Today's News and Commentary

HealthcareInsights is on vacation starting tomorrow and will resume September 4.
Have a great Labor Day!

About the public’s health

Effectiveness of Interventions Aimed at Increasing Statin-Prescribing Rates in Primary Cardiovascular Disease Prevention:A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials: “Statins remain one of the cornerstone medications in CVD prevention, with a recent meta-analysis demonstrating that they decrease cardiovascular mortality by 31% among people with no prior history of CVD.” However their use is far lower than guidelines warrant. How do we increase their appropriate use? “As opposed to more education about generic recommendations, tailored patient-focused and physician-focused interventions were more effective when they provided personalized cardiovascular risk information, dynamic decision-support tools, or audit-and-feedback reports in a multicomponent program.” What other types of therapies would benefits from this customized approach?[See the Highmark article below.]

Pinterest to direct vaccine-related searches to health orgs: “Pinterest said Wednesday it will try to combat misinformation about vaccines by showing only information from health organizations when people search.” Finally, a company that is showing some social responsibility.

About healthcare IT

Allscripts offers Apple Health Records to enable patient data access: “Healthcare IT vendor Allscripts is jumping on the Apple Health Records bandwagon by making the solution for transferring electronic medical records available to its customers and their patients. 

The company’s Professional EHR, Sunrise and TouchWorks products now offer Apple Health Records, which leverages HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard for data transfer and OAuth 2.0 security profiles for authentication to enable consumers to securely access their health data on their iPhones.”

Statistics reveal healthcare is the sector most affected by personal data breaches: This study showed that: “Healthcare topped the list of industries most likely to suffer a personal data breach… 18% of all breaches were reported within the sector, compared with 16% within central and local government, 12% within education, 11% within justice and legal, and 9% within financial services.”

“Of those incidents, nearly half (43%) was the result of incorrect disclosure – made up of 20% posting or faxing data to the incorrect recipient, 18% emailing information to incorrect recipients or failing to use Bcc, and 5% providing data in response to a phishing attack.”

Data Integration, Analytics Support Public Health in Rhode Island: “The usefulness of healthcare big data — that is, the ability to create a more holistic view of individuals and populations — depends on the ability of stakeholders to share data sets across systems and institutions. Yet, data from one department within an organization is often not cohesive with data from another. Trying to analyze patterns in benefits, health care utilization, and social services is, therefore, hindered by a lack of data liquidity.

In Rhode Island, government agencies worked together to create the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) Data Ecosystem. This integrated data system blended data sources from multiple organizations to help create a holistic view of Rhode Islanders.” This is a fascinating project that could be used as a model for other state/area-wide population management programs.

Fitbit expands healthcare ambitions with new devices, subscription service: “Wearables company Fitbit is deepening its reach into healthcare with a new premium subscription service for users that offers coaching and personalized insights mined from the health data it collects from 27.3 million users.”

 Highmark Health funds pilot for meal planning software startup: The insurer Highmark has invested in PHRQL (pronounced freckle), a Carnegie Mellon University spinout, that creates artificial-intelligence based-software for creating personalized meal plans. Customization may be the way to go with this intervention. Hopefully independent studies of its effectiveness will be conducted.

About healthcare insurance

OIG: Latest audit finds Part D paid for $160M drugs hospices should have covered in latest audit: Many Medicare programs are on a prospective payment basis, which bundles drugs into the global amounts. The HHS Office of the Inspector General found that $160 million was paid by Part D when it should have been covered in the prospective rate paid to hospices. As mentioned before, such errors do not occur as often with private insurance. Higher administrative costs do pay for some useful activities.

Blue Cross Minnesota Announces $0 Insulin Copay, More Access to Care: The headline speaks for itself. This project is an example of value-based pharmacy benefits.

CMS won't enforce its ACA copay accumulator plan in 2020: This issue is whether drug company coupons that cover copays can be counted against annual deductibles or out-of-pocket limits. Recall that pharma firms increase prices and provide discount coupons for patients so they can afford the medication- leaving insurance companies to pay higher rates. In April, CMS issued a final rule that “would block insurers from applying the value of drugmaker coupons to patients’ out-of-pocket limits when a generic drug is available.” Now CMS is saying they will not enforce the policy nor will they penalize states that do not enforce it.