CMS extends the EHR attestation deadline for Medicare EPs from February 28 to March 20. In addition to offering physicians more time, the extension also allows EPs who have not already used their one "switch" to switch programs (from Medicare to Medicaid, or vice versa) for the 2014 payment year. It has also extended the EHR reporting option for PQRS to the same date. AMA President-Elect Steven Stack, MD wastes no time in throwing in his two cents:
“Only 24 percent of physicians have attested to Meaningful Use for 2014 as of the beginning of February. The deadline extension underscores that the Meaningful Use program is not working and that policymakers need to act on our recommendations to make it more flexible, remove the measures that physicians are having the most difficulty in meeting and revamp the certification program so that electronic health record vendors can innovate to create products that better serve patients and physicians. We thank CMS for today’s effort and hope that they will go further in addressing the problems with this program when they issue their Meaningful Use rules this spring.”
HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests
I am getting very, very excited about HIMSS this year, especially given the fact that the HIStalk team and Walking Gallery founder Regina Holliday have chosen five patient advocates to attend on HIStalking Gallery scholarships. I hear one recipient is a bit of a fashionista, so I’m looking forward to seeing how she supplements her HIMSS coverage with wardrobe commentary.
A friend of the HIStalk family is looking for a nursing professional to contribute his or her writing skills to an article on the impact Meaningful Use is making on their part of the profession. Email me if you’re interested and confident that your writing skills are just as good as those you use in the exam room.
March 4 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “5 Steps to Improving Patient Safety & Clinical Communications with Collaborative-Based Care.” Sponsored by Imprivata. Presenters: Robert Gumbardo, MD, chief of staff, Saint Mary’s Health System; Tom Calo, technical solutions engineer, Saint Mary’s Health System; Christopher McKay, chief nursing officer, Imprivata. For healthcare IT and clinical leadership, the ability to satisfy the clinical need for better, faster communication must be balanced with safeguarding protected health information to meet compliance and security requirements.
March 5 (Thursday) 2:00 ET. “Care Team Coordination: How People, Process, and Technology Impact Patient Transitions.” Sponsored by Zynx Health. Presenters: Grant Campbell, MSN, RN, senior director of nursing strategy and informatics, Zynx Health; Siva Subramanian, PhD, senior VP of mobile products, Zynx Health. This webinar will explore the ways in which people, process, and technology influence patient care and how organizations can optimize these areas to enhance communication, increase operational efficiency, and improve care coordination across the continuum.
March 12 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. “Turn Your Contact Center Into A Patient-Centered Access Center.” Sponsored by West Healthcare Practice. Presenter: Brian Cooper, SVP, West Interactive. A patient-centered access center can extend population health management efforts and scale up care coordination programs with the right approach, technology, and performance metrics. Implementing a patient-centered access center is a journey and this program will provide the roadmap.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
OrbitHCI announces a $1 million seed round led by Formerly Known as Atlas and Google Ventures. The Boston-based startup is developing smart devices that will unobtrusively connect aging parents to other family members. I’m a big fan of co-founder and CEO Keith Kocho’s statement that, “Sensors do not measure quality of life. There are many reactive products out there that treat people like assets to be monitored. Every generation has stories to tell and we believe technology should make that easier, not get in the way.”
Sikka Software raises $5.5 million in Series B funding led by Sierra Ventures and Series A investor ATA Ventures. Sikka’s cloud platform caters to practices in dental, veterinary, hearing, and vision.
Healthbox opens up registration for its eight-week Healthbox Studios accelerator programs in Miami, Chicago, and Salt Lake City.
Announcements and Implementations
Horizon House (PA) chooses CoCentrix for EHR, care coordination, and billing.
Semira Bayati, MD implements interactive patient education technology from TouchMD at her office in Newport Beach, CA.
Tidewater Physicians Multispecialty Group (VA) selects population health management technology from Lightbeam Health Solutions across its 50 locations.
The NYC Regional Electronic Adoption Center for Health expands its partnership with SA Ignite to offer the company’s MU Assistant solution to an additional 500 physicians. NYC REACH originally piloted programs with SA Ignite to assist physicians at Murray Hill Medical Group and Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center with the EHR initiatives.
ADP AdvancedMD releases ICD-10 Toolkit, a free app that gives private practices a suite of ICD-10 preparation tools.
A proposed bill in the Minnesota legislature gains bipartisan support for its requirement that payers reimburse providers for telemedicine consultations in the same way they pay for in-person visits. If passed, the state would join 22 others plus Washington, D.C. that already mandate coverage for medical care delivered via electronic networks.
The Missouri Telehealth Network partners with University of Missouri’s Thompson Center for Autism to create the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) Autism project. Project ECHO will train local physicians to offer autism-related care via telemedicine software.
Doctor On Demand licenses PokitDok’s APIs to more quickly determine what services are covered by health insurance and to submit claims for telemedicine care across PokitDok’s 177 payer partners.
Research and Innovation
A Navicure survey finds that 81 percent of physician practices are optimistic that they’ll be ready for ICD-10’s October 1, 2015 implementation date and two-thirds of respondents don’t think it will be delayed again. Practices say their main concern is that payers won’t be prepared. My main concern is that my birthday, which lands on October 1, will get lost in the ICD-10 compliance shuffle. I’m definitely going to think twice about the timing of my annual wellness exam. Do I opt for a few weeks before, when practices might still be dual coding, or bite the bullet and make my appointment after the 1st? Physicians, feel free to weigh in by leaving a comment below.
Government and Politics
CMS awards veteran-owned Data Computer Corp. of America a contract worth up to $60 million to to provide technical support services to test functionality of its Medicare claims processing systems.
The VA releases a summary of its $4.1 billion IT budget for 2016, earmarking 55 percent for medical programs, 20 percent for regularly adding new features and functionality to the Veterans Benefits Management System, and 19 percent for maintaining IT services across its 1,000-plus facilities.
New Mexico lawmakers sponsor a bill that would create a health information system to help consumers, legislators, and payers make more informed decisions about when, where, and how to access healthcare. Opposition to the bill, which has largely come from hospital associations that feel the bill’s timeline is too aggressive, has (not surprisingly) resulted in a competing bill that would introduce the data in a less consumer-friendly manner within the same timeframe.
HHS and the CDC recognize 30 public and private health care practices and systems as 2014 Million Hearts Hypertension Control Champions that achieved blood pressure control for at least 70 percent of their patients through the use of healthcare IT and electronic health records, patient communication, and team approaches.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to close NYDoctorProfile.com, a state-run doctor search tool that he says is too expensive to taxpayers at $1.2 million per year given that similar information is available elsewhere.
The AMA honors seven public servants with its 2015 Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service.
Telemedicine company eVisit adds three new staff: Jacob Boddeker (Honeywell), director of product; Teresa Iafolla (Health Professions Press), content marketing manager; and Brooke Watton, NewLAWu.s, director of client success.
The local business paper covers the launch of the Buffalo, NY chapter of Health 2.0, an organization that works to build collaboration and foster ideas surrounding IT and healthcare. Co-founders include Paul Lee, ophthalmologist and founder of startup syr.indi.care; and Donald Lee, VP of IT services at Algonquin Studios. Board members include Mike Hickok of Catholic Health, Scott Falbo of HealthNow NY, industry leader John Hennessy, and healthcare consultant Laura Berrady.
North Carolina’s Wilma Magazine profiles Coastal Connect HIE CEO Yvonne Hughes, who worked to launch the project in 2011. The HIE now connects affiliated and unaffiliated healthcare providers in 10 counties across rural parts of North and South Carolina.