Send Money Now: HHS’ Sebelius’ Request for Funds to Support Obamacare Compared to Iran-Contra Scandal

Sebelius

Health and Human Services recently admitted that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius solicited private support for the implementation of Obamacare programs including Enroll America, a nonprofit group devoted to expanding access that a former Obama administration staffer runs. According to Politico and other sources, HHS says there’s no problem with her actions.

According to the report, Sebelius sought donations from healthcare companies for a group working to encourage more people to enroll in Obamacare programs. Several key leaders, primarily Republicans, say Sebelius is showing disregard for constitutional principles and may violate the Antideficiency Act — the prohibition against augmenting congressional appropriations, and executive branch ethics laws.

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The Problem with Healthcare IT: The Closer We Get to the Goal, the Farther Away the Goal Seems to Get

Farzad Mostashari recently said that 5 percent of the problem in healthcare now is people while the remaining 95 percent of the problem is systems and IT.

According the national health IT coordinator, as reported by Government Health IT, “It’s systems that let ordinary people do extraordinary things.”

However, the tools that allow us to do extraordinary things contribute to nearly all of the problems physicians and their practices face in healthcare. IT is to blame for healthcare’s problems; not lack of payment reform, overarching government intrusion, lack of research, the fact that doctors are only able to spend about eight minutes with each patient per visit, etc.

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Meaningful Use Fatigue?: Program Seems More Like Long-term Payday Loan than Professional Initiative

I can’t think of a more obvious statement than the one recently made by Impact Advisor principal Laura Kreofsky, who said recently that everyone in healthcare is going to hit a wall in a year or two and fatigue is going to settle in regarding meaningful use.

By 2015, we’re all going to be sick and tired of meaningful use.

I already am.

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View from the Hospital: Reflection on Electronic Health Record Implementation

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Agrawal

Guest post by Rishi Agrawal, MD, MPH, physician champion, La Rabida Children’s Hospital, Chicago, IL.

“Why do I have to click so many times to order something so simple?” a frustrated resident blurted out on her first day using our newly implemented CPOE system.

Having helped build order sets as a physician champion, the best I could tell her was that many aspects of the software were beyond my control, but that it will get faster and easier with familiarity.  And it did, to a point. Within a few weeks of going live, we had more than 90 percent adoption of CPOE, a source of both relief and pride. But challenges remained.

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Lack of Hospital Prices: An Example of Complexity Confounding Reform

Guest post by Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, leader of the Hospital Performance Improvement practice at Berkeley Research Group.

One symptom of the complexity of hospitals is our inability to give consumers upfront prices for procedures and services. In May 2006, Mike Leavitt, then Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, wrote an Op Ed in which he observed:

“Americans know the price of almost everything they pay for, except for one of the most important things they pay for — their healthcare. With a point and click, they can find the price of anything from clothes to cars. Yet they don’t know what they are paying for healthcare and what sort of quality to expect in return.”

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Are 93 Percent of Physicians Really Using EHRs?

Looks like we’re getting a lot closer to a healthcare environment where nearly every practicing physician is using electronic health records.

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Why an Everyday Player is Never the Designated Hitter in Healthcare IT: The Importance of Subject Matter Experts

Guest post by Jeff Urban is the Area Vice President of MedSys Group.

With the introduction of the affordable care act, the ubiquitous feeding frenzy for HIT talent began in 2009, and has yet to slow down. As the shortage of individuals escalates, pay has accelerated to levels unseen. Hiring full-time employees by hospitals has become less commonplace, as the demand and upside of consulting is too lucrative for talent to turn down.

Prices are increasing, and the current model is becoming unsustainable. As competition becomes fiercer and decisions are being made faster and without adequate time for proper due diligence, many hospitals and staff augmentation firms feel they have found a way out. The belief that a pure information technology individual, once trained, can fill the role of a healthcare IT subject matter expert (SME) is becoming more widely accepted, and if perpetuated, has the chance to create more issues than it solves.

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Electronic Health Record Pricing Information and Guidance

Because I’m fascinated with the lack of information surrounding pricing of various electronic health records and because I admire the work of AmericanEHR Partners, I thought it relevant to shine a little light on another interesting piece of information from the organization.

As this seems to be the year of the big EHR switch, and because seemingly the folks at AmericanEHR hear as much as I do about the lack of transparency in the pricing structure of these solutions, I thought I’d publish some guidance for what to consider when making the transition to EHRs. In my research on the subject – I’m developing a piece on the subject of EHR pricing – I came across this piece, compiled by the AmericanEHR from the Maryland Health Care Commission.

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The Reasons for and Benefits of an ACO

Wondering why ACO’s are necessary has become somewhat of a routine task, but there’s really very little question about the validity of the concept in that is does put the patient first. As we know, the goal of an ACO is to achieve cost and quality improvements, and a better approach to coordinated care on all levels.

There’s no doubt the majority of the responsibility for a successful implementation of an ACO lies with physicians. If adopted as a model, physicians are forced to lead us forward; however, the details depicted in the image below (thanks to Healthcare IT Connect for compiling it) tell a much broader and deeper story that clearly paints a picture of troubling times ahead unless something is done about this trend.

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CHIME Chimes In, Says Meaningful Use Stage 2 Should Be Delayed One Year: I Agree

Breaking news hits the wires from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), which has responded to a recent query by a group of six Republican senators who are hell bent on slowing down the meaningful use program to ensure its operating efficiently and not just handing out money to everyone claiming they’ve met Stage 1 (and eventually the other stages).

What’s remarkable about the news, though, is that CHIME actually issues a letter calling for a one-year extension of meaningful use Stage 2. According to CHIME’s letter, as reported by Healthcare Informatics,

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