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News 2/9/17

February 9, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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The American Telemedicine Association updates two policy reports – Coverage and Reimbursement, and Physicians Standards and Licensure – to reflect the progress many (if not all) states have made in adopting policies that make it easier for patients to access virtual consults, and providers to be reimbursed for them. Nationwide, all Medicaid agencies now cover some type of telemedicine, with many increasing their coverage of services in homes and schools, as well as those related to substance abuse treatment and counseling, and dental care. The ATA notes that all states now allow some type of telemedicine coverage versus 24 in 2005. Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Rhode Island, Utah, and West Virginia earned accolades for the steps they’ve taken to improve telemedicine coverage and reimbursement. Delaware, South Carolina, and Washington, DC were called out for their restrictive policies.


Webinars

None scheduled in the coming weeks. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Jawbone’s ongoing lawsuit against Fitbit heats up as new court filings suggest that Fitbit is also under a criminal investigation for trade secret theft. Fitbit contends the investigation “is based on the almost identical fictional allegations that were fully rejected by the International Trade Commission after a nine-day trial on the merits and that Jawbone falsely asserted on the eve of Fitbit’s IPO.” These legal wranglings make me wonder just how much of Jawbone’s financial instability can be traced back to the money it has spent on legal filings since the lawsuits began flying several years ago.


Announcements and Implementations

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Rio Grande Valley HIE selects Forcare’s interoperability solution to help it enhance care coordination amongst its member providers in nine southern Texas counties, and to help it more easily connect to other HIEs in the near future.

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HIE HealtheConnections will offer medical image-sharing capabilities from EHealth Technologies to participating providers across the 11 counties it serves in central New York.


Telemedicine

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The Houston Chronicle reports that Texas lawmakers have finally agreed on legislation that would make the Lone Star State far more conducive to patients who want to take advantage of such services. Providers, payers, and businesses like Texas-based Teladoc have for years gone back and forth over legislation that would permit the use of telemedicine while protecting their respective interests. Senate HHS Committee Chairman Charles Schwertner, MD (R-TX) will sponsor the legislation (few details of which have been released), and plans to introduce it in the presumably near future.


Research and Innovation

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A Xerox survey of 3,000 consumers finds, despite growing concerns around data breaches, that a majority believe sharing their health data between providers will result in improved outcomes. Not surprisingly, 76 percent feel that sharing PHI via secure digital methods is more secure than sharing via fax. Nearly 90 percent believe that wait times associated with diagnoses and test results would shorten if providers could securely share and access PHI. The same percentage of respondents are confident that service quality, including care coordination, would also improve.

An Accenture survey of just over 1,500 people confirms what HIStalk Practice readers already know – providers are looking to virtual health tools to meet increasing consumer demand and to differentiate themselves from the doctor down the street. (The first installment of HIStalk Practice’s new Winners Circle series highlights this.) The survey, which admittedly frames its results in the context of health systems, found that 75 percent of consumers would use virtual services but only 21 percent have received such services, highlighting the fact that providers and payers have an untapped market waiting to be explored. Nearly 80 percent of respondents said they’d be up for receiving care virtually some or most of the time – a stat that should get PCPs thinking about how to incorporate telemedicine into their care loop.


Other

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HITRUST welcomes representatives from MGMA, AMA, EHNAC, AHA, and the Texas Medical Association to its CSF Advisory Council, which works to update and ensure the integrity of the organization’s information risk management framework. “Having been engaged with HITRUST over the past year – communicating requirements, evaluating draft HITRUST CSF updates for usability, and providing feedback to ensure the CSF addresses the needs of physician practices including smaller ones like mine – I am pleased about the opportunity to formally represent the broader physician community in guiding the HITRUST CSF development,” says TMA representative James Walker, MD.

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How I would love to be a fly on the wall in these types of focus groups. I suppose my biggest complaint would be that each of the portals that I use can’t pull in information from the others, leaving me with a portal for each doctor’s office.


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Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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News 2/8/17

February 8, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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In the face of staunch Democratic dissent over the last several weeks, the Senate votes along party lines to advance Rep. Tom Price’s (R-GA) nomination for HHS Secretary. The vote kicks off 30 hours for debate before Price’s nomination moves to a full Senate vote on Friday.


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

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I am so excited that WebPT CEO Nancy Ham and former US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD will spend some time at the HIStalk booth (#4845) at HIMSS17. I heard Benjamin speak at a women’s healthcare event in Atlanta several years ago, and am hoping to learn more about the rural health clinic she runs in Bayou Batre, AL on Monday, Feb. 20 from 1-2pm. I had the chance to interview Nancy late last year – shortly after her transition from Medicity to WebPT, and am looking forward to introducing her to readers who stop by on Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 4-5pm.


Webinars

None scheduled in the coming weeks. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.


