needs.” When I began to explain that I don’t have any cybersecurity needs, he literally hung up on me. Definitely not a best practice for the sales playbook, and needless to say, his number is now blocked. I’ll also be making sure that all my hospital and healthcare friends who might actually have pressing cybersecurity needs know what bozos the company has hired so that they’re not inclined to give them their business.

What’s the worst cold call you’ve received? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.



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