Electronic Health Records

Policy & Regulation News

EHR and health IT highlights (May 21 to May 25)

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Here are some highlights from the week that was:

CMS reminds providers to register for meaningful use: “If you do not resolve registration programs in time, you will not be able to attest and could potentially miss out on a payment year. Registering does not mean you are required to participate — so register today!” exclaims the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Got to love that enthusiasm.

Boston Children’s Hospital reports potential health data breach: A hospital employee lost a laptop while attending a conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. An email attachment contained patient data for more than 2,100 patients. After extensive review and investigation, Boston Children’s staff was unable to determine whether or not the file was accessible on the laptop.

…and breaches are quite expensive: South Shore Hospital (Weymouth, MA) has agreed to pay $750,000 to resolve allegations that it failed to protect the personal and confidential health information of more than 800,000 consumers. In February 2010, South Shore Hospital shipped three boxes containing 473 unencrypted back-up computer tapes with 800,000 individuals’ personal information and protected health information off-site to be erased. The hospital did not inform Archive Data, however, that personal information and protected health information was on the back-up computer tapes nor did South Shore Hospital determine whether Archive Data had sufficient safeguards in place to protect this sensitive information.

Telemedicine means all the difference in remote areas: A study was presented at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 21st Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress which highlighted the benefits of using telemedicine in the examination and treatment of patients located in remote, especially rural, areas. The prevalence of diabetes and other endocrine diseases such as obesity, thyroid disease and osteoporosis continues to rise nationally. Diabetes is particularly concerning in rural populations of the USA where its likelihood is approximately 17% higher than in urban centers. Compounding this disparity is the lack of medical specialists, especially endocrinologists, in rural areas.

…and it may prove itself a lucrative and effective business: According to Wintergreen Research, telemedicine-dedicated device and software markets at $736 million in 2011 are anticipated to reach $2.5 billion by 2018. Telemedicine device and software companies will capitalize on the revenue streams that will come from services delivery.

Massachusetts safety net hospitals get huge financial support: Close to $630 million is coming to Massachusetts care of the Obama Administration in support of an initiative for more integrated care, called the Delivery System Transformation Initiatives (DSTI). Joint state and federal funding will provide incentives to safety net hospitals for the next three years. The Commonwealth looks to health information technology (IT), such as electronic health records (EHRs), to create networks of providers able to focus on individuals and communities.

GE Healthcare and Philips Healthcare praise the FCC: The companies commended the Federal Communications Commission for allocating protected spectrum for wireless medical devices, called Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs), which could revolutionize the way patients are monitored and help eliminate the restrictive cables that tether patients to hospital beds.

New whitepaper consider challenges to interoperability: The interoperability of data between clinical systems is the bridge that connects million-dollar electronic medical record expenditures with the effective exchange of health information, according to a new Modern Healthcare Insights white paper, co-developed by ECRI Institute, an independent nonprofit that researches the best approaches to improving patient care.

Study shows EHR use doesn’t equal better care: An Annals of Family Medicine study reveals that the treatment of diabetes with an electronic health record system is less effective than paper records. Crosson et al. (2012) used three years of data from 16 EHR practices and 26 paper practices treating nearly 800 individuals with diabetes to find that patients in paper-based settings were more likely to meet their outcome targets.

Study shows dictation doesn’t lead to better EHR use and patient care: A recent study from JAMIA indicates that physicians who rely on dictation to interact with their electronic health record systems apparently provide a lower quality of care than physicians who interact with their EHRs more directly. “EHR-assessed quality is necessarily documentation-dependent, but physicians who dictated their notes appeared to have worse quality of care than physicians who used structured EHR documentation,” conclude the authors.

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