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Industry News
Partners HealthCare, Massachusetts' largest health system, plans to open up to a dozen physician-staffed urgent care clinics over the next three years, a move that could shake up the fast-growing market for convenient, walk-in care, according to The Boston Globe. Partners arrived late to the sector, but its size and reputation will help it gain a foothold. It is the parent of 10 hospitals and, with 6,000 doctors, boasts the largest network in the state. It also plans to open more locations than most of its competitors. (Boston Globe)
Greensboro, N.C.-based Cone Health is working with CMS to receive authorization to sell Medicare Advantage plans. If people in a hospital system's service area want to go to those providers, why not offer the coverage to pay for it and keep the health care dollar local, asks Cone EVP Jim Roskelly. "[A] big part of that transformation is being able to integrate [health care] financing and delivery." To do that, we "have to be on the delivery and insurance side." He tells Modern Healthcare Cone's participation in a Medicare ACO--called Triad Healthcare Network--helped it feel more comfortable about entering the MA market. (Modern Healthcare)

CVS and IBM's Watson: Big data to manage chronic conditions
A new partnership between CVS and IBM's Watson will integrate health information from sources such as medical health records, pharmacy, medical claims information, environmental factors and health devices to help people improve self-care and reach health goals. This new system will allow health care practitioners to access traditionally siloed forms of health data to deliver the best care. The project will first tackle diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity. IBM Chief Health Officer Dr. Kyu Rhee says the goal of the alliance is to "predict, prevent, and personalize." (Health Populi)
Innovation & Transformation 
Pilot in Wisconsin, Chicago: discounts for healthy eating
UnitedHealthcare is expanding its Healthy Savings program--now in place in Wisconsin--to Chicago. The nation's largest health insurer has launched a digital coupon program with select supermarkets in which members save money when they buy fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, lean proteins and other qualified foods. The goal is to make healthier food more affordable, said Craig Bartholomew, vice president of account management in UnitedHealthcare's Illinois market. The company is working with three grocery chains that together have 261 locations in Illinois and northwest Indiana. (Chicago Tribune)

"I'm convinced that the only way there will be a true revolution in healthcare is if there is a partnership between clinicians and individual citizens," David Chase writes in Forbes. "One without the other isn't sufficient to unseat deeply entrenched systems." He acknowledges that skeptics say revolutionary practice models represent a drop in the bucket , but he notes that attitude also greeted digital media. "It was true that the newspaper business looked fantastic in the late 1990s and early 2000s while digital media was going from tiny to small." He terms the coming transformation the "Velvet Medical Revolution." (Forbes) 
New Jersey-based Inspira HealthNetworkis currently undertaking a "quiet hospital" project. One example: To cut down the 150 overhead pages daily at its three hospitals, Inspira switched to a mobile messaging platform that allows clinicians to text each other securely. Early results suggest improvements in staff morale and even patient satisfaction, an official says. The platform is now mandatory for medical staff, and overhead pages are only allowed in emergencies--about two per day. There are other benefits as well. Response times and patient consults have improved, the EHR is updated more frequently and patient stays are reduced. (Healthcare IT NewsAdvisory Board Daily Briefing)
Consumers & Providers
Earlier this month, stakeholders told a Health IT Policy Committee task force an overly broad approach to interoperability is less likely to succeed than one targeting specific use cases with aligned financial incentives. "When it becomes clinically relevant, adoption becomes a non-issue. It needs to be driven by clinical interest, and there need to be financial incentives," says John Blair III, MD, CEO of MedAllies. "Ultimately it is driven by a reimbursement model that rewards coordination of care." Jitin Asnaani, of the CommonWell Health Alliance, offered this: "Make data exchange a part of participation in federal programs, and treat data blocking harshly." (Healthcare Informatics)

No more data blocking: New issue brief explores MU3
Lack of interoperability hampers the potential of EHRs to enhance care delivery and improve outcomes, particularly as patients move across the care continuum. What's sorely needed is data portability, patient access to data and health IT-supported care coordination. That's the consensus among health care and health IT leaders featured in a recent Rocky Mountain Health Plans issue brief entitled, No more data blocking: Why the proposed Meaningful Use rule has potential to improve outcomes and support patient engagement. (RMHP)

As the physician shortage continues, advanced practice providers (APPs) are turning up in a range of medical settings. Consumer Reports looks at the trend and identifies some of the advantages of receiving care from an APP--and when it's better to turn to a physician. What APPs are permitted to do varies from state to state, but barriers are lessening: They can now write prescriptions in every state and can practice autonomously in 21 states and the District of Columbia. (Consumer Reports)
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New & Noted   
Most hospitals can exchange data: Health information exchange among hospitals has increased, but in 2014, less than 25 percent of hospitals had the capability to find, send, receive and use data from sources outside their network, according to a report from the American Hospital Association and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. (Health Data Management; report)
Special enrollment period:CMS will make permanent an ACA special enrollment period for victims of domestic abuse or spousal abandonment. (National Law Review; guidance)
Clap if you believe in interoperability: Fewer than one in five health care providers believe the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT can achieve full interoperability in 10 years, according to a survey by document management company Scrypt. (Healthcare IT News)
Elizabeth McGlynn of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research, Joe Selby of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Nigam Shah of Stanford University and Susan Weber of the Stanford Center for Clinical Informatics spoke with iHealthBeat about how mining electronic health record data could advance health care research. (iHealthBeat)
MarketVoices...quotes worth reading
"If you don't connect the EHRs, if they can't share data, then they're just fancy typewriters."
--Kate Kiefert, Colorado Health Implementation Coordinator and State HIT Coordinator, quoted in 
No more data blocking: Why the proposed Meaningful Use rule has potential to improve outcomes and support patient engagement, an issue brief from RMHP

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015



Colorado RCCO video: Making a Medical Neighborhood Happen