Unpacking the Pioneer ACO Program’s First Year Report Card

Unpacking the Pioneer ACO Program’s First Year Report Card
Perez

Guest post by Ken Perez, healthcare policy and IT consultant.

Don’t say we had no warning. In late February of this year, 30 of the 32 Pioneer ACOs sent a letter to CMS that expressed concern about the program’s quality benchmarks and requested reporting-based, as opposed to performance-based, payments for performance year 2013.

On July 16, CMS shared the results of the first year of the Pioneer ACO program, which were rather checkered. On the positive side, all 32 Pioneer ACOs successfully reported the required quality measures, and costs for the more than 669,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Pioneer ACOs grew by 0.3 percent in 2012 versus 0.8 percent for similar beneficiaries in the same year.

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Crowdsourcing Medical Decisions: Putting Big Data to Work in Healthcare

Crowdsourcing Medical Decisions: Putting Big Data to Work in Healthcare
Cramer

Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act

Guest post by Richard Cramer is Informatica‘s Chief Healthcare Strategist. 

The widespread adoption of electronic health records has been a key objective of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. With the pervasive use of these electronic health records, an enormous volume of clinical data is now becoming readily accessible that has previously been locked away in paper charts.

The potential value of this data to yield insights into what works in healthcare, and what doesn’t work, dwarfs the benefits of simply replacing a paper chart with an electronic system. There’s appropriate enthusiasm that this data is going to be a veritable goldmine for enterprise data warehousing, business intelligence, and comparative effectiveness research. However, there are other, equally valuable, uses for this data to enhance clinical decision-making and improve the value of healthcare spending. Simply having instant access to large volumes of data that span thousands or tens-of-thousands of physicians, hundreds-of-thousands of patients and millions of encounters, offers an unparalleled opportunity to increase the quality and lower the cost of healthcare.

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Every Physician and Medical Practice Should Be Aware of These Common Risks and Safeguards for EMRs – Are You? (Part 2)

Guest post by Allan Ridings and Joseph Wager, senior risk management and patient safety specialists, Cooperative of American Physicians.

Part 2 of a two-part series.

Introducing an electronic medical records system into the practice helps the physicians and staff provide more efficient health care by making medical records more accessible to all health care team members. It also brings some risks. In this two-part article, CAP Risk Management and Patient Safety identifies 10 areas of risk exposure and provides some brief recommendations in each area.

Diagnostic Testing

Tracking of laboratory and diagnostic orders and results is more efficient and timely when all orders are processed through the EMR with a bi-directional interface.  If possible, also set up to receive all results back through the system. If fax or paper reports are received, scan and index reports into the system the same day. The EHR system may also be used as a “tickler file” for verification of orders and paper reports. Physicians should see all diagnostic testing whether normal or abnormal.

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Every Physician and Medical Practice Should Be Aware of These Common Risks and Safeguards for EHRs – Are You? (Part 1)

Guest post by Allan Ridings and Joseph Wager, senior risk management and patient safety specialists, Cooperative of American Physicians.

Part 1 of a two-part series.

Introducing an electronic medical records system into the practice helps the physicians and staff provide more efficient healthcare by making medical records more accessible to all health care team members. It also brings some risks. In this two-part article, CAP Risk Management and Patient Safety identifies 10 areas of risk exposure and provides some brief recommendations in each area.

EMR or EHR

Know your system.  Electronic Medical Record is the term most often used for the electronic system now holding the medical records of the physician’s patients. If patients’ medical data is shared electronically with other facilities, locations, caregivers, and/or billers, the term Electronic Health Record is more accurate. The terms are often used interchangeably. Most articles are using the words “Electronic Health Record.”

Provide updated/additional training periodically, especially after software updates and enhancements.

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The Power of Predictive Analysis in Tackling Non-adherence and Abuse

Guest post by Glen Stettin, M.D., senior vice president, clinical, research and new solutions, Express Scripts. 

In the United States, we spent $325 billion on prescription drugs last year. However, more than $500 billion in additional related spending was wasted on two problematic (and essentially opposite) patient behaviors:

1)      People who should take their medications but don’t. Patients who failed to adhere to their prescribed medication therapy cost the country $317.4 billion in avoidable hospitalizations and other medical costs last year.

