Electronic Health Records

EHR and health IT news (July 23 to July 27)

Going mobile is full of challenges: Philip Chuang, PhD, Director of Information Services at Sutter Health, which offers hospital and home health services in California, spoke in depth about this topic yesterday at the 4th-annual mHealth World Congress in Boston. Chuang said that most IT people in the past were used to a model such as HP’s where computer architecture was relevant for 5 years and you could depend on it. Now, you’re lucky if your device can be stable for more than six months. (via EHRintelligence)

Going solo not so easy: The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations held a hearing to listen to the plight of the small practices and solo practitioners resulting from the latter’s attempt to implementation an electronic health record and receive incentives through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Incentive Programs. Competing deadlines and increasing costs are forcing these providers to consider extraordinary measures. (via SearchHealthIT)

Another theft, another breach: Word comes out of Chicago of a patient health information breach at the hospice offices of Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH). According to the hospital, the offices at 676 N. St. Clair Street were robbed of six laptops and tablets on June 11, 2012. By June 15, after reporting the event to the Chicago Police Department and undergoing an internal investigation, the hospital discovered that the devices were in the midst of a software upgrade that left them especially vulnerable to becoming compromised because typical security features were shut off as part of the process. (via EHRintelligence)

What’s age got to do with it: A recent Health Affairs study indicated that older physicians were less likely and/or inclined to adopt an EHR system. Groups defending older practitioners, such as the American Medical Association, are asking CMS to allow exemptions for meaningful use for doctors approaching retirement. Without an exemption, proponents of this measure argue that more practices will end up closing their doors rather than choosing to get with the times. (via HealthcareITNews)

Meaningful use enjoyed by few: According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in its first year, 2,802 hospitals and 141,649 professionals signed up for the program, but only 761 hospitals and 56,585 professionals received a portion of the $2.3 billion in EHR incentives under Medicare. On the surface, that’s a decent turnout: 27% of registered hospitals roughly 40% of registered professionals hit pay day. However, under the harsh light of day, these numbers speak anything but success: these 761 hospitals represent 16% of 4,855 eligible hospitals, and those 56,585 professionals constitute around 9% of 600,172 eligible professionals. So much for the bad news, let’s get to the good news.

This is going to take a little longer: In a joint hearing Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki did little to instill confidence in House committee members regarding the integration of an EHR between the VA and the Department of Defense (DoD). Apparently, the integrated VA-DoD health record is at least five years away, but that too may prove unachievable at the rate things are going. (via JDNews.com)

Debating meaningful use incentives and penalties: Acknowledging that the carrot will eventually be replaced by the stick, hospital leaders are searching for means to collect incentives rather than pay penalties in the years to come. Some such as Ochsner Health System have developed meaningful use scorecards for physicians so that the latter understand and are better equipped to capture necessary data and quality measures. (via HealthDataManagement)

Beware the auditors: As with any other government program, doing business with federal or state governments isn’t without a catch. Along with his Ober|Kaler colleague James Wieland, Freemire broke the news that audits of meaningful use incentives have indeed begun although information about the process is still scare, advising recipients of EHR Incentive Program payments to maintain proper records in anticipation of a potential audit. With little official information about the audits available at this time and many wondering if they’re next, we connected with Freemire to see if we couldn’t glean a little more information about the process and preparation necessary to comply with requests for attestation documentation. (via EHRintelligence)

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