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Industry News
In honor of Health IT Week, the Office of Inspector General last week issued an alert warning providers and EHR vendors that data blocking can violate the anti-kickback statute. Blockers have been put on notice: "OIG remains committed to investigating potentially abusive arrangements that purport to, but do not actually, meet the conditions of the EHR safe harbor."(Healthcare IT News; OIG Alert)
More than 90 percent of practices in the Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) initiative met quality targets on patient experience (CAHPS) and utilization measures, and all regions had lower-than-targeted hospital readmission rates. Overall, the 483 participating practices achieved $24 million in gross Medicare savings; few, however, saved more than CMS paid them to coordinate care. Four regions--Arkansas, Colorado, Cincinnati-Dayton and Oregon--generated gross savings. The Greater Tulsa region was the only one to decrease costs in excess of CPC care management fees, generating net savings of $10.8 million and earning more than $500,000 in shared savings payments. (CMS blog; Modern Healthcare)
Innovation & Transformation 
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has announced plans to develop a policy framework to identify best practices, gaps and opportunities for the use of patient-generated health data in research and care delivery through 2024. In addition to helping doctors figure out how to best use that data, the framework could provide guidance to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute's PCORnet and the Precision Medicine Initiative. (iHealthBeat)
Conn. program shows value of keeping individuals in the community
Connecticut's "Money Follows the Person" demonstration found there was greater life satisfaction among the members who rejoined the community, with only 14 percent returning to an institution one year after transition, according to a paper published in Health Affairs. Participants included people of all ages with any type of disability and came from diverse racial and ethnic groups. "Despite needing assistance with an average of two activities of daily living and four instrumental activities of daily living, almost three-quarters of the participants moved into their own apartments. The wide range of outcomes measured tell a consistent story of improved quality of life, which led to higher rates of global life satisfaction for people who remained in the community." (Health Affairs)
The health industry's move toward value-based payments and away from fee-for-service is moving more slowly than expected, according to a new PwC Health Research Institute report. Although health care executives publicly support the move to value-based care, they privately are worried about losing a predictable revenue stream. As a result, many are waiting to see which ones work--and which don't--before taking the risk. The report details variables that influence the pace of the adoption, including market forces, health system readiness and Medicare payment changes. (FierceHealth Financereport)
NATO is developing a multinational telemedicine system to improve access to health services and increase survival rates in emergency situations, including in remote areas. Portable medical kits allow first responders to connect to the system to receive advice from an international network of specialists. Once developed, the multinational telemedicine system will have dual use, for both civilian and military application. (NATO announcement)
Consumers & Providers
A report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness finds that although the Affordable Care Act has increased the number of insured, it hasn't led to mental health parity. Patients are struggling to find therapists and psychiatrists. Patients seeking mental health services face more frequent coverage and treatment denials, and often pay higher out-of-pocket costs for medication. It's a particularly grim development in light of the growing heroin crisis: The Washington Post reports the percentage of substance abuse treatment patients receiving in-facility care covered by insurance dropped to 10 percent in 2014, from 22 percent in 2013. (Washington Post)
Shared visits may sometimes do a better job driving behavioral changes
Roughly 10 percent of family physicians give patients the option to share their appointments with people who have similar health issues. Writing in The Atlantic, Dr. Ravi Parikh explores the benefits, noting that health is often "a shared experience." For some patients, these visits help them "adopt healthy behaviors in a way that one-on-one visits don't." Why haven't shared visits caught on more? Parikh suggest it's because such visits run counter to two basic principles: confidentiality, and the individual patient-doctor relationship. "Sometimes, though, that relationship isn't enough." (The Atlantic)
In his regular column about the medical home, Fred Pelzman, MD, talks about the extra middle initials that kept being added to his patients' names. No one knew why the glitch occurred or how to stop it--and only he seemed unperturbed by it, he says. It's indicative of a larger issue: "As we've created these massive databases...the risk of errors getting incorporated into it has multiplied," he writes. "When we try to use our databases to create systems of quality, the quality of the data going in matters." (MedPage Today)
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New & Noted   
Mental lapses, insurance lapses: Cognitively impaired individuals are more likely than others to let a long-term-care policy lapse--although they're precisely the ones more likely to eventually need such care, according to research from Boston College. (Investment News)
Hospital M&A activity turns to technology: Hospital and health systems are moving away from "horizontal" mergers and acquisitions (buying more hospitals) and increasingly are eyeing physician practices and technology companies. (Health Data Management--registration required)
Mental health and incarceration: "Mental Health Reform: Improving Access to Care and Reducing Incarceration," a National Journal live event, focused on ways to improve the mental health system. Keynotes: Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) discussing their mental health bills. (C-SPAN)
NPR's Planet Money asks--and answers--a simple question: "What happens if we pay patients when they choose the cheaper option?" (Planet Money)
MarketVoices...quotes worth reading
"[I]f you give me bad data, I assure you I will give you bad quality." -- Fred Pelzman, MD, discussing the perils of multiple massive databases, in MedPage Today 
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Roxanna Guilford-Blake
Sandy Mau




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Wednesday, October 14, 2015