Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

5 Trends For Health CIOs In 2014 – InformationWeek

5 Trends For Health CIOs In 2014 – InformationWeek.

From the 23 December 2013 article at Information Week Health Care

Patient portals, direct messaging, and medical identity theft will keep healthcare execs on their toes in the new year.

Hackers Outsmart Pacemakers, Fitbits: Worried Yet?

Hackers Outsmart Pacemakers, Fitbits: Worried Yet?

(click image for larger view)

As healthcare CIOs are well aware, 2014 promises to be the year of “the perfect storm.” The potential impact of ICD-10 and Meaningful Use Stage 2, coupled with the transition to value-based reimbursement and new-care-delivery models, promise to overwhelm their budgets and burn out their already overworked staffs.

Nevertheless, there are some other trends healthcare CIOs should pay attention to in 2014, partly because of their bearing on the main events. Here are five significant trends.

1. Patient portals
Because of rising consumer interest in health IT, the industry transition to accountable care, and most of all, Meaningful Use Stage 2, patient portals are hot. Nearly 50% of hospitals and 40% of ambulatory practices already provide patient portals, according to a Frost & Sullivan report. The firm predicted that the value of the portal business would soar to nearly $900 million in 2017, up 221% from its worth in 2012.

[ What Obamacare sites can learn from online retail stores: Health Insurance Exchanges Struggle To Charm Customers. ]

KLAS Research, in a poll of 200 healthcare organizations, found that MU Stage 2 had made patient portals a “must-have” technology for doctors and hospitals. The government EHR incentive program requires providers to allow patients to access their health records electronically. In addition, providers must send care reminders and education materials to at least 10% of their patients. All of these tasks are most easily done through portals attached to EHRs. But there’s also some interest in untethered, standalone portals that can help patients assemble their records from multiple providers in one place.

 

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Read the entire article here

 

January 2, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Expect Snags in Affordable Care Act Rollout (With Links to Additional Information)

Earlier this week I attended a workshop for Ohio Benefit Bank volunteers.  All sessions I attended addressed different aspects of the Health Insurance Exchange.  The take home message was that while there are challenges, there is hope that overall ObamaCare will do more good than bad.

It is very important to go to reliable resources for unbiased and timely information about ObamaCare
I strongly recommend the resources** listed below

 

Some excerpts from the 19th September 2013 Stateline report Expect Snags in Affordable Care Act Rollout

There will be glitches when the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented starting Oct. 1. Huge glitches. Many glitches. Bet on it.

That is a prediction not only from those resolutely opposed to the ACA. Even those quite excited about President Barack Obama’s federal health law have the same expectation: The rollout of the biggest new social program in nearly 50 years is not going to be pretty.

“When you’re dealing with tens of millions of new clients, mistakes are inevitable,” said Henry Aaron, a health economist at the Brookings Institution. “You’re going to have thousands of mistakes.”

“People can make comparisons to Medicare Part D and to Medicare itself, but nothing this big has ever been tried.”

In the simplest terms, the task at hand is to enroll 16 million currently uninsured Americans into health insurance plans or an expanded Medicaid. That process begins Oct. 1 with coverage starting Jan. 1.

Although Americans have until the end of March to sign up for health insurance, a crush of demand at the very start could overwhelm exchange call-in centers, websites and personnel. No one will say this out loud, but administrators are hoping for a steady trickle rather than a flood, at least in the early going.

All of the eligibility determinations and subsidy calculations will require a seamless transfer of information. The exchanges will have to interact with the U.S. Treasury for income information. They will have to communicate with the Department of Homeland Security to verify citizenship. And all this information must be handled without violating the privacy of consumers.

“CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has designed and tested a system that they think is going to work, and they know where the risks and vulnerabilities are,” said Charlene Frizzera, president of her consulting firm, CF Health Advisors, and a former acting administrator of CMS. “The question is, how will they deal with those vulnerabilities they anticipated and those they haven’t anticipated?

….

Dennis G. Smith, also a former head of what is now CMS, believes one weak point will be in the calculation of Medicaid eligibility. He believes it is likely that the exchanges and state Medicaid offices will use different formulas or time frames for determining eligibility, leading to frustration and confusion for many consumers.

