Archive for the ‘Electronic Health Records’ Category

Bill Would Let Texas Doctors Get Data From Driver’s Licenses

May 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Health care providers in Texas could soon collect or verify patient information by swiping that patient’s driver’s license.

The measure allowing such data collection is one of a handful that the Texas Medical Association is pushing this legislative session to help modernize medical practices. The association is also backing bills that would standardize preauthorization forms used by health plans for prescription drugs and health care services.

Of course, this is why we have electronic medical records.

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The great EHR switch

May 12, 2013 Leave a comment

With more electronic health record systems continuing to fall short of providers’ expectations, a recent report by Black Book Rankings suggests that 2013 may indeed be the “year of the great EHR vendor switch.”

From the 17,000 active EHR adopters polled, report officials found that as many as 23 percent of medical practices were dissatisfied enough with their EHR systems to consider trading up in the near future.

“The high performance vendors emerging as viable past 2015 are those dedicating responsive teams to address customers’ current demands,” said Black Book’s managing partner Doug Brown, in a press statement.

And in light of Stage 2, officials say provider demands are only increasing. EHR users polled cited numerous cases of software firms underperforming enough to lose crucial market share, with vendor solutions often struggling to keep pace.

Barry Blumenfeld, chief information officer at the eight-hospital MaineHealth, is among those switching EHRs. MaineHealth is in the process of transitioning from Allscripts and MEDITECH to Epic’s EHR. When describing the Allscripts Sunrise Clinical Manager system it had previously, Blumenfeld said it was a “good product,” but really lacked integration capabilities with ancillary and the departmentals. “I’ve been a fan of interoperability my whole life, but I have to say it hasn’t gone quite as fast as we would like, and the thing that’s very important about Epic,” he explained, is that it integrates all workflows for seamless movement between different products.

— This was, of course, inevitable, and it is a good thing.  It takes time and practice to know what you need and how to use it when you get it.  EHR is one of the most important innovations in health care, and there will be mistakes, disasters, and wasted money before we get things right.

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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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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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Your EHR needs a population health management system

February 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Office-based medical practice is changing fast. The government is providing incentives to those practices that use electronic prescribing and electronic records systems and will soon penalize those that don’t. Health reform will shortly deliver many newly insured patients to your office. A host of new patient care models aimed at making healthcare more team-based are emerging. Reimbursement tied to outcomes will demand a greater level of patient management and engagement in the care process.

Often, though, an EHR alone cannot provide the functionality necessary to manage a specific population of patients.

There are many reasons a practice may need to identify and proactively work with a defined group of patients. Primarily, it’s to insure they are receiving care according to the evidenced-based standards agreed upon by the practice.  See on

Many physicians are re-evaluating their first choice of EHR and are changing to others as they learn how they work and what is needed for their medical practices.  This is just one more instanceof making saure your EHR is robust enough to add new important components as the need develops.


Akerman’s Health Law Rx Blog

February 4, 2013 Leave a comment


I am pleased to announce my firm’s new health law blog, Health Law Rx Blog

Akerman’s Health Law Rx Blog provides timely updates on the latest health law issues, keeping the firm’s clients, friends, and readers up to date on pertinent legal developments. Akerman attorneys regularly update the blog with changes in the law and other relevant news. As this is meant to be an interactive site, your comments and contributions are appreciated.  I am one of the contributors, so I hope you will visit the blog often and participate in any discussions that interest you.  I plan to shadow post articles from the blog that I think you will find interesting.

Content on Akerman’s Health Law Rx Blog is intended to inform you about legal developments, including recent decisions of various courts and administrative bodies. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, and you should not act upon the information without seeking the advice of legal counsel.

With more than 550 lawyers and government affairs professionals and a network of 19 offices, Akerman is ranked among the top 100 law firms in the U.S. by The National Law Journal NLJ 250 (2012). The firm’s Healthcare Practice Group includes over twenty attorneys and professionals representing health systems, physicians, health insurers, and other clients in all aspects of healthcare law across Florida and throughout the United States.

Mining Electronic Records for Revealing Health Data

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

The New York Times reported last week ( another value of electronic health records — to supplement or even replace clinical research to improve patient care:

Over the past decade, nudged by new federal regulations, hospitals and medical offices around the country have been converting scribbled doctors’ notes to electronic records. Although the chief goal has been to improve efficiency and cut costs, a disappointing report published last week by the RAND Corp. found that electronic health records actually may be raising the nation’s medical bills.

But the report neglected one powerful incentive for the switch to electronic records: the resulting databases of clinical information are gold mines for medical research. The monitoring and analysis of electronic medical records, some scientists say, have the potential to make every patient a participant in a vast, ongoing clinical trial, pinpointing treatments and side effects that would be hard to discern from anecdotal case reports or expensive clinical trials.



7 Big Data Solutions Try To Reshape Healthcare

January 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Skepticism is a two-edged sword. Not enough of it, and an IT manager might find himself duped into investing in software “solutions” that go nowhere. Too much of it, and skepticism can leave an IT department behind as it waits for enough proof to show a particular platform will improve outcomes beyond a reasonable doubt.

Big data analytics is at that tipping point right now in the healthcare industry. Several vendors promise better quality of care and reduced expenditures, but evidence to support those claims is somewhat tentative. Similarly, some critics of the big data movement say healthcare providers need to squeeze all the intelligence they can from small data sets before moving on to larger projects.

In a recent post in The Health Care Blog, for instance, consultants David C. Kibbe, M.D., and Vince Kuraitis argue that instead of succumbing to the allure of big data analytics, providers should focus on using small data better. In other words, concentrate on the clinical data already available in digitized form and use only those health IT tools that are directly applicable to care management.

Big data analytics, on the other hand, attempts to parse mounds of data from many disparate sources to discover patterns that could be useful in problem solving. For example, researchers are employing the big data approach to study genetic and environmental factors in multiple sclerosis to search for personalized treatments.

Some of this research might lead to exciting payoffs down the road, but IT companies are not waiting. As Kibbe and Kuraitis point out, technology firms are touting big data analytics as a must-have for healthcare systems and physician groups that aim to become accountable care organizations or make ACO-like arrangements with payers. As these ACOs and healthcare organizations try to profit under shared-savings or financial risk contracts, these proponents claim, big data can help them crunch the data for quality improvement and cost reductions.

Some providers are already using big data in patient care. According to BusinessWeek, “many [providers] are turning to companies such as Microsoft, SAS, Dell, IBM, and Oracle for their data-mining expertise.” And healthcare analytics is a growth business. Frost & Sullivan projects that half of hospitals will be using advanced analytics software by 2016, compared to 10% today.

Are healthcare providers ready for big data analytics, or should they be content with the more limited data analytics capabilities built into their EHR systems and relational databases to point the way to new policies and procedures?

When asked to weigh in on the big data/small data debate during a recent interview withInformationWeek Healthcare, David Blumenthal, former head of the Office of the National Coordinate of health IT, said, “It’s not an either/or choice. Big data starts with small data. As we have more information on health and disease and the patterns of care … that information will provide useful insights into what works, what doesn’t. What the natural history of disease is. It will enable us to do studies faster and more efficiently … But it’s going to take a while to figure out how to use the data.”

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