Announcements and Implementations

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LogistiCare signs a three-year partnership agreement with Lyft to help it provide non-emergency medical transport to the private, commercial, and government-assisted riders it services in nearly 280 cities. Their collaboration includes development of proprietary technology that will enable LogistiCare’s contracted customers to request on-demand rides via proprietary technology built using Lyft’s API.

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Behavioral health EHR vendor Netsmart adds data analytic capabilities from InterSystems to its MyAvatar CareRecord EHR and PM software. Mental Health Center of Denver helped guide the technology integration – timed to coincide with the retirement of its legacy EHR – and served as a test site for the enhanced solution. While I couldn’t uncover what type of EHR it originally used (it may have been homegrown), I did come across this Avatar implementation evaluation based on end-user surveys conducted twice during the first 12 months of testing/development. After a year, nearly 80 percent of users felt the system had become more usable, with “Workflow/Form Simplicity” being ranked as the top area for improvement. My favorite observation from the evaluation was this: “While it is unreasonable to expect that all staff will ever feel favorable towards the electronic health record, it is reasonable to expect that the favorable rating will increase over time with continued efforts to improve and enhance Avatar.”

Mission Treatment and Recovery (CA) selects Telehealthcare’s CarePanda secure messaging app after piloting the technology last fall.


People

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CareMore Health System, a Cerritos, CA-based physician-led managed care organization for seniors, hires Zubin Eapen, MD (Duke University) on as CMO.


Telemedicine

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The Fauquier Free Clinic (VA) adds telepsychiatry and remote mental health services courtesy of a $370,000 grant from the local Path Foundation – a foundation focused on overall health and wellness. “When we started the program in late October, we had 33 patients on our waiting list for behavioral health services,” says FFC Executive Director Rob Marino. “Our volunteer therapists do great work, but the number of patients in need greatly exceeds their available time. Plus, we didn’t have any psychiatry services available. Adding the telehealth option has made an incredible difference for our patients, but it’s also made a difference for our physicians. Having the resources to refer a patient to specialists leads to overall better care.”


Government and Politics

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Former CMS Administrator and avid tweeter Andy Slavitt will make an appearance at HIMSS17 as part of the “Fireside Chat with Former CMS Administrators” session on February 20.


Research and Innovation

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MIT researchers develop a mini battery that runs on stomach acids with an eye toward powering ingestible electronic pills designed to monitor bodily functions or treat disease by residing in the gastrointestinal tract for long periods of time. During testing on pigs, the scientists found that the battery produced enough energy to power a temperature sensor that could wirelessly transmit data every 12 seconds to a receiver six-and-a-half feet away.


Sponsor Updates

  • The South Florida Business Journal profiles Aprima Medical Software’s acquisition of Healthcare Data Solutions.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

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Become a sponsor.

JennHIStalk

News 2/7/17

February 7, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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Teladoc partners with Compass Professional Health Services to offer its patients in-network referrals to PCPs and specialists, including oncologists and orthopedists, via its virtual consult platform. Dallas-based CPHS has traditionally offered its health navigation services to employers and payers. Its foray into telemedicine makes sense given the need for greater care coordination between an increasingly fragmented primary/urgent care ecosystem that includes retail clinics, urgent care practices, telemedicine providers, and brick-and-mortar practices.


Webinars

February 8 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Machine Learning Using Healthcare.ai: a Hands-on Learning Session.” Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenter: Levi Thatcher, director of data science, Health Catalyst. This webinar offers a tour of Healthcare.ai, a free predictive analytics platform for healthcare, with a live demo of using it to implement a healthcare-specific machine learning model from data source to patient impact. The presenter will go through a hands-on coding example while sharing his insights on the value of predictive analytics, the best path towards implementation, and avoiding common pitfalls.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.


Announcements and Implementations

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Innovaccer adds MIPS Platform (not to be confused with the company’s MIPS Calculator) to its Datashop operating system to help physicians monitor performance, manage data, and submit it to CMS.

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Atlanta-based Illuma Care Connections launches technology-based care coordination services for optometrists, ophthalmologists, PCPs, and payers. Providers within Illuma’s network can share data via the company’s HIE-like platform acquired from OcuHub, as well as identify and schedule appointments for patients at risk for vision problems. CEO Stephen Kendig, who also led OcuHub before it folded last year, helped launch the company in 2016 after stints with SoloHealth (now Pursuant Health) and Novartis.

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Modernizing Medicine adds MIPS composite score reporting, analytics, and benchmarking reports to its EMA EHR. As a qualified registry, the company can report MIPS scores on a physician’s behalf, though I wonder if it charges a separate fee to do so. The cost of reporting MIPS data was definitely on the mind of one presumably independent physician during last week’s CMS MIPS overview webinar; she asked the presenters if it mattered how/who reported the data, alluding to the fact that her EHR vendor would charge a fee. Is it cost prohibitive to lay this at the feet of vendors? Do physician practices have the time to do it themselves? I’d love to hear from readers about what they plan on doing in this area.

