February 26, 2010
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) is exploring whether the FDA should regulate healthcare information technology.
Grassley sent HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a letter, noting “With over $20 billion in taxpayer money at stake and with increasing complexity in the technologies being used in our hospitals, do you believe it is time to revisit FDA’s responsibilities in regulating HIT products being used in clinical care?”
He has also asked HIMSS CEO Stephan Lieber whether his organization favors more FDA regulation.
My guess is that Lieber will say additional FDA regulation is unnecessary.
The full story is in today’s HDM Online, www.healthdatamanagement.com
February 25, 2010
Among the top 10 legal issues for 2010 are Stark Law self-disclosure and RAC audits. This according to an article in today’s Healthcare IT News; see it at
The article notes that currently providers have no readily available avenue for resolving technical Stark Law issues at less than the full amount of the overpayments.
Modifications permiting settlement for less than the full amount are contained in the health care reform bills now stalled in Congress.
On the HIT front, the article notes that the HITECH Act expanded the reach of HIPAA, imposing nationwide notification requirements for breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI). Thus, lost laptops and disk drives could become a whole lot more costly and embarrassing.
February 24, 2010
Many employers are rethinking how they offer health benefits, according to a new survey by the National Business Group on Health and Towers Watson.
Only 57% of employers are “confident” they will continue to offer health benefits 10 years from now. Also, 83% are currently or have recently made changes to their benefit package.
According to 67%, the top challenge is change employees’ poor health habits. Thus, 66% plan to offer financial rewards to complete a health risk assessment.
The story does not indicate how many employers have dropped coverage in recent years. This may not be something the business group wanted to highlight.
The story was reported in today’s Business Insurance,
February 23, 2010
Marketing officers rate “ratings and reviews” and “brand blog” much higher for ROI than postings on Twitter or Linked-In, according to a study in Marketing Profs.
The survey found 10% saying Twitter had “no ROI,” while 53% were “uncertain” of value.
Brian Solis, reporting on the study in his blog, www.briansolis.com/
says this low ranking is because most marketers don’t know how to measure ROI of social media. Instead, most social media endeavors are “still funded as pilot programs.”
Yes, but in large companies, almost all new initiatives, from HR policies to new marketing programs are first launched as pilots.
February 21, 2010
In the U.S., 72% of hospitals have fewer than 200 beds and many of those lack the highly integrated structure of large academic medical centers.
This handicap makes it harder for them to use evicence-based data to improve outcomes and reduce readmissions.
These facts and series of recommendations for smaller hospitals is contained in an opinion piece byAllan J. Lazar, director of the Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The article is in the commentary section of the current Modern Healthcare, www.modernhealthcare.com/
February 20, 2010
The FTC has filed an anti-trust lawsuit against a small IPA’s decision to drop all Medicare patients. The FTC action has doctors all over the country hopping mad, according to a story in Healthcare Finance News.
The FTC charged the group, the Roaring Fork IPA, had “participated in an illegal agreement, which has increased prices for consumers of physician services.”
One physician quoted in the story said “The insurance companies can collude to their hearts content, but let physicians refuse to provide a service below its cost of production, but one that the Fed insists you take, and you are breaking the law.”
February 19, 2010
Could the incentive pool for HITECH grow wider and deeper, with more individuals and organizations becoming eligible?
Spurred on by the American Group Medical Association and several other organizations, 18 senators have sent a letter to the HHS secretary complaining about the proposed regulation excluding provider-based organizations from stimulus funds.
According to an AMGA VP, Congress “did not intend for provider-based doctors providing office/ambulatory services to be excluded but CMS didn’t see it that way.” A confusing double-negative, but the point is made.
The letter went on to say that excluding provider-based organizations “would penalize some of the nation’s pioneers of EMR use,” including Henry Ford Health System, Detroit; the University of Michigan Medical School and Faculty Group Practice, Ann Arbor; the Billings (Mont.) Clinic; the Cleveland Clinic; Innovis Health, Fargo, N.D.; and Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pa., among many others
These are large, highly respected organizations that employ lots of people, so I think this policy has a good chance to be reconsidered.
February 19, 2010
Q. Are ASCs eligible for EHR incentive programs under ARRA?
A. No, reports Healthcare IT News. Only acute care hospitals and children’s hospitals are eligible. I suspect that hospital lobbyists are behind this, however, there are many other inconsistencies in the act.
For the full story and some answers to HITECH questions see
February 17, 2010
Q. What industry has software that only works on the devices of individual manufacturers – there is no connectivity between rival systems?
A. The cell phone industry. A story in today’s NY Times reports that “an iPhone app won’t work on a Nokia phone and neither will work on Google’s Android system.”
This is actually a problem for many hospitals, since physicians will often tell an IT department, “I just bought an iPhone. I need to get my charts on it.”
The Times reports that last year four operators with a combined one billion customers — China Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Vodafone and SoftBank Mobile of Japan have formed a “Joint Innovation Lab” to develop apps for handsets on their networks. Some device manufacturers are considering a similar cooperative effort.
The NY Times article is available at www.nytimes.com/2010/02/17/technology/17apps.html?ref=business
February 16, 2010
A stunning new statistic is reported in today’s EHR Watch, www.ehrwatch.com/blog/survey-patients-report-their-physicians-have-ehrs.
The article discusses a recent survey in which 45% of patients surveyed said their physician had adopted an EMR in the last two years.
This number seems highly improbable. Most other surveys put the number of individual physicians using a comprehensive EMR at 25% or less. Perhaps members of certain large medical groups, particularly Kaiser, were over-represented in the survey.
Perhaps is wishful thinking. Maybe consumers have read so much about EMRs, they assume their physician is using one.