Indiana resident James Young files a class-action lawsuit against Indiana-based Medical Informatics Engineering alleging that the company did not adequately protect its software from a cyberattack, disclose the attack in a timely manner, or disclose pertinent facts related to the breach. MIE discovered in early May that its NoMoreClipboard subsidiary had been breached, potentially compromising the personal data of up to 3.9 million consumers. Young, who is joined by over 100 plaintiffs in the lawsuit, contends that he “suffered actual injury from having his [personally identifiable information] and [personal health information] compromised and stolen in and as a result of the MIE data breach.” A similar suit from a trio of patients was also initiated in Indiana against MIE within days of Young’s legal action.
Don’t miss the next #HIStalking tweet chat on August 20 at 1pm ET. Amy Gleason (@ThePatientsSide), COO of CareSync and White House Champion of Change for Precision Medicine, will host. Stay tuned for topics.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
The local paper highlights the building buzz around Epharmix, a St. Louis-based startup that has tapped into local physician expertise to develop technology that sends automated, follow-up text messages to patients. Twenty two year-old founder and CEO Blake Marggraff has already helped the company secure $100,000 in seed funding from BioGenerator, plus undisclosed amounts from Google and Yahoo executives. Express Scripts has also shown interest in the technology’s ability to improve medication adherence among health plan members.
Announcements and Implementations
The SmartCare Version 4.0 EHR from behavioral health technology company Streamline Healthcare Solutions achieves ONC Meaningful Use 2014 Edition Certification for ambulatory and inpatient facilities.
Hoke County Health Department (NC) implements Patagonia Health’s Pharmacy App in lieu of purchasing a pharmacy software system. Health Director Helene Edwards noted the app’s ability to document dispensing pharmaceuticals from the pharmacy through the patient’s EHR was a key factor in the decision. I’m willing to bet price was also a factor.
RelayHealth Financial launches ICD10Central.com to equip physicians with specialty coding resources, peer support, payer guidance, and real-time performance indicators.
Summit Software Technologies integrates SwervePay Health’s cloud-based payment processing technology into the GE Centricity platforms of its customers.
Athenahealth updates its Patient-Centered Medical Home Accelerator Program with automatic NCQA credits to help streamline physician pathways towards formal PCMH recognition.
HelloMD pivots from offering traditional telemedicine visits to focusing strictly on member-based services for medical marijuana patients. In addition to video consults, the company offers users on-demand membership with vetted dispensaries.
HealthGains, an Aventura, FL-based chain of health and wellness facilities, launches a virtual wellness video portal as part of its age-management program. In addition to video consults, the portal can sync with wearable fitness devices to track and monitor a patient’s progress.
Hot on the heels of Mr. H’s assessment of China’s dismal attempts at healthcare reform comes news that the country’s largest mobile health platform will offer USARad’s Second Division telemedicine and teleradiology services to its 70 million customers.
An analysis from global analytics firm IHS finds that an increase in health insurance coverage will cause the number of virtual video consults between PCPs and patients to double in the next five years, jumping to nearly 27 million in the U.S. market. Specialty consultations via video are predicted to increase from 14.5 million to 21.5 million.
Government and Politics
The House Energy & Commerce Committee releases findings from a year-long study on HHS network security, highlighting the fact that hackers have breached at least five HHS divisions within the last three years. Blame is laid squarely at the feet of the agency, which lacks transparency into its own networks and suffers from poor staff training. The study authors recommend transferring all information security responsibilities from the CIO to the CISO, who should be the primary authority responsible for information security at HHS and its operating divisions.
The Indiana Business Journal puts its own spin on the rising tide of healthcare hacks, noting that the cost of data breaches over the last six years – about $30 billion – has already surpassed the amount of Meaningful Use incentives that the federal government has paid out to providers.
The Senate unanimously approves The Electronic Health Fairness Act before its summer recess. If approved by the President, the bill will exempt patient encounters in ambulatory surgery centers from Meaningful Use requirements – a logical and likely long overdue move given that ASC MU certification standards were not included in the HITECH Act.
Research and Innovation
A study of patient and staff experience during the primary care process at three clinics in Philadelphia finds technology to be one of the biggest impediments to a smooth visit for both parties. Surveyed staff noted that, “The sheer volume of information in the electronic health record can obscure some of the important details,” while patients expressed frustration at having to repeat their health histories – supposedly stored in their EHRs -multiple times to different staff members.
The American Academy of Private Physicians partners with EHR and PM vendor Kareo to launch an annual study on independent physician perceptions of payment models including fee-for-service, concierge, and private pay. Results will be presented at AAPP’s Fall Summit September 25-26 in Washington, D.C.
Researchers find Twitter to be a highly effective tool for breast cancer education and support. Of 200-plus cancer patients surveyed, 80 percent noted an increase in overall knowledge about their disease, while nearly 86 percent felt more knowledgeable about survivorship. Similar figures were reported across a variety of categories including cancer types and biology, and clinical trials and research. My only gripe with the survey results is that the survey was issued on Twitter and Facebook, where respondents had already likely become quite comfortable with using the social networks as data-gathering tools and support networks. It would be more interesting to me to discover the value Twitter holds for cancer patients who have little to no experience with it.
The Houston Chronicle spotlights the mounting struggles faced by independent physicians in Texas, including (but not limited to) technology expenses, declining reimbursements, and ever-aggressive hospitals looking to gobble up practices. “The fun-to-hassle ratio has gone way down,” explains Michael Gorback, MD. “It gets harder and harder every year. They just keep heaping more and more on us.” Texas takes its independence seriously – 29.2 percent of physicians in the state are in solo practice, while 32 percent are in practice with 10 or fewer physicians.