Today's News and Commentary

About healthcare IT

DirectTrust hits milestone of 1B messages exchanged; developing instant messaging standard: “DirectTrust is a collaborative non-profit association of 121 health IT and health care provider organizations to support secure, interoperable health information exchange via the Direct message protocols. DirectTrust has created a ‘trust framework’ that extends use of Direct exchange to over 106,000 health care organizations and 1,582,373 Direct addresses/accounts. This trust framework supports both provider-to-provider Direct exchange and bi-directional exchange between consumers/patients and their providers.” Messages over this secure interchange just passed the 1 billion mark. [See Chapter 8 of the text for a fuller explanation of Direct Trust.]

32M patient records breached in 2019: The number of patient record breaches this year has already doubled the number that occurred infall of 2018. The article gives some examples of large offenders.

Industry Voices—Removing ban on nationwide unique patient identifier would save lives, money: The reason patients do not have unique identifiers (as do all other healthcare stakeholders) is concern over privacy/threat of breaches. Despite the number of breaches, IT experts claim that the unique identifier will aid interoperability and reduce “wrong patient” errors.

About healthcare insurance

What Explains Support for or Opposition to Medicare for All? This recent Urban Institute survey demonstrates how complex opinions are about “Medicare for All.” Support (or opposition) varies by such factors as political party membership, age and which version of the program is presented (such as single payer or option for enrollment).

Medicare Advantage Qualifying Payment Arrangement Incentive (MAQI) Demonstration: CMS announced that: “After careful consideration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is discontinuing the Medicare Advantage Qualifying Payment Arrangement Incentive (MAQI) Demonstration because of the rates of low participation. CMS will not be accepting applications for MAQI for 2019.” This option would have exempted qualified providers from being subject to the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (“MIPS”) if they participated “to a sufficient degree in certain payment arrangements with Medicare Advantage Organizations…” [See Chapter 9 of the text for a fuller explanation of these programs.]

About healthcare quality and patients safety

UI Hospitals has 'healthy appetite' for improving low marks from patients: The article’s point is that the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) was working to improve its patient satisfaction scores. The other message is that patient satisfaction does not always correlate with measures of care quality. “UIHC fell below the state average on all but one of 10 patient satisfaction measures… It fell below the national averages in all but three categories.But despite low scores elsewhere, UIHC ranked above the state and national averages in the percentage of patients who said they’d recommends it to family and friends. UIHC earned four stars in that.” Most marketers would take the latter measure as a sign of organizational success.

Why Are These Medical Instruments So Tough to Sterilize?: Duodenoscopes are used to look at the upper gastrointestinal tract. But they are very hard to sterilize and have caused a large number of infections when reused.

About pharma

U.S. judge expresses support for novel opioid settlement talks framework: When the tobacco settlements were paid, states got all the money and rarely shared it with counties or municipalities. This time, the latter entities want some of the compensation. To that end, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland will allow a proposal that “calls for creating a class of up to 3,000 counties and 30,000 cities, towns and villages that could vote on whether to accept any settlement the plaintiffs reach with defendants in the opioid litigation.”