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General Health News

Security Ledger Exclusive: WHISTL Labs will be Cyber Range for Medical Devices


The Security Ledger has an exclusive story well worth checking out: A global federation of labs will test the security of medical devices, according to an announcement on Monday by a consortium of healthcare industry firms, universities and technology firms.


Superbugs have the possiblity of being resistant to all known forms of antibiotics.


For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could mean “the end of the road” for antibiotics.

Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. Published a report about a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman with a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic Colistin found in her urine.

Pittsburgh health care battle and how it may impact your practice.


The players are Highmark and UPMC.

Highmark is a not-for-profit healthcare company based in Pittsburgh. It is the largest health insurer in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware. It also has a presence in many other states through its subsidiary Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Highmark represents 60% of the patients in the Pittsburgh region.

The Government Investigated it’s own EHR and found that it is not functioning as expected


One of the side effects of the events at the Phoenix AZ VA investigation is that the OIG had discovered that the audit controls in VistA the EHR utilized by VA hospitals was not turned on.
The absence of an audit trail for appointment scheduling limited the ability for both VA brass and OIG investigators “to determine whether any malicious manipulation of the VistA data occurred,” the report authors said. OIG recommended that the VA “immediately enable” this audit function at all VA facilities. “The VA completed this action,” the OIG report said.

CES 2013 Update


I have just returned from the 2013 CES conference which was held in Las Vegas. The meeting was literally everywhere, as it is too large for just the Las Vegas Convention Center. With all of those exhibitors, manufacturers, and vendors present I have to admit that I only focused on a small component of the meeting, the Digital Health Expo.

76 percent of Hospital Readmissions are preventable, at an annual cost of $25 billion


Hospital Impact reports that in order to reduce preventable medial errors that result in hospital re-admissions the following changes need to be considered:
1. Transition physician reimbursement from fee for service to capitation with incentives for value
2. Create significant financial incentives for management to invest in a disease management infrastructure
3. Implement rigorous disease management for high-risk populations
4. Horizontally integrate case and risk management beyond the hospital's wall

NY Times: Medicare Bills Rise as Records Turn Electronic


The NY Times article examines the increased cost to the government that has come with the use of EHR software and examines such things as cloning and overly-aggressive billing by doctors and hospitals.

Of note to medical professionals should be this line: This spring, the Office of Inspector General for the federal Health and Human Services Department warned that the coding of evaluation services had been “vulnerable to fraud and abuse.”

Government Health IT – Digital records safer than paper, but still not perfect


The article points to a separate piece from the Wall Street Journal which discusses Philips Healthcare’s recent patient data exchange system recall when they realized their product could transmit heart test reports that were incomplete and potentially able to lead to misdiagnoses by physicians.

American Medical News – Do EHRs result in better care? Many physicians say yes


The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) survey of 2011 EHR adoption trends, released on July 17, polled 3,180 physicians. It found that EHR use was up to 55% of the physician offices that responded. Of the offices that used EHRs, 85% were somewhat to very satisfied with their systems and 75% said that the use of the system resulted in better care. This was the first survey from the three year initiative that will continue to follow respondents annually through 2013.

FierceEMR – Americans still wary of digital health records (7/31/12)


Harris Interactive conducted a survey for Xerox of over 2,100 U.S. adults. The survey found that 40% of respondents believe EHRs can boost care quality, 26% want their health records to be digital, and 85% had “‘concerns’ about digital medical records.” The numbers are down since last year, when Xerox conducted a similar survey where 42% of respondents believed EHRs improved care quality.

Massachusetts bill attempts to curb health care spending


While it does not have strong enforcement built into the bill, the Massachusetts bill has provisions with many different cost-cutting strategies. The bill include a call for parity for mental health services, increased use of health IT and the adoption of new payment delivery models, such as accountable care organizations. Another important provision establish a 182-day cooling-off period in malpractice litigation.

Missouri Court Overturns Malpractice Caps


The Missouri Supreme Court overturned caps on non economic malpractice damages. Prior to this decision, there was a $350,000 cap on non economic damages in malpractice cases. There have been similar court decisions to overturn legislative malpractice damage caps in Washington (1989), Oregon (1999), Alabama (1991) and Florida (1987).

South East Michigan Health Information Exchange read to electronically submit Disability Claim Info to SSA


The South East Michigan Health Information Exchange (SEMHIE) announced today that it has officially completed all milestones to provide its E-Disability Claim Filing Service to the U.S. Government's Social Security Administration (SSA).

Federal advisory board calls for Congress to assign responsibility for preventing medical cyber-attacks.


An article published today in Information Week asks: Should FDA Assess Medical Device Defenses Against Hackers?

There is a push from a privacy and security board which advises the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as well as the Office of Management and Budget, to grant the FDA or other federal entity the authority to assess the security of devices before they’re released for sale to the market.


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