“Exchanges will send a whole bunch of people to Medicaid and Medicaid will say ‘Nope, they don’t qualify,’ and send them back to the exchanges,…

states with federal exchanges are doing no outreach at all, which raises the possibility that residents of those states will remain uninformed and do nothing.

….

Even people who get the message may arrive at the exchanges having never before purchased health insurance and unfamiliar with the way premiums, co-pays and deductibles work. Others may lack documentation proving citizenship, residency and income.

Perhaps the question that causes the most trepidation in the Obama administration is whether healthy young people will sign up for health insurance as the ACA requires. Because young people tend to be healthy and file relatively few insurance claims, their premiums are supposed to help pay for claims of older, sicker people. If the only people buying insurance are old and the sick, insurance premiums will be prohibitively expensive…

Read the entire press release here

***Related Resources

Other pages at HHS.gov/healthcare (US Dept of Health and Human Services)Live Chat courtesy of  the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Related articles

September 21, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Useful Video For Understanding 2014 Health Care Changes and “Obama Care”

Great 7 minute overview, published by KaiserHealthCare. Really liked how the graphics (including Playschool like cartoon figures) outlined the major points without making me feel like a dummy!

From the 26 August 2013 post at Sara Zia Ebrahimi

Do you have a good sense of what the new health care options are starting 2014? The HR folks at work just shared this cute 7minute video that does a good job of clarifying what the options are and the advantages and disadvantages of each. I found it really useful and thought I’d pass it along.

Excerpts

  ” Individual exchanges in 34 states will be created via the federal government – but on July 5, it quietly granted another concession. The Department of Health and Human Services relaxed a requirement for the 16 other states and the District of Columbia to verify the income and health coverage status of applicants to those individual exchanges. These 17 exchanges will only check the income eligibility of applicants at random next year, and they will wait until 2015 to check if applicants are getting employer-sponsored health benefits.5″

Where do things stand state-by-state with the Medicaid expansion? Just 23 states and the District of Columbia have signed up for it. (You’ll recall that the Supreme Court allowed states to opt out of it when it ruled that the ACA was constitutional in 2012.) In these states and in Washington D.C., those with earnings of up to 138% of the federal poverty level may qualify for Medicaid (that works out to earnings of $15,856 for an individual and $32,499 for a family of four). The expansion of Medicaid in these states doesn’t require the federal government to recreate the wheel, but delays could happen in other ways. In Michigan, for example, state legislators have passed their own version of a Medicaid expansion requiring a 90-day federal review process, which will put Michigan weeks behind in enrolling participants in expanded Medicaid coverage.6,”

August 28, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] The ACA Countdown

From the 26 July 2013 post at The Cornflower, The Blog of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Greater Midwest Region

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act Health Information Marketplace, formerly referred to as the “Health Insurance Exchange”, begins October 1, 2013. But did you know that you and your patrons can start collecting information now? According to the HealthCare.gov Marketplace Application Checklist, the following items will be needed for those planning to apply for coverage:

  • Social Security Numbers (or document numbers for legal immigrants)
  • Employee and income information for every member of your household who needs coverage (for example, from pay stubs or W-2
    forms—Wage and Tax Statements)
  • Policy numbers for any current health insurance plans covering
    members of your household
  • A completed Employer Coverage Tool for every job-based plan you or someone in your household is eligible for.

You can see the checklist as well as the complete Employer Coverage online at the following URL:https://www.healthcare.gov/downloads/MarketplaceApp_Checklist_Generic.pdf

To find out more about the Marketplace, see https://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/individual/. Librarians and other professionals can find marketplace outreach information on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) site: http://marketplace.cms.gov/