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InstaMed develops Secure Token payment functionality, which enables physicians and payers to offer portal-based online payment services without fear of compromising cardholder data.

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HIPAA One gives users the ability to manage staff permissions and assessments in its HIPAA Security Risk Analysis software.

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Oregon Advanced Imaging will implement RCM services from McKesson Business Performance Services at its three facilities in southern Oregon.

Talix upgrades its Coding InSight analytics tool to offer commercial payers and providers the ability to risk-stratify their members and patients by health insurance exchange metal level and age group. The company believes the new capability will enable users to better identify high-risk coders, eliminate coding gaps, and more accurately document conditions.


People

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Livongo Health appoints Mark McClellan, MD (Duke University), Richard Milani, MD (Ochsner Health System), Anne Peters, MD (University of Southern California), William Polonsky (University of California San Diego), and author and consultant Susan Weiner to its new advisory board. The company, which specializes in technology-fueled diabetes management programs, has raised nearly $86 million since opening for business in 2014. CEO Glen Tullman, formerly of Allscripts, has targeted the company’s services to employers, signing 150 so far with another 50 expected to come on board in the next two months.


Telemedicine

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Here’s an interesting twist on hotel marketing and customer retention: Royal Kona Resort in Hawaii begins offering Hawaii-based DocNow telemedicine services to its guests via Ipad available at the front desk. “Providing guests with the best experience, food, and amenities to ensure they have a memorable Hawai‘i vacation has always been our top priority,” says President of Hawaiian Hotels and Resorts Tom Bell. “It’s a natural extension of our mission to offer our guests immediate access to quality care instead of allowing them to lose any of their valuable vacation time waiting in the lobby of an urgent care clinic.” It’s certainly a good idea from a marketing perspective, but I wonder how many guests will actually use it, given the propensity of nearly every traveler (some of whom may have covered telemedicine visits through their employer or health insurance company) to have their own smartphone or tablet on hand.


Other

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The local paper looks into the new-to-me trend of microclinics, highlighting Happy Doc owner and sole staff member Lara Knudsen. She opened her three-room, 300 square-foot office in 2013 after holding several town hall meetings to determine what people in the Salem, OR community wanted from a clinic. “The number-one complaint from the community,” Knudsen says, “was they had to wait weeks to get appointments and spent too much time in the waiting room for five minutes with a doctor that barely looked at them. With this model, my day is much more relaxing. I feel like I can listen to my patients. I have a lot more control instead of someone else making decisions.” The New Patients section of the Happy Doc website points to Knudsen’s use of healthcare technology: She asks all of her new patients to sign up for a 30-day trial of her Hello Health patient portal, which carries an annual subscription fee of between $35 and $65.


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
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JennHIStalk

News 2/6/17

February 6, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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President Trump tells Fox News that changes to the Affordable Care Act likely won’t go into effect until next year. “It’s in the process and maybe it will take till sometime into next year, but we are certainly going to be in the process,” he explained. “It’s very complicated. I would like to say by the end of the year, at least the rudiments.” Open enrollment for 2017 ended last week with a reported 9.2 million people signing up for insurance on the federal exchange, and an anticipated 3 million signing up for coverage via state-based exchanges. HHS has said that the ACA has helped 20 million people gain healthcare coverage since President Obama signed it into law in 2010.


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

Thanks to the following companies for their recent support of HIStalk Practice. Click a logo for more information.

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Drop me a line if you’re interested in becoming a HIStalk Practice sponsor. There are some fun benefits. A la carte advertising options are also available.


Webinars

February 8 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Machine Learning Using Healthcare.ai: a Hands-on Learning Session.” Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenter: Levi Thatcher, director of data science, Health Catalyst. This webinar offers a tour of Healthcare.ai, a free predictive analytics platform for healthcare, with a live demo of using it to implement a healthcare-specific machine learning model from data source to patient impact. The presenter will go through a hands-on coding example while sharing his insights on the value of predictive analytics, the best path towards implementation, and avoiding common pitfalls.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.


Announcements and Implementations

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Community Care of North Carolina partners with the National Community Pharmacists Association to launch a CMS-funded pilot program that will deploy electronic care plans among community pharmacists. The digital document will be shared between participating CCNC physicians and NCPA pharmacists, and conform to EHR-friendly standards already in use. The three-year program will define its success based on clinical quality, practice efficiency, and interoperability. Lantana Consulting Group has been tapped to help with implementation support.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Jawbone looks to raise money to fund its transition away from an unsuccessful fitness band manufacturer into a company that sells healthcare products and services directly to providers. The company seems to have sold off its speaker business, which, along with headsets, helped get it off the ground in 2007. Its downward spiral in the wearables business has been well documented: Reports circulated in 2016 of an attempt to sell off some assets ahead of a sale or liquidation, and ongoing legal wranglings with Fitbit haven’t done much to inspire investor confidence.


