Friday, July 29, 2011

New APRs on Focused Standards Assessment Released

The Joint Commission released new Accreditation Participation Requirements (APR) on the Focused Standards Assessment (FSA) for the ambulatory care, behavioral health care, home care, hospital, laboratory services, and long term care programs. The APRs become effective on January 1. 2012.

For more information, click here.

Source: The Joint Commission Online

New App Gets "Meaningful Use" Certification

A new iPad application called "drchrono" has received ONC-ATCB "meaningful use" certification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid's (CMS) Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs.

The new application allows speech-to-text, so physicians can forgo transcription of their notes and also has paperless billing and prescription writing functions.

Source: The Washington Post Ideas@Innovations Blog

Monday, July 25, 2011

Updates to Long Term Care Credentialing Requirements Released

The Joint Commission has released updates to the credentialing requirements for Long Term Care & Medicare/Medicaid Long Term Care Accreditation Programs.

Please click here for more information.

Source: The Joint Commission release

Friday, July 22, 2011

CMS Announces "Train the Trainers" Workshops

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an upcoming series of "Train the Trainers Workshops." The 2011 National Medicare Train-the-Trainer Workshop schedule is designed for CMS to share consistent, accurate, current information with partners who help Medicare beneficiaries make the best choices for their healthcare coverage at these national events.

The 2011 National Medicare Training Program workshops will include:
- Refresher on Medicare program
- Basic information and detailed casework-tailored to your needs
- Medicare training information and materials that are current, accurate, and consistent
- Opportunity to network with CMS staff and other partners who share your commitment
- Subject matter experts to answer your questions
- 2011 CD Suite—with the training modules, videos, resource guide, toolkits, and more

For more information about the workshops, please click here.

Source: CMS Announcement

Friday, July 15, 2011

Study: Medicaid Increases Use of Health Care, Decreases Financial Strain, and Improves Health for Recipients

A recent study by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and Providence Health & Services has found that expanding low income adults’ access to Medicaid substantially increases health care use, reduces financial strain on covered individuals, and improves their self-reported health and well-being. This is the first study to evaluate the impact of insuring the uninsured in the U.S. using a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard in medical and scientific studies.

The study was released as working paper 17190 on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) on July 7, 2011.

“This study shows that Medicaid substantially expands access to and use of care for low-income adults relative to being uninsured,” said Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at HSPH and co-principal investigator of the study.

Medicaid, which is jointly funded by the federal and state governments, covers the health care costs of eligible low-income individuals and families. The 2010 Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid to cover additional low income adults in all states in 2014.

Source: article Health Reform Working: Medicaid Access Fixes Financial Strain, Improves Health

Thursday, July 14, 2011

HHS OIG: New Technology Helps Cut Waste, Prevent Fraud

Lewis Morris, Chief Counsel to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recently testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security about the role new technologies can play in cutting waste and fraud in the Federal health care programs.

"OIG is using information technologies and analytics, including data mining, trend evaluation, and modeling, to better identify fraud vulnerabilities and target our oversight efforts," reported Morris. "OIG is leveraging an analytical foundation that provides an enterprise view of questionable activities, suspected fraud trends, and prevention opportunities. When united with the expertise of our agents, auditors, and program evaluators, OIG brings a formidable combination of cutting edge techniques and traditional investigative skills to the fight against fraud, waste, and abuse."

Source: HHS OIG News Release

Web Conference to Examine Clinical Decision Support and Knowledge Management Systems

Three researchers will present evidence reviews at a July 20 web conference on experiences with clinical decision support and knowledge management systems (CDSS/KMS).

The findings, gathered from AHRQ’s Evidence-Based Practice Centers for Health IT, will address how CDSS/KMS can serve as information tools to bolster clinician decision-making at the point of care. Researchers will also examine the effects of health IT on the medication management process of prescribing, and the impact of consumer health informatics applications on health outcomes. Participants in the web conference are eligible for 1.5 credit hours of continuing medical education.

For more information or to register, please click here.

Source: AHRQ News Release

Study: E-Health Project Boosts Physicians' Ability To Use Patient Registries

The results of a new Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-funded (AHRQ) study shows that Massachusetts physicians taking part in a 4-year, $50 million health information technology (IT) program increased their ability to generate and use registries that provide information about laboratory test results and medication use.

The ability to use patient registries, or lists of patients with specific conditions, medications or test results, is considered an essential tool for improving health care and is in the “meaningful use” criteria developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

A total of 163 physicians from 134 practices in 3 communities participated in the health IT program between 2005 through 2009. Sponsored by the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, the program consisted of robust electronic health records and work-flow redesign and technical support at no cost to the practices. Compared with all physicians who were surveyed in 2005, all respondents in 2009 were more likely to be able to generate significantly more laboratory and medication registries. The free abstract is available on PubMed at

Source: AHRQ News Release

Supreme Court Strikes Down Vermont's Rx Privacy Law

By a vote of 6-3, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Vermont law prohibiting the sale of prescription information to data mining companies for marketing purposes.

In the case, IMS Health Inc. v. Sorrell, the Supreme Court ruled that the Vermont statute violates the First Amendment speech rights of data mining firms. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy explained that Vermont laws already allow the collection of prescription information but that this law unfairly targeted the speech rights of the pharmaceutical representatives who market drugs to doctors.

For further information about this case, please click here.

Source: The Washington Post

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Toolkit Helps Medical Practices Examine the Impact of Health IT on Workflow

A new toolkit funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and prepared by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement (CQPI) will assist small and medium sized practices in workflow analysis and redesign before, during, and after health IT implementation.

The toolkit, Workflow Assessment for Health IT, includes tools to analyze workflow, examples of workflow analysis and redesign, and others’ experiences with health IT and workflow.

For more information and a copy of the toolkit go to

Additional documents are posted at CQPI's website here:

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) news alert

UCLA Health System Settles HIPAA Charges

Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the University of California at Los Angeles Health System (UCLAHS) has agreed to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules for $865,500 and has committed to a corrective action plan aimed at remedying gaps in its compliance with the rules.

The resolution agreement resolves two separate complaints filed with OCR on behalf of two celebrity patients who received care at UCLAHS. The complaints alleged that UCLAHS employees repeatedly and without permissible reason looked at the electronic protected health information of these patients. OCR’s investigation into the complaints revealed that from 2005-2008, unauthorized employees repeatedly looked at the electronic protected health information of numerous other UCLAHS patients.

Through policies and procedures, entities covered under HIPAA must reasonably restrict access to patient information to only those employees with a valid reason to view the information and must sanction any employee who is found to have violated these policies.

“Covered entities are responsible for the actions of their employees. This is why it is vital that trainings and meaningful policies and procedures, including audit trails, become part of the everyday operations of any health care provider,” said OCR Director Georgina Verdugo. “Employees must clearly understand that casual review for personal interest of patients’ protected health information is unacceptable and against the law.”

The corrective action plan requires UCLAHS to implement Privacy and Security policies and procedures approved by OCR, to conduct regular and robust trainings for all UCLAHS employees who use protected health information, to sanction offending employees, and to designate an independent monitor who will assess UCLAHS compliance with the plan over 3 years.

“Covered entities need to realize that HIPAA privacy protections are real and OCR vigorously enforces those protections. Entities will be held accountable for employees who access protected health information to satisfy their own personal curiosity,” said Director Verdugo.

The HHS Resolution Agreement and CAP can be found on the OCR website at

Source: Department of Health and Human Services press release

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Health IT Resource Center to Host Session on EHR

On July 20, 2011, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) National Resource Center (NRC) for Health IT will host a free 90-minute web-based teleconference, featuring the results and findings from three reports from the Agency’s Evidence Based Practice Centers (EPCs) that highlight the state of the evidence on medication management using health IT, decision support tools, and consumer health informatics applications and their respective effect on the quality of care.

The free 90-minute teleconference will provide an overview of three Health IT Portfolio-funded evidence-based reports developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPC). The EPC reports are based on rigorous, comprehensive syntheses and analyses of the scientific literature.

For more information or to register, please click here.

Soruce: AHRQ

"Mystery Shoppers" to Be Used to Survey Doctors

According to a recent report in the New York Times, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to use "mystery shopper" techniques to survey primary care physicians across the country in an effort to determine the difficulty of obtaining care. HHS officials say that surveyors will contact physician's offices and pose as patients to determine how easily they can obtain an appointment. Surveyors will also make note of whether it is easier to obtain an appointment depending upon whether the caller has public or private insurance. HHS officials indicate that the program was modeled on a similar survey conducted by the Bush Administration and that all information is kept confidential.

Source: New York Times article