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Health Management Technology News
  March 20, 2014
In this issue:

► (HMT Exclusive) Teenage hackers aren't your biggest worry

► Nominations open for AHIMA’s Grace Award

► Senators urge further clarity and transparency from FDA on medical mobile apps

► Two-thirds satisfied with how U.S. health care system works for them

► Computer analyzes massive clinical databases to properly categorize asthma patients

► Doctor sentenced to prison in health care fraud

► Spaniards say no to privatized healthcare

(HMT Exclusive) Teenage hackers aren't your biggest worry

Many healthcare organizations rely primarily on their IT departments to prevent data breaches. C-suite leaders are apt to congratulate themselves if their security systems pass so-called “penetration tests” with flying colors. But here’s the bad news: only 8% of the data breaches listed on Health & Human Services’ “Wall of Shame” are due to hacking. That means that 92% of data breaches come in the form of simple yet costly human errors: losing a laptop, taking a coffee break without locking down a keyboard, and so on.

These aren’t the kind of data breaches that make national news, like the ones that occurred recently at Target and Neiman-Marcus. But they carry some very serious costs that can run into the millions, ranging from the obvious (legal/regulatory penalties, remediation, class-action lawsuits) to the unforeseen (such as major disruptions to clinical and operational performance or lost business due to reputational damage).

Read the full HMT exclusive article here ► 

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Nominations open for AHIMA’s Grace Award

For the third consecutive year, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) will recognize a healthcare delivery organization that has outstanding and innovative approaches to health information management through the bestowment of its prestigious Grace Award.

“The healthcare industry is evolving rapidly and at the center of much of the change is how health information is collected, stored, used, shared, and ultimately disposed,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA.  “HIM professionals throughout the country are working to ensure health information is secure and accessible when and where it’s needed. AHIMA is pleased to continue to recognize organizations with the most innovative approaches and successful uses of health information.”

Learn more about this year’s AHIMA’ Grace Award here ► 

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Senators urge further clarity and transparency from FDA on medical mobile apps

A bipartisan group of senators is urging the FDA to provide further clarity and transparency in its policy regarding medical mobile apps.

Senators Michael Bennet, Orrin Hatch, Tom Harkin, Lamar Alexander, Mark Warner, and Richard Burr urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to further clarify rules for medical software application developers to promote innovation and keep consumers safe in light of changing technologies.

In a joint letter to the FDA, the senators stated, “It is important for the FDA to be well-equipped with the proper tools to be able to advance public health while taking care that innovation is not stifled through uncertainty or over-regulation.”

“While the FDA’s final guidance has provided clarity on the agency’s approach to regulation of mobile medical applications, we believe more transparency is needed to avoid stakeholder confusion over how a wider range of medical software might be appropriately regulated.  We urge the FDA to work with Congress to identify policies that will serve the best interests of patients and innovators alike.”

Read the full Senate press release here ► 

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Two-thirds satisfied with how U.S. health care system works for them

Two-thirds of the country is satisfied with how the United States’ health care system is working for them, said a Gallup poll released Monday.

There is a wide divide, however, based on whether or not Americans report having health insurance. Seventy-two percent of Americans who have health insurance are satisfied compared to 26 percent who are dissatisfied.

Among people who do not have health insurance, 33 percent are satisfied and 59 percent are dissatisfied.

Younger Americans are also more satisfied than people between the ages of 30 and 64, though seniors are the most satisfied age group.

Seventy-three percent of people ages 18 to 29 are satisfied, compared to 60 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds, 56 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 80 percent of people 65 and older.

Read the full The Washington Post article here ► 

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Computer analyzes massive clinical databases to properly categorize asthma patients

So many variables can contribute to shortness of breath that no person can keep them all straight. But a computer program, capable of tracking more than 100 clinical variables for almost 400 people, has shown it can identify various subtypes of asthma, which perhaps could lead to targeted, more effective treatments.

Wei Wu, a Carnegie Mellon University computational biologist who led the analysis of patient data from the federally funded Severe Asthma Research Program, said many of the patient clusters identified by the computational methods are consistent with subtypes already recognized by clinicians. Those include types of asthma related to allergies, sinus disease or environmental factors.

But the analysis also identified clusters of patients that suggest new subtypes, including one in which frequent, severe asthma symptoms appear to be associated with poor quality of life or depression in some obese women.

The findings by Wu and her collaborators, including physicians at nine major medical centers, have been published online by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Read the full Carnegie Mellon press release here ► 

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Doctor sentenced to prison in health care fraud

A North Texas doctor has been sentenced to almost five years in federal prison and ordered to pay about $9 million in restitution to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after being convicted of health care fraud.

U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldana said in a news release that 54-year-old Nicolas Alfonso Padron of Garland was sentenced Monday. He pleaded guilty in September 2013 to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud stemming from his role as medical director of A Medical House Calls, which provided home doctor visits to Medicare patients.

Read the Star-Telegram full article here ► 

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Spaniards say no to privatized healthcare

The Spanish healthcare system was ranked seventh best in the world by the World Health Organization in 2000. But last year, Spain appeared to be well on its way to adopting a healthcare system more akin to the one used in the United States, which ranked 37th.

In October 2012, Ignacio González, the leader of Madrid’s regional government, put forward a plan to privatize six hospitals and 10 percent of the city’s health centers. Critics feared the plan was the first step toward privatization of hospitals in other regions.

But after a wave of strikes by medical providers, as well as lawsuits and a popular referendum, Spanish unions and citizens have won a decisive victory in the battle for public healthcare. On January 27, the Popular Party (PP), Spain's center-right ruling party, canceled the planned privatization of Madrid's hospitals.

Shortly after the plan was announced in 2012, a coalition of unions called the first general strike in Madrid’s healthcare sector. The “white wave”—a reference to the medical smocks that strikers wore—quickly spread to the rest of the country as healthcare workers in 15 cities supported Madrid by staging a sympathy strike. This was followed by a popular referendum in May 2013, which resulted in more than a million people going on record to oppose privatization.

Read the full In These Times article here ► 

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