  • Washington & The Affordable Care Act (seattle.cbslocal.com)
  • Ohio & The Affordable Care Act (cleveland.cbslocal.com)
  • More ACA Delays (cdphphealthcarereform.wordpress.com)
  • Texas & The Affordable Care Act (dfw.cbslocal.com)
  • ACA Exchange Coverage Notice Due October 1, 2013 (sheakleyhrsolutions.com)
  • Education hurdle to implementing Obamacare (onlineathens.com)
  • DC & The Affordable Care Act (washington.cbslocal.com)
  • NY “Poster Child” for Necessity of Individual Mandate under ACA (hofstrabioethics.wordpress.com)
  • In Some Deeply Red States, Figuring Out How To Enroll In Obamacare Is Like ‘Searching For A Unicorn’ (ThinkProgress)
    …many states have been busy launching public awareness campaigns so their residents will know how to gain access to Obamacare coverage in the fall. But that’s not necessarily the case in deeply red states that remain stubbornly resistant to President Obama’s health reform law, where Americans may not have any idea what their options are in October.

    States had the option of either setting up their own insurance marketplaces under Obamacare, or leaving that work for the federal government to do. Many GOP-controlled states resisted cooperating with the health reform law under any circumstances and refused to set up marketplaces on their own. In Missouri, lawmakers actually went a step further and enacted measures to prevent state officials from providing “assistance or resources of any kind” to the federal government’s effort to establish a marketplace. The New York Times reports that’s essentially encouraged confusion among Missouri residents, who have no idea how to enroll in Obamacare plans….
    ……

    Across the country, Obamacare opponents have launched a coordinated misinformation campaign about the health reform law, confusing Americans about what the upcoming changes will mean for them. A survey of health care-related advertising in June found that Obamacare critics have outspent its supporters by a nearly five to one margin. And last month, the Koch Brothers poured millions more into a new Obamacare misinformation campaign. Anti-Obamacare groups are now launching grassroots initiatives to actively dissuade people from enrolling in the new insurance marketplaces — telling young Americans to “burn your Obamacare draft card.”

    These campaigns could have serious consequences for Americans across the country. There’s a limited enrollment period for the new Obamacare plans in the state-level marketplaces. The initial enrollment period will be extended until March 2014 — but after that, people will only be able to sign up for coverage in between October and December. If they can’t figure out how to do it, or if they’ve been persuaded to simply forgo health plans in the marketplaces, they’ll be forced to go uninsured for the rest of the year even if they end up changing their minds….

July 31, 2013 Posted by | health care, Librarian Resources | , , | Leave a comment

AMA: New policies that will impact the future of medicine

AMA

 

From the 14 December article at KevinMD.com by 

The AMA adopted new policy that, among other things, supports legislation that would require manufacturers of all drugs and biologics to notify the FDA of any discontinuance, interruption or adjustment in the manufacture of a drug that may result in a shortage. The AMA will also advocate for the FDA and/or Congress to require drug manufacturers to establish a plan for continuity of the supply of vital and life-sustaining medications and vaccines to avoid production shortages whenever possible.

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act underway, health insurance exchanges have received significant attention as a new way for millions of Americans to obtain health insurance coverage from private insurers. New AMA policy supports using the open marketplace model for exchanges to increase competition and maximize patient choice. The policy also asks the AMA to advocate for the inclusion of actively practicing physicians and patients in health insurance exchange governing structures and for developing systems that allow for real-time patient eligibility information.

In addition to promoting the open marketplace model for health insurance exchanges, the AMA continued to endorse giving Medicare patients greater choice in seeing the physicians they want and need to see. The AMA reaffirmed support for the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act, which would eliminate current restrictions on private contracting with Medicare patients. New policy calls on the AMA to initiate and sustain a well-funded grassroots campaign to secure passage of the bill in Congress. This legislation ensures that if patients choose to see a physician that is not in the Medicare system they can still receive the benefits they have earned.

AMA delegates also recognized that onerous administrative burdens can divert a physician’s attention away from patient care. New policy calls on the AMA to work vigorously to stop implementation of ICD-10, a new code set for medical diagnoses. Currently, physicians use 14,000 diagnosis codes under ICD-9, but under ICD-10 the number of codes would grow by about 55,000.

Physicians are already working to integrate electronic health records into their offices, and the implementation of ICD-10 will place significant and costly burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to patients. At a time when we are working to get the best possible value for our health care dollars, this massive and expensive undertaking will add administrative expense and create unnecessary workflow disruptions….

 

 

Items included

 

December 15, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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