Archive for March, 2013

Lawmaker urges extension of safe harbor for EHRs

March 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Electronic Health Record Donation Safe Harbor

March 28, 2013

Gregory E. Demske, Esq.
Chief Counsel to the Inspector General
330 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 5527
Washington, DC   20201

Dear Mr. Demske:

I write today to urge the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services to renew its safe harbor provision that protects certain electronic health record donation arrangements under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute.  As you know, this provision is set to expire on December 31, 2013.  I write to respectfully ask that you consider extending this safe harbor provision. As you know, Congress is particularly interested in developing and continuing initiatives that are designed to reduce health care costs.  As Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, eliminating wasteful spending in health care is an issue that is very important to me.  Care coordination certainly represents good medical practice and can decrease health care costs by: (a) eliminating the need for duplicative and unnecessary testing, and (b) reducing the potential for medical errors that can occur when clinicians simply do not have all of the medical record history needed to appropriately care for a patient. The safe harbor that your agency has established, which protects the donation of electronic health records under certain limited circumstances, is a common-sense policy.  It encourages collaboration among providers, yet also contains rigorous requirements that providers must meet in order to protect the Medicare and Medicaid programs from the few unscrupulous providers who would donate electronic health record software in exchange for referrals. Should you decide to extend this safe harbor provision, we are certain that you will make any necessary adjustments to protect taxpayers from fraud, waste, and abuse based upon your experience with the safe harbor thus far.  Furthermore, I recommend that any extension that you publish should continue to have a corresponding sunset date so that you can address newly emerging fraud schemes that might negatively impact the federally-funded programs. I respectfully ask that you extend this important safe harbor provision as soon as is practicable so that providers have the certainty that they need to continue engaging in efforts designed to promote care coordination.  I appreciate your dedication to this important issue and look forward to continuing to work with you in the future. Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter.


Hon. Jim McDermott, Member of Congress

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Lack of e-health standards “unacceptable”

March 31, 2013 Leave a comment

THE absence of compulsory basic standards for electronic health records in general practice is an “unacceptable” situation and its resolution is very much overdue, according to two experts involved in collecting GP data.

In an editorial in this week’s MJA, two senior members of the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) program, which collects information about clinical activities in general practice, have called for the urgent development of “nationally agreed standards for the electronic health record (EHR)”.

“We now have a variety of EHR systems with inconsistent structures, data elements and terminologies”, Associate Professor Helena Britt and Associate Professor Graeme Miller, director and medical director of the Family Medicine Research Centre, wrote.

They listed three negative effects caused by the absence of compulsory basic standards.

“First, it makes it extremely difficult to transfer patient data to other general practices and health providers”, they wrote.

“Second, it makes it hard for practices to change to a different EHR system because transfer of patient data to a new system, with different data structures and coding systems, is unreliable.

“Last, it makes it impossible to obtain reliable national information about the care provided to individuals and the population through passive data collection from GPs’ computers.”

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93% believe EHR-connected mHealth apps benefit patient care |

March 15, 2013 Leave a comment

More than ninety percent of the 650 physicians polled believe that mHealth apps have the potential to improve patient outcomes, and an equal amount would like to see apps give patients the ability to upload data into their personal EHR file. Eighty-nine percent would recommend an app to a patient in the future. The ability to send patients reminders and alerts topped the mHealth wish list for respondents, followed by allowing patients to access their PHI from mobile devices, making it easier for patients to conduct administrative tasks like appointment scheduling, and getting more accurate self-reported data from patients on a regular basis.  Preventative care, diabetes monitoring, weight management, and medication adherence were all areas of opportunity for mHealth apps to address.

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“Functional cure” of HIV reported in 14 patients

March 15, 2013 Leave a comment

More evidence suggests a “functional cure” of HIV is possible if the disease is treated early.

A study of 14 patients who were treated with antiviral HIV medications within weeks of infection now have now have no disease activities years after stopping medication. The research comes weeks after news spread that a Mississippi baby who was born with HIV and received immediate treatment was now disease-free at two and a half years old.

The study’s authors warn their findings may not be the norm for all patients with HIV, though they estimated up to 15 percent of patients may be able to keep the disease at bay without the help of medication, which means they are functionally cured.
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Categories: Improving Healthcare

Physicians Who e-prescribe Choose Cheaper Drugs, Report Says

March 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Surveyed U.S. endocrinologists and primary care physicians (PCPs) said they use e-prescribing for 76 percent of their Medicare patients and 79 percent of their non-Medicare patients, figures that are expected to grow in the next year, according to a report from research and advisory firm Decision Resources. The report, which surveyed 70 endocrinologists and 70 PCPs as well as 25 managed-care organization (MCO) pharmacy directors also found that approximately 80 percent of PCPs and endocrinologists say they would prescribe a less expensive DPP-IV inhibitor to their patients with Type 2 diabetes or hypertension, reflecting high cost-sensitivity.

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Match Day: More medical graduates entering primary care

March 15, 2013 Leave a comment

The number of medical students committing to primary care rather than specialties increased for the fourth straight year in the largest ‘match program” in history.

[The success of healthcare reform depends on primary care physicians, and there is a shortage.  Hopefully, this trend continues.]

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