People

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The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians elects Lake Oconee Urgent Care CEO and Medical Director Eddie Richardson Jr., MD president.

The Sequoia Project adds new members to its Board of Directors including Brian Ahier (Medicity), Elise Anthony (ONC), Peter DeVault (Epic), David Horrocks (CRISP), Steve Posnack (ONC), and Ryan Stewart (Dignity Health).


Telemedicine

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InnovaTel Telepsychiatry secures $2 million in private equity funding from Canyon Healthcare Partners. The Erie, PA-based company, which launched in 2014 as part of Gannon University’s Erie Technology Incubator, plans to use the financing to hire additional staff and further develop its telepsychiatry services for clinics and hospitals, particularly those in underserved and rural communities.


Government and Politics

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CMS extends the PQRS reporting program deadline from February 28 to March 13. Physicians that fail to report 2016 data will incur a 2-percent cut in Medicare payments next year.


Other

Shields Health Care Group scores big with its latest ad – debuted during the Super Bowl – featuring New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The ad features Brady pulling out a fifth Super Bowl ring and placing it in a locker before heading back for an MRI. The kicker is that the ad was filmed at the same time as one that aired in October and showed Brady pulling of four rings. Shields CEO explained that, “With Tom Brady and the Patriots we had a feeling the season would come to a thrilling end, and we sure are glad to have filmed the new ending. We couldn’t be prouder to partner with Tom Brady – now a five-time Super Bowl champion – and we are privileged Tom chose Shields as one of his only local endorsements in recent years.”

Delaware Health Information Network scores regional airtime during the Super Bowl with a 30-second ad touting its HIE capabilities and their impact on patient care throughout the state. “DHIN’s doing big things in Delaware and across the region,” says COO Randy Farmer. “What better time to engage consumers than during one of the biggest TV viewing days of the year?” The ad is the organization’s first attempt at connecting directly with consumers, and will soon be followed by radio, print, and digital messaging. I couldn’t find much in the way of details about the big things DHIN is doing, though I did come across this HIStalk reader comment from 2010 – three years after DHIN launched its HIE capabilities:

From Careener: “Re: DHIN. I don’t know if you saw this Delaware dust-up (no, not former witches as US Senate candidates). The Republican candidate for US Representative took a shot at his opponent over the Delaware Health Information Network, saying it is ‘mismanaged … with no tangible benefit.” I was involved with DHIN as a provider and it was, and is, an unqualified success, with Delaware being the first state to have statewide results delivery, HIE to EMR integration, and public health integration for pandemic and reportable results reporting. It is the model other stares are following. Love reading your updates, please keep up the good work.”


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

JennHIStalk

Population Health Management Weekly Wrap Up 2/5/17

February 5, 2017 News No Comments

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Liz Tingley, RN (Pinnacol Assurance) joins EQHealth Solutions as project director for its Colorado Prior Authorization Request Program, which helps the state’s Dept. of Health Care Policy and Financing improve access and outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries.

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I2I Population Health hires Cary McNamara (Agilum Healthcare Intelligence) as CFO.

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Alameda Health System (CA) enlists Conifer Health Solutions to provide managed care support services for its HealthPAC program, which offers comprehensive healthcare to 33,000 patients in Alameda County. Services provided will include population health management, financial risk management, and nurse consulting services.

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A new Black Book report finds that population health management technology is a fast-growing sector even though providers are forging ahead using only stopgap tools from their EHR vendor, they’re dealing with community HIEs that offer poor population health modeling data, and they have limited data availability beyond their own EHR’s health snapshots. Hospitals report that they will need new PHM and IT talent, but shortages may limit availability. The top three best-of-breed vendors were IBM Watson Health, Evolent Health, and The Advisory Board Company, while the top three PHM and value-based care consultants were Premier, The Advisory Board Company, and Evolent Health.

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Rio Grande Valley Health Alliance, a Texas-based ACO comprised of 18 primary care practices, attributes its nearly $14 million in savings in 2015 to population health management technology from Lightbeam Health Solutions. The ACO has saved $28 million since forming in 2013, and was one of only four such organizations in the 2015 program to achieve a 100-percent quality score. RGVHA next plans to roll out Lightbeam’s Cohort Builder to help it better identify high-risk patients and the care programs that would best suit them.


Sponsor Updates

  • Nordic will sponsor the inaugural Epic North Carolina Users Group Meeting February 8-9 in Greensboro.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

JennHIStalk

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