2)      People who shouldn’t take medications but do. Prescription drug abuse is deadlier than cocaine and heroin combined. Each year, the U.S. loses between 3 percent and 10 percent of every healthcare dollar spent – as much as $224 billion last year – to fraudulent prescriptions. More importantly, prescription drug overdoses kill more than 15,000 people and result in 1.2 million emergency room visits each year.

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Single Sign-on: Bridging the Gap between IT and Clinicians to Enhance Care at Chilton Memorial Hospital

Shaw
Shaw

Guest post Chris Shaw, senior vice president and general manager, OneSign Products Group at Imprivata.

The aging population and skyrocketing cost of care are driving healthcare organizations around the world to rethink their business and delivery models, and to develop more efficient ways to keep their populations healthy.  In the United States, meaningful use objectives defined by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act have propelled hospitals to lead the way in the adoption of electronic health records (EHR) in order to optimize care delivery and improve patient outcomes.

At Chilton Hospital, an award-winning, nonprofit hospital in northwestern New Jersey, the benefits of digitization were clear, and the IT department was committed to making the shift to EHR, regardless of meaningful use and its incentives.  Yet they anticipated resistance from their care providers, who were accustomed to finding all the patient information they needed in one paper chart. When Mark Lederman, Chilton CIO, joined the hospital in 2011, he knew that his team was going to have to find a way to implement the EHR system without forcing clinicians to log in and out of multiple applications dozens of times a day.

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Mostashari the Politician Continues the EHR Campaign, Asking for Little More than Adoption

Fortuneteller Farzad Mostashari said recently that a lull in adoption of EHRs is expected, by him, and that 2014 will be a huge – banner – year for the adoption of the technology to participate in the meaningful use program, since 2014 is the last year to participate and still be eligible for federal incentives.

The penalty phase begins in 2015.

The incentive program is having a clear impact on adoption of the technology, as we all know. Without the “free” federal money and the threat of cuts in reimbursements, motivation to implement the oft described as burdensome technology was lagging.

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Why Are Doctors Still Hesitant in Utilizing EHRs?

Parker
Parker

Guest post by Scott Parker, Cure MD.

Despite the government doling out billions for the advancement of healthcare information technology (HIT) through the electronic health record (EHR) Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs, the shift toward adoption of EHR has not picked up as rapidly as expected.

A deeper study into the issue reveals that physicians and healthcare providers, who are normally at ease in incorporating cutting edge technology into their work, are facing a plethora of problems because of the government’s incentive programs. A hasty implementation of certified EHR, which were provided by hundreds of vendors, resulted in physicians buying tools that were not optimized to meet a individual user’s needs. As a result, instead of facilitating providers, these tools have had a negative impact on their workflows, decreasing efficiency.

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HIMSS Workforce Survey Shows Positive Outlook for Healthcare IT Hiring

2013.07.03_HIMSS_WorkforceSurvey

HIMSS Analytics released the results of the first HIMSS workforce survey, sponsored by Medix IT, which examines hiring trends and barriers for healthcare provider organizations and IT vendors. The report, based on a survey of 224 executives working for hospital/healthcare system IT and vendor organizations, provides human resource leaders insights into the current hiring environment, recruitment and retention tactics, hiring plans for 2013 and resources currently employed by health IT providers and vendors.

“As healthcare organizations become increasingly sophisticated with their IT initiatives, human resource leaders are experiencing a new set of hiring challenges,” said Jennifer Horowitz, senior director of research for HIMSS Analytics. “By identifying those challenges and hiring trends, we hope this new report will be considered a resource for career development professionals as they plan their strategic personnel efforts.”

More than 85 percent of survey respondents indicated that their organization hired at least one employee in 2012. Only 13 percent reported implementing layoffs during the same time frame. While the health IT hiring environment has been very positive for both healthcare provider organizations and vendors, vendors were more likely to report hiring staff than were healthcare providers. Looking ahead, 79 percent of organizations also plan to hire additional staff in the coming year.

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Patient Engagement Is More of an Issue In Ambulatory Practice than In Hospitals

After having spent several days in a hospital recently caring for a loved one, I can unequivocally say that there is no comparison for patient engagement – in relation to meaningful use and in regard to health IT such as EHRs – between the hospital setting and the ambulatory practice.

Simply put, there is no comparison between the amount of attention given to the topic of patient engagement in ambulatory practice and in hospital care, at least as far as the patient experience is concerned.

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