News Blog

Study finds major EMR vendor APIs still don't play fair
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

  • Integrating digital solutions into big vendors' electronic medical records is challenging for smaller health tech companies, according to a new report from Health 2.0.
  • The majority of EMR vendors included in the survey of more than 100 small health tech companies did not support any integrations. Allscripts and athenahealth were the only two exceptions.
  • Most importantly, the surveyed companies that accomplished integration reported that the EMR vendors' application programming interfaces (APIs) were either "not great" or "poorly designed".

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Study highlights relative affordability of ACA vs. employer premiums
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

  • Despite uproar over ACA plan premium increases slated for 2017, a new study by the Urban Institute shows that premiums for these plans actually compare favorably – at 10% lower – than premiums for the average employer-sponsored plans.
  • That finding is based on an apples-to-apples comparison of unsubsidized nongroup premiums against the average premiums for employer-sponsored plans, according to state and metropolitan area, and factoring in adjustments for differences in actuarial value and age distribution.
  • While variation was observed based on location, more than 75% of states and more than 80% of metropolitan areas had lower marketplace premiums than employer premiums.

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Internet Addiction May Be Red Flag for Other Mental Health Issues: Study
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Over-reliance on the Web might be linked to depression, anxiety and impulsivity, researchers report
SUNDAY, Sept. 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Internet addiction may signal other mental health issues among college students, according to a new study.
Canadian researchers say their findings could affect how psychiatrists approach people who spend a significant amount of time online.
For the study, the researchers evaluated the internet use of 254 freshmen at McMaster University in Ontario. The researchers used a tool called the Internet Addiction Test (IAT), developed in 1998, as well as their own scale based on more recent criteria.
"Internet use has changed radically over the last 18 years, through more people working online, media streaming, social media, etc. We were concerned that the IAT questionnaire may not have been picking up on problematic modern internet use, or showing up false positives for people who were simply using the internet rather than being over-reliant on it," said chief researcher Dr. Michael Van Ameringen. He is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at McMaster.
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To prep for OCR HIPAA audits, try tech risk assessment
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Weighing technology risks can help healthcare organizations stay ahead of 2016 HIPAA audits by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights.

Two reactions are likely regarding upcoming HIPAA desk reviews by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Some hospital CIOs will wake up with night sweats, while others will face the OCR HIPAA audits with confidence.
One of the dividing lines between those camps will be whether a healthcare organization conducted a technology risk assessment related to safeguarding protected health information.
"Everything boils down to understanding the risks and how you manage them," said Raj Mehta, a partner at Deloitte's Cyber Risk Services.
Raj MehtaRaj Mehta
Getting ready for OCR HIPAA audits will present significant budget implications: 67% of healthcare organizations plan to spend money on HIPAA audit prep technology and services this year, according to a surveyconducted by TechTarget, the publisher of SearchHealthIT, in conjunction with the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.


Security app helps hospital pass CMS risk assessment, HIPAA audit
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

When faced with a CMS risk assessment and HIPAA audit, Beaufort Memorial Hospital turned to Iatric Systems' Security Audit Manager to help it pass.

Recently, Ed Ricks, the CIO of Beaufort Memorial in Beaufort, S.C., told me how he successfully helped guide his hospital through a CMS audit for meaningful use in 2011. The CMS risk assessment audit included the HIPAA Privacy and Security rules under the meaningful use objective.While the CMS risk assessment is not the same as the highly anticipated OCR HIPAA audits set to happen this year, the lesson from this CIO's experience applies to both situations: Technology can produce useful details to further prove your privacy compliance efforts to federal auditors.
The 200-bed hospital was able to pass the CMS audit with the help of Iatric Systems' Security Audit Manager, an application that manages patient privacy and automatically detects breaches.
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Positive Computing and Designing for Mental Health
Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Obama Administration Announces Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

As part of Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, Members of the President’s Cabinet and Federal agencies are focusing on the work being done across the government and announcing new efforts to address the national prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.
Leading up to and during Awareness Week, Federal agencies are taking a number of actions, including:

  • Expanding substance use disorder treatment in the TRICARE system to include coverage of intensive outpatient programs and treatment of opioid use disorders with medication-assisted treatment.
  • Establishing enhanced measures in conjunction with the Chinese government to combat the supply of fentanyl and its analogues coming to the United States.
  • Increasing the patient limit from 100 to 275 for practitioners prescribing buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorders. Since July, 1,275 practitioners have applied for and been granted waivers to prescribe at the increased limit—improving access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
  • Supporting distance learning and telemedicine programs that expand access to healthcare, substance use disorder treatment, and educational opportunities in rural communities.

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Delivering coordinated, high quality care for patients
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

In July 2016, CMS proposed new bundled payment models that continue the Administration’s progress to shift Medicare payments from rewarding quantity to rewarding quality by creating strong incentives for hospitals and clinicians to deliver better care to patients at a lower cost. These proposed new bundled payment models focus on heart attacks, heart bypass surgery, and hip fracture surgery. They would reward hospitals that work together with physicians and other providers to avoid complications, prevent hospital readmissions, and speed recovery. This proposal follows the implementation of the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model that begin earlier this year, which introduced bundled payments for certain hip and knee replacements.
Patients want the peace of mind that comes with knowing they will receive high quality, coordinated care from the minute they are admitted to the hospital through their recovery. Bundling payments for services that patients receive across a single episode of care – such as a heart bypass surgery or hip replacement – encourages better care coordination among hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers. Providers participating in bundled payments must work together when patients are in the hospital as well as after they are discharged, which should improve their recovery and avoid preventable complications and costs by keeping people healthy and at home.

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Pulse Check: Aneesh Chopra says health care's data revolution has arrived
Monday, September 19, 2016

Aneesh Chopra thinks we're telling the wrong story about health care data.
The nation's first chief technology officer told POLITICO's Pulse Check podcast that there's too much pessimism about vendors blocking information and the inadequacy of electronic health records. He believes the health care industry is finally answering the call for interoperability — and patients are starting to see the benefits.
"What's happening now [is] so exciting," Chopra enthused. "There's all this negative energy … vendor this, who's bad, who's good. All that is silly. We're in a great place, on our way to greater places."

Chopra pointed to the Argonaut Project as an example of how rivals like Epic and Cerner are joining forces to share code and agree on common standards. "I love how vendors are collaborating," he said. While some critics have suggested otherwise — a recent Health Affairs study concluded that electronic record vendors are hoarding data to turn a profit — Chopra thinks it's partly a reality of business.

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OCR: Business Associate HIPAA Audits Coming Soon
Monday, September 19, 2016

The Department of Health and Human Services is gearing up to kick off in October its first-ever round of HIPAA compliance audits of business associates. And the agency is also developing a variety of new guidance aimed at helping healthcare organizations deal with a surge in cyber threats. OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels and OCR Deputy Director for Health Information Privacy Deven McGraw provided the update of OCR's various HIPAA enforcement activities during a presentation at a HIPAA summit in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 15.

Business Associate Audits

Starting in October, OCR will notify 40 to 50 business associates that have been selected for an OCR HIPAA compliance "desk," or remote, audit. Unlike covered entities that earlier this year first received an email from OCR requesting verification of contact information in casethey were chosen for an audit, business associates aren't getting any warning. "We have robust contact information for our BA pool from the covered entity auditees," McGraw says.
OCR will host an informational webinar for the chosen business associates, similar to what the agency did for its selected covered entities, she says.

Heavy Documentation

OCR is also in the midst of evaluating the information and documentation it requested from the 167 covered entities that were notified in July about being audited for HIPAA compliance, McGraw says.
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