News Blog

Telepharmacy Technology Helps Eliminate 'Pharmacy Deserts'
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Millions of Americans live in areas – both rural and urban – void of pharmacies. Telepharmacy services are beginning to bridge the gap.

To date, telepharmacy technology has been implemented mainly in two settings: in rural communities that are at least 10 miles from the nearest retail pharmacy and by health systems looking to improve service across multi-hospital, multi-clinic networks.

One of the largest telepharmacy networks in the U.S. is Catholic Health Initiatives’ Virtual Health Services in the upper Midwest, which connects 48 healthcare facilities with its 24-hour telepharmacy command center in Fargo, North Dakota.

Now telepharmacy services are coming to underserved urban locales. Just as low-income neighborhoods are sometimes dubbed “food deserts” because they lack supermarkets, many inner cities are “pharmacy deserts” because they don’t have a single retail or clinical pharmacy.
According to the public policy journal Health Affairs, about one million people in Chicago alone live in neighborhoods that are pharmacy deserts.

Large stretches of Baltimore are also considered pharmacy deserts – and residents’ troubles grew even worse in the wake of the Freddie Gray protests (when one pharmacy was burned to the ground and several others closed for weeks). To help alleviate the problem, the Baltimore Health Department allowed residents to use the 311 telephone service to obtain transportation to area pharmacies.

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are clinics that typically serve patients in pharmacy deserts – and many are interested in sharing the cost of a telepharmacy operation. With telepharmacy technology, an FQHC can dispense medications at the point of care in a way that’s more convenient and affordable for local patients.

FQHCs serve about 22 million Americans, and 33% are located in rural communities. There are FQHCs in all types of communities, like Penobscot Community Health Care in Bangor, Maine, which provides medication reconciliation and diabetes management. But only a handful of FQHCs have implemented telepharmacy programs. That could change in the year ahead, however, because the Affordable Care Act has provided $11 billion for FQHC expansion.

Walgreens offers dermatology consultations online
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Walgreens customers can now get dermatologists' opinions on their bumps, lumps and red spots without leaving their homes.
The Deerfield-based drugstore chain announced Monday that it's offering so-called teledermatology services — dermatological consultations done through technology.
Customers can create individual profiles on the new skin care section of the chain's website. They can then privately upload photos of their skin conditions, receive answers to medical questions and potentially get diagnoses, prescriptions and/or recommendations for over-the-counter products from board-certified dermatologists, often within 24 hours.
Consultations will cost $59. Health care company Iagnosis' DermatologistOnCall will provide the services through Walgreens.

Samsung finally replaces Galaxy Note 7 - Here's how to tell if your new phone is safe
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

If you're one of the 2.5 million people who bought a Galaxy Note7 phone, I hope you've gotten your replacement phone already. If not, you're literally playing with fire.
In case you haven't heard, Samsung has recalled 2.5 million Galaxy Note7 smartphones. This recall was in response to multiple reported incidents where batteries overheated and the smartphones caught fire.

Samsung has issued this fix, but it's still a good idea to make sure your phone isn't going to blow up in your pocket.
As part of the massive recall, the Note7 can be replaced with a newer Note7 now that they are available or can be swapped out for a J Series, Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge. You also get a $25 gift card or in-store credit for your troubles. All you need to do is contact the retail outlet where you purchased your phone or call 1-800-SAMSUNG.
Just in case there's any confusion as to whether or not you have a phone that's safe to use, Samsung has made it easy to tell you're in the clear. Approved and safe phones will now have a green battery icon in three places: the status bar, the display screen and the power off screen.

You can also check the battery itself. Newer, approved batteries will have a black square in the top right-hand corner of the battery's label.

Samsung is urging customers to take advantage of its voluntary recall for the smartphone. If you already own the Galaxy Note 7, turning it in for exchange is your safest option.

Massive phishing scam targets credit card customers
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Phishing emails can be terrifyingly successful. Scammers flood our inboxes, hoping that we fall for their devious tricks as they try to steal personal information and money. It seems like we are in a never-ending battle against these types of attacks.
We recently told you how Apple customers were being targeted with a massive email scam. Now, customers of a major credit card company need to be extra careful.
American Express cardholders are being targeted with a new, sophisticated phishing attack. The scam email appears to be so legitimate that it is important for people to have their guard up when they receive this fraudulent message.
The email claims to come from American Express, warning the recipient to stay protected from fraud and phishing scams. The customer is asked to set up an "American Express Personal Safe Key (PSK)" to make their account more secure. There is a link at the bottom of the email to "Create a PSK," which leads to a phony American Express login page.
Once the victim provides their login information on the fake American Express page, another phony page opens. This is when the victim is asked to enter sensitive information like their card number and expiration date, along with the four digit CVV (Card Verification Value) code. Then they need to enter their birth date, Social Security number, mothers' maiden name, and email address.
The phony site looks very similar to the official American Express site. Savvy customers might realize that there's no reason for American Express to ask for information that it already has, and avoid the scam.
If you want to avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam, there are some things you can do. First, never click on a link inside a document, email or another website to get to a sensitive site. You should always type the link to the sensitive site yourself.
If you get an email asking for information from your bank or credit card company, call them. Use the phone number located on the card and avoid phone numbers or links found in the email itself.
Finally, make sure you have strong security software on your gadget.

