Today's News

Today is International Universal Health Coverage Day

About information technology:

Twelve States File First Multistate Healthcare Data Breach Lawsuit: The article title says it all. This case is the first time multiple states’ attorneys general are suing IT companies for HIPAA breaches. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana and involves four companies and 3.9million individuals.

Read more about this lawsuit

In overhaul of webpage, information about ways to apply is gone Much has been written about various attempts by the current federal administration to sabotage the ACA. This action is a new one. Two of the previously listed options — to enroll by phone and by mail — have been completely removed from the site. “These removals occurring well into the Open Enrollment period, after consumers may have already visited and decided to use one of these methods.”
Read more about this latest effort to make ACA enrollment more difficult

National Coordinator for HIT gives country C- grade on interoperability: National Coordinator for HIT Donald Rucker, MD gave the country a C- for interoperability, though he states some places earned an A while others flunked. The problem with this statement is that until everyone “gets an A” our healthcare system is not seamless and interoperable. In other words, in the larger scheme it doesn’t matter if I can talk to you without any problems, but can’t communicate well with half the other people in the country.

Read more on this statement

An Educational Intervention to Improve HPV Vaccination: A Cluster Randomized Trial: Sometimes low tech solutions prove to be the most effective. In an effort to increase HPV immunizations, parents in the exam rooms were given a tablet to watch a video outlining the risks and benefits of the vaccine. “Adolescents whose parents watched the video had a 3-times greater odds of receiving a dose of the HPV vaccine.”

Read more about this study

FDA clears Pear’s smartphone app therapy for opioid use disorder: More and more, apps are being used as adjuncts for treatment. If they are truly treatment applications and not just informational, they require FDA approval. According to this article: “The FDA has cleared its first prescription digital therapeutic for patients suffering from opioid abuse: a smartphone app designed by Pear Therapeutics to be used alongside standard-of-care medication-assisted treatments. Commercialization of the reSET-O app will be led by Novartis’ Sandoz unit and is expected to launch by the end of the year.”

Read more about this app 

About quality:

NCQA Launches New Population Health Management Programs: The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) released two new programs. “Population Health Program Accreditation assesses how an organization applies population health concepts to programs for a defined population. Population Health Management Prevalidation reviews health IT solutions to determine their ability to support population health management functions.”

Read the NCQA announcement for more details.

Screening for Ovarian Cancer-US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement: Screening tests for ovarian cancer have very high false positive rates. The good news is that if tests are negative, cancer can be ruled out with a high degree of certainty. So should we screen for ovarian cancer? The answer is still NO- at least in asymptomatic women without evidence of hereditary syndromes know to increase the disease.

Read more about the recommendation

IHI 2018: How to demonstrate the ROI on quality improvement projects: This week was the annual Institute for Healthcare Improvement annual conference.  
One constant question about quality is “how do you show its ROI?” This issue was addressed at this meeting drawing from experience from Britain’s National Health Service.

Read more about this issue.

About insurance:

Some Americans ditch Obamacare for cheaper alternatives: So-called short-term plans are becoming more popular for those who cannot receive premium support for Exchange plans. The reason these plans have lower premiums is that they may exclude benefits that Exchange plans are required to cover and, on average, have annual deductibles about $1700 higher. We won’t know the total enrollment for those plans for a while, but so far we do know Exchange enrollment is lagging about 8% behind last year. Signups end Friday- but there are extensions for those who logged in on or contacted a live source but could not get through.

Read more about those signing up for these plans

Study: 4.2 million uninsured people eligible for free ObamaCare coverage: Continuing the same theme as the above article is the number of those who are eligible for free coverage.

Read more about this study

About human resources:

Financially Well Employees Buoy the Bottom Line: I have been reading about corporate initiatives for employee wellness over the past 6 months. One theme that consistently arises is employees’ concerns about their finances. According to a John Hancock study, 69% of employees are “stressed over their finances, leading to a range of behaviors that can cost companies approximately $2,000 in excess labor costs per employee. Most respondents (72%) admitted to worrying about personal finances while at work, with one-third doing so more than once per week.” The message here is that financial counseling is an important part of workplace wellness programs.

Read more about this study