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Industry News

New ACO model promises more risk and potentially greater rewards  

The CMS Innovation Center has announced a new ACO model. Participants in the Next Generation ACO Model will take on greater risk than those in existing ACOs, but they can potentially share in a greater portion of savings, according to CMS. The program, which launches in January 2016, will give providers more freedom to influence how patients seek care, Modern Healthcare reports. Patients will be able to voluntarily enroll; in return, they can have some co-pays reduced or eliminated. CMS will accept applications for the first round of Next Generation ACOs through June 1. (Modern HealthcareCMS)

Frustration grows with lack of interoperability  

Interoperability remains elusive, despite the billions of taxpayer dollars spent to advance the use of EHRs. Most still can't talk to each other. Technology entrepreneur and athenahealth chief Jonathan Bush recounted a story about a patient's move from hospital to nursing home. The patient's information was in an EHR, but getting that data from the hospital to the nursing home was anything but high tech. "These two guys then type--I kid you not--the printout from the brand new EMR into their EMR, so that their fax server can fax it to the bloody nursing home." (Montana Public Radio/Kaiser Health News)



If the Supreme Court rules against the administration in King v. Burwell, much of the Affordable Care Act will remain intact, but roughly eight million Americans could lose coverage, according to an Urban Institute estimate. The number of uninsured would rise, but still be lower than without the ACA, The New York Times reports. VOX offers analysis of last week's arguments, and warns an adverse ruling "could prove disastrous for the administration--and for millions of individuals and families who have found affordable coverage under the law." (VOX; The New York Times) 


Innovation & Transformation

Study: Coordinated care associated with better diabetes outcomes 

Consistent primary care utilization is associated with blood pressure and glycemic control among American Indian and Alaska native adults with diabetes, according to research published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Coordinated patient-centered primary care can improve health outcomes for patients with diabetes mellitus, and "access to primary care providers can reduce emergency department use, hospitalizations, morbidity, mortality and cost," researchers wrote. (Healio; Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine)


Centralized immunization reminders may increase compliance

A centralized statewide immunization reminder may increase overall vaccination rates better than do reminders from doctors' offices, according to research published in JAMA Pediatrics. Roughly 27 percent of those contacted by the centralized notification system got at least one timely vaccination, versus about 22 percent of those contacted by doctors' offices; nearly 13 percent of the centralized group received all needed vaccines versus roughly 9 percent among the doctor-contact group. The centralized system was more effective at targeting parents, reaching 87 percent of their target group at least once vs. less than 1 percent. (HealthDay; JAMA Pediatrics)


Researchers have begun to use health information exchange data to identify patients who are likely to be homeless and, in turn, create a tool that may potentially improve patient record matching. Address data from Healthix, a New York-based HIE, was used to identify patterns indicating homelessness, such as registering with the address of a hospital or homeless shelter. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, required determination of which records, across different sites, belong to the same patient; the technique can improve record matching overall. (Healthcare Informatics; JAMIA)
Consumers & Providers

Loneliness often a complication of chronic illness

Among those 70 and older who struggle with a chronic illness, loneliness is often a complicating factor, a new study finds. Research published in Health Psychology finds the onset of chronic illness often results in loneliness--even for those who have had a steady partner for 50 years or more. This may be the first research of its kind, says study first author Meaghan Barlow of Concordia University in Montreal. Many studies examine whether lonely people are more likely to get sick, but "none of them asked the opposite question: 'Do sick people get lonely?'" (Psych Central; Health Psychology)


Fewer struggle with medical bills 

Fewer patients are having trouble paying their medical bills, according to a CDC report. The percentage of those under 65 reporting problems paying medical bills in the past year decreased from 21.3 percent (56.5 million) in 2011 to 17.8 percent (47.7 million). Unsurprisingly, the uninsured led the list; 31.2 percent had trouble paying bills. They were followed by those with public insurance (24.2 percent), and then private insurance (12.4 percent). For all types of insurance coverage, percentages decreased from 2011 to 2014. (MedPage Today; CDC National Health Interview Survey)


Patients still opt for chemo, even when told it won't be curative

Patients with metastatic lung and colorectal cancer who understood that chemotherapy would not cure them of their cancer were no less likely to receive chemotherapy at the end of life than patients who didn't understand that fact, according to research published in Cancer. The informed patients were, however, more likely to enroll in hospice. "[T]his suggests that informed decisions about the goals of chemotherapy can have a broader impact on care, well beyond initial decisions about treatment." (Cancer Network; Cancer)

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New & Noted   

NICU monitoring: A $100,000 grant from Google will allow parents of patients at the Medical University of South Carolina's neonatal intensive care unit to use iPads to check on their babies. The devices will be equipped with the Google Hangouts app so families can see the babies and communicate with the NICU staff. (Health Data Management)



Medicaid expansion: In a news roundup, Kaiser Health News looks at Medicaid developments in Montana and Florida. Legislators in both states opposed Medicaid expansion offered through the Affordable Care Act, but they are examining some new approaches to expanding the program. (Kaiser Health News)



Citing a "massive analysis of hospital data," NPR reports that doctors and nurses are not following hand-washing guidelines before and after they come into contact with patients. (NPR)


MarketVoices...quotes worth reading


"The time of letting a thousand flowers bloom, and having a set of standards that are quite variable, should come to an end. We should be working off the same set of standards."--Dr. Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health IT, on setting standards for interoperability, quoted by Montana Public Radio/Kaiser Health News 


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Editorial Team
Roxanna Guilford-Blake
Sandy Mau




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Wednesday, March 11, 2015































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