Archives for 2008
A state-led consortium of individuals and organizations in New York has published a draft set of recommendations on how to standardize consent policies for the electronic exchange of personal healthcare information as part of the development of a statewide health information network.
The work of the New York Health Information Security and Privacy Collaborative is being overseen and funded by the New York State Health Information Technology Transformation Office, part of the New York State Health Department. Lori Evans, the deputy commissioner of the health department’s technology office, headed up the state’s end of the consortium’s policy development process. Evans’ office is currently overseeing $400 million in state funds and private-sector contributions to promote the use of health IT and develop a statewide health information network—SHIN-NY.
A public health organization will launch an online database this fall that could help forecast the demand for health care services in specific locations for chronic conditions including diabetes, obesity, and HIV.
The National Minority Quality Forum has created the “ZIP Code Analysis Project” to collect data on disease activity among both general and minority populations by postal code.
The project already has a diabetes atlas online. The database shows differences in the prevalence of diabetes across a map of the U.S., as well as noticeable annual changes. This fall atlases will be available for cardiovascular disease, obesity, HIV and chronic kidney disease.
Results of a study released today found that the use of online care for certain prescribed circumstances may result in first-dollar financial savings for employer-sponsored health plans.
The Milliman study was authored by Arthur L. Wilmes, FSA, MAAA, principal & actuary at Milliman, an actuarial firm with a leading presence in the healthcare market. The analysis demonstrated potential medical savings of $3.36 and $6.95 per-member-per-month (PMPM) for commercial and Medicare plans, respectively. The study investigated the use of online care services similar to those in American Well’s Online Healthcare Marketplace System, which became commercially available earlier this year.
Hospital lobbyists are playing a game of “Beat the Clock” with Congress, eyeing a handful of healthcare provisions that they want to see pushed through in what could be the final week of the legislative session. Federal lawmakers are expected to exit Washington on Sept. 26, freeing up congressional members to campaign in their home districts before the November elections. Even so, some members may get called back into action to deal with the fallout from the unsteady banking and lending sector, House leaders said.
The dwindling time left coupled with the turmoil in the financial markets have worked against pending healthcare initiatives on Capitol Hill, potentially kicking them over to a new president and Congress, said Richard Pollack, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association. “It’s unclear what they can get done and what they can’t get done,” he said.
There are a number of hospital-backed measures under consideration (See table, p. 9). Legislators also are showing signs that a much-wanted change to how Medicare reimburses physicians may also stay on the backburner for a while (See story, below).
But a separate bill requiring companies to offer mental health benefits on par with physical health benefits—also backed by the AHA—could pass this week. As of Sept. 19, the bill used restrictions on physician ownership of hospitals as a means to help pay for the legislation, though it’s uncertain whether it will stick.
Appointments to the 15-member board of AHIC Successor, the replacement organization to the federally chartered healthcare information technology advisory panel, include five physicians, one of whom works for the largest for-profit payer, WellPoint; plus representatives from drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co.; retailer Wal-Mart Stores, the head of a new electronic-prescribing software vendor, Prematics; one official each from state and local agencies but no representatives from the nation’s larger provider and payer of healthcare, the federal government.
According to the announcement, made during the second to last meeting of the American Health Information Community, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake will serve as “federal liaisons” to the board. Robert Kolodner, the physician who is head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, “will continue to coordinate federal input into the public-private process.”
Leavitt created AHIC in 2005 with eight of its original 17 members representing federal government agencies, including Leavitt, who appointed himself chairman. But from its inception, Leavitt promised that the federally funded organization would be replaced by a private-sector organization before the end of the Bush administration.