Please don't share this new Facebook hoax
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

All too often, people on Facebook don't click on, and more importantly, don't read the articles they share on the social networking site carefully enough. How many times have you seen a friend or colleague blindly share a hoax post? Here are just a few examples of some hoax posts that have gone viral in the past.
Well now, there's another hoax to keep an eye out for, this time involving the protests surrounding the controversial South Dakota pipeline - but the viral photo being shared isn't from South Dakota. Better yet, it's not even from this century.

The post, coming from a man in Arkansas by the name of Tyler Eldridge posted this photo, claiming that mainstream media is ignoring the magnitude of the South Dakota pipeline protests :So what's the problem with the photo?
It's a photo from the original Woodstock festival in 1969.
Going against all the recent measures Facebook has taken against fake articles going viral, the post already has more than 400,000 shares. To add insult to injury, Eldridge is adamant about it going viral, sharing this post days after the original:

AAFP Exec Declares Healthcare 'Fundamental Human Right'
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ORLANDO -- The chief executive at the American Academy of Family Physicians scolded FPs for being too eager to refer patients to subspecialists and for their "sorry performance" in providing after-hours and weekend access for patients.
But Douglas Henley, MD, AAFP executive vice president and CEO, also exhorted the assembled members of the Congress of Delegates to "firmly defend healthcare as a fundamental human right." Henley choked back tears as he read that statement, and the delegates responded with a prolonged standing ovation.

This was the second time that Henley was brought to tears discussing healthcare access before the AAFP. In September of 1994, when Henley was president of the AAFP, the Clinton healthcare plan was officially declared dead by Congress. A few days later, the AAFP convened its meeting in Boston and Henley broke down as he shared the Academy's failed efforts to support that legislation.
And from the delegates' reaction, it was clear that Henley's unabashed passion struck a nerve with them.
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Why provider success hinges on connecting with the patient
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Gone are the days of doctor house calls, when the family physician knew each patient’s personal medical history by heart. Today, many patients do not have much of a personal connection with their doctor, as shown in the 2016 State of the Connected Patient Report that show the effects of a mostly siloed and resource-constrained healthcare system that has providers spending even less time with each patient.
In a destructive spiral, these patients then gravitate to those providers who can most easily and quickly solve their problems, the kind of disruption we see in almost every other industry.

One of the major contributors to this dynamic has been the increasing reimbursement pressures from a legacy of primary care payment formulae and the Affordable Care Act policies that have forced physicians to treat and quickly discharge patients from clinics and hospitals, often without the necessary post-care support that they need. “Doctors have one eye on the patient, and one eye on the clock,” says David Rothman, who studies the history of medicine at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons.
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New ONC chief will continue push for interoperability
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

As the Obama administration winds down, the new head of the federal government's health information technology program will continue to primarily focus on interoperability of electronic health record systems.

“There are places that are making a good progress,” said Dr. Vindell Washington in his first news conference as head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS. “But we're looking for a world in which there is easy flow” across the entire spectrum of healthcare.

Health information exchanges, organizations aiming to help healthcare providers overcome technical and social obstacles to interoperability, have made progress after a rocky start.
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What insurers are doing to fix their rap for awful customer service
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cindi Rountree knew she was fed up with her health insurer after she was told she had to drive 80 miles if she wanted to buy a new breast prosthesis at a lower, in-network rate.

That was not the only challenge Rountree, a breast cancer survivor, had with her insurer, the now-defunct Kentucky Health Cooperative.

She had to fight to have a colonoscopy designated as a screening—a free service under the Affordable Care Act. The test was originally billed as diagnostic, which led to an unexpected charge of $217.20. Her allergist's office also asked her to call the insurer about why the office's claims were not being paid.

Rountree's experience with the co-op's customer service began inauspiciously in 2014, when Kentucky Health Cooperative repeatedly misspelled her name on her insurance card and bills. Over the course of two years, the insurer inundated Rountree with numerous explanations of benefits for diagnostic tests, breast exams and other routine procedures that told her she owed money even though she thought she was in the clear. Rountree provided copies of the paperwork to Modern Healthcare.

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Is Cyber-Security Insurance Right for Your Practice?
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2015 was a notorious year for cyberattacks in the healthcare industry, with more than 100 million health care records compromised in a single year. So far 2016 looks like it might be as bad or worse, once the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) gets all the breaches posted. Breaches for just the month of June involved more than 11 million patient records. Cyberattacks have become so common that IT experts say that it's 'not if but when' your data will be breached," says Rick Hindmand, a healthcare attorney with McDonald Hopkins in Chicago, Ill.
The big data breaches that make the news are typically the giants in the industry—the Anthem and Premera Blue Cross breaches, for example. But smaller healthcare providers are targets as well and for these practices,the results of a breach can be proportionately much worse. Some breaches are small and the damage can be quickly contained. Significant breaches, however, can be expensive. "Beyond the cost of any fines (and the bad PR), the costs of a significant breach can include paying for data analysis, a forensics expert, letters to patients, setting up a call in number to field patient's questions, and more," says Hindmand. For small practices already stretched to near breaking after paying for software and computer upgrades and ICD-10 prep, one serious breach could mean the difference between staying afloat